For many people, a first time DUI raises a lot of questions. What does “under the influence mean”? What happens to my license? What happens in court? What is “Mandatory Minimums Jail Time” (Man Mins)? What is EHM? What is an Ignition Interlock Device? What is probation?
Under the Influence
In the State of Washington, you are considered to be Driving Under the Influence (DUI), if your Blood Alcohol Concentration, or Breath Alcohol Concentration is .08 or greater, or if the THC concentration is greater than 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood.
Even if the alcohol or THC in your blood is below the above limits, you may still be “under the influence of drugs or alcohol if your driving was substantially impaired by the effects the marijuana or alcohol.
An experienced DUI attorney can help you understand the numbers and attack the way the testing was done, so that you get the best result possible.
What Happens to My License
There are several ways to lose your license following a DUI arrest. One way is to lose the administrative hearing, which you have to request and pay for. If you don’t request the DOL hearing, you will automatically lose you license. Another way to lose your license is if you’re convicted of DUI, or reckless driving. A drunk/drugged driving conviction will lose you your license for between 90-365 days. A reckless driving conviction will cost you your license for 30 days. Of course, both of these scenarios assume that you are not a Habitual Traffic Offender.
You may be eligible for an Ignition Interlock License (IIL), or an occupational license. With either license you must get SR-22 insurance and pay an application fee to the DOL. The also requires installation of an Ignition Interlock Device that randomly tests the driver for alcohol. An experienced DUI defense attorney is your best chance at keeping your license, or getting it back.
What Happens in Court
Your first hearing is called the Arraignment. This is your chance to plead not-guilty. The judge or commissioner will then order conditions of release. These conditions address the following: Consume no alcohol/drugs without a valid prescription; drive only with valid license and insurance; don’t refuse breath or blood tests; Don’t drive with BAC above .00; obey all laws; appear for all court appearances.
The judge can also order bail, EHM, and Ignition Interlock Device.
Your next hearing is the Pre Trial Conference (PTC), which is your defense attorney’s opportunity to negotiate your case with the prosecutor. You may have several PTC’s before settling the case, or proceeding to trial.
What is “Mandatory Minimums Jail Time” (Man Mins)?
A first DUI with a BAC below .15 requires 1 day in jail, or 15 days EHM, a $950 fine, and cost recovery for the arresting officer’s time. If the BAC was above .15, then the Man Min is two days in custody, or 30 days EHM.
The Maximum Term and Fine is 364 days in custody, and a $5,000 fine. The maximum is very rarely given.
What is EHM?
Electronic Home Monitoring is frequently referred to as “house arrest”. EHM is considered an alternative to confinement, which means the person is still considered to be in custody, but not in jail. While on EHM, the person must wear a monitoring “bracelet” on their ankle. The bracelet reports where they are. Although, people on EHM can go to work, doctor’s appointments, and do some other chores outside the house, all of these activities require prior approval.
You are frequently required to pay for EHM. Costs range from $9 – $20 per day, so it can be very expensive.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device
As mentioned above, an Ignition Interlock Device (IID), also referred to as a “blow and go”, is installed in your car and will only allow the driver to start and continue to operate the vehicle after performing alcohol free breath tests. The driver is required to pay for the device, if required. Costs range from as low as $80 per month, to as high as $150.
What is probation?
There are two types of probation: Formal, and Bench. Formal probation requires meeting with an assigned probation officer as often as he or she wants to meet with you. Bench probation simply means that your name is loaded into a computer and stays there unless you get into new trouble. At that point, the computer tells the court to call you in to explain why you are in trouble again. Probation generally last five years, but people are rarely on formal probation for the entire five years. If you violate the terms of your probation, you could find yourself in custody for 30 days.