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According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, impaired driving contributes to 50 percent of all traffic fatalities in the state. In 2017, 25,619 impaired drivers were arrested in the State of Washington. Of those, about 100 people per day were arrested for impaired driving between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Emphasis patrols have already started, and they’ll be in effect until November 25. The Washington State Patrol will be focusing on speeding, driving too fast for traffic or weather conditions, distracted driving, impaired driving and other poor driver behavior that can result in accidents.

Holiday Season Cheer

As a result of the increased consumption of alcohol, traffic accidents, injuries and fatalities skyrocket during the holiday season. With college students coming home for the long Thanksgiving weekend, the night before the holiday is usually the biggest bar night of the year. Drivers who have been stopped for traffic violations over Thanksgiving weekend can expect increased scrutiny. If there’s even a hint of an alcoholic beverage on or around them, they can expect to be asked to get out of their vehicle and take some field sobriety tests.

Refusing Field Sobriety Tests

Submitting to field sobriety tests isn’t mandatory, but the Washington Supreme Court has ruled that the refusal to submit to the tests can be used against a defendant in a trial as conscious evidence of guilt. In either event, a police officer is likely to take a person into custody for blood alcohol testing anyway. Since field sobriety tests are almost always video taped, there’s no reason for a person to give police any additional evidence that might be used against him or her. On that basis, if a person has been drinking, it could be better to refuse to take field sobriety tests, especially on a first offense.

Implied Consent

According to the Revised Code of Washington section 46.20.308(1), “Any person who operates a motor vehicle within this state is deemed to have given consent, subject to the provisions of RCW 46.61.506, to a test or tests of his or her breath for the purpose of determining the alcohol concentration in his or her breath if arrested for any offense where, at the time of the offense, the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person was driving or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug or was in violation of RCW 46.61.503.” Although a driver might have given implied consent for breath testing, he or she has the right to refuse to submit to it, but there are likely to be consequences against a person’s driver’s license.

The First Offense

The State of Washington has some of the strictest first time impaired driving sentencing statutes in the country. A conviction calls for an automatic minimum of 24 hours and up to one year in jail, a fine of $865.50 up to $5,000 and a minimum of a 90 day driver’s license suspension. A judge might allow restricted driving privileges after the first 30 days. Installation of an ignition interlock device will also be required. Second, third and fourth convictions carry progressively harsher sentences.

Any DUI arrest is perfectly preventable. There are Uber, Lyft, taxis, friends and family. Even a couch or a spare bedroom works. However, if you or somebody close to you is indeed arrested on an impaired driving charge, contact our Spokane DUI Lawyer for a free consultation and case review. We’ll be pleased to listen to you closely, answer your questions and advise you of your complete range of legal options. After being arrested on an impaired driving charge, you only have 10 days to request a hearing on the issue of your driver’s license being suspended, so be sure to contact us right away.

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