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Frequently Asked Questions About DUI

Question:
Why didn't I receive a ticket or a notice to appear in court?
Answer:
Some police agencies issue a traffic ticket and notice to appear in court upon releasing a DUI suspect from jail, but most do not. Instead, you will be given a copy of your breath test results and a hearing request form from the Department of Licensing. For agencies that follow this procedure, the police officer's report will be forwarded to the prosecutor, who will review it and invariably file charges against you.

Question:
Why did the officer punch a hole in my license?
Answer:
When the officer punched a hole in your license he made it into a temporary license, good for sixty days, which means that the Department of Licensing is about to suspend or revoke your driver's license. If you do not take action by filing a hearing request form within thirty days, you will lose your right to contest the department's action.

Question:
What special rules apply if I am under 21 years old?
Answer:
The Department of Licensing will suspend your license if you are under 21 years old and were driving with an alcohol concentration of .02 or more. It is also a crime to drive a car while under age 21 if you have an alcohol concentration of .02 or more. A youthful offender must be prosecuted for adult DUI if the test result is .08 or higher, or if the prosecutor can prove the driver was impaired at the time of driving.

Question:
Will I have to go to trial?
Answer:
Most criminal cases do not go to trial. The same is true of DUI cases. Whether a DUI case goes to trial is determined by many factors.

Question:
Will the judge be upset with me if I hire a lawyer and fight the charge instead of pleading guilty?
Answer:
The constitution prohibits punishing you for asserting your right to trial.

Question:
Do you have to be drunk to be guilty of DUI?
Answer:
No. To be guilty of DUI you must simply have a breath or blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more (unless you are under age 21) or your ability to drive must be lessened to an appreciable degree.

Question:
How much do I have to drink to have an alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more?
Answer:
There is no easy answer to this question because of differences in how people absorb and metabolize alcohol, but there are guidelines.

Question:
What is Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM)?
Answer:
Due in part to Washington's harsh DUI laws, the jails have become unconscionably overcrowded. A partial solution to the dilemma that has been created by the Legislature's desire to inflict serious penalties on DUI offenders has been the creation of an alternative to jail in the sense that most of us know it. Most of us would think of EHM as house arrest, and indeed that is exactly what it is. EHM allows an individual to continue working, or go to alcohol treatment, but in all respects curtails their freedom of movement.

Question:
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
Answer:
Due in part to Washington's harsh DUI laws, the jails have become unconscionably overcrowded. A partial solution to the dilemma that has been created by the Legislature's desire to inflict serious penalties on DUI offenders has been the creation of an alternative to jail in the sense that most of us know it. Most of us would think of EHM as house arrest, and indeed that is exactly what it is. EHM allows an individual to continue working, or go to alcohol treatment, but in all respects curtails their freedom of movement.

Question:
What if I have a commercial driver's license (CDL)?
Answer:
If you are arrested while driving a vehicle and you have a CDL, you will face at least a one-year disqualification from driving commercial vehicles if you have an alcohol concentration of .04 or greater, if you refuse testing, if you are convicted of a DUI, reckless driving, felony DUI or if you suffer an administrative license suspension. There is no occupational license for driving with a CDL.

Question:
I have some questions about my DUI case. Where can I go for answers?
Answer:
An experienced DUI defense lawyer is the best source. Of course we hope you will contact one of the lawyers at The Cowan Kirk Gaston Law Firm. Short of that:

  • Go to a law library (at courthouses and law schools) and research DUI law and blood or breath alcohol analysis.
  • Search the web further, and examine the linked items on this web site.
  • Buy the book, “Defending DUIs in Washington,” by Cowan & Fox (Lexis Law Publications), also available at most law libraries

Cowan Kirk Kattenhorn

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Cowan Kirk Kattenhorn is known throughout Washington and the nation for representing all of its clients with commitment, creativity and compassion. We recognize how devastating a DUI charge can be, particularly when our clients learn how incredibly tough Washington's DUI laws have become, even for a first-time offender.

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If you need a DUI defense attorney in Seattle, Bellevue, or King County, contact us today to find out why respect for our clients, a passion for justice, and our commitment to winning have earned each of us the highest honor a member of the bar can receive from our colleagues – their referrals.