Law enforcement officials in Washington have increased their efforts to eliminate driving under the influence by collaborating with ridesharing companies and promoting sales of individual breath test kits. The state, however, ranks at number eight in the top 10 when it comes to drunken driving arrests. Prosecutors may also be eager to pressure defendants into accepting a plea bargain.
FBI Data revealed that DUI arrests in Washington are about one third higher than the average of 330 statewide arrests nationwide, as reported by The Bellingham Herald. During the year 2018, for every 100,000 residents in the Evergreen State, law enforcement arrested an average of 430.2 motorists allegedly under the influence. Washington’s overall DUI arrest rate also increased by nearly 28% between 2009 and 2018.
Countering a DUI charge
Individuals charged with a DUI for the first time may find themselves struggling with overwhelmingly stressful concerns. This can result from not fully understanding their rights to contest the allegations. As oftentimes argued in court, for example, roadside breath test devices used by law enforcement officials may produce inaccurate results.
According to an investigation conducted by The New York Times, an improperly calibrated roadside testing device may erroneously display a motorist’s blood alcohol content as much as 40% higher than it actually is. Showing proof of an individual’s lack of impairment at the time of his or her arrest may counter a prosecutor’s allegations.
Absent an accident that caused bodily injury, property damage or death, a first-time DUI charge is typically a gross misdemeanor offense. If the charge leads to a conviction, however, the punishment may include a $5,000 fine and jail time up to 364 days.
If convicted, a defendant may also qualify for deferred prosecution, in which case the court could dismiss a DUI charge upon successful completion of a treatment program. When an individual can demonstrate that mental illness, drug addiction or alcohol dependency caused his or her arrest, attending a program may serve as a more effective and realistic penalty.