Useful Information after being arrested for DUI

You are being arrested for DUI and eventually charged with Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol.  This web page  is intended to provide you with information that will help you understand the charge against you as well as my role in helping you work through the rather complicated legal process ahead.  Please take the time to read it carefully.

Please be patient when you attend court.  District Courts have an extremely large number of cases; it takes a long time for the Judge to hear all of the cases.  Please prepare to spend at least several hours when you come to court.

Important Recommendations for any DUI case

What follows is a list of recommendations.  You have not been convicted of a crime and you are presumed innocent.  That presumption remains until you enter into a plea agreement, your case is dismissed, or you are found guilty at trial.  However, you should help your lawyer’s negotiating position, and ultimately help with sentencing considerations, by taking the following steps.

  • Please make this a priority in your life.  This is a very serious matter that requires your undivided attention and the following are strong recommendations:
  • You must appear at all of your court hearings.  If you do not appear-or if you are late-the Judge will issue a warrant for your arrest.
  • You should get an alcohol/drug evaluation as soon as possible.  The results of the evaluation could help in plea negotiations and, unless your case is dismissed, you will likely be required to do this by the court in the future anyway.
  • When you get your evaluation, tell the treatment agency that a copy of the evaluation should be sent only to your attorney; DO NOT have it sent to the court or prosecutor unless your attorney reviews it first and determines it is appropriate to disclose.  Always obtain a copy of the evaluation for your own records.
  • You should comply with recommendations made in the alcohol/drug evaluation.
  • Complying with this will tell the court that you take this matter seriously and have taken steps to resolve it without being ordered to do so.
  • Getting evaluated and beginning treatment before the resolution of your case could ultimately prevent active probation and the costs associated with that.
  • You should attend a session of the DUI Victim Panel.  This is a 3-hour evening class that costs $40.  The probation department at the court will help you register.
  • CAUTION: Your license will be automatically suspended UNLESS you follow some crucial steps RIGHT NOW.  In order to ensure that your license won’t be automatically suspended without a hearing, you MUST submit a request for a hearing to the Department of Licensing within twenty days of your arrest.
  • The Department of Licensing (DOL) will by law take administrative action to suspend your driver’s license separate from the criminal case if you refused to take a breath test or if your breath test result was over 0.08%.  You may have already received a letter from DOL.  The length of the suspension will vary depending on (1) your prior history, and (2) whether you took the breath test or refused it.
  • Find out what the potential administrative suspension would be in your particular case.  You may be eligible for an Occupational/Restrictive License or an Ignition Interlock license.  In order to be eligible for such a license you will be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your car and file proof of Financial Responsibility such as an SR-22 from your insurance company.  Your DUI lawyer will help you fill out the application for the Ignition Interlock license if we are not successful with the DOL hearing.  The DOL charges a fee of $100 with each application.
  • It is important to realize that you are charged with a serious offense – an offense that carries substantial consequences that could greatly affect your life.  You must be prepared to work closely with me to successfully resolve your case.  In most cases, you and the arresting officer are the only people who know what happened on the night of your arrest.  In order to relay as much information to me as possible, you should write out every detail of your experience the night of the arrest as soon as possible – while it is fresh in your mind.  After all, that is exactly what the officer did after his contact with you.  You should not discuss your case with anyone except me.  With your help, your DUI attorney  will work diligently to help you through the complicated process ahead.
  • You have a constitutional right to a trial by a judge or a six-person jury.  You make the final decision about whether to have a trial, enter a deferred prosecution, or enter into a plea bargain.  Your DUI attorney will evaluate your case with you and give you, based on his training and experience, his professional opinion about whether your interests are best served by a plea bargain or by a trial.  If you decided to have a trial, your attorney will aggressively defend you, using every cutting edge legal technique to your advantage.
  • In order for the State to convict you of DUI, it must prove specific “elements.”  In a trial, the prosecutor must prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt.  A judge or jury must find that (1) you drove in your County, and (2) that either (a) within two hours of driving your BAC level was 0.08 % or higher or (b) you were affected by alcohol or drugs.  The prosecutor will call the police officers (and sometimes a toxicologist, BAC technician, or other civilian) as witnesses in an attempt to prove those elements.
  • Your DUI attorney will go through the discovery with you in detail.  As a team, you and him will decide whether you need an expert to refute the testimony the government will produce.  He will research the quality assurance and service records of the particular breathalyzer instrument that was used in your case.  No stone will be left unturned, and every possible advantage will be discovered.
  • If you are convicted of a DUI, you will be subject to a maximum penalty of 365 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine.  The Washington legislature has also established mandatory minimum penalties for DUI.  The minimum penalties are established according to (1) your criminal history, (2) whether you submitted to the BAC or refused the BAC, and (3) if you submitted to the BAC, the results of the test (level of intoxication).  The minimum penalties may also include chemical dependency treatment, the DUI Victim’s Panel, an Ignition Interlock requirement, a license suspension, and/or electronic home monitoring.  The Judge has the authority to sentence you up to the maximum penalties; the Judge generally does not have the authority to sentence you below the minimum penalties.  It is also important to realize that costs, fees, and assessments, will be added to any fine the court imposes.  It is not unusual for these costs to total over $2,000.00 or more.  The Court will total the amount due and arrange for a monthly payment plan.
  • If you are convicted of any crime, you will be subject to probation.  For a DUI conviction, the probationary period is usually five years (2 years for other crimes).  The Judge will place you on either active or monitored probation.  If your probation is active, there is a monthly fee and you will be required to regularly report to the probation officer assigned to you.  If your probation is monitored, you will not be required to report to probation and you will be charged a flat fee for the entirety of your probation; the probation department will monitor your file to see if you are in compliance with your sentence and also track your criminal history.  During your probationary period, you must not violate any of the terms of your sentence or be charged with any new crimes; a violation could result in more jail time, more fines, or both.  Your DUI attorney should have a proven strategy to minimize your probation time and costs.
  • If you are evaluated by a State-approved agency and determined to be severely addicted to alcohol or drugs (or mentally unstable), you may qualify for a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to enter a deferred prosecution program.  A deferred prosecution has certain advantages (no jail or license suspension), but also has certain drawbacks.  It requires a two-year treatment program, substantial probation costs, five years of lawful behavior, a waiver of rights, and other conditions that, if complied with, would result in a dismissal of your case in five years.