Under .08 But Still Arrested for DUI?

As you drive throughout Washington State, you will see signs saying “DUI .08″ limit enforced, and the like. Everybody has heard that the “limit” is .08, but most people don’t know that you can be charged with DUI even if the test reading is under .08. This situation was recently discussed in connection with the tragic story of a woman who drank some beer at a monster truck show and later was involved in an accident that killed her two kids, as reported by the website for KIRO news. Although her test result was under .08, she is facing prison time for vehicular homocide premised upon DUI.
Washington State’s DUI law sets forth the ways a person can be convicted of DUI:

RCW 46.61.502
Driving under the influence.

(1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state:

(a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or

(b) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or

(c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

In my years of handling DUI cases in Seattle and elsewhere in Washington State, I have represented a number of folks who succeeded in limiting the number of drinks so that they would not violate the .08 limit, only to find that they can still be charged with DUI on the theory that they were “under the influence” of alcohol. The more accurate roadsigns tell drivers: “Don’t drink and drive.” This advice reflects the fact that in Washington State, anyone who drinks any alcohol and then drives might later find themselves defending a DUI charge in court.

Update: After a trial on the charges of DUI/Vehicular Homicide, the mother referenced above was acquitted of all charges. See the story here.

If you or a loved one needs help with a Seattle DUI or a DUI charge anywhere in Washington State, contact Seattle DUI attorney Jon Scott Fox.
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