If you have come to this site because you or someone you know is facing their first charge for DUI in Washington State, there is some good news. Statistically speaking, a person facing a first time charge of DUI is significantly more likely to have that charge reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed than someone who has been in this situation before. It certainly is not automatic but the variables in play mean that the different parties involved are much more likely to look upon you and your situation more favorably than someone who has been in the system before. Below is a look at how three of the main players in the Washington DUI system generally view the first time DUI defendant.
Mandatory Minimum Penalties for First Offense DUI in Washington
Among some of the toughest DUI penalties in the nation, Washington state imposes mandatory minimum consequences that are based upon the level of the breath/blood test and whether there was a refusal to submit to testing. If there was a breath or blood test and it was under a .15, a person would be facing 24 consecutive hours in jail (or 15 days of home detention), a 90 day license suspension (plus separate administrative DOL sanctions), a fine of $350 plus costs and assessments (for a total that will amount between $900-$1500 depending on the court), a one year ignition interlock requirement, five years of probation and the requirement of undergoing an alcohol evaluation and recommended follow up treatment. In addition to these possible mandatory penalties, a person charged with a first offense DUI in Washington should also consider the following:
DUI Courts and the DUI Arraignment
Most DUI courts in Washington are relatively deferential to the person facing a first time DUI charge as compared to one who has priors, at least at arraignment. In general, standard DUI conditions are imposed which means no consumption of alcohol, no driving without a valid license and insurance, no criminal conduct and a promise to appear at all court dates. There are exceptions of course when there are aggravating allegations that lead the court to determine that the defendant could be a danger to the community. An extremely high BAC, an accident, children passengers or other non-DUI related criminal history are all examples of aggravating factors. Also, at least one court (Seattle Municipal Court DUI Information) will routinely impose enhanced conditions on even the first time DUI defendant. The conditions could include bail, ignition interlock device, and/or a SCRAM bracelet. Never assume that because it is a first time allegation the court won’t impose strict conditions and contact a DUI lawyer familiar with your jurisdiction.
DUI Prosecutors in Washington
Make no mistake. DUI Prosecutors never look favorably upon someone facing a DUI charge in Washington. Even if it is just the first offense. Still the practical reality is that not every DUI case can be prosecuted to the fullest extent and the beneficiary of the reality is the first time offender. As a result, it is common and probably likely that a person facing a first time DUI charge will not ultimately be convicted of that charge. It is important to know what the prosecutor in your jurisdiction will expect out of you and to have a skilled Washington DUI lawyer working on your behalf. Visit out Washington DUI Self Help Guide for more information on being proactive in your own defense.
Alcohol and Drug Treatment Agencies
Except in rare circumstances, a person accused of DUI in Washington State will be required to undergo an alcohol and drug treatment evaluation. There are three main components to this evaluation: the client, interview, the level of the breath test, and the number of DUI or alcohol related incidents. The single biggest factor in determining whether or not treatment will be recommended is the person’s DUI and alcohol or drug related criminal history. Again, statistically speaking at least, the person with no history is far less likely to be considered an alcoholic who needs treatment than the person with even just one prior. Review our Alcohol Treatment Evaluation section for more information.
While there are no guarantees in the area of criminal defense, and specifically DUI defense, the odds state that a first time DUI charge is not likely to turn into a conviction. Still there are a lot of variables in play that can affect those odds. Obtain the assistance of a skilled DUI lawyer to ensure the case is resolved the way that it should be. The DUI Attorneys at Snohomish Law Group are always available to for consultation and to help make sure that your first DUI charge does not turn into a conviction.