dui attorney bellingham

DUI Lawyer Bellingham

Bellingham DUI Charges?

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I've been charged with a DUI in Whatcom County.

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We get it.
You made a mistake.
Help is just a click or call away.

We believe that good people make mistakes and shouldn’t be excessively punished for years to come.

Why are we qualified to represent you?

  • DUI cases are the focus of our criminal defense practice. 
  • Our legal practice is 100% devoted to criminal defense.
  • We have vigorously defended DUI cases since 2016.
  • We will fight for your freedom, license and peace of mind.

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.

Keep Your Freedom & Your License

Bellingham DUI Lawyer for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges

DUI Criminal Defense for DUI Arrests in Bellingham Washington

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.

Bellingham DUI Attorney to Protect Your Record, Freedom, License & Future

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.

DUI Defense Services

DUI Case Types

1st DUI Offense

Protect Your Future

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.

Multiple DUI Offenses

2nd, 3rd + DUIs

With every successive DUI charge, your penalty risks substantially increase. These risks include jail time, increased penalties & fines, increased insurance costs, etc.

Marijuana DUI

A Common Bellingham DUI

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 DUI

WWU, WCC & BTC

College students risk being expelled and negatively affecting their future professions with a DUI charge. Protect your future with a strong defense.

Minors' DUI

DUI & Possession Charges

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.

Physical Control DUI

Did you know..

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.

What to expect when you get a Bellingham DUI

DUI Criminal Defense Process

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.

Words of Wisdom
wisdom law dui attorney bellingham

Tips For Avoiding A DUI

  • Do not drink and drive. Instead, designate a sober driver who is reliable
  • Drink at least one glass of water for every alcoholic drink.
  • Don’t sit in the driver’s seat and give your keys to someone sober
  • Your vehicle must be safely off the roadway if you choose to sleep in it to avoid driving. Sleep in the backseat & don’t leave your keys in the ignition
  • Keep your car clear of any empty alcohol containers.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in proper working order
  • Make sure your head lights are on at night
  • When you see the police officer’s lights, pull over immediately.
  • Be cooperative & polite with the police officers
  • Politely decline all voluntary field sobriety tests (FST).
    the police station.
  • Exercise your rights to be silent & to speak to an attorney and CALL US! 

About DUI Evidence

dui attorney whatcom

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.

  • Field Sobriety tests.  These tests are used to confirm the police officer’s suspicions on the street. AVOID!
  • Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) If an office asks you to be interviewed by a DRE because they suspect drug use, you are allowed to refuse this examination too. The DRE testimony will help them get a warrant. Without the DRE testimony, the officer will still likely get the warrant but with a backed-up crime lab, the DUI case can be resolve the results ever appear.
  • Blood tests This is the only test that can confirm THC in your system and you can decline to consent to this test. The officer will have to get a warrant.

DUI Penalties

dui criminal defense attorney bellingham

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”.

DUI First Offense

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.

DUI Second Offense

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.

DUI Third Offense

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.

DUI Penalty Enhancements

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.

DUI Driver License Consequences

Every DUI conviction is reported to the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). The DOL can suspend your driver’s license as follows:

  • First offense. 90-day suspension (two day suspension if you are enrolled in an in-treatment program for 90 days. The suspension will be for one year if your BAC is greater than .15%. 
  • Second offense. Two-year suspension (one-year suspension if you are enrolled in six months or more of an in-treatment program. The suspension will be extended for 900 days if the driver’s blood alcohol content is greater than .15%.
  • Third offense. 3 years license revocation for three years. For drivers with BACs of .15% or more, it will be extended to four years.
  • Refusal. If you refuse to take a blood or breath test under Washington’s implied consent law, you are subject to your license being revoked. 
  • Ignition interlock device. Every DUI conviction requires the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID can be used to obtain a restricted IID license. This restricted license allows operation during the suspension/revocation period with the IID.
    Probationary driver’s license. The driver’s license will remain probationary for five years after reinstatement.

Minimum DUI Penalties In Washington State

Variations Based on BAC or Breathalyzer Refusal
1st DUI
2nd DUI
3rd DUI
JAIL
1-2 Days
30 - 45 days
90 - 120 Days
Electronic Home Monitoring
None
60- 90 Days
120- 150 Days
Fines
$1000 - $1250
$1000 - $1700
$2000+
Suspended License
90 - 365 Days
1-2 Years
2-3 Years
Probation
5 Years
5 Years
5 Years
Ignition Interlock Device
1 Year
1 - 5 Years
1 - 10 Years
SR-22 Auto Insurance
3 Years
3 Years
3 Years
Alcohol/Drug Evaluation
Yes
Yes
Yes
DUI Victim Panel
Yes
Yes
Yes
Words of Wisdom
wisdom law dui attorney bellingham

Don't jeopardize your driver's license!

  • You have only one week from your arrest date to request your DUI hearing. Failing to do so jeopardizes your driver’s license. Be sure to include the $375 fee with your form request.
  • If you fail to request a hearing within 1 week, you will lose your license 30 days from the date of arrest
  • The DOL must hold the hearing within 30 business days upon receipt of your hearing request.
  • The DOL will provide you only 5 days notice of your DUI license hearing. Don’t miss it!
  • If you fail to timely request your hearing, or lose at your hearing, you are still able to drive with an Ignition Interlock License.

What can you expect when facing a DUI in Bellingham?

Insights from DUI Lawyer Bellingham

DUI FAQs

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:

  • Blood alcohol level (BAC) is .08% or greater and/or
  • THC concentration is 5 nanograms or more per milliliter of blood

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:

  1. Upon arrest. When you’re arrested you will likely be booked into the county jail overnight. Typically you will be released the next day in one of two ways. Depending on your criminal record, you may be released “on your own recognizance.” That means you promise in writing to come to all your court dates, and are allowed to go free. In other cases, bail is required. 
  2. Upon conviction. All DUI charges carry some amount of jail time. Reducing your jail time is our priority as your DUI attorney. 

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:

  • Stop the administrative suspension by the DOL.
  • Make sure you understand what you need to do to get your license reinstated.
  • Help you make the best choices for your circumstance.
  • Build your strong DUI defense to prevent your license being affected.

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

The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.

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