You’ve just watched your Seattle Seahawks crush the Green Bay Packers and you’re feeling pretty good. Your team played well, you had a few “pops” with your buddies at the sports bar, and now you’re driving home. It’s not far. Life’s great!
Until it’s not. All of a sudden, there they are: the dreaded blue lights flashing in your rearview mirror. Uh, oh. You’re fighting the urge to panic as you pull over. Your hands are shaking as you reach for your license and registration. Buzzkill!
There are several potential outcomes if you’re charged with DUI in the state of Washington. Each circumstance is unique. You need to know what’s around the corner for you.
Read on to learn about a Washington DUI and what it could mean for your future.
What Is the Difference Between a Washington DUI and a Washington DWI?
The letters DWI stand for driving while intoxicated and DUI means driving under the influence. In some states, a DWI and DUI are distinctly different criminal matters. However, the laws in Washington State do not make a distinction between the two terms. Generally, Washington State uses the term DUI as opposed to DWI. If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI in Washington State, you should contact an attorney immediately to seek representation for your case.
What Are the Possible Outcomes of a Washington DUI Charge?
There are four potential outcomes that result from being charged with DUI:
1. The Charge is Dismissed
This is the most desirable scenario, to have the charge dropped and let you walk away unscathed. You should know that outright dismissal depends on a number of factors, including:
- Prosecutor agrees to dismiss due to lack of evidence
- Police made a procedural error in administering breath or blood tests
- No reasonable evidence (i.e., probable cause) for the initial traffic stop
- Violation of speedy trial rights
- Violation of Constitutional rights (i.e., not read your Miranda rights during the arrest)
2. Negotiated Settlement Between You, Your Attorney, and the Government (aka Plea Bargaining)
This is the most common outcome of a Washington state DUI case. A plea bargain results from your attorney negotiating with the prosecutor based on the merits of the government’s case against you.
Both sides consider the strengths and weaknesses of the case and agree on the best path forward.
The primary benefit of a plea bargain is that it results in a lesser charge than DUI. Typically, a DUI may be reduced to one of three lesser charges via a plea bargain:
- Negligent Driving in the First Degree
- Reckless Endangerment
- Reckless Driving
Any of the three lesser charges is preferable to having a DUI on your driving record. Your attorney’s experience in these cases is essential to a positive result!
3. You are Found Guilty
This outcome can only happen two ways: you actually plead guilty at your arraignment or another stage of the proceedings, or you’re found guilty after a trial by a judge or a jury.
4. Entering Into a “Deferred Prosecution” Program
A deferred prosecution means the government agrees not to prosecute now in exchange for your consent to enter and complete a two-year alcohol/drug/mental health treatment program (either inpatient or outpatient).
There are several conditions that will be placed on you and the entire term of the agreement lasts five years. Additionally, by law you are only allowed to use your deferred prosecution once in your lifetime for a DUI case. You should not enter into a deferred prosecution lightly.
Do NOT enter into such an agreement without having had a consultation with an attorney and gaining a complete understanding of what you can expect. This is serious stuff here.
We Are Experts in Handling DUI Cases!
If you are charged with a Washington DUI, start your defense with a free consultation. Call us at your first opportunity, so we can explain the situation you are facing and what you should, and should not do next.
Call The Law Offices of Durflinger Oliver & Associates at 253-666-8927 today for a FREE consultation!