Jason S Newcombe - Washington DUI Attorney

Washington State DUI FAQ's

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WA State DUI FAQ's

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WA State DUI FAQ's
If my license is suspended as a result of my DUI, will I still be able to drive?

In most situations, the answer is yes. You will be eligible for a Washington Ignition Interlock License.

How will a Washington DUI arrest or conviction affect my employment?

This depends a lot on your employment. Over the last ten years, our Washington State DUI attorneys have helped hundreds people arrested for DUI work through difficult issues related to their employment. To learn more about the potential consequences of a DUI arrest or conviction with regard to your specific situation, please call our offices for a free consultation with our Washington State DUI lawyers. You may also visit our employment page for more Washington State DUI information.

Was I lawfully stopped?

Washington State law enforcement officers are trained to look for specific driving patterns that are associated with DUI (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicants).

All Washington State troopers and local law enforcement officers receive very similar training with regard to identifying potential drunk drivers. Over the years, our Washington State DUI attorneys have often been asked what causes certain drivers to get pulled over for suspicion of DUI? As detailed below, many factors can contribute to getting pulled over for suspicion of Washington State DUI. Two of the most important ones, however, are simply the day and time of your driving.

It's no coincidence that law enforcement agencies put out special "emphasis patrols" during periods when they suspect more drunk drivers will be on the road. These are typically on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from the early evening until the early hours of the next morning. Many holidays such as the Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Halloween and New Year's Eve also have special emphasis patrols out in force.

The same is true for major events such as the Super Bowl, Seahawks games (especially playoff games), local rock concerts and various festivals. During and after these events especially, the police are looking for specific driving patterns that they believe indicate impairment. Whether these patterns are actually a reliable indicator of impairment, however, remains an issue of great debate, particularly among experienced Washington State DUI lawyers.

What driving patterns make the police suspect a driver may be drunk?

For the most part, the driving patterns below that indicate a person is DUI, come from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). NHTSA has identified the 20 most common "driving symptoms" allegedly exhibited by a drunk driver. In its DUI training materials, which have been universally adopted by law enforcement agencies throughout Washington State, NHTSA offers a statistical probability the driver is under the influence based on the observed "driving symptom".

Furthermore, NHTSA claims that when multiple symptoms are observed, it is appropriate to add 10% to the highest valued symptom. For example, if the person exhibits drifting (50%), erratic braking (45%), and swerving (55%), then probability that he is DUI is 65%.

Washington State DUI information list regarding DUI driving symptoms:

  • 65% Wide radius turning
  • 65% Straddling lane marker / center
  • 60% Drunk appearance
  • 60% Almost hitting a vehicle or another object
  • 60% Weaving
  • 55% Driving vehicle outside the roadway designations
  • 55% Swerving
  • 50% Operating the car at a slower speed (10 mph or more below the lawful speed limit)
  • 50% Stopping for no apparent reason in traffic
  • 50% Drifting
  • 45% Tailgating or following other vehicles too closely
  • 45% Driving car tires on lane marker or center
  • 45% Braking eratically
  • 45% Driving into the opposite traffic lane
  • 40% Inconsistently signaling with certain driving actions
  • 35% Inappropriately stopping (other than within the lane)
  • 35% Abruptly or illegally turning
  • 30% Decelerating or accelerating suddenly
  • 30% Headlights off during dark hours
What's missing from this Washington State DUI information list?

What is very interesting about this Washington State DUI information list is what it is missing: Speeding. Many of our DUI clients are initially pulled over for speeding.
And, over the years, our Washington State DUI attorneys have heard many officers try and claim that speeding is an indication that a driver may be drunk. In all of our years, however, our Washington State DUI lawyers have never seen one study that showed a significant correlation between speeding and driving under the influence.

Our Washington State DUI attorneys attend multiple DUI training sessions every year, and we have never once seen any evidence suggesting that speeding indicates that the driver is driving drunk. Indeed, just the opposite. The studies all show that there is no significant relationship between DUI and driving in excess of the speed limit. A speeding driver is no more likely to be drunk than sober. This is also borne out by the personal observations over the years of our Washington State DUI lawyers. Our offices handle hundreds of speeding and traffic tickets in Washington State every year. The overwhelming majority of speeding tickets are issued without any indication of DUI.

What does an officer look for after pulling over a suspected drunk driver?

Upon initiating a traffic stop on someone that they suspect has been driving under the influence, the officer is trained to look for certain clues or signs that are supposed to assist in ascertaining whether or not the driver is intoxicated. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and has many affects on the human body. As with all substances, however, the affects will vary wildly depending the individual's tolerance, weight, sex, and physical fitness. The affects will also differ greatly depending on how much alcohol was consumed, whether the person had eaten anything prior to or while drinking, as well as on many other critical factors. Here are some of the clues that law enforcement are trained to look for as signs of impairment or intoxication:
  • Odor of alcohol on breath or person
  • Bloodshot and/or watery eyes
  • Flushed face Slurred speech
  • Speaking incoherently
  • Slow verbal responses
  • Poor motor skills (difficulty retrieving one's driver's license, registration and proof of insurance)
  • Unsteady on their feet (including circular sway while standing)
  • Displaying balance and coordination problems (staggering, falling, or leaning)
  • Unable to understand and follow simple direction
  • Unable to keep their story straight, often giving different answers to the same or similar questions
  • Difficulty getting out of the motor vehicle (or using the vehicle for balance)
  • Unaware of the volume of their voice (speaking too softly or loudly)
The simple truth, however, is that there are a myriad of reasons why an individual might exhibit one or more of these signs even though they are not intoxicated. To law enforcement, however, this matters not. Most officers will make no inquiry as to other possible reasons a person might be exhibiting these signs. And, even though an individual might portray any number of these signs for reasons not involving alcohol consumption, the officer will invariably use the signs against the driver and make a DUI arrest. This is especially true when the officer sits down to write his report.

Washington State DUI Attorney - Jason Newcombe

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