Most Washington residents know that consequences for driving under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol are severe in this state, yet few people know the actual intake process you may face if you find yourself in these unpleasant circumstances. At the time of the stop, a police officer asks several questions and conducts sobriety tests to determine probable cause for an arrest. The majority of police officers follow a similar pattern when registering a new DUI suspect from the time of the arrest itself to the booking or release of the suspect. If you have already gone through this process, it may help to check that these steps all occurred in your case. Noting that officers did not comply with these guidelines may be helpful in your defense.
You are Read Miranda Rights
Immediately after an arrest is made, the arresting officer usually verbally advises the suspect of his or her immediate constitutional rights. A written advisement is provided back at the police station. The advisement notifies the suspect of his right to remain silent and to an attorney. If these rights were not relayed after the arrest is made, it could possibly result in the suppression of evidence against you.
Implied Consent Warnings
After notifying the arrested person of his Miranda rights, most officers review implied consent warnings. These warnings let the suspect know that the officer is going to request a breath or blood sample for BAC testing. While there is a right to refuse these tests, there are consequences to doing so because you agree to consent when you sign for your driver’s license. Police should also warn the DUI suspect of the consequences that can occur if the BAC comes up higher than the legal limit of 0.08. Police are required by law to issue these warnings at the time of a lawful arrest either orally or in writing.
To administer a proper DUI breath test, police are required to check the DUI suspect’s mouth for foreign objects. The officer must then observe the suspect for 15 minutes to make sure he does not put anything into his mouth, belch, or vomit. If any of these happen, the suspect must wait another 15 minutes before taking the mandatory breath test. Vomiting, belching or having objects in your mouth tend to invalidate the breath sample being tested, leading to unreliable results. If the officer fails to complete this check or wait the required time, it can result in the suppression of the breath test results being used as evidence in court.
Most people arrested for DUI in Washington invoke their right to remain silent until an attorney is present. In cases where this does not occur, police offer a DUI questionnaire. Many of the questions are mundane, but are mixed in with specific questions used to try and trick the person into providing evidence of DUI. Most if not all competent DUI attorneys advise against answering these questions.
Breath or Blood Test
After each DUI arrest, a suspect is taken to the precinct to have their blood or breath tested for the presence of alcohol. These tests are supposedly more effective and reliable than the roadside breath test, which is why results are permitted in court as evidence. A DUI suspect who agrees to the breath test provides 2 samples to ensure accuracy, although the machines used may frequently be flawed and can provide unreliable results.
Release or Booking
After the officer’s investigation is complete, a decision is made whether to release the individual or book him into jail. If the person is released, he may call a cab to get home or the officer may drive him home. If the person is booked, into jail he may be forced to post bail or see a judge. Whether you are released or booked is usually up to the officer’s discretion.
Do not become entangled in the Washington State court system without a strong attorney on your side. Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. of Murphy’s Law Offices has extensive experience fighting DUI criminal charges throughout Washington, with offices in King and Pierce Counties. Call (253) 312-6122 for a confidential and free consultation.