drinking while driving DUI defense

DUI

Being arrested for and charged with a DUI can be a life-altering experience. The embarrassment, expense and inconvenience of the criminal charge can be a heavy burden for the average person to bear. Frequently, it will impact employment, family, reputation, future job prospects and even security clearances. We understand that the outcome of a criminal case can have ramifications on a person’s life that are much longer in duration than any sentence. In every case, our goal is to mitigate the immediate and long-term damage for our client.

Drug And Alcohol Assessment

DUI Victim’s Impact Panel & Defensive Driving Classes

How To Request A Department Of Licensing Hearing

How To Obtain An Ignition Interlock License

Boating Under The Influence (BUI)

Marijuana DUI

Summons For A DUI

How To Use The “Employer Exemption” For The Ignition Interlock

Physical Control

Why We Need Bail Reform 

WE GET RESULTS

Testimonials

Ryan and his team have gone above and beyond for me during my case. They are prompt, efficient and thorough. I had a complete understanding of what was going on. Ryan took a situation that was scary for me and not only made me feel better about it, but also delivered results I didn’t know was possible. I highly recommend Ryan!

M.G.

Ryan worked diligently and extensively all angles on my case and remained steadfast to the end, ultimately negotiating a huge win for me. I can’t thank him and his team enough. I would recommend Ryan to anyone seeking and needing great legal representation.

R.M.

Excellent Attorney and Person. Affordable with a professional staff and proficient service. Thank you Ryan for helping me walk through one of the most difficult experiences in my life.

M.D.

Can You Beat A DUI?

Absolutely! At Witt Law Group, we go through a strict analysis of legal challenges to your arrest. We start at the very moment the officer made contact with you. We are looking to see whether the stop was lawful. If not, the pretextual stop may lead to the exclusion of any evidence that was gathered. Even if you failed the Field Sobriety Tests, the results of those tests would be inadmissible if your stop was unconstitutional. We also look at other legal challenges to the collection of evidence, including your breathalyzer. Frequently, officers improperly administer tests and we are looking for those mistakes.

Once we receive discovery, there is a lengthy process of analyzing all potential legal challenges for suppression of evidence and, ultimately, dismissal of the charge. If we can not get the charge dismissed initially, we will use the weaknesses of the State’s case to seek a lesser charge or delayed dismissal (pretrial diversion agreements). The ultimate goal is always to seek the greatest resolution for our client. Every effort is made to avoid any jail time, lower fines, and to keep your license. You can’t be a productive member of society if you can’t drive.

Will I Go To Jail?

Most likely, no. We work very diligently to determine an individual plan for each of our clients to address this issue. With this plan, we present our clients in such a positive light that jail time is unnecessary. Immediately upon hiring us, we will create your “to do” list, which will set you up for success. We use the weaknesses of the State’s case, along with your proactive measures, to aggressively negotiate on your behalf. In 98% of our cases, clients have served no jail time.

What Will A Private DUI Defense Attorney Cost?

Making the decision to hire private counsel is critical. Public Defenders are competent lawyers but they are overworked and have extremely large caseloads. Simply put, their caseloads limit the amount of time they can dedicate to each case. However, hiring a private attorney to work on your behalf is a financial commitment. In Kitsap County and Pierce County, the average cost for first time DUI defense will be between approximately $3,500 and $5,000 and possibly a bit more if you are charged with a second DUI or additional criminal charges. This fee includes all work efforts on your behalf. There are no additional hourly fees.

Occasionally, your attorney may decide that hiring a private detective or another expert is important to your defense. Those costs would be separate from your attorney’s fees. Additionally, if your case can not be resolved through negotiation and is set for trial, there will likely be a daily trial fee. However, over 90% of DUI cases do not go to trial.

If someone quotes a fee that is significantly lower than the average fee, it is important to determine if the lawyer is an “expert” in DUI defense. A very low fee can be a red flag. Likewise, if an attorney quotes you $6,000 for a first time DUI defense, that should give you pause. Consider what you are paying for with that fee. There are some large firms with very large overhead that need to charge higher than normal fees. This does not equate to a better outcome. Nearly all “highly qualified” DUI defense lawyers will be former prosecutors, have high review ratings, have handled hundreds or thousands of DUI cases, spend the majority of their legal practice time in the county where you were charged, and can provide individualized attention rather than pawn you off on a less experienced associate. We fit the “highly qualified” category at Witt Law Group. We are trusted for our experience and known for our success.

We are available in the evenings and weekends to help our clients. Do not be embarrassed about calling after hours to talk through fees or any other matter regarding your legal defense. Hiring a lawyer is one of the most difficult decisions you can make. There is a lot riding on it. Call anytime to reach one of our lawyers for a free consultation.

What Are The Punishments For DUI In Washington State?

The punishments for a DUI conviction in Washington State are severe. Typically, crimes handled at the District Court / Municipal Court level (which DUI is one) do not have mandatory minimum sentencing. Driving Under The Influence is one of the few exceptions to this rule. For every DUI conviction, there is a “sentencing range” that has been established by the Washington State Legislature. The factors that determine a person’s sentencing range include the level of the blow (or refusal), and the individual’s past DUI history, if any. Below are the mandatory minimums, illustrated in a grid, commonly known as the DUI Sentencing Grid. Our philosophy is to help people avoid being sentenced under this grid.

DUI Sentencing Grid

BAC Result < .15 or No Test ResultNo Prior OffenseOne Prior OffenseBAC Result > .15 or Test RefusalNo Prior OffenseOne Prior Offense
Mandatory Minimum /
Maximum Jail Time2
24 Consecutive Hours / 364
Days
30 / 364 DaysMandatory Minimum /
Maximum Jail Time2
48 Consecutive Hours / 364
Days
45 / 364 Days
If Passenger Under 16
Mandatory Jail
Additional 24 HoursAdditional 5 DaysIf Passenger Under 16
Mandatory Jail
Additional 24 HoursAdditional 5 days
EHM / or Jail Alternative15 Days in Lieu of Jail60 Days MandatoryEHM / or Jail Alternative30 Days in Lieu of Jail90 Days Mandatory
Alternative to Mandatory
Jail + EHM
N/AAt least 4 Days Jail+180
Days EHM2
Alternative to Mandatory
Tail + EHM
N/AAt least 6 Days Jail +
6 Months EHM
Mandatory Minimum /
Maximum Fine
$990.50 / $5,000$1,245.50 – $5.000Mandatory Minimum / Maximum
Fine
$1,245.50 / $5,000$1,670.50 / $5,000
If Passenger Under 16
Minimum / Maximum
$1,000 / $1,000 – $5000 +
assessments
$1,000 / $2,000 – $5,000 +
assessments
If Passenger Under 16
Minimum / Maximum
$1,000 / $2,000 – $5.000 +
assessments
$1,000 / $2,000 – $5,000
assessments
Driver’s License90-Day Suspension2-Year RevocationDriver’s License1-Year Revocation
2 Years if BAC refused
900 – Days Revocation
3 vears if BAC refused
If Passenger Under 16
II Device
Additional 6 MonthsAdditional 6 MonthsIf Passenger Under 16
II Device
Additional 6 MonthsAdditional 6 Months
24/7 Sobriety ProgramIf availableIf available24/7 Sobriety ProgramIf availableIf available
Alcohol / Drug Ed. / Victim
Impact or Treatment
As OrderedAs OrderedAlcohol / Drug Ed. / Victim Impact or TreatmentAs OrderedAs Ordered
Expanded alcohol
assessment / treatment
N/AMandatory / treatment if
appropriate
Expanded alcohol
assessment / treatment
N/AMandatory / Treatment
If appropriate
II DeviceDOL imposed in all cases.DOL imposed in all cases.DOL imposed in all cases.

How Can We Help

Initial Meeting

Our defense strategy begins at our very first meeting. Washington State is known as one of the toughest States on DUI sentencing. Our number one goal is to help our clients avoid the long term negative consequences of the DUI conviction. In other words, we strive to resolve cases in a way where our clients are not sentenced in accordance with the above DUI Sentencing Grid. We have a strict method that we follow in each and every case, beginning at our first meeting or phone call. What you can expect during our first contact is that we will:

  • Speak with you about the facts and ascertain what potential defense issues that your case has to explore.
  • Speak with you about what potential exculpatory evidence needs to be pursued. Could a business or residence have a video of the stop?
  • Make sure you understand the important timelines, such requesting your DOL hearing within 7 days.
  • Collect all of your info (including who we can and who we can NOT speak with).
  • Provide you with all the forms that you will need as your case moves forward (such as the DOL Hearing Request Form).
  • Describe to you the Washington State law relevant to your DUI case. Often this is dispelling myths that people believe to be true.
  • Most important, we will collaborate to devise a strategy that will provide the best possible outcome. This will always include our firm exploring the best legal defenses that your unique set of facts presents, but it often also requires work from you. Within several days of taking your case, we will provide you a set of “marching orders” custom made around the facts and circumstances of your case. In many occasions it has been the proactive efforts of our clients that have ultimately opened the door to terrific outcomes.

Click here to learn more about chemical dependency assessments

Click here to learn more about DUI VIP and defensive driving classes

As The Case Is Pending

Once several of these tasks have been completed, we start the process of deciding upon a path forward for your case. The decision is based on our clients wishes and upon the facts of each case. There are typically four paths that a DUI case can follow.

  1. Motions to Suppress and / or Dismiss. There must typically be a Constitutional violation surrounding the stop and / or arrest. You are asking the Court to find that the stop or arrest was unconstitutional, and then throw out all of the evidence.
  2. Pre-Trial Diversion. This is a contract between the government and the defendant. A successful “PDA” usually results in a reduced charge, but can result in dismissal.
  3. Deferred Prosecution. This is a five year treatment plan that ends in dismissal. You can only do one Deferred Prosecution in your lifetime.
  4. Trial by Jury or Judge. This is the riskiest path. It is based upon our assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case. This has the largest risk, and the largest reward.

The vast majority of our cases are resolved as Pre-Trial Diversion Agreements. Deferred Prosecutions are a great option for people who believe that they truly have a drug or alcohol dependency issue and need to seek treatment for their issue. Motions and Trial account for only a small percentage of resolutions, but should always be considered when the facts give rise.

Click here to learn more about pre-trial diversion agreements

Click here to learn more about a deferred prosecution program

Administrative Issues

In Washington, a DUI charge can be a bit complicated. DUI charges are not just handled in the criminal court. The Department of Licensing will also take action to suspend your license. Either entity (criminal court or DOL-civil) has the authority to suspend a person’s privilege to drive. Matters get worse if an accused person already has a DUI on their record, or if the person has a CDL. We handle both sides of the equation and often handle complex cases where an individual has prior convictions, has refused the test, or is under 21 years of age.

To challenge the DOL’s suspension of you license, you need to send in the correct form within 7 days from the date of your arrest. The arresting officer is supposed to provide you the necessary form, but often times they don’t. If you do not have the form, it is attached here:

Click here for a department of licensing hearing request form

If you have any questions while filling out the form, feel free to call our office. If you have an out of state license, you must send the request in the mail. The online option will not work. Don’t wait until the last day!

DUI Below .08 Standard

In addition to the standard DUI, Washington law enforcement has been pursuing DUI arrests when the driver is below the .08 limit. This often confuses drivers who are arrested and learn that they tested well below the .08 standard. They assume an attorney is not needed because the case will be dropped when they appear before a judge. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. In truth, the DUI statute (RCW 46.61.502) has always given the State the authority to pursue charges against a defendant who is below .08, but that option was rarely used by law enforcement. In recent years, these arrests are increasing in number. Essentially, the arresting officer has determined by subjective standards that you are “impaired” under the statute. The .08 measurement is really a standard with no meaning. As long as an officer can use the “impaired” portion of the statute, you can be arrested for DUI regardless of your breathalyzer reading.

Prescription Medication DUI / Marijuana DUI

Washington State has more than doubled its number of Drug Recognition Experts, or “DREs” in recent years. It is important to understand that a medicine prescribed by a physician, and used in accordance with the prescription, can lead to an arrest for DUI. The lack of knowledge is not a defense and many people are prosecuted due to prescription medications and sleeping aids.

Further, with the legalization of marijuana, there has been a huge uptick in the number of marijuana DUI arrests. While marijuana is legal, it is highly illegal to drive while impaired.

Click here to learn more about marijuana DUI

Understanding The Value Of A Good Chemical Dependency Evaluation

Don’t be offended or alarmed if we ask you to immediately schedule a chemical dependency evaluation. Your drug and alcohol evaluation is one of the best tools for any case involving substance use. Many people think that it will negatively impact their case but, more often, it has the opposite result. The treatment agencies that perform these assessments are very skilled at discerning whether the individual has a true substance abuse issue or simply made a terrible mistake that happened to involve drugs and alcohol. 

In addition to being helpful during negotiations, when received early in a case, the evaluation can be used as a tool to impact bail, conditions of release, and even dismissal of charges. However, if you choose a treatment agency based on insurance coverage or other uninformed reasons, you can make a terrible mistake. Not all treatment agencies are the same in terms of attention to timelines and details when it really matters. You may save a few bucks if you find an agency that takes your insurance but you may also be very sorry about your money-saving choice when the case resolves.

At the end of your case, if treatment was required as part of your alternative resolution, a poorly run agency can cause very serious problems for your case if they are not reliable with filing monthly reports. We are very particular about where our clients go for evaluations–the evaluators must consistently be fair, unbiased, and able to produce documents in a timely fashion to the court and probation. If you want to learn more about the necessity of a great treatment provider and tips before you go, you can view our video Tips For Your Chemical Dependency Evaluation.

Call Early in the Process

We will speak with anyone about their DUI charge, day or night. We encourage the late night phone call, because we want to help you at the earliest moment in the process. Call us from the roadside and we can assist you in making important decisions that will impact your case. Many of the case-altering decisions will be made on the spot and under tremendous stress. There is no bad time to call and get advice about a DUI case. If you’re not calling from the roadside, call in an schedule a free consultation. We can spend as long as you would like on the phone, a ZOOM call, or in person.

Rarely does someone plan to drive under the influence but, unfortunately, mistakes are sometimes made. Keep our phone number in your cell phone and ask the officer if you can make a call. We answer our phones day and night. Timelines come and go. It is best to have an attorney on board at the beginning phases of your DUI case. We have offices in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Gig Harbor for your convenience. Get a game plan and take charge of your case!

Other DUI related material

Contact Witt Law Group for a free case evaluation

Facing a criminal charge or investigation is life-altering and there are often more devastating collateral consequences than just the possibility of being found guilty of a crime. When you delay facing the reality of a criminal charge, you increase the likelihood that those collateral consequences will impact every area of your life–your driving privileges, your job, your family, your professional license, and your freedom. Call today to set up a free consultation. If our firm is not able to take your case, we will do our best to give a good local referral.