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Court Explains Financial Penalties for Tacoma DUI Crimes

On Behalf of | Aug 10, 2022 | DUI

In Tacoma DUI cases, the courts typically impose fines on convicted persons, in addition to other penalties. However, in some cases, such as when a defendant is indigent, the State and/or City  may agree to waive such fines. If a court mistakenly imposes financial penalties on a DUI defendant despite agreeing not to do so, such fines may be stricken, as demonstrated in a recent Washington opinion issued in a DUI case. If you live in Tacoma and were accused of a DUI offense, you may face substantial penalties, and it is smart to speak to a trusted Tacoma DUI defense attorney to determine your rights.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the defendant was charged with felony driving under the influence. She entered a guilty plea, after which the court imposed a sentence at the bottom of the standard range. The court also agreed that it would waive all legal, financial obligations that were not mandatory, because the defendant was indigent.

Allegedly, though, the court found that it was obligated as a matter of law to impose certain fees and penalties for a conviction for felony DUI. As such, it imposed an additional $300 in fines under two state motor vehicle laws. The defendant appealed, arguing that the fines were imposed in error.

Financial Penalties for DUI Crimes

The court agreed with the defendant, and the State conceded its error. As such, the fines were stricken. The court explained that the statutes that the State relied on in imposing the fines expressly permitted the State to waive fees in certain instances. Specifically, they stated that fees could be waived if the court found the offender to be indigent or if they found that the offender lacked the ability to pay.

In the subject case, the trial court expressly stated that the defendant was indigent. As such, the fines were not mandatory. The court explained that when a trial court intends to waive legal, financial obligations that are discretionary and accidentally imposes them, it will typically remand the matter to strike such obligations.

Here, it was clear from the trial court record that the court meant to impose only the fines that were mandatory, and imposed the fines under the motor vehicle laws merely because it failed to understand that it was within its discretion to waive them. Based on the foregoing, the court remanded the matter to strike the fines.

Meet with an Experienced Tacoma Criminal Defense Lawyer

Our Tacoma DUI lawyers can help you avoid jail time and also many of considerable fines, other costs and penalties that go along with a DUI charge. As such, it is prudent for anyone charged with a DUI offense to talk to our attorneys about their potential defenses. The experienced Tacoma criminal defense lawyers of The Law Offices of Smith & White are well-versed in what it takes to obtain successful outcomes in criminal matters, and if you are charged with a DUI crime, we can develop persuasive arguments on your behalf. You can contact us through our form online, and by calling or texting us at 253-363-8662.  Or email us at [email protected],