Criminal Defense Lawyer in Washington State, Attorney Phillip L Weinberg

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Types of DUI in Washington State

There are several types of ‘DUI' charges in Washington State. The most common one, obviously, is DUI – driving while under the influence (RCW 46.61.502). But if one is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (legal or non-legal drugs, including marijuana, and whether or not the drug was prescribed by a physician) asleep or sitting in or approaching, for example, their vehicle and has the keys to the car, truck, motorcycle, etc. on their person, they can be charged with “Physical Control,” which is identical in penalties to a DUI, but does not involve actual driving (RCW 46.61.504).

Washington State

Physical control thus requires the defendant be in “actual physical control.” Both of these require a “vehicle,” or motor vehicle. Under RCW 46.04.320 a motor vehicle is “every vehicle that is self-propelled and every vehicle that is propelled by electric power obtained from overhead trolley wires, but not operated upon rails.”

So, I had a case many years ago of a mechanic who had a few drinks and fell asleep on a car on his bosses' lot that had the engine removed for an overhaul. The cops charged him with DUI and I got it dismissed as this was no “vehicle” within the meaning of the Ch. 46.6.504 statute for “Physical Control.” A car or truck with no motor is not a vehicle under these statutes, therefore.

However, one can be charged with a DUI for drinking while operating a boat, snowmobile or an all-terrain vehicle (ATV), too, even on private property! But driving a bicycle while intoxicated though it will not get you a DUI here (although Biking Under the Influence can be a DUI in certain other states), it can get your bike impounded if the cop views your drunken or high bicycling as a public safety risk. In Washington State, like with a ‘regular' DUI in a car, truck, etc. on the roadway, a Boating DUI “Boating Under the Influence,” aka “BUI”), is also a gross misdemeanor, but unlike the DUI or Physical Control in a car it has no driver's license suspension, and carries no obligation to take a breath or blood test, either. That is because the so-called Implied Consent laws don‘t apply to boating (but that's the subject for a future, separate blog). BUI's, unless you have priors, are generally easy to get reduced to a non-criminal, civil infraction of Negligent Boating, with a $300-$500 fine or so. However, technically the maximum penalty is the same as that for DUI or Physical control, which is 364 days jail and $5,000 fine, but that is exceedingly rare for a BUI. I have never, in fact, had a client convicted of BUI but have always been able to get these reduced to the civil infraction of Negligent Boating.

Another difference with BUI's is that the fed's, like the Coast Guard can enforce BUI's as the waterways are subject to concurrent state and federal jurisdiction. BUI convictions, though, if you were to get one, count as a prior dui conviction equivalent in case you ever get another one or a regular dui, dramatically increasing the penalties. They ‘wash out', like all other DUI's after 7 years, but when a prosecutor sees one they'll usually seek more jail time and a higher fine. The BUI statutes are RCW 79A.060.010(29); 79A.60.040; and 79A.60.020. Finally, under RCW 47.68.220, “Operating aircraft recklessly or under influence of intoxicants or drugs,” it is: “… unlawful for any person to operate an aircraft in the air, or on the ground or water, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, narcotics, or other habit-forming drug, or to operate an aircraft in the air or on the ground or water, in a careless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another. In any proceeding charging careless or reckless operation of aircraft in violation of this section, the court in determining whether the operation was careless or reckless may consider the standards for safe operation of aircraft prescribed by federal statutes or regulations governing aeronautics.” If you get one of these, state and federal law may both apply and you should come see me in person ASAP as there's too much involved with those types of DUI's (“FUI's”) to treat in this blog.

The moral to this ‘story'? Don't do anything under the influence except stay at home and listen to music or watch a game. Learn more about DUIs here. Need a strong defense for a DUI contact DUI Attorney Snohimish County.

Phillip L. Weinberg

I have more than 20 years of experience defending my clients' rights. I handle all cases personally from start to finish, ensuring that each of my clients gains the full benefit of my many years of experience. At my firm, there are no associates right out of law school showing up in court knowing practically nothing about you or your case, I know my way around the courts and how they work. Throughout my career, I have learned that the best approach is not always the most aggressive one, though sometimes there is no other choice. My first goal in every case is the dismissal of my client's charge(s). In many situations, however, I have found that negotiation offers better opportunities for success.When you work with me your case will never be passed off to a paralegal or a less-experienced associate. I am a solo practitioner and always have been.


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