Arrested for DUI in Washington State? Here’s five things you should know before you go to court:
1. Your driver’s license is still valid – but you need to request a DOL hearing right away.
If your driver’s license was valid before your DUI arrest, you can still legally drive a motor vehicle unless you are (1) convicted in court, or (2) you fail to request a hearing or you lose your driver hearing. If you were arrested on or after January 1, 2019, it is critical to request a hearing with the DOL no later than 7 days from the date you received notice of the DOL’s intent to suspend or revoke your license. This deadline could be as early as seven days after the date of your arrest. If you fail to do so, you will waive that right and automatically lose your driver’s license. In most cases, your hearing will occur within 60 to 90 days of the date of arrest, which will give you plenty of time to prepare a defense and address any collateral consequences that may come from a potential license suspension. So, take a deep breath – if you’re like most people, your license is currently valid but you will need to take steps to keep it that way.
2. If this is your first DUI, you will most likely be released by the court at your first appearance.
Washington law requires you to appear before the court shortly after your DUI arrest. You should plan on entering a plea of not guilty to preserve your constitutional rights. In addition, you should not discuss the facts of your case with the prosecutor, judge, or anyone else who is not your attorney. At your first appearance, the court will set release conditions that will apply during your case. In most cases, if you have no prior DUIs, the judge will release you on your promise to return to court without requiring you to post bail or obtain a bond. The court will typically order you to refrain from consuming alcohol or any non-prescribed substances during the pendency of the case. So, if you have not been in trouble before, and there is nothing unusual about your case, you are probably not going to go to jail when you show up for court. However, if you are not from the area or if other unusual circumstances apply, you should contact an attorney to represent you at your first appearance.
3. If you have a prior DUI, you will be required to get an interlock or alcohol monitoring device.
If this isn’t your first rodeo, the law requires the judge to impose more restrictive release conditions, including the installation of an ignition interlock device or a 24/7 alcohol monitoring device called a SCRAM bracelet. It’s also conceivable that the judge will require you to post bail to remain out of custody. I recommend anyone in this situation to contact an attorney to represent them at their first appearance.
4. It generally goes better to approach your DUI case head-on.
For certain people, a DUI arrest can have dire consequences for their employment. There are any number of collateral consequences, and as a rule it’s best to address these head-on, with the advice of an attorney, as opposed to letting the consequences come to you.
5. Be patient – it will take at least 3-4 months to get the best result.
Mounting an appropriate defense will take time – be patient. The focus at the beginning will be on taking discovery, which means reviewing reports, gathering evidence, and talking to witnesses. This usually takes 1-2 months to complete. As a rule, you should not negotiate your case until you have completed the discovery and are fully aware of the facts of the case. In addition, your attorney will need to time negotiate. This means that your final decision on whether to go to trial or resolve the case will generally occur 2-3 months from the date of arrest at earliest. All this is to say that it is to your advantage to be patient and work through the process. There are too many consequences that come from a DUI conviction to short-change your case.
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DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and is not for the purpose of providing legal advice. Every case involves a unique set of circumstances. If you have a legal issue, you should contact an attorney to discuss the issues or problems that are specific to your case. The information contained on this website is not intended to promise any specific results and does not form any contractual obligation on behalf of Walker Heye Meehan & Eisinger, PLLC.