DUI Laws in Washington
Most drivers are aware that it is illegal to operate a vehicle while impaired due to drugs or alcohol. In the state of Washington this is referred to DUI. Some drivers, however, may not be aware of the specifics of the DUI laws in their state. For example, Washington has several laws pertaining to the operation of vehicles while under the influence. According to the Washington State Legislature, there are actually two separate laws which are often grouped together when talking about DUI laws in the state. These are as follows:
- RCW 46.61.502 - Driving Under the Influence
- RCW 46.61.504 - Physical Control of Vehicle under the Influence
If you have been arrested for either of these crimes or any other type of driving related offense, such as underage DUI, it is vital that you contact an experienced attorney right away. Understanding the charges you face is the first step in making sure that you get the best results possible in your case. For more information about your charges, contact The Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.
Driving Under the Influence Explained
Driving under the Influence is typically what people think of when they hear the term DUI. According to Washington legislature RCW 46.61.502(1), " a person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana, or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state " under any of the following for conditions:
- The person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more as determined by an analysis of their breath or blood.
- The person has a THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) concentration of 5.00 or more as determined by an analysis of their blood.
- The person is under the influence or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug. This factor is determined much more by law-enforcement's opinion based on the state of the suspect during the stop and arrest.
- The person is under the influence of or affected by a combination of intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug. Again, this is often based on the opinions of the law enforcement agents involved in the arrest.
Under this law, most charges are gross misdemeanors. Common penalties include license suspension, fines, and even jail time. However, a DUI can result in a class C felony if the offender has been convicted of four or more prior offenses within the past 10 years or has ever been convicted of a vehicular assault or homicide while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Physical Control of Vehicle under the Influence Explained
The second, and less commonly understood, DUI law is known as Physical Control of the Vehicle DUI. While very similar to DUI under RCW 46.61.502, DUI in physical control (RCW 46.61.504(1)) states “A person is guilty of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has actual physical control of a vehicle within this state” under any of the following conditions:
- The person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more.
- The person has a THC concentration of 5.00 or more.
- The person is under the influence or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug.
- The person is under the influence of or affected by a combination of intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug.
Both DUI laws may seem exactly the same, but physical control DUI applies to anyone who is in "actual physical control" of the vehicle while impaired. This term does not have a strict definition under Washington law and can apply in many situations, meaning a person does not have to be driving a vehicle in order to be charged with DUI in the state. For example, a person sitting in a parked vehicle with the keys in the ignition when the engine is not running could be arrested for DUI under physical control.
The penalties for a DUI under this law are identical to those of a charge under RCW 46.61.502 and often lead to driver's license suspension, fines, probation and more. The biggest issue this law raises is whether someone who is in a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol was really a threat to other drivers. For instance, someone gets into their vehicle after drinking and then realizes that they are impaired and pulls over or sits by the side of the road while waiting for a taxi could be arrested for DUI. Ultimately, it is often left to a jury to decide whether a crime was committed in these cases. That is why it is important to seek the aid of an experienced DUI lawyer when facing a DUI charge.
Experienced DUI Defense in Seattle
A DUI arrest does not have to mean conviction. Avoid the license suspension and penalties that are associated with DUI by fighting your charges with the help of a knowledgeable lawyer. Attorney Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who can help you build a solid defense. He knows the difference between DUI laws and how to best defend all driving under the influence charges.
If you or a family member has been arrested for DUI in Seattle, call The Law Offices of Steve Karimi today for a free consultation and find out more about Washington DUI laws. You will meet with attorney Karimi in a comfortable environment and have all of your questions answered. Call our office right now to get started!