DUI Physical Control laws man sleeping it off in car
Washington State

Physical Control Laws

In Washington state you can receive a DUI charge for being in a car while intoxicated, even if you are not driving the vehicle. This is because of physical control laws, which state that drivers cannot be in control of a vehicle while under the influence – even if it is not moving.
What does Physical Control mean?
Under Washington law, you can receive the same penalties for being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated as you do for driving a vehicle while intoxicated. If you are under the influence, inside of a vehicle, and could begin driving at any point, you could receive a physical control charge, even if you do not intend to begin driving.
There are many situations where police officers could charge you with being in physical control of a vehicle, including the following.

• You are a passenger in the car, and you assume control by moving to the driver’s seat or touching the steering wheel.
• You are sitting in your vehicle with your keys in the ignition.
• Your car broke down or ran out of gas, and you are sitting in it in the side of the road.
• You decide to sleep in your car overnight.
• You decide to enter your vehicle to sober up after a night out.
BAC Thresholds for DUI And Physical Control

To determine if you are under the influence, police officers will administer a breath or blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. If your BAC meets or exceeds the thresholds that the law sets, you could receive a physical control or DUI charge. If you refuse to take a BAC test, you could receive additional penalties.

You must be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, marijuana, or a combination of any of these substances for police to charge you with DUI or physical control.

Police use the following BAC thresholds to charge you with a DUI.

  • You have a BAC of .08% or higher.
  • You have a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher.

They use the following BAC thresholds to charge you with physical control.

  • You have a BAC of .08% or higher within 2 hours of being in physical control of your vehicle.
  • You have a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher within 2 hours of being in physical control.
Penalties for Physical Control versus DUI
In the state of Washington, physical control is a gross misdemeanor charge. You will receive the same criminal and administrative penalties for physical control as you would for a DUI, including jail time, fines, driver’s license suspensions, probation, and more. The specific penalties you will receive depends on the circumstances of your case.

If you are facing criminal charges, it is crucial to have effective representation immediately.

Regardless of where you fall on this list, contact Snohomish Law Group to discuss your case and hear from experienced Washington State DUI Lawyers.

Even if you think the facts of the case aren’t in your favor, having the best possible criminal representation can be the difference between jail time and probation, or having your record destroyed with an avoidable felony or misdemeanor conviction. At Snohomish Law Group, our criminal defense attorneys give you time and attention, to ensure you are treated fairly under the criminal justice system.

Unlike lawyers at other law firms, our lawyers have dealt with thousands of cases with over 30 years of litigating matters of a wide range of severities and we have delivered important victories to our clients. Our reputation as aggressive, zealous advocates in the courtroom allows us to deliver results to our clients.

To schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our team, contact us today online or at 425-444-4444

DUI: Second Offence
DUI Second Offense in Washington State

If this is your second offense DUI or DUI related charge, you will be facing a much stiffer challenge than you did with the first offense. Prosecutors will be less inclined to negotiate a reduction of the charge. Depending on the court, significant pretrial release conditions may be imposed. There will be pressure the enter into a Deferred Prosecution. If the first DUI resulted in the entry of a Deferred Prosecution there will be an expectation that you re-enter treatment. Know some of the challenges you might be facing in advance. And contact an experienced Washington DUI lawyer who is familiar with the jurisdiction of your case.

Enhanced DUI Conditions at arraignment

The initial hurdle faced by most people charged with a second offense DUI in Washington is the DUI arraignment or first appearance. More and more often courts are imposing strict release conditions for those with priors. The imposition of bail is certainly likely in a few courts. But most courts will require some guarantee that the defendant in this situation is not drinking. That can mean being forced to install an ignition interlock device, or wear a SCRAM bracelet, or having a alcohol monitoring device installed in your home. For more specific information about the jurisdiction of your arrest see our Where Were You Arrested? section.

Second Offense Department of Licensing considerations

If the first DUI incident was either outside of seven years or did not result in an administrative action against your license, the DOL will be treating this second DUI charge as a first offense for the purpose of administrative sanctions. That would mean the action, if taken, would result in either a suspension for 90 days if there was a BAC greater than .08 or a revocation for one year if there was a refusal to take a BAC test. A second offense would mean a two year license revocation whether there was a .08 BAC or a refusal.

Prosecutorial perspectives on a second DUI charge

There is a lot of pressure on prosecutors, from police, politicians, MADD, etc. to be tough on alleged DUI offenders. Even on first offenses they are rarely willing to just bend to the desire of the defense. When it is a second offense, all sense of compassion and willingness to compromise goes away completely. To convince a prosecutor to reduce a second offense DUI means convincing them that there is something dramatically wrong with there case and that the defendant deserves another chance. They will usually demand heightened pretrial conditions and act under the premise that the defendant will enter into a deferred prosecution.

Pressure to enter into Deferred Prosecution

Those facing a second offense DUI will usually be under some kind of pressure to enter into a deferred prosecution. Before entering into this program, it is important to know what the full ramifications of doing so would be. It is not always in someone’s best interest to enter into a deferred prosecution, even in a second offense scenario. Review our Washington Deferred Prosecution section for complete information and contact us to discuss the particulars of your situation.

A second offense DUI charge in Washington State definitely carries more challenges than a first offense.  That does not mean, however, that you can not beat the charge or that you will be convicted of DUI.  Contact a Seattle DUI lawyer at Milios Defense for immediate assistance if you are facing a second DUI.

DUI: Third Offence
DUI Third Offense in Washington State

A person facing a third DUI offense in Washington State is in a very precarious situation starting at the moment he is arrested. Not only would a conviction mean a mandatory penalty of anywhere between 210 to 270 days of incarceration (where it is a third in seven years), there are likely to be significant pretrial consequences as well. The bottom line is that if it is your third offense, you will need the immediate assistance of an experienced Washington DUI lawyer.

Pretrial Conditions for a Third Offense DUI

Where someone is facing an allegation of a third time DUI offense in Washington, all courts are going to take a heavy handed approach to pretrial monitoring. Whether it is the imposition of a high bail amount, the requirement that the person remain on home detention while the case is pending, placing them on pretrial probation monitoring or requiring that he or she get an ignition interlock device or a SCRAM bracelet, the court will be ordering some kind of onerous condition. Going into your arraignment prepared is vitally important. Being in alcohol treatment, proactively equipping your car with an ignition interlock device, or acquiring the assistance of a bail bondsman prior to the arraignment can all help you avoid unwanted pretrial incarceration.

Third Offense DUI Alcohol Treatment Considerations

On a third offense it is highly likely that you have either already done a Deferred Prosecution or that you will be giving great consideration to it. In either case, getting an evaluation and starting the recommended treatment plan as soon as possible is probably the single greatest thing you can do to help yourself.

Preparation for Trial on a Third DUI in Washington

On a third offense, unless you are eligible and plan on participating in a Deferred Prosecution program, preparation for trial needs to begin right away. That is because a prosecutor is highly unlikely to negotiate the case and will be giving high priority to your conviction. Sitting back and hoping for the best is not a viable strategy.

If you have been arrested for a third offense DUI in Washington State, you need to contact a qualified Washington DUI lawyer from the moment you are released from custody. How and what you do in the first 72 hours after you are arrested can have a tremendous impact on the success of your DUI case. Contact a Seattle DUI lawyer at Milios Defense for our immediate assistance.


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