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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Drunk drivers could face harsh consequences

Motorists who are detained on suspicion of DUI in Washington and other states may want to know more about the potential charges that could follow. Drunk driving charges may be connected to the use of alcohol, illegal substances or prescription drugs. In some situations, DUI charges are combined with manslaughter.

Many allegedly drunk drivers who are taken into custody by law enforcement officials will be charged with a felony or misdemeanor DUI. Others will find themselves facing charges of juvenile or commercial driver DUI.

Following a first, second or third alleged DUI offense, drivers are most likely to be charged with a misdemeanor. Charged individuals may face life-altering consequences upon conviction. In some cases, conviction of a first offense may lead to as many as six months of jail time, a hefty fine, loss of license and other potential penalties. A subsequent DUI conviction could lead to additional fines and jail time as well as probation and a loss of driving privileges for an extended period of time. Some drivers may also be required to install vehicle interlock devices in their cars.

Felony charges are more serious and could lead to even harsher consequences. The severity of the penalties associated with alcohol-related charges reflects the position that it is extremely dangerous to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drivers who find themselves facing drunk driving charges in the state of Washington may want to seek legal counsel from a criminal defense lawyer. In some situations, the attorney may be able to identify a deficiency in the prosecution's evidence, which could lead to a dismissal of the case. The attorney could also work to negotiate lesser charges and penalties outside of the courtroom when doing so supports the best interests of the client.

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