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Bugbee Law Office, P.S.
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How Washington State BAC Limits Affect Sentencing

Man taking breathalyzer BAC Test5/10/17- Most states consider a person guilty of driving under the influence when their blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 or higher.
Washington, however, employs a scale for their DUIs. While you will be arrested for driving under the influence if your BAC is 0.08 or higher, there is a threshold, and if you go over the threshold, you could face harsher penalties.
What is the Washington State BAC Limit?
Per RCW 46.61.502, you are driving under the influence if your BAC is 0.08 or higher or you have a THC concentration in the blood of 5.00 or greater within two hours of driving.
What Sentences Come with Higher BAC Limits?
Washington is one of the few states to use an escalation process for higher BAC results. In Washington, you are given a harsher sentence if your BAC is 0.15 or greater.
For example, a first-time offender with a BAC of 0.15 or less will face a one day to up to 364 days in jail and a fine of no less than $350. If the BAC is 0.15 or higher, the courts can impose a minimum of two days to as many as 364 days in jail with a fine of no less than $500.
A second offense with a BAC of 0.15 or less results in 30 days to as many as 364 days in jail and a fine of no less than $500. However, if the BAC is 0.15 or more, you could be sentenced to a minimum of 45 days in jail and no less than $750 in fines.
For each offense tier, the punishments increase for those with BACs over 0.15.
Can I Just Refuse the Breathalyzer Test?
Do not think that refusing a test and having no BAC on record will help you avoid a DUI conviction, let alone penalties. Under RCW 46.20.308, all drivers give implied consent. Therefore, if you refuse a test, you will be penalized not only by the criminal courts but the Department of Licensing. Your refusal will also be used against you, and if convicted, you will face the penalties of a person with a BAC of 0.15 or less.
Protect Yourself from Varying Washington State BAC Limits, Contact an Attorney
If you have been arrested for a DUI, regardless of your BAC, it is imperative you speak with a lawyer. Washington imposes harsh penalties for DUI offenders, especially repeat offenders. When your BAC is above 0.15, the state allows judges to increase your penalty, and you could spend up to one year in jail.
Contact an attorney at Bugbee Law Office, P.S. today about your DUI. Call us at 509-337-5082 for a free consultation or request a case evaluation online.
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Take a look at some new additions to our website. We are continually adding content to provide more information and resources about DUI law in WA. And remember to call Bugbee Law for any further help you may need.
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Avoid the Harsh DUI Penalties of WA: Stay Safe on St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day is almost here, and while everyone is out celebrating with green beers, friends, and the iconic corned beef and cabbage, there will be police officers also out looking for those who have opted to drink and drive on one of the nation’s most popular days for DUI arrests.

If you are not careful knocking back a few green beers, you could be stopped for a DUI. Worse, if you are convicted of a DUI in Washington, you will face harsh penalties that will affect you for the rest of your life. Luckily, there are ways to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day without becoming a DUI statistic.

Why Officers are On the Lookout for Drunken Drivers Each year an estimated 33 million Irish-Americans and their fellow non-Irish friends will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with pints of Guinness and more. In fact, 56.1% of Americans plan to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day for 2017.

4 Tips for Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day Without DUI Penalties in WA

1. Do Not Drink and Drive

It sounds simple enough, but people still choose to drink and drive. The blood alcohol concentration limit in Washington is 0.15 to zero. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI, you will face mandatory DUI penalties that include one day in jail, a fine of $941, and up to 90 days of a license suspension.

So, do what you can to not drink and drive. Use a ride-sharing service, contact a taxi cab, drink at a local bar that is within walking distance, or have a friend who does not plan to drink take you home.

2. Drink Responsibly

Having one green beer is not likely to put you over the legal limit. However, be aware of the signs of early intoxication, and if you know that you have had a few too many, do not get behind the wheel.

3. Know Your Rights

You do have rights outlined in RCW 46.61.502. Therefore, understanding those rights is critical if you were to be pulled over for a DUI in Washington. If you have a BAC of 0.08% or higher within two hours after driving, or you appear to be influenced by a drug or alcoholic substance, you will be arrested.

4. Know About Unauthorized Checkpoints

While police are not authorized to conduct sobriety checkpoints, there are instances where police will monitor specific areas and stop vehicles they suspect contain drunken drivers. If pulled over, remain courteous, follow the officer’s directions, and never appear belligerent.

Contact Bugbee Law Offices, P.S. for Your DUI Arrest

If your St. Patrick’s Day celebration results in a DUI arrest, it is imperative that you contact an experienced DUI attorney. The attorneys at Bugbee Law Offices, P.S. can assist you with your case. Contact our attorneys today for a free consultation at 509-377-5082 or contact us online at to learn more.

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Here's some information that can be very helpful if you are in the unfortunate position of being stopped by Police

What to do when Stopped by Police:

Knowing what to do before you are pulled over by a police officer can potentially keep you from being arrested. In all interactions with police, you should refrain from sudden movements and keep your answers short and polite.

Once you see police lights in your mirror, pull over to the side of the road and slow to a stop right away. You should pull as far to the right as possible so the officer will not be clipped by passing cars as they walk up to speak with you.
Your next step should be to roll down your window completely, turn off the engine, place both of your hands on the steering wheel, and turn on your cabin light if it is dark outside. This can let the officer feel less concerned you may act aggressively towards them. Wait until the officer asks you for your license and registration before you go about searching for them, which can reassure the officer you are not reaching for a weapon.

Can police search my car?:

In general, a police officer should not search your vehicle. There are exceptions, however. If the officer visibly notices you attempting to hide something under your seat or throw something out your window, they may legally search your car. Police begin looking of signs of such behavior the moment they put their lights on behind you.

The officer may choose to act if they feel they have a reasonable suspicion that you are armed and dangerous. They may even pat you down if they have such suspicions. Otherwise, an officer can search your car if they believe they have probable cause to do so.

Furthermore, any illegal items in your car that are plainly visible to the officer can be seized such as an open beer can or any drug paraphernalia. Once either you or any occupant of your vehicle is arrested, the officer then has the right to search your car.

How to Speak to an Officer:

You should always remain in your car after stopping to not seem erratic or dangerous to law enforcement. Of course, you should comply if they ask you to exit your vehicle. In conversing with the officer, allow them to speak first and do not use defensive or hostile tones. Replying “okay” or “sure” is a safe bet. Answers should always be non-committal and brief so as to not indict yourself.

Bugbee Law Office, P.S. offers premier, experienced criminal defense for our Spokane clients charged with any number of types of crimes. Reach out to our firm and schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with us in person!
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Take a look at this post by our attorney, Chris Bugbee. He answers a common question: "Why does it matter how I plead?"
Today I'd like to address a question we come across with our clients from time to time. "Why does it matter how I plead?"

When a defendant pleads guilty, they admit to the charges bought by the prosecution. In addition, a guilty plea can open the door for plea bargains.

This can only be accepted if the following conditions apply:

The defendant voluntarily enters this plea;
The defendant has the capacity to enter the plea;
The defendant knows what entering the plea means; and
The defendant admits to the criminal charges against them.

Before the court accepts a guilty plea and before the case is brought to trial, the accused may have the opportunity to withdraw their plea. To withdraw the plea, they must have a valid reason why the court should grant the withdrawal. They must also consider how the change in plea will affect any plea bargains or sentencing that has been offered.

If the prosecutor decides to drop or dismiss charges at the arraignment, the defendant will not need to enter a plea. Further, if the accused refuses to enter a plea at the arraignment, the judge may enter a not guilty plea on their behalf. This is important since the plea can affect the next steps that the trial takes. Working with a criminal defense attorney before entering a plea to the court can help ensure the best possible outcome in a criminal case.

Have you been accused of a crime? Get criminal and DUI defense as soon as possible! Contact the Bugbee Law Office, P.S. for a free consultation.

We answer our phones day and night, 24/7

(509) 337-5082
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Negligent driving can result in much worse consequences than a simple ticket. Some traffic offenses can result in felony charges and get you thrown in jail if convicted, not to mention being fined substantial amounts of money. You could also lose your driver’s license for serious traffic violations. If you are charged with such a crime, you need formidable and vigorous advocacy from a Spokane criminal defense attorney who can represent you in court.

Contact Bugbee Law Office, P.S. at (509) 337-5082 or visit our website at
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After a DUI conviction, you are required to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your car. Find out more information on the device here.
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You may never need a DUI attorney, BUT, you may have a friend, co-worker or family member that does. It can be a very stressful and difficult situation. Having great representation is a must.
Read our latest blog:
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