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Physical Control

Often considered a "lesser included offense" in Washington, the crime of Physical Control in Washington State is punishable exactly the same as DUI. Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle is, in most instances, a gross misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of 365 days in jail and a $5000, if a conviction occurs. The exact amount of minimum punishment depends on a variety of factors, including prior history, BAC level, whether minors were in the vehicle, and other considerations.
RCW 46.61.504 penalizes persons who are convicted of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while any of the three are proven beyond a reasonable doubt:
  • a) Being under the influence of, or affected by, intoxicating liquor or a drug, or
  • b) Being under the combined influence of, or affected by, intoxicating liquor and a drug, or
  • c) Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level above a .08 at the time, or within two hours of being in physical control
"Physical control" is not statutorily defined, but generally means the person is in a position to physically move the car, or keep it from moving." Convictions have occurred (and been upheld on appeal) where a car was out of gas.
Defenses to the crime of Physical Control include, but are not limited to:
  • a) The defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after the time of being in actual physical control of the vehicle and before the administration of an analysis of the person's breath or blood to cause the defendant's alcohol concentration to be 0.08 or more within two hours after being in such control.
  • b) The defendantís vehicle was safely parked off the roadway prior to being pursued by law enforcement
  • c) Inaccuracies of the breath test or officer failure to provide required warnings to the defendant
It is not a defense to a Physical Control charge that the driver was lawfully prescribed a particular drug that had been ingested.
In addition to criminal penalties imposed by a court, the Washington State Department of Licensing will attempt to suspend the driversí license of any person who was arrested for DUI and had a BAC above or equal to a .08. Drivers may contest this suspension by filing approved forms with the DOL within 20 days from arrest. The length of license suspension generally runs between 90 days and 4 years, depending on the driverís prior history and BAC results (or refusal).
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC is experienced in successfully representing clients charged with Physical Control, avoiding convictions, obtaining reductions in charges, saving driversí licenses, and achieving other positive results for clients.
If you, or someone you care about, has been charged (or may be) with Physical Control or is facing license suspension, call Ashbach Law Offices, LLC today for a free, no-pressure case evaluation.
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC handles cases up and down the I-5 Corridor, from King County, Snohomish County, Skagit County, and Whatcom County.
Ashbach Law Offices, LLC represents clients charged with criminal offenses in Northwest Washington Courts, including King County, Skagit County, Snohomish County and Whatcom County, as well as other counties on a case-by-case basis. These counties include courts in and for the following cities: Anacortes, Arlington, Auburn, Bellevue, Blaine, Bothell, Burlington, Edmonds, Everett, Issaquah, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, Lynden, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mukilteo, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Monroe, Redmond, Sea-Tac, Seattle, Sedro Woolley, Shoreline, Snohomish, and Tukwila, Washington.
The Ashbach Law Offices, LLC represents clients charged focused on DUI Ė Driving Under the Influence, Reckless Driving, Negligent Driving, Driving with a Suspended License, Hit and Run, Assault, Domestic Violence, Drug Possession (including marijuana), and Paraphernalia Possession, Malicious Mischief, Public Disturbances like Disorderly Conduct, Theft, No-Contact Orders, Harassment, Probation Violation Hearings, as well as speeding tickets.