Driving while intoxicated is a serious charge in Washington. Many people create their own guidelines regarding how many drinks they allow themselves before they get behind the wheel. Yet, people are often very surprised to learn that they could still be charged for DUI even when their Blood Alcohol is below the legal limit. According to Washington State DUI statute (RCW 46.61.504), a person is Driving Under Intoxication when their driving is affected to any substantial amount, even if their BAC is lower than the legal limit.
What Factors Do Prosecutors Consider Before Filing Charges?
Naturally, every case is different. Many different factors affect whether a prosecutor will still choose to press charges when someone's BAC is shown below the legal limit.
Prosecutors consider these factors when weighing whether to prosecute:
- What was the driving behavior at the time?
- How did the suspect appear?
- What was the suspect's demeanor?
- What did the suspect say when pulled over?
- Did the driver admit to using any drugs or alcohol?
- What were the results of any field sobriety tests?
If you are pulled over for a traffic stop and the officer asks that you blow into a portable breathalyzer tests on the side of the road, refusing the tests rarely is in your best interest. When you refuse, you automatically lose your driver's license for one year. What's more, the refusal can weigh on the court's decision regarding your guilt. There are no penalties for refusing the field sobriety tests. After all, many people who have not imbibed any alcohol will fail those tests; police often use these to gain an idea if the driver has had anything to drink.
If the officer at the scene weighs all the factors prosecutors consider and the amount reflected in the breathalyzer test, and believes you are impaired, charges can follow. Perhaps you or a loved one has had this experience. You may think you can fight these charges alone because your numbers registered low. Even in these cases, going it alone is not a good idea. It is critically important for this serious charge to seek an experienced legal professional. At Wolff Defense, DUI defense is all we do. Even with a lower BAC, you could still face serious penalties of a DUI conviction.
If you believe charges could be headed your way, it is critical to your future and your case that you contact a DUI attorney as soon as possible. When you need answers, a consultation can help you sort out your best move. Your attorney will learn about your background and interview you about the incident. Once all the data and information is collected, your attorney can offer a clear understanding of what you will be dealing with. Call our office today to schedule your free consultation. At Wolff Defense, we focus solely on DUI. We can help.