How Do I Fight a Tacoma, Washington DUI?

Blurry DashboardOne night, you received the phone call you wish you had never received. Your son had been pulled over and arrested for a DUI on 6th Avenue and taken down to the police station.

When you sent him off to the University of Puget Sound, you rested easy. He was close to home. The roads and surroundings were familiar. You didn’t expect that he would run into this kind of trouble in his hometown of Tacoma. That night, your son and a couple of his buddies were drinking beer and relaxing after a long week of school. They got hungry, though, and jumped into the car to take a trip to Sonic for a burger and fries. Driving from 12th to Proctor, and onto 6th, he didn’t think twice about the two, maybe three beers he had consumed earlier that evening.

They made it to Sonic just fine and scarfed down their greasy food. As they pulled out of Sonic and turned back onto 6th to begin the quick drive home, he noticed a cop nearby. It was then that he remembered that he had been drinking. He drove slower than the speed limit, hoping that his driving wouldn’t look suspicious. All of a sudden, he saw flashing red and blue lights in his rearview mirror. He was being pulled over.

He had never even acquired a speeding ticket as a teenager, and as a parent, you weren’t prepared for this kind of thing. You barely even knew what the legal limit for alcohol was for a person at the age of 20. As you drive down to the station, questions rush through your head.

What field sobriety tests did he complete? What was his BAC? What is different about a DUI charge for someone under 21? Will a DUI charge go on his permanent record? Will the police let the University know about the DUI?

When your child has been pulled over and arrested for a DUI, you have a right to be worried. Their mistake came as a surprise, but the most important step that you take next is calling an experienced Tacoma DUI attorney to help you from the get go. The Tacoma, WA DUI lawyer should be able to answer all of the questions you have and start helping your family immediately. At the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, we pride ourselves in being able to answer questions like the ones you may have if your son or daughter has been pulled over and arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. We know they made a mistake, and they are probably very scared.

If your child has been charged with a Minor DUI, here are some of your questions that we can help you answer.

What field sobriety tests did he take?

After being pulled over for a DUI, there are quite a few field sobriety tests the police officers may conduct. One that they may conduct is the horizontal gaze nystagmus. A Tacoma officer will ask a person to stand in front of them and not move their head while following a stimulus with his or her eyes. They will also check the pupil size along with other indicators.

Another field sobriety test that an officer may conduct is the walk and turn, which involves putting one foot in front of the other periodically. The officer gives orders involving where their arms should go and when to take the steps. People are not supposed to stop when going through the paces of this test. Officers look for 8 different things in evaluating the individual’s performance on this test. Because there are many instructions involved, being able to follow all the instructions is very difficult even under ideal conditions, ie not on the side of the road in the middle of the night with a flash light for lighting.

While we can gain an understanding of what field sobriety tests results mean, we realize a great deal of the results can be subjective. However officers have been trained to score these tests such that one either passes or fails the test based upon some pre-determined scoring grid. Then the officer adds his opinion along with other things he observes in determining one is under the influence of intoxicants or other drug.

What was his BAC?

If you are under 21 and are pulled over under suspicion of a DUI and you have been drinking, the legal BAC is significantly lower than over 21 adults. If their blood alcohol level registers at .02 or over, you could be in danger of being charged with a“Minor DUI”. If your child completed a blood alcohol test on the scene, and then again at the station, those numbers could’ve also been different. Your blood alcohol level can change within an hour. Sometimes it may go up, other times down. The blood alcohol test administered in the station is admissible in court. However, the one conducted in the field is not as accurate, and therefore does not usually stand in court. 

What is different about a DUI charge for someone under 21?

A Minor DUI is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 dollar fine. That is a stark contrast to DUI which is a gross misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000 fine. In addition, to obvious contrast in the maximum penalties a court can impose there are no mandatory penalties for a Minor DUI conviction unlike a DUI conviction. However, there are similarities between the two. First, regardless of age, when you receive a DUI, your driver’s license is at risk in Tacoma, Washington. The Department of Licensing will take an action against the license of a minor who has a BAC over 0.02 the same as it would an adult who has a breath test of a .08. If the minor is under 18, the action could be more extreme.I can’t tell you whether or not his university will take action about the charge. It will however go on his driving record upon conviction or plea.

As stated above, Minor DUI’s in Washington are considered misdemeanors, but when they are charged with these crimes, they are also commonly charged with others, such as minor in possession, distributing alcohol to other minors, and false identification. If the other passengers in the car were also intoxicated and if the alcohol was purchased with a fake ID, an underage person can be charged with these additional crimes.

I’ve probably only begun to scratch the surface on the amount of questions you have. The one question I can answer is this, though. Can I help you? Yes. As an experienced DUI attorney in Tacoma, Washington, I work with families just like yours and help people navigate through this scary underage DUI process. Just because your child made a mistake doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road for him or her.

Call the Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, and consider it handled.

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