What is the best way to prevent a DUI charge?  Well, obviously, not drinking or using cannabis before driving.  However, drinking or using cannabis and driving is not in and of itself illegal in the State of Washington; driving while impaired is.  If you are going to use cannabis or drink and drive, follow these tips to avoid getting pulled over in the first place, and, if you are pulled over, to minimize the government’s evidence against you:DUI-Lawyer-300x200

  • Obey all traffic laws.  Don’t speed, use your turn signals, stop at red lights, etc.  Drivers are often pulled over for minor traffic infractions, and, after the officer smells alcohol, a DUI arrest ensues.
  • Make sure all equipment is functioning properly on your car.  This includes headlights, turn signals, taillights, license plate lights, etc.  At two in the morning, officers are looking for a reason to pull you over, and a faulty taillight is just the ticket.
  • If at any point after you begin driving you begin feeling impaired, pull over to a safe location and call for a ride.  If you decide to “sleep it off” in your car, take the keys out of the ignition and crawl into the back seat.
  • If you are pulled over, have your license, registration, and insurance ready when the officer approaches.  Fumbling for these documents is one of the clues officers look for to determine whether a driver is impaired.
  • DON’T admit to drinking or smoking marijuana.  But don’t lie either.  If the officer asks, simply stay silent, or tell him you would like to speak to an attorney before answering questions.  Your silence or your request for counsel cannot later be used against you in court as can an admission.
  • DON’T complete field tests.  If the officer is asking you to do field tests, chances are he has already decided to arrest you.  The field tests are difficult to pass under the best of circumstances.  If you have been drinking, all you will be doing by completing these tests is providing the government with evidence against you.
  • DO ask for counsel at your first opportunity.  And keep asking until you are connected to an attorney.  Our office can be contacted any time, day or night.  Keep our emergency number in your purse or wallet, tell the officer where the number is located, and insist on calling us.  If you are unable to reach us for any reason, DO insist on speaking to a public defender.
  • DON’T answer any questions after your arrest.  Even seemingly innocent questions, such as the date or time can provide evidence of impairment if answered incorrectly.
  • DO ask to speak with a lawyer before you take the breath test.  The penalties for refusal are almost always harsher than the penalties for taking the test but this is best determined by speaking with an attorney.  Additionally, breath test evidence can be attacked in court on a technical basis; refusal evidence almost always comes in.
  • If you have questions regarding the breath test or the penalties for taking or refusing the test, ask the officer.  Keep asking until you understand.  Ask to speak to counsel again if you need to do so. Same thing is true for the blood test.
  • DO ask for additional tests.  You have the right to an additional test of your breath or blood, administered by a person of your choosing, after you have submitted to a breath test.  Exercise of that right can provide evidence in your favor, and the government’s failure or refusal to assist you in your exercise of this right can lead to the exclusion of their evidence against you.
  • DO contact a DUI lawyer the next day.  Action to minimize the impact of the charge must be taken immediately.  As noted above, if you wish to contest the suspension of your license, you must ask for a hearing before the Department of Licensing within twenty days.  There are often court dates and other deadlines that must be met as well.  Our job is to be your advocate through this often confusing and emotional process.