Being charged with DUI can be an overwhelming and scary process. We are here not
only to fight for your rights and future, but to keep you informed every step of
the way ... for your peace of mind.... or call Ms. Dalton 24 hours, 7 days per week
for urgent legal matters at 503-nine-five-seven-9018.
Aggressive criminal defense services available in Southwest Washington areas including
Clark County, Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Battleground, Ridgefield, Stevenson, Kelso,
Longview, Cowlitz County, Skamania County, Wahkiakum County, Klickitat County and
Call us at 360-213-0013
The initial consultation is free in most cases. For urgent situations, you can call
or text Ms. Dalton anytime of the day or night at 503-nine-57-9018.
To contact Ms. Dalton directly by e-mail, click here.
Disclaimer: The information here is presented only as a general reference regarding
the legal issues involved in a criminal accusation. Any information presented through
this site should not be considered formal legal advice and does not mean or imply
any attorney-client relationship. Every case is different and consequences and results
can and do vary in accordance with the individual facts of each case. For a specific
opinion regarding your own situation, please contact an experienced lawyer , Nicole
T. Dalton for a free initial consultation. You can also call my cell phone for 24-hour
criminal advice if you are stopped or approached by police regarding a criminal accusation,
at area code five-zero-three-957-9018 .
This web site is not intended to solicit clients for any legal issue or incident
outside of the State of Washington.
If I get stopped by police while driving, what should I do?
Every situation is different, but the following information is intended to serve
as a general guideline when faced with a possible DUI accusation in Washington State.
You are legally required to stop for police and provide them with proof of your
license, registration, and insurance. Unfortunately, many law enforcement officers
stop people for minor traffic infractions and then turn it into a DUI accusation.
Officers need to have sufficient legal justification to arrest a person for DUI.
To justify a DUI arrest, police must try to obtain evidence. You have a legal right
to refuse to help law enforcement officers obtain some of the evidence they can use
to convict you.
If stopped for a traffic matter, you should have your license, registration, and
insurance documentation within easy reach and ready when the officer arrives at the
car. One technique officers use to look for evidence of driving under the influence
is to immediately ask drivers whether they have had anything to drink. You have
no obligation to answer an officer’s questions about alcohol consumption. Lying
to an officer can be charged as a crime, but if asked, you may politely respond with
a question such as, “Am I free to go now, officer?” If the officer continues to
question you about alcohol or about where you have been or where you are going, you
may respond politely with statements such as, “I would like to just be on my way,
officer. Please just give me my ticket now so I can be on my way.”
If the officer continues to press for information , you can tell him or her, in no
uncertain terms, “I won’t answer any questions without a lawyer.” Call a lawyer
if you need to do so and if you are able. Although the officer may be unhappy with
this response, it lets the officer know that he or she needs to stop questioning
you. A traffic ticket issued by an angry officer is normally a better result than
a DUI arrest. If you are arrested anyway, it is usually easier for a lawyer to defend
a case where the accused has not made any incriminating statements or voluntarily
given any evidence that could prove guilt. If you are stopped, call us at 360-213-0013,
or for after hours or weekend urgent legal advice, call Ms. Dalton’s cell phone at
You are not legally required to participate in any field sobriety tests. The officer
might make it sound like a command, not a request, but Washington law does not require
drivers to submit to sobriety tests on scene. You have the right to refuse field
sobriety tests. Be polite and refuse to do the walk and turn, the one leg stand,
the gaze test, the portable breath test, or any other tests the officer asks you
to perform at the roadside. If you are arrested and brought to a police station,
however, it may be a good idea to provide the breath sample there. Washington law
imposes serious consequences for refusing to blow at the station and enhanced penalties
for convictions with refusals to provide a sample on the court-approved, stationary
machine. Law enforcement officers must read you your rights regarding the breath
test and the consequences of refusing that test.
Can I be charged with DUI if I have not had any alcohol?
Yes. Police can arrest people for driving under the influence of illegal drugs and
even for driving under the influence of prescription medications. But, just like
the previous question and answer illustrate, you don’t have to help the police get
evidence against you. You are not required to offer any information about any consumption
of controlled substances or do any field sobriety tests. If you are charged with
DUI based on the officer’s suspicion of drug use, getting a skilled lawyer is a must.
(Click here for more info on drug DUI charges).
Don’t you have to drink a whole lot of alcohol to be over the legal limit?
No. First of all, you could be prosecuted for DUI even if you test under the .08
legal limit. In addition to allowing conviction of persons who blow a .08 or more
in a valid test, Washington law also allows DUI convictions based on evidence that
a person was driving and affected by alcohol. Although the Washington State Liquor
Control Board publishes a Blood Alcohol Concentration Guide, the guide is not a good
predictor of an individual’s BAC as it cannot account for individual metabolic variation,
health issues, or other factors that may give rise to big differences between individuals’
consumption of alcohol and blood alcohol level. For some people, even one glass
of wine could put them over the legal limit or serve as a basis for prosecution due
to the effects of alcohol on the driver.
Also, criminal convictions of misdemeanor Negligent Driving in the First Degree can
be obtained based on evidence that the driver has driven negligently, in a manner
that could endanger persons or property, and shows the effects of having consumed
liquor, an illegal drug, or a prescription drug not in accordance with prescribed
warnings and directions. Unfortunately, in Washington State, the “.08 legal limit”
is not really the legal limit.
What are the consequences of pleading guilty or being convicted of a DUI?
Aside from the personal suffering and possible impact on your career, there are many
consequences of a DUI conviction. The following are just some of the possible legal
consequences of being convicted of driving under the influence RCW 46.61.5055. For
DUI offenses charged as a gross misdemeanor, Washington State imposes minimum mandatory
jail sentences for convictions, lasting from one day to 120 or more days in jail,
plus up to 150 additional days of electronic home monitoring. Under the statute,
a DUI conviction in Washington can result in suspension or revocation of your license
from 90 days to four years. To reinstate a driving privilege after a DUI conviction,
the Department of Licensing may require the driver to install an ignition interlock
device in the vehicle for between one and ten years. For people with certain prior
offenses, or with injuries, a DUI can become a felony charge.
DUI convictions also carry a heavy economic impact on people convicted of this crime.
In addition to Misdemeanor fines of up to $5,000, with minimum fines starting at
more than $850 plus additional court costs and assessments, substantial additional
costs are associated with electronic home monitoring, installing and renting ignition
interlock devices, and mandatory alcohol assessment, treatment, supervision and other
Can a DUI charge turn into a felony conviction?
Yes. For persons with four or more offenses within a ten year period, or with certain
prior offenses, Washington law turns a DUI conviction into a felony. Convicted felons
face serious consequences including loss of civil rights and discrimination in employment
and housing. A felony conviction can cause loss of voting rights, restrictions on
your ability to travel to other countries, and loss of the right to possess or own
Can a DUI conviction be removed from my criminal record?
No. In Washington, the laws that permit vacating and sealing criminal records do
not allow DUI convictions to be vacated and sealed. However, a lesser charge obtained
by your attorney in the process of plea bargaining may well qualify at a later date
to be vacated and sealed from the public eye. When the only convictions on a person’s
record have been vacated and sealed, the person can subsequently, truthfully say
that they have never been convicted of any crime. In many cases with a first offense
and a relatively low BAC, lesser charges of Negligent Driving I or Reckless Driving
may be obtained and those charges would typically qualify to be vacated and sealed
after a waiting period.
Are there any defenses to driving under the influence?
There are a number of possible legal defenses that an experienced DUI defense lawyer
will explore. Each case is different, but typically we scrutinize the whole process,
looking for deficiencies in the state's case from beginning to end, including: the
legality of the traffic stop, whether and how field sobriety tests were performed,
the legality of any statements obtained, whether the breath or blood tests were performed
in compliance with the law, whether there are any laws used to obtain evidence or
otherwise related to the charges are unconstitutional or defective, whether the equipment
used to perform the tests was in disrepair and whether proper maintenance and calibration
were performed, and whether any external factors, such as medical conditions or issues
with the machine, possibly affected the test results in the individual case.
Depending on these and more factors, a person may have one or more defenses that
a skilled DUI attorney can use to obtain the best possible results. At the Law Office
of Nicole T. Dalton, PLLC, we closely scrutinize the whole process and use any legal
defense we can find to give our clients the best shot at a good outcome in their
cases. If you have been arrested for DUI or a driving or alcohol related offense
in Southwest Washington, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Nicole T. Dalton
to find out more about your rights and your options. We are here to help.