DUI arrests in King County and surrounding areas are on the rise, with significant increases in 2017 arrests over previous years. Local news outlets reported that DUI arrests in 2017 rose sharply from arrest numbers reported in 2016. Numbers for DUI arrests in all Washington counties are not yet in for 2017, but early estimates reflect significant increases from 10-12% or more over 2016. In King County, arrest numbers for driving under the influence l leaped from just under 2,000 arrests in 2016 to 2,565 in 2017, a difference of 566 arrests, a 22% increase from 2016.
The WSP do not yet know exactly what attributed to the increases, but are weighing the possibility that staffing increases have contributed to the uptick. The WSP has recruited, hired, trained, and commissioned new officers in 2017. Additionally, aggressive strategic efforts across the state of Washington targeting intoxicated drivers were in effect throughout the year. Initiatives such as the impaired driving emphasis patrol employed over the December holiday season, which involves extra patrols deployed to peak areas at peak driving times, are among such tactics.
Washington DUI laws are among the strictest in the nation. A first offense could carry a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail plus a fine of $5,000. As law enforcement grows more aggressive in its patrol of the highways, many more residents and out-of-state visitors may find themselves facing charges for driving under the influence.
While the penalties for DUI can seem incredibly intimidating, it is critical to remember that an arrest does not mean you will be convicted. If you or someone you love has been arrested, one of the biggest mistakes to avoid is choosing not to fight your charges. There are numerous grounds on which your arrest can be challenged by an experienced defense attorney. Often, those who were stopped and tested with a BAC over the legal limit think they have no recourse. This could not be further from the truth.
Breathalyzer machines must be tested, calibrated, and administered properly. If law enforcement officials make errors in any of these steps, your attorney can challenge the results. Additionally, law enforcement officers must follow certain steps when conducting a breath test. With large numbers of new officers joining the WSP, there is also an accompanying risk that these new recruits will not follow all proper steps during a roadside test, giving even more ammunition to your defense attorney. Even if a breath test was properly administered, a reading may not pass muster due to the physical characteristics of the individual. Medical conditions, food/drink consumed immediately prior to the test, and even certain diets, can result in an artificially inflated BAC reading.
No DUI case is 'open and shut'. If you're facing charges, contact my firm so that we can discuss the circumstances of your case, your options, and act quickly to protect your rights.