DUI – Can It Affect My Child Custody in Washington?

To all parents the most important part of our lives is our children and their wellbeing. You go crazy with worry and possibly even ballistic if anything or anyone threatens them. But parents are just people like everybody else and people make mistakes. It causes extreme guilt but sometimes it is the parent that inadvertently causes the threat. You have now just been charged with a DUI. Will this threaten your child? It might. You will want to do everything to make sure that it doesn’t.

Being arrested is always stressful. Due to the stringent DUI laws in Washington being arrested for DUI can be scary as now you are facing potential jail time, large fines and other possible penalties. But let us look at your situation. Are you in the middle of a divorce involving child custody? Or are you the custodial parent and are now worried that if convicted you will be facing another custody battle? This can be terrifying.

If you suspect that a DUI arrest will not help your custody case you are not wrong. In child custody cases what the court is looking at is what is in the best interests of the child. The other side may now try to show through this circumstance that you would not be a good fit. Even if the child was safely at home with a babysitter it will try to be argued by the other side that a possible future occurrence could include the child and even if not it gives a bad example. Of course, this gets even harder to argue against if the child was in the car. But remember, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you have only been arrested, your lawyer should be able to argue against this being used against you. What you need to do is avoid the conviction or at least get the charges minimized. That is why you need a DUI defense attorney. If you’re acquitted, this can not be used against you at all.

Your defense attorney will seek every angle to get this charge dropped or get you acquitted. A defense investigation will be done on your behalf. The police need to have probable cause to stop you. Was there such? Try to remember why they stopped you in the first place. They should have told you. If you were weaving but stayed in you own lane, by the way, that is not sufficient cause to stop you. If you did not stop at a stop sign but it was somehow obscured that is also not sufficient reason to stop you.

Was the test administered correctly? Were the machines properly calibrated? You would of course have no way of knowing this – it will be part of the defense investigation. Everything will be checked.

As a corollary to this it is important to note that most custodial parents in Washington are women. Whether that is fair or right is not the point of this paper. However it does possibly bear on your case as gender can affect DUI readings.

You may be wondering what possible difference your gender may have when considering DUI and whether you are guilty or not. For one thing, women are statistically smaller than men. That usually means their lungs are smaller too. Yet the ratio used for the test is the same for both men and women. Due to smaller lung size the ratio is too high for many women and they may give a higher reading than is accurate. Also, it is harder for many women to give a large enough breath sample and so it can take many tries. Police are people just like anybody else. They can get impatient and may then accuse you of trying not to give a sample and refusing the breath test. In both cases, you may have just been falsely accused.

This is not the only extra physical disadvantage that as a woman you’re facing. You have more water in your body than most males. Water and alcohol easily mix so you may have more alcohol in your lungs than would accurately reflect how much you drank. Temperature changes can also affect breath test readings? Do women have monthly changes that fluctuate their temperature? We all know that they do and not all women are even going to be aware when this starts or stops.

You need a Pierce County / Tacoma DUI defense attorney who will care about your story, will give counsel and will defend your rights. By the way, you will also need a good family law lawyer. Lawyers do happen to know other lawyers. Your DUI defense attorney may be able to provide a recommendation of who would best work for you. Do not let a DUI conviction destroy your child custody for you by default. Please call Smith & White, PLLC – the first consult is free and we will get your best result possible.

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