If you are facing charges driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Tacoma or the surrounding areas, whether you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or THC concentration above the legal limit or you are affected by drugs or alcohol, then you need to understand what you are up against. You need to call a knowledgeable and aggressive Tacoma DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to go over the DUI court process and potential DUI consequences. Learning about the administrative and criminal penalties you face is the best way to fight against these charges and achieve the best outcome in your case.
You should never take DUI charges lightly. Instead, you should do everything you can to avoid a conviction or to at least reduce the consequences of a conviction, including by calling The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC at (253) 518-3643.
Administrative License Suspension
You may not expect the consequences of a DUI to occur right away. However, you could lose your license fairly quickly. The arresting officer notifies the Department of Licensing (DOL) of your DUI arrest., who then sends you a notice of an administrative driver’s license suspension. This is a civil penalty and has no bearing on the criminal DUI proceedings.
You may be subject to this automatic administrative license suspension if you were over the legal limit for blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or if you refused to submit to a chemical test. If you are arrested for a DUI, yet you submitted to one or more chemical tests, then you face a 90-day suspension. If you refused any chemical test, then you may face a 1-year suspension. If you are arrested for a second or subsequent offense, the administrative suspension may be for up to 2 years.
Once you receive notice of an administrative suspension, you have 20 days to ask for a DOL hearing. You need to contact a DUI attorney right away to have someone fight for you on both the civil and criminal fronts of your matter.
Criminal License Suspension
One of the most common DUI consequences is losing your license. The length of the suspension depends on whether it is a first or subsequent DUI, your BAC at the time of the arrest, whether or not you refused a chemical test, and your criminal history.
- First DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: A 90-day suspension
- First DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or chemical test refusal: 1 or 2-year suspension
- Second DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: 2-year suspension
- Second DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or a chemical test refusal: 900-day or 3-year license revocation
- Third DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: 3-year revocation
- Third DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or a chemical test refusal: 4-year revocation
When you are convicted of a DUI and lose your license, there may come a time when you can request limited driving privileges. You should speak to a DUI attorney about the possibility of being able to drive for work, school, medical appointments, or other necessities.
With both a driver’s license suspension and revocation you completely lose the right to drive. However, the differences arise when you go to reinstate your license. When it is revoked, there is a more in-depth process for being able to obtain a license once again.
Loss of Commercial Driver’s License
DUI consequences can have a profound impact on your career if you have your commercial driver’s license (CDL). The same rules apply except your legal BAC limit is not .08 percent, it is .04 percent. If you are arrested for having a BAC over .04 percent while driving a commercial vehicle, you will face an administrative license suspension of your personal and professional licenses. If you refuse to submit to a chemical test, you face a longer suspension of both licenses.
If you hold CDL at the time of your DUI, whether or not the incident took place in a commercial or personal vehicle, you will lose your professional license. A conviction of a DUI automatically leads to a 1-year suspension of your CDL. If you are convicted of multiple DUI’s, you may lose your CDL forever.
Ignition Interlock Devices
If you are convicted of a DUI, the judge may have the discretion or could be legally bound to require you to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drives a part of your DUI consequences. If you are ordered to use this device, you must have it installed before you can have your driver’s license reinstated. You will be responsible for the cost of installation, regular maintenance, and removal, which can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars.
This device requires that you breathe into and blow a zero BAC before you can start your car. You may also have to blow into the machine while you drive to continue to prove there is no alcohol on your breath. If the device registers a BAC while the vehicle is off, it will not allow you to start the vehicle for a period of time. If it registers a BAC during the drive, it will warn you to pull over and shut off the vehicle and will record the incident, which will then be retrieved by the DOL and could lead to additional consequences. It does not automatically shut off the car for safety reasons.
Incarceration and Probation
Two harsh consequences of a Washington DUI are time in jail and living under the restrictions of probation. The period of incarceration you face depends on the mandatory minimum for the offense and other factors, including your history and actions that led to your arrest.
For a DUI, you may be jailed between 1 and 364 days.
- First DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: A minimum of 1 day in jail, up to 364 days, and up to 60 months of probation.
- First DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or chemical test refusal: A minimum of 2 days in jail, up to 364 days, and up to 60 months of probation.
- Second DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: Between 30 and 364 days in jail and up to 60 months of probation.
- Second DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or a chemical test refusal: Between 45 and 364 days in jail and up to 60 months of probation.
- Third DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: Between 90 and 364 days in jail and up to 60 months of probation.
- Third DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or a chemical test refusal: Between 120 and 364 days in jail and up to 60 months of probation.
If you are convicted of a fourth DUI or related charges, or a DUI that involved another person’s injuries or death, then you will be charged with a felony DUI that could result in a greater amount of incarceration. You could be sentenced to more than 1 year in prison.
Fines range anywhere from around $1,000 to up to $5,000 for a misdemeanor offense.
- First DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: Between $940.50 and $5,000
- First DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or chemical test refusal: Between $1,195.50 and $5,000
- Second DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: Between $1,195.50 and $5,000
- Second DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or a chemical test refusal: Between $1,620.50 and $5,000
- Third DUI, BAC Below .15 percent: Between $2,045.50 and $5,000
- Third DUI, BAC Above .15 percent or a chemical test refusal: Between $2,890.50 and $5,000
To try and avoid a high fine as part of your DUI consequences, speak with our DUI attorneys at The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PLLC. We will review your situation, including your finances, and discuss your options. If you are sentenced to pay various fines and fees, you must take care of them before you can reinstate your license.
Alcohol or Substance Abuse Treatment
If prosecutor suspect that your DUI is related to drug or alcohol abuse or dependence, you will be required to go through an alcohol and/or drug assessment conducted by a state-certified agency. Depending on the outcome of this assessment, you may be required to go through a certain treatment program. This could entail a residential program or out-patient treatment. If you fail to complete your required treatment plan, you could suffer additional DUI consequences, like returning to jail.
A common alternative to jail time is electronic monitoring, also known as electronic home detention. You may be required to serve electronic detention instead of all or part of your jail sentence. You will be forced to remain in your home, though you may be allowed to go to work at scheduled times. If you move beyond your home base’s geographic area, which is detected through GPS monitoring, a violation is recorded, which could result in jail time. For a first-time DUI, you may be sentenced to 15 days of monitoring instead of every 1 day in jail. For a second DUI, you could be required to spend 60 or 90 days under electronic monitoring in addition to your jail sentence. A third DUI could lead to 120 or 150 days of electronic monitoring in addition to jail time.
Another alternative to strict imprisonment is work release. You are allowed to go to work during the day, but you return to a correctional facility at night. In most situations, you must complete a certain period of incarceration first, then you must be approved for a work-release program in your area. Some cities or counties in Washington do not have work release programs.
Let a Tacoma DUI Lawyer Fight For You
Tacoma DUI attorney Morgan Fletcher Benfield understands you may have a variety of reactions to being charged with DUI. You may be overly worried, terrified that this will ruin your education or career. You may have the opposite reaction and feel like you can easily handle the DUI and it will do very little to change your way of life. The reality is somewhere in the middle. You should always take a DUI seriously, yet working with a DUI attorney can reduce some of the worry. There are many ways to defend against this type of charge. Additionally, there are strategies we can use to reduce the potential DUI consequences. These may remove the need for mandatory minimum penalties, save you time and money, or ensure you can continue your education or earning a living.
Call The Law Offices of Morgan Fletcher Benfield, PPLC today at (253) 518-3643 to schedule a free consultation.