Seattle DUI FAQs

If you have been recently arrested for a DUI in the Seattle area, you probably have a lot of important questions. As an experienced DUI attorney, Matthew Leyba has assisted many drivers by answering all the important questions that come up after a DUI arrest.

I’ve been arrested for a Seattle DUI. Now, what?

You were pulled over, given a field sobriety test, asked to take a breath or blood alcohol test, arrested, and taken to the police station. Your vehicle was most likely impounded, requiring you to wait at least 12 hours before getting it out and likely cost you hundreds of dollars to do so.

One of your first questions is probably “what happens next?” The first step you should take after a DUI arrest is contacting a Seattle DUI attorney. It is important to find an attorney that has years of experience handling DUIs in the city where the arrest occurred. Having an attorney that is familiar with the court system in your city can make a huge difference in the outcome of the case.

It is important to research and speak with a few different attorneys to ensure you hire the one that you feel most comfortable with and confident about. Researching your options thoroughly is important, but don’t wait too long to hire an attorney as it is important that they have adequate time to research your case and prepare for your hearing.

At the time of arrest or shortly after, you should have received the Department of Licensing (DOL) Administrative Hearing Request Form. You will have 20 days from the date of arrest to request your hearing. An experienced DUI defense attorney can be a huge help during this process to increase your chances of beating the license suspension. They can also offer advice on what steps to take if your license is suspended.

What are the consequences of a Seattle DUI conviction?

Washington State has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. A Seattle DUI conviction carries mandatory penalties including jail time, license suspension or revocation, probation, and possibly ignition interlock device use.  Along with these mandatory penalties, a DUI conviction often also comes with fines, court fees, and other expenses.

In Washington, the mandatory fees associated with a DUI conviction are given based on the BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level at the time of arrest, whether you refused to take the BAC, and the number of prior DUI offenses. For BAC levels of .15 or above or for cases that the BAC test was refused, the penalties are more severe. A prior DUI within the last seven years of your arrest date may also result in increased penalties.

Is a DUI a felony in Washington?

A first offense DUI in Washington is not a felony; it is a gross misdemeanor. However, if the driver has four or more prior convictions within a ten year period, if someone is injured or killed in the same incident as your DUI charge, or if the driver has a prior vehicular assault or vehicular homicide charge, the DUI may be charged as a felony.

Although a first offense DUI is not a felony, the penalties can still be very serious, including license suspension, having to report the conviction to current and future employers, and possible jail time.

How do I find a Seattle DUI attorney?

Choosing the right Seattle DUI attorney can be intimidating. It is important to ensure you choose an attorney that is experienced in DUI cases as well as the court system in which your hearing is taking place. A few important questions to ask when talking with potential attorneys:

  • How many years have you been in practice?
  • How much experience do you have with DUI cases?
  • How many cases have you taken to jury trial?
  • What is your assessment of my case?
  • What would be the final outcome of my case?
  • Will you personally be handling my case or will it be someone else?
  • What are your fees?

How do I fight the license suspension?

If a BAC level of .08 or above was registered at the time of arrest, or a BAC test was refused, the DOL will begin the process of suspending your license. To fight this suspension, you will be required to request a hearing with the DOL within a required period. At this hearing, you can challenge the suspension. If you do not submit the required paperwork to request a hearing, your license will be suspended.

An experienced Seattle driving under the influence attorney can help you answer any questions about the DOL hearing, as well as assist you with the best way to challenge the suspension with the DOL.

What are field sobriety tests?

Field sobriety tests are standardized tests that test the blood alcohol level of the accused driver. These tests may include:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  • Walk and Turn
  • One Leg Stand
  • Portable Breath Test
  • Drug Recognition Examination
  • Non-standardized test (Finger to Nose, Alphabet, Balance Test, Finger Dexterity)

What is a SCRAM device?

A SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) device is a bracelet that can detect alcohol from the wearer’s skin. This device is a simple and cost-effective way to ensure that those accused or convicted of a DUI  do not consume alcohol. The court may require that the ankle bracelet is worn by defendants who are awaiting trial, or those who have already been convicted and are on probation.

The SCRAM device is monitored by a company that sends daily reports to probation and law enforcement officials. A SCRAM bracelet can detect as little as a .02 alcohol reading on the skin. The bracelet can not detect drugs in the wearer’s system.

Can I enter Canada after a DUI arrest?

Canada considers a DUI or DUI related offense to be a grave matter and, therefore, you most likely will not be allowed into Canada after you have been convicted of a DUI or even a reduced charge. If you do need to go into Canada after a DUI charge, there are a few ways to work around the restriction. You will either need to be deemed “rehabilitated” or granted a temporary resident permit.

A person may be deemed rehabilitated if they have no other criminal convictions for a minimum of five years after the DUI conviction.

Do I need to get an alcohol evaluation?

An alcohol evaluation is conducted by a state certified chemical dependency agency and is a series of questions used to determine if a person has a chemical dependency problem. Although these tests may seem scary, if no alcohol problems are found after the evaluation, the test could ultimately help with your case in court.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a device that requires a breath test to measure a driver’s BAC level before the vehicle can be started. If the test determines a BAC level over a predetermined about, the vehicle cannot be started.

An IID enables a driver to get an Ignition Interlock driver’s license that allows a driver whose license has been suspended to drive a vehicle that is equipped with an IID.

Have more questions?

A DUI arrest can be very serious and very scary. Being prepared for each step of the DUI process is a must. If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI, call Matthew Leyba today. As an experienced DUI attorney in the Seattle area, he would be happy to give you a free 60-minute consultation to answer any questions you may have.

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“I finally feel like I can move on in my life, and thanks to you, I don't have a DUI conviction to worry about. Thanks again from the bottom of my heart.”

- former client found
not guilty of DUI