The DUI No-Test Explained
If you are a DUI attorney or want to be a DUI lawyer, you have got to know about some of the ways a bad DUI can be pled down to a good DUI, or some other “better” criminal charge (often negligent driving first degree or reckless driving), in addition to the ways you can get these criminal charges dismissed. Why do you have to know this? Simple – you aren’t going to be able to beat every DUI that comes across your desk. In some situations your job is going to be to minimize the damage to your client, which method getting the best deal possible.
For example, let’s say you are a dude, hanging out in Seattle. It is a Saturday and you are out hanging out with your buddies. There are a ton of great college games on, including the biggest game of the day, a night time slugfest between your alma mater and their archrival (maybe the Apple Cup, which is the University of Washington versus Washington State University), so you and your buddies decide to head to the bar now, to have a great seat and everything. Thing is, your favorite bar is a associate miles away from your house. No problem, you just excursion.
The thing is, your buddies nevertheless want to try to party like they are in college. They take shots, have chugging contest, and just drink a lot over the time of the day. And to top it all off, your team wins the big game! Now, you aren’t a dummy. You know you are too drunk to excursion, and you don’t want to get a drunk driving charge on your record. You’ve seen how expensive and time consuming they can be. But the place your car is parked won’t be legal for long, and you don’t want to get it towed. So you figure you’ll just move it around the block to a legal identify.
And that’s when the accident happens. Nothing major, just a fender bender. But it was enough to get the cops called, and when they showed up they closest suspected you were driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Now, you’ve got a buddy that is a Seattle DUI attorney, so you knew what you should do when the cops asked you questions and you did it. But in the end you decided to take the breathalyzer test instead of facing the harsher punishments of a refusal. And you nevertheless are facing some big trouble. A .190 reading for your blood alcohol level is not good.
Now, in this example, there are a associate of things that are good, and there are a associate of things that are bad. The good news is that no one was injured in the accident. The other good news is that you acted properly when interacting with the police so they have little to no evidence that you were too drunk to excursion – they don’t know if you were drinking, they don’t know where you were coming from or where you were going, and they don’t have any field sobriety test information to use against. But the bad news is, they have the breath test. And the breath test is a high number.
The problem with the high number is that, while it is possible to discredit breathalyzer tests, it usually tends to get harder and harder the higher the number is. And that makes a little sense if you think about it. It is much easier for a jury to believe that a breath test is .02 off, making a .08, the limit where a test DUI takes place, and a .06, which is not a DUI under the breath test statute. But when you get a lot higher, it is a lot harder to convince a jury the test messed up.
So, you’ve got to look to minimizing the damage, which can be important with a DUI conviction when your test is over .15. In Seattle at the minimum (and I caution this, because in other states the rules may be different), a breath test between .08 and .14 is seen as a low test DUI, so the punishment is lower. But if you are .15 or over, the punishment gets considerably harder (including an additional day of jail and a year long driver’s license suspension). This is why the no-test DUI plea is an option here.
As it sounds, the no-test DUI is simply pleading guilty to DUI but without the test results. The method you aren’t unprotected to the harsher punishments of a DUI with a test over .15, while the prosecutor nevertheless gets the satisfaction of popping your for DUI. It isn’t the best option or the ideal option, but sometimes it is the best option out there.
So, the next time you hear someone talking about a no-test DUI, particularly in the Seattle area, this is what they are talking about. A plea to this lowers the mandatory minimum punishments, keeping your client (or you) out of at the minimum a little bit of trouble.