An arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state of Washington requires the assistance of a qualified DUI lawyer who can prepare your case and help you understand the severity of your crime. You should look for someone fast so he or she has enough time to meet with you and discuss your options.
The lawyer you choose should have plenty of knowledge in this area and the experience that only comes from solid skills. They should have the basic information, but should also be able to handle serious offenses that can result in a loss of your freedom and finances, or even your reputation.
In the state of Washington, the three levels of DUI offenses your attorney should be familiar with include:
- Minor DUIs – A minor is anyone under the age of 21, which is the legal age for alcohol consumption. These cases can be very challenging because, in essence, more than one law is under scrutiny. The attorney must be able to address the underage drinking along with driving under the influence. If illegal drugs are included, they should know how to work within the limits of the law for this offense as well. A minor blood alcohol level, or BAC, maximum is .02%.
- Drivers over 21 – Drivers over the age of 21 who commit a DUI often face additional issues, along with the DUI, such as reckless endangerment or perhaps a hit and run. If the driver has a minor under the age of 18 in the vehicle during the time, the problem can escalate. Attorneys handling these types of crimes should prepare their cases accordingly. The standard BAC level for drivers over 21 should not exceed .08%.
- Commercial DUIs – Commercial drivers, mostly because of their occupation, have stricter guidelines. They are considered over the legal limit if their BAC level is higher than .04%. Since many commercial vehicles are involved in transporting goods or people, like buses or taxis, drivers must remain unimpaired while operating their specific modes of transportation. Their level of liability is always extremely high.
In addition, an attorney must comprehend the penalties associated with a DUI and be able to explain them in a way that their clients can understand. This is extremely important, because clients rely on their lawyers to speak on their behalf. If they are not sure of the penalties or even some terms used, they may not realize the serious implications.
On average, a first-time offender with a BAC level of .08% can receive a much lower sentence than a third time offender with a BAC level greater than .08%. Of course, the results are always at the discretion of the presiding judge. However, it is a great advantage to have a lawyer who is able to recognize these things.
Another way a DUI lawyer assists their clients is in the area of pleas. They may, at times, advise them to plead to an offense that carries a lesser sentence. In the case of felonies or Class A misdemeanors, an attorney might suggest that a first-time offender plead to lower offenses, like reckless driving, rather than a DUI. Their goal is to convince the judge that you are remorseful.
Sentencing follows the judge’s verdict and as such, another area of expertise for DUI lawyers should be explaining the amount of time that accompanies each offense. This could mean time in prison or very expensive fines.
Depending upon the severity of the crime, you could receive several months or even years in jail. The impact to your finances can begin from around $800 and soar into the thousands. Your driving privileges are also in question.
Areas of expertise for DUI lawyers often include
- Vehicle and boat offenses – DUI lawyers primarily work towards resolving issues concerning automobiles, motorcycles, trucks and buses. However, boating DUI cases are also an area they should have experience in, for their clients.
- Negligent driving – Careless driving often accompanies those who are impaired by alcohol or drugs. A DUI lawyer must understand the cause and consequences of negligence, in order to convince a prosecutor and judge to impose a lesser sentence for such negligence.
- Reckless driving – Because some DUI cases may be reduced to reckless driving, this is a key point for a good DUI lawyer to know.
- Reckless endangerment – Reckless endangerment, or the disregard for safety of others and their property, can result in hefty fines and you may be required to pay for the damage caused. Working with a DUI lawyer is the best way to handle these issues.
- Vehicular assault – All vehicular assault charges are felonies. You will need to seek the aid of a DUI attorney who can walk you through the steps involved with handling such a serious felony charge.
- Possession of controlled substances – Possessing an illegal controlled substance can be a very serious felony crime. A DUI attorney will have the legal expertise to advise you during your consultation.
- Hit and run – A DUI lawyer can help explain the difference between a hit and run that involves an inanimate object, like a mailbox, telephone pole or traffic light, versus a pedestrian or occupied vehicle, which is much more serious and can result in a greater sentence.
- Department of Licensing hearings – An arrest or conviction for DUI in the state of Washington that results in a loss of your driver’s license is also something a DUI lawyer can assist you with.
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