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A DUI is a serious criminal charge. A good DUI defense can reduce your charges, block evidence against you, negotiate a light sentence or even allow you to walk away free. Contact us when you need a DUI lawyer in Bellingham. We can help.
We are DUI lawyers in Bellingham. If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI), hiring a Bellingham DUI lawyer can help take the sting out of the charges by helping your legal defense. With risks to your reputation, freedom, license and wallet, a DUI can wreck havoc on your life.
If you are arrested for DUI in Bellingham Washington, it is important to contact a lawyer right away. Our firm offers criminal defense representation for people accused of driving under the influence (DUI), traffic tickets and assault.
As Bellingham DUI lawyers, we have experience defending clients against serious felonies and misdemeanors. We understand what you are going through and will work with you to develop a plan that meets your needs.
A DUI conviction can often leave you feeling embarrassed, scared, and confused by Washington State’s harsh laws and penalties.
A conviction for a crime committed in Whatcom County will remain on your criminal record which can be discovered by potential employers, licensing agencies, and professional organizations when conducting background checks.
Given the risks, don’t go to court without us. Finding the right attorney to fight your charge can be one of the most crucial decisions in your life.
We are located in downtown Bellingham, Washington, just blocks from the courthouse. We serve clients in Blaine, Ferndale, Everson/Nooksack and all Whatcom County.
Aggressively defend against your 1st DUI. If you don't and get charged again, the subsequent consequences pose even greater hardships on your freedom, license and wallet.
With every successive DUI charge, your penalty risks substantially increase. These risks include jail time, increased penalties & fines, increased insurance costs, etc.
You can get a DUI for the legal use of marijuana if you were impaired while driving, Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs can also lead to a drug-based DUI.
College students risk being expelled and negatively affecting their future professions with a DUI charge. Protect your future with a strong defense.
Not only will minors be charged with a DUI, they will also get slapped with possession charges. Witihout a proper defense, insurance rates skyrocket for years to come.
that you can get a DUI even if you are not driving? If you are in the vehicle with alcohol or drugs, you can get a Physical Control DUI for just the POSSIBILITY that you might drive impaired.
Being arrested for DUI can be overwhelming. The legal process begins immediately and often defendants may not know what to expect. To guard against being overwhelmed by the DUI criminal defense process, it is helpful to understand how the typical DUI case is processed through six major stages.
Most DUI arrests occur either when you are being pulled over, or involved in an accident. If injured, you may be taken to a hospital. Otherwise you will likely be taken to the closest police station, like Bellingham Police Department. At the police station you will be processed and probably booked into jail overnight.
Regarding getting a DUI, two important things happen during a DUI arrest. First, you were likely given a chemical test like a breathalyzer or blood test. Second, your license was taken from you. To retrieve it, you will need to act very quickly.
When arrested for DUI in Whatcom County, you have seven days to request a hearing with the Department of Licensing (DOL). If you do not request a hearing, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended.
The next stage involves getting formally charged with a DUI and any associated crimes. You will receive your charges in the mail. After you receive your charges, this is the best time to contact your DUI defense attorney. There are immediate steps that your attorney can take to help protect you against your DUI charges and properly prepare for your arraignment.
Your DUI arraignment is the first hearing of your court case. It’s the first time where your lawyer and the prosecution will both stand in front of a judge and present their cases. It’s also the hearing at which you officially enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty.” Sometimes, the prosecution will already offer a deal in exchange for a guilty plea—but since the evidence has not yet been seen by both sides, most DUI lawyers will urge you to plead not guilty at this time. The arraignment is a short court meeting, not a trial, and there is no jury at this time.
You can lose your driver’s license before your DUI case even begins. By state law, the Department of Licensing will suspend your license automatically after your DUI arrest.
You can fight this if you act quickly. From the time of your arrest you have one week to file a request for a hearing with the DOL. Your hearing is your only chance to stop the administrative suspension of your driver’s license. If you miss the deadline, it is very hard to get your license restored. Your DUI attorney will represent you at the DOL hearing which substantially improves your chances of keeping your license.
Most DUI cases are resolved without going to trial. During the pre-trial phase of your DUI proceedings, the prosecution is required to share all of their evidence against you with your attorney.
Evidentiary defects can be challenged by your DUI attorney. Your attorney is determining whether your rights were respected at all times during the arrest. This is known as “due process” which assures that if you are arrested, you will be treated fairly before the state takes away any of your rights.
Your DUI attorney will investigate whether the evidence offered against you was fairly collected. They will look for any missteps regarding the breathalyzer used in your case or how urine was collected. Your attorney will also confirm whether you received your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest.
This stage is when your lawyer has the strongest bargaining power to pursue case dismissal or a reduction of charges against you to something that is not DUI-related.
Unfortunately, you always run the risk of going to trial, especially if the prosecution refuses to bargain. A DUI trial typically takes 2 days.
Evidence is typically presented in the form of witnesses, lab results, etc. Prosecutors present witnesses such as police officers, hospital personnel, expert witnesses, lab witnesses, other witnesses. They will also offer up your breathalyzer tests and other bio tests if you took them at your arrest.
Trials can be decided by a judge alone or by a jury.
If you are convicted, you will then move on to sentencing where the judge orders your penalties which can include:
It is important to fully understand what evidence will be used against your case and how your attorney will defend you. The evidence in DUI cases isn’t as solid as the law enforcement would like you to believe and can be overcome by a skilled, experienced DUI lawyer. In DUI cases, there are usually five primary types of evidence:
Driving habits. The DUI does not usually involve an accident. It likely began when an officer saw unusual or erratic driving and decided to make a traffic stop. Officers often associate drunk driving with drifting, weaving, and driving in more than one lane at a time. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration maintains a list of 20 driving patterns that could indicate drunk driving. Yet, these patterns are only 35% accurate.
Behavior. Police officers are trained to detect signs that you may be intoxicated when they pull you over. There are obvious signs like bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol.
Field sobriety testing. You might be told to do “field sobriety testing” (FSTs), where officers can assess if you are drunk. While most of us are familiar with walking a straight line and reciting the alphabet backwards, there are many other standard tests that can be used. If you choose, you can refuse to take the field sobriety exam.
Your own statements. The police want you to confess that you were drinking. While they will ask direct questions, they might also attempt to trick you by asking you “How many drinks have you claimed you’ve had?” While police are not required by law to inform you about your rights before they arrest you, they may still use pre-arrest statements as evidence. When speaking to police, it is best to remain polite and not give any information that could incriminate you. Tell them if necessary that you are not willing to answer any questions until you have spoken with a lawyer.
Tests of blood, breath, and urine. Although this is the most reliable method of proving DUI, it is not the most accurate, especially the roadside breath test. These tests are performed using portable devices called EPAS or PAS units. These tests are not precise and are only used to assist officers in making a decision about whether to arrest you. Post-arrest tests at a hospital, police station or other facility are more reliable.
It is necessary to make a subjective judgement when performing field sobriety testing. An officer may be biased towards a driver who is guilty of failing field sobriety tests. DUI lawyers will search for audio and video evidence that weakens the officer’s case. They will also examine discrepancies in the officer’s account. Police procedures require that arrests are made in a specific manner. Your defense attorney will assess whether the police did everything possible to protect your rights and may try to get evidence removed if they violated them.
As Bellingham DUI defense lawyers, we have strategies to combat all types of evidence. The key is to contact an attorney as soon as you are arrested to improve your chances of securing your best possible outcome.
Specific Guidance for Bellingham & Whatcom County Residents
While you can not refuse a breathalyzer test at the police station upon arrest, you can REFUSE voluntary tests. Officers should tell you that these tests are voluntary.
Washington state DUI statutes determine the possible penalties for DUI convictions, including license suspensions and fines. These penalties are determined by the facts of the case and how many prior offenses you committed within what is known as the “lookback period”.
If you have not been convicted of DUI in the past seven years, then expect a fine between $350 and $5,000 as well as 1 to 364 days in jail. The mandatory day in jail can be replaced by 15 days of house arrest or 90 days in 24/7 sobriety.
Two to 364 days imprisonment and $500 to $5,000 fines are possible if you had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of at least .15%, or refuse to take a breathalyzer test. At this level, you may be placed under house arrest for 30 days or in the 24/7 sobriety program for 120 days.
If you had one DUI within the past seven years, then you are facing $500 to $5,000 in fines, and up to 364 days imprisonment. The court may alternatively order four days imprisonment and 120 to 180 days house arrest.
If you have a second offense AND refuse chemical testing, or if your BAC is greater than .15%, then you are facing $750 to $5,000 in fines, in addition to 45 to 364 days in jail. Alternatively, courts may order 6 days in jail and either 6 months house arrest or 120 day in an in-patient sobriety treatment program.
Judges can also order your vehicle to be seized or sold with repeated DUI offenses.
With two DUI convictions over the past 7 years, a third DUI can be sentenced to 90 to 364 days imprisonment, six months in an inpatient treatment facility and up to $5,000 in penalties. An additional eight days can be added by the court to sobriety monitoring.
The court can further order fines up to $1,500, 120 to 364 days imprisonment, six months in an inpatient treatment facility, and 150 days house arrest if you refused chemical testing.
If the driver was driving a child younger than 16 years at the time of the DUI offense, the court will issue additional sanctions. A first offense carries an additional 24 hour sentence and a $1,000-to $5,000 fine. For a second offense, a child passenger is subject to an additional five-day sentence and fines of $2,000 to $5,000. A third DUI conviction with a child passenger will result in ten days imprisonment and fines of $3,000-5,000.
Every DUI conviction is reported to the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). The DOL can suspend your driver’s license as follows:
A DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, charge occurs when a driver is caught operating a vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This can result in fines, jail time, and a revoked driver’s license. A DUI, or driving under the influence, is a crime in Washington. If you are arrested for DUI, it’s important to know what to expect. The laws can be complicated, so knowing what will happen next will help ease your nerves and give you confidence.
Cases involving drugs or alcohol can be resolved quickly by getting our law firm involved. We will walk you through the process, key considerations, and potential pitfalls to avoid. We will frame expectations and realistic outcomes for your case.
Washington’s DUI laws prevent drivers from operating or being in control of a vehicle when:
If you are charged with a DUI, you should immediately contact our experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and to begin developing a defense strategy. We will be able to advise you on the best way to proceed and may be able to help you avoid a conviction.If you are charged with DUI, it is important to remember that you are not alone. We can help you understand the charges against you and build a strong case in your defense.
There are several possible consequences to your Washington Driver’s License after a DUI in Whatcom County. Your driver’s license may be suspended, you may have to attend a DUI class, or you may be required to install an ignition interlock device.If you are arrested for DUI in Whatcom County, your Washington Driver’s License will be automatically suspended. You have 7 days to request a hearing with the Department of Licensing (DOL) to protect your driving privileges. We can help you request that hearing and defend your driving privileges. If you are convicted of a DUI in Whatcom County, not only could you lose your driver’s license, you also face stiff fines, possible alcohol consumption monitoring, possible jail time and higher insurance premiums.
Generally, a DUI causes you to get a criminal record, fines, and possible jail time, though the consequences of a Whatcom County DUI varies considerably based on case facts. Within 7 days after your DUI arrest, you must request a hearing with the Department of Licensing or you risk your license becoming suspended. If you are convicted of a DUI, the most common penalties are fines, jail time, and driver’s license suspension. You may also be ordered to attend treatment programs or perform community service hours.
The average DUI costs about $10,000 in Washington state. This includes fines, court costs, and increased insurance rates.The amount varies greatly. If you had a high blood alcohol level (BAC level) of .08 or greater, you face harsher criminal penalties.
DUI bail ranges between $1,000 to $10,000 depending on the severity of the case. A DUI bail is the amount of money that a person has to pay in order to get out of jail after being arrested for driving under the influence. DUI bail amounts greatly vary depending on the severity of the charges and your extenuating circumstances. In general, first-time offenders tend to have lower bail amounts than those of repeat offenders.
DUI defendants face potential jail time at 2 points in the process:
Typically, DUI sentences are served in the Whatcom County jail. In some cases however, a DUI becomes a felony. This is true if the DUI caused injuries or deaths, and it’s also true for numerous DUI offenses. A felony DUI can carry a sentence of more than a year, which is served in a state prison rather than in the county jail.
If convicted of a DUI, defendants face losing their driver’s license for a period of time. Licenses may suspended permanently or restricted (driving to/from work). We can help:
Yes. We successfully defend DUI cases everyday. Additionally, we can take the “sting” out of your penalties by getting the case dismissed, get your charges reduced, and/or negotiate a plea deal
It depends. In Washington state, DUIs are considered criminal misdemeanors. The first 3 DUI convictions are considered misdemeanors. If you get a 4th DUI conviction within 7 years, it can be a felony.
No. The Canadian government is very strict and bars for life any US driver with a DUI conviction no matter how long ago it occurred.
No. When you get a driver’s license in Washington state, you give implied consent to a breathalyzer test. If you refuse, you risk greater penalties both financially and possible longer jail time.
The Wisdom Law Firm
114 W. Magnolia St., STE 400
Bellingham WA 98225
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