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DUI Arrests in Washington

You can be arrested for driving under the influence when a police officer has reasonable suspicion that you are currently committing a crime, such as driving under the influence. Several factors may bring about a reasonable suspicion in the eyes of a police officer, based on their observations and inferences from a stop.

These stops can also occur on the basis of another violation. If the person runs a stop sign, drives in excess of the speed limit, causes an accident on the road, or any of a myriad of other offenses in the observation of the offer, then the officer has cause to pull them over. During the traffic stop, the offer may notice other evidence that the person is driving under the influence. After being stopped, if the officer finds evidence that another offense is occurring, then the officer has the ability to administer tests that the other crime is also being committed in the officer’s presence.

Reasonable suspicion lies in the eyes of an officer. If the officer can show evidence and reasonable inferences that lead to the conclusion that the driver is driving under the influence, then the officer is justified in making a stop, and with more evidence making an arrest against the driver.

In order to be found guilty of a driving under the influence charge, the evidence must show more than the reasonable suspicion of the officer, but must show beyond a reasonable doubt the elements required of the crime of driving under the influence, through the use of a breathalyzer or blood test.

Driving under the influence in the state of Washington is defined in RCWA 46.61.502, and contains several elements for a person to be found guilty of driving under the influence.

First, although just a technical point, the person must be driving a vehicle in the state of Washington. This requirement will satisfy ability of the Washington law to have jurisdiction of the crime being committed.

Next, the driver, within two hours after driving, has an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher based on either a breathalyzer of blood test. Although alcohol dissipates in the level of a person’s blood over time, the two hour window is established in the law. That window that allows law enforcement to gain a sample can give the law enforcement officer’s time if the person who is to be tested for their blood alcohol content does not consent to the test, or if there is a difficulty in administering the test at the time that the driver is stopped. Also, some drugs that may cause incapacity in operating a motor vehicle are likely to not show up on a breathalyzer test. The two hour window allows officers to transport the suspect for a blood test if one is needed to find the intoxicating agent in their system.

Third, the driver must be under the influence or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug. The influence requirement is likely to be shown in the persons driving. The person’s driving erratically, while driving under the influence, is likely to be the element that alerts police officers or other law enforcement agents that the person is intoxicated. The police must show just cause for pulling over an individual, which would be visible in their driving habits. A person who was not influenced by the effect of intoxicating drugs will not be evident to officers observing them even if they are above the illegal limit.


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