DUI's without a .080 BAC

How can someone be charged or otherwise cited for DUI in Washington State if they don’t have a blood alcohol level over the legal limit? Just ask State Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos. Santos, a Seattle Democrat, was stopped and cited for DUI on July 20, 2010 after a Washington State Patrol trooper saw her car drifting in and out of traffic lanes on Interstate 5 in South Seattle.

Santos provided a breath sample on the trooper’s handheld portable breath testing machine. The sample provided on scene was a .077 percent (Washington’s legal limit is .080 percent). At the police station, it was alleged that Santos failed to provide adequate breath samples into the breath-test machine, and thus the trooper alleged that Santos “refused” to give a breath sample. Regardless of not having a breath sample over the legal limit of .080 percent, Santos was charged with driving under the influence in King County, Washington. The case was processed through the King County District Court system.

Under Washington State DUI law, an individual can be charged and even convicted of DUI if they are found to be driving while under the influence of alcohol. This can be proven by a breath test result, the “totality of the circumstances” or both a breath test result and the totality of the circumstances. In Washington State a .080 percent is the legal limit in which it is determined that regardless of all other factors the law says a person is under the influence of alcohol. In other words, the person is “per se” under the influence of alcohol. If there is no breath or blood test result, or the test result is below a .080 percent then it is not so clear. If it is determined by the “totality of the circumstances” that the person is “affected by alcohol and/or drugs to an appreciable degree” then he can be found guilty of “DUI”. If it is alleged that a person refused to provide a breath or blood sample, the punitive consequences can, and will, be increased upon a conviction.

Although Santos was cited and charged with DUI, with the assistance of a qualified Washington DUI lawyer she was able to negotiate her charge down to a reduced charge of Negligent Driving First Degree, a misdemeanor. As part of the settlement, Santos is required to perform 20 hours of community service and pay fines and court costs of about $1,500. She will also be on probation (court supervision) for two years. Although the charge Santos is convicted of is a crime, it is less punitive and more favorable than a DUI criminal conviction.

In many instances, a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer can significantly reduce the impact that a DUI charge will have on an individual’s life. The right Seattle DUI attorney will be worth his/her weight in gold when protecting a person’s rights, freedom and future. The Seattle DUI attorneys that make up the litigation team of SQ Attorneys are dedicated to defending those accused of drunk driving. They have the experience, knowledge and resources to successfully defend your case. Unlike other law firms that practice in many areas of the law, SQ Attorneys is focused on criminal defense representation with an emphasis on DUI defense in Western Washington.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

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10.0Gregory Wayne Schwesinger
10.0Saad Qamer Qadri