A person can be charged with Driving Under the Influence of alcohol, marijuana, or drugs, or a combination of any of these substances. Washington has set legal limits of .08 of alcohol, and 5 nanograms per mililiter of THC, the psychoactive chemical in marijuana. However, a person is not necessarily off the hook if they’re under the legal limit–it is not uncommon for prosecutors to charge people who are found to be below the legal limit, but their ability to drive has been affected by their consumption of intoxicants.
When you are arrested for a DUI, a series of actions take place that can be overwhelming. The Department of Licensing will want to suspend your privilege to drive for at least a period of 90 days, and you are facing mandatory jail.
In Washington, there are mandatory minimum sentences that a judge cannot go below. The “mandatory minimum” is determined by two main things–your DUI history, and your actions at the station. DUI history is defined broadly, and can be a previous DUI, a conviction that was reduced from DUI, like a reckless driving or negligent driving in the first degree, or even a dismissed DUI where you were on a deferred prosecution for a previous DUI.
If you have no DUI history, then the mandatory minimum sentence is 1 day in jail. Mandatory sentencing will double to 2 days in jail if you refused to submit to the breath test or if your alcohol level was .15 or greater. Sentencing can also be “enhanced,” or increased, if you have minors in the vehicle at the time of the DUI.
If you have one prior DUI, mandatory minimum sentencing goes up significantly. If your alcohol level is under .15, you are facing mandatory 30 days of jail followed by 60 days of electronic home monitoring (also known as house arrest). If the level is above .15, or if you refused the breath test, then you’re looking at 45 days of jail followed by 90 days electronic home monitoring.
If you have two prior DUI’s, mandatory minimum sentencing on a DUI under .15 is 90 days of jail followed by 120 days of jail; if you are above .15 or you refused the breath test, you’re facing 120 days of jail followed by 150 days of electronic home monitoring.
Mandatory minimum sentences only set the minimum sentence; it is possible that the prosecutors will want even more time, and it is possible a judge would give it to them-a judge is authorized to order up to the maximum penalty, which, in any misdemeanor DUI, is 364 days in jail.
Because the consequences of these cases are serious, you need someone who knows what they’re doing and how to do it right. If there is an oversight or error committed by police, a break in protocol, or an issue with any device measurement, Bret Woody will find it, and he will push the prosecutors to get you the best possible outcome on your case.
While it may appear to the untrained eye that a marijuana DUI is very cut and dry, there are many ways that the right attorney will spot the right issue and ultimately lead to success.
With the legalization of marijuana, Washington quickly realized they needed to set legal limits of driving on the road with pot in the system, just as they have for alcohol. With little objective research backing them, Washington legislators agreed that 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood was sufficient for finding someone was under the influence.
However, unlike alcohol studies, the science behind driving under influence of marijuana is very limited, with scientists making conflicting conclusions. And unlike alcohol, where we know that the more you drink, the more your driving abilities are impaired, we regularly see people who are well above the 5 nanogram limit who are not only completely functional but totally unaffected by their consumption of marijuana. One person could have 20 nanograms in their system and function the same as another person at 5! There is no consistency among people; everyone is differently affected by pot.
Even more compelling, many of the standardized field sobriety tests used in alcohol-related DUIs carry little weight when it comes to marijuana-related DUI’s. When we talk to toxicologists, they tell us we may OR MAY NOT see the same clues one would with an alcohol-related DUI. Other researchers have found that several of the field sobriety tests are not useful in marijuana related DUI’s because they definitively cannot tie the clues to any particular amount of pot in the body. In other words: the tried-and-true tests tell us nothing for marijuana cases.
Because the science behind marijuana DUI’s is limited, conflicted, and inconclusive, this allows us tremendous opportunities to attack the prosecutor’s case. We attack the basis for the police who keep using these tests, even though the science does not support their usefulness, and we attack the numbers themselves.
Finally, marijuana DUIs typically involve a drawing a sample of the person’s blood to assess the amount of nanograms of marijuana in the system. This also can be fertile grounds for a variety of players to break protocol—from phlebotomists, to police, to the blood analysts themselves. Any break in protocol, policies and procedures, is a chance that there is a break in the case, and you get a good outcome as a result.
Prescription drug-related DUIs present us with unique opportunities to attack the prosecutor’s case. Unlike alcohol- or marijuana-related DUIs, there is no standardized amount to find, by law, a person is under the influence. If someone is within therapeutic ranges of their medication, then the argument can be made that they were not affected by the drug. What becomes crucial, then, is one’s medical history. Has the medication been prescribed? Has the medication been prescribed and taken properly? How long has the medication been prescribed for? Has the medication dosage changed recently? A person’s medical record can become very valuable in these kinds of cases.
Prescription drug cases also involve a type of law enforcement officer called a drug recognition “expert” whose job it is to subject a person to additional testing to rule out a medical event as the cause for the questionable driving, and to try to make a determination of the class of drug the person has consumed. While these particular officers have more training than your average cop, the more an officer works a case, the more they can do wrong.
You want an attorney who does not give cops the benefit of the doubt. After all, they didn’t do that for you. Bret Woody starts with the assumption that the cops have done wrong, and demands to be proven otherwise. It is the Prosecutor’s burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and Bret holds them to their burden and hold their feet to the fire by critically reviewing the evidence and fighting for you every step of the way.
A DV charge can have a devastating impact on your life without the proper representation. A person faces loss of firearm rights, loss of career, and a lengthy period of not seeing their significant other. If you aren’t a citizen of the United States, this kind of charge can also have serious immigration consequences for you, including deportation, exclusion from admission to the United States, and ineligibility to naturalize as a citizen. While these are all very common consequences, getting a reduction or full dismissal of these charges is also a very real possibility. Hiring an attorney who is adept at navigating all of these challenges is key. Bret Woody has extensive experience handling DV cases, and will work every angle to achieve the results you’re looking for.
Crimes of violence are a term of art that refer to a specific class of some of the most serious felonies in Washington. If you are charged with crimes of violence, you are likely looking at significant time in jail or prison. If you are accused of a crime of violence, you need to hire a defense attorney to start an investigation to question the accusations and poke holes into the State’s case.
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