DUI Law in Bellingham, WA
What Is a DUI?
DUI, which refers to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is a criminal offense that can lead to weighty consequences. Also known as DWI, the process of going to court to face either conviction or exoneration can change the course of your life forever.
Learn more about your DUI law defense options below, and then talk to a local attorney in Bellingham, Washington who will help you in this delicate situation. You don’t have to stare down the consequences alone. You can take wise steps today to protect your interests.
Possible Consequences of a Bellingham, Washington
Where you live, the severity of the incident and your criminal record determine the sentencing for a DUI. The punishments can drastically increase if you have had previous DUIs, so be mindful of that. If this is your first DUI, do not go at it alone and risk costly mistakes. Get a Bellingham law firm on your side to fight for you and your rights.
If convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Bellingham, Washington, you can count on fines being a part of your sentencing. For Bellingham residents, this fine can cost $350 to $5,000, depending on your blood alcohol content and criminal history.
However, other factors can drastically increase the amount you must pay, including:
- Any damage to property while driving under the influence
- If someone suffered injuries as a result of your intoxicated driving
- Cases that include child endangerment
- Any court costs associated with your case
Jail time is mandatory, even for first-time offenders in Bellingham. If this is your first DUI offense, you may only have to face a day or two in prison. But if you have previous convictions for DUIs, you can be sentenced to several months or years, depending on the nature of the crime. Know that some circumstances can add even more time in a cell, including injury to other people while driving under the influence.
If you do not face jail time, you will likely be on probation, with the sentencing judge determining the duration. You will pay monthly fees, and you cannot commit any more criminal offenses, including traffic violations. If you violate the terms of your probation, count on facing time behind bars.
The District Court Probation office in Bellingham provides services to probationers currently. After a DUI conviction, state officials may ensure that you’ve installed an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Besides this type of monitoring, you may have to wear an ankle bracelet and stay within an assigned area. Supervisory fees, restitution, and other fines must also be paid, or heavy consequences can follow.
Drug and Alcohol Education Program
Following a Bellingham DUI sentencing, the law states you must complete a drug and alcohol education program. This will teach you about the dangers of driving under the influence. These programs cost more fees besides the legal costs you already have to pay.
Whatcom County has around a dozen groups that provide assessments, classes, and treatment. A certified agency like the Belair Clinic offers a complete list of options to help yourself or a loved one get the help they need. Bellingham residents may also need to pay fines and finish classes before their driving privileges are restored. Further arrests and convictions can lead to the revocation of your license, jail time, and other penalties.
The education programs also include a DUI evaluation. An evaluator asks you questions about how alcohol and drugs affect your life. If they believe that you are dependent, you may have to enter a substance abuse treatment program.
Suspension or Loss of License
No matter where you may face a DUI conviction, you have to undergo a license suspension period, at the very least. If it is your first DUI, you may have a license suspension for a few months while you go through probation and the drug and alcohol education program.
If this is not your first DUI, you may have your license suspended for much longer, or you could have it taken from you permanently.
What Should You Do When Charged With a DUI in Bellingham, Washington?
If you’re facing a felony DUI charge, you must take the following steps to protect yourself:
Step 1: Contact an Attorney Familiar With DUI Law
Immediately following your DUI arrest, you need to contact an experienced Bellingham DUI attorney. Your attorney can help prepare for your arraignment and prepare a defense to vindicate yourself or reduce the sentencing.
Step 2: Learn About Your Local DUI Laws
Bellingham, Washington has unique laws for DUI or DWI charges. Your lawyer will work with you to help you better understand your state’s laws on driving while intoxicated. It is critical to understand what charges you face and the potential outcomes of your case.
Step 3: Request a DMV Hearing
You or your attorney should request a hearing as soon as possible following your arrest. In Bellingham, Washington you only have so much time to ask for a DMV hearing to keep your license until your court appearance. If you do not request a hearing, prepare for a license suspension.
The Washington State Department of Licensing needs to receive your request within 10 days of a DUI arrest. As of 2021, an administrative fee of $375 applies unless the state grants you financial assistance. Bellingham residents who are unsure who to contact can call 711 to receive a referral to the best contact.
Step 4: Prepare for Court Appearance
You and your attorney will prepare for your appearance and arraignment in Bellingham. If you plead “not guilty,” your DUI defense attorney represents you in court, and a judge and jury oversee the DUI law case.
Step 5: Receive Sentencing or Exoneration
You will either be “not guilty” of the charges brought against you and walk free, or you will receive sentencing for a guilty verdict.
Work With an Experienced Local DUI Lawyer in Bellingham, Washington
Should you ever find yourself charged with a DUI, you need to work with an experienced Bellingham lawyer who can stand up for you in court. You cannot clear your name of the charges or reduce the consequences without help. Your life and future depend on having great legal representation during your DUI case. Contact an attorney near you today. We can even help you connect with legal help across Washington state lines.
Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!