DUI Defense

Vancouver DUI Defense Lawyers, WA

Aggressive defense for drivers charged with drunk or drugged driving in Washington

Driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics is illegal in Washington. Even if you are a first-time offender, you are facing time in jail, huge fines, and a likely suspension of your driver’s license. You may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You may be required to attend an alcohol abuse program. Subsequent DUIs will result in more severe sentences.

There are defenses and alternatives to prison time that may be available. At Philbrook Law Office, PS, our Vancouver DUI lawyers fight to have drunk driving charges dismissed. We regularly seek to have the breath or blood tests suppressed because the devices weren’t calibrated or because the police officer failed to administer the tests properly. We challenge the basis for the police stop. In some cases, a plea reduction to a moving traffic violation may be negotiated.

What are the current DUI laws in Washington?

According to the Washington State Department of Licensing, a driver can be charged with a DUI if:

  • The driver’s Blood Alcohol Level (BAC) is:
    • .08 or more – for drivers 21 and over
    • .04 or more – for drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL)
    • .02 or more – for minors under 21
  • The driver is “found to be driving a vehicle under the influence or affected by alcohol, any drug, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, regardless of the concentration of alcohol in their breath or blood.”


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What are the penalties for a DUI in Vancouver?

The penalties vary depending on whether you have prior violations and the BAC.

First offense and a BAC under .15

  • Between 1 and 364 days in prison
  • Between $350 and $5,000 in fines, unless the defendant is indigent in which case the fine can be suspended
  • Alternatives. The judge can substitute 15 days of home electronic monitoring or a 90-day 24/7 sobriety monitoring program – in lieu of the mandatory minimum. The costs and any additional requirements are set by the judge.

Second offense (within the prior 7 years) and a BAC under. 15

  • Between 30 and 364 days in prison
  • 60 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Between $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • Alternatives. 4 days in jail and either 120 days of electronic home monitoring or 180 days of 24/7 sobriety monitoring

A BAC of .15 or more OR the driver refused to submit to a breath test

  • Between 2 and 364 days in prison
  • Between $350 and $5,000 fines, unless the defendant is indigent in which case the fine can be suspended
  • Alternatives. 30 days of electronic home monitoring or 120 days of 24/7 sobriety monitoring

Second offense (within the prior 7 years) and a BAC over .15

  • Between 45 and 364 days in prison
  • 90 days of electronic home monitoring
  • Between $750 and $5,000 fines, unless the defendant is indigent in which case the fine can be suspended
  • Alternatives. 6 days in jail and either 6 months of electronic home monitoring or a 120-day period of 24/7 sobriety program monitoring

If there were passengers in the vehicle, especially minor children, the judge is more likely to impose a sentence near the maximum.

What is “drugged” driving?

It is illegal in Washington to drive if you are under the influence of drugs, too. A drugged driving charge is like a typical DUI charge in terms of penalties, but if differs in how it is defended. This is because there is no breath test for drugs, which means you’ll need to undergo a blood test.

The police must have a warrant to take your blood. If they forcibly take your blood, or test your blood without a warrant, that evidence can be thrown out of court.

Important! The odor of marijuana justifies probably cause for a drugged driving stop.

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Can your license be suspended if you are arrested or convicted of DUI?

The Washington State Department of Licensing will suspend your license if you are arrested for a DUI – even if you’re not convicted. They’ll also suspend your license after a conviction.

Suspension after an arrest. Your license will be suspended UNLESS:

  • You ask for a hearing within 7 days from the arrest to contest the suspension
  • The hearing officer rules in your favor.

Otherwise, your license will be suspended between 90 days and 2 years – depending on your prior record and the severity of the incident.

Suspension after a DUI conviction. Regardless of the suspension after arrest hearing, if you are convicted of a DUI, the Licensing Department can suspend your license for 90 days to 4 years. You can contest the accuracy of the suspension time – but not the merits of the conviction. This means you need an acquittal or dismissal of the DUI charge to avoid a license suspension.

If you refuse to take a breath or blood test, you license will be suspended for up to one year because all drivers give their implied consent to be tested.

Why you need a Vancouver DUI lawyer if you lose your license

When your license is suspended for a DUI, that suspension comes from the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). Even if a plea deal with a prosecutor allows you to keep your license, the DOL may still suspend it. If after a DUI license hearing the DOL suspends your license, this is called an administrative or civil suspension. This civil suspension can be up to one year for first time offenders, and two and a half years for persons with two offenses within seven years.

Once the suspension time has lapsed, additional steps must be taken in order to have a license reinstated, such as Proof of Financial Responsibility Insurance (SR-22), and a one-year ignition interlock device is required. At Philbrook Law Office, we handle DOL-related DUI hearings at no additional cost for clients who hire us for DUI defense.

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The ignition interlock device

An ignition interlock device (IID) must be installed at the driver’s expense. The IID tests your BAC before you start the vehicle and while you’re driving. If your BAC is too high, you won’t be able to start the car. If you’re on the road, you’ll be forced to get off the road.

Generally, you can obtain an Ignition Interlock Driver License (IIL) which “allows you to drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device for the period of your suspension or revocation.”

Drivers who are convicted of DUI or seek an IID license will also have to meet high financial responsibility insurance requirements. Drivers of private vehicles can drive anytime and anywhere. Drivers who use company vehicles will need to get proper documentation from the employer regarding the need to use the vehicle for work.

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How can a Vancouver DUI defense lawyer help?

There are several defense strategies that are used at DUI hearings. We assert every possible defense on your behalf. These defenses include:

  • Challenging the reliability and accuracy of the breath machine
  • Questioning whether police followed proper procedures in the way they administered a breath test
  • Arguing that in blood test cases that a warrant is required
  • Contesting how the field sobriety tests are administered
  • Contesting whether the police have reasonable grounds to stop you in the first place
  • Arguing that any statements you gave weren’t given voluntarily
  • Showing that that there was some justifiable reason for failing a field sobriety test
  • All other defenses that may apply based on the facts of your case

Is your DUI lawyer near me?

Philbrook Law Office is located in Vancouver, but we represent clients in the greater Portland area, and throughout Oregon and Washington.

Contact Philbrook Law Office if you’re charged with a DUI in Washington or Oregon

A drugged or drunk driving charge can quickly change your life. You’ll be arrested, fingerprinted, and charged with a crime. If you don’t seek legal help, you will likely face jail time, fines, and other penalties if your breath test is too high, or you refused a breath test. At Philbrook Law Office, our experienced Vancouver DUI lawyers fight aggressively to have the breath, blood, and sobriety tests excluded. We work to obtain acquittals and fair plea bargains. We explain your right to alternative stay-at-home sentences. To arrange an appointment at one of our offices in Vancouver or Battle Ground, WA, please call 360-695-3309 or fill out our contact form. We represent clients in the greater Portland area, and throughout Oregon and Washington.

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