What should you expect if arrested for a DUI?
A DUI arrest can be one of the most embarrassing, stressful, and horrible situations one can be in. Unfortunately, all of those issues don’t stop once the handcuffs are placed on the driver. If you have been arrested for DUI then there are likely two separate legal actions against you that you will have to fight in Washington State.
The first DUI legal action one will most likely deal with is with the Washington Department of Licensing. Following a DUI arrest Seattle in Washington State if the driver was over the legal limit following a breath test or if they refused the breath test the DOL will attempt to suspend the driver’s license. Depending on whether this is a first or repeat DUI offense the minimum suspension is for at least 90 days.
The second DUI legal action you will deal with is with the legal justice system. Most likely following a DUI arrest you will have to appear in court where you will face DUI or DUI-related criminal offense. This process is completely separate than the DOL action described above, an experienced DUI Attorney should be retained for both.
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Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney
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What happens to your driver’s license following a DUI arrest
There are some immediate concerns one should be aware of when it comes to a potential license suspension administratively. If a hole was punched in your driver’s license, it means the Department of Licensing intends to suspend or revoke your license effective 60 days from your DUI arrest. You may request a hearing to contest this suspension that must post marked within 20 days of the DUI arrest. A nonrefundable $375 fee and the DOL hearing request form must be submitted. Your license may be suspended from 90 days to 4 years, based on prior offenses and your blood alcohol level, plus you may be required to have SR-22 insurance. If you carry a commercial drivers license this may also face suspension. However, you do have the right to contest this automatic suspension, regardless of what the evidence is.
What happens if I contest my license suspension?
A hearing will be held within 60 days of the date of your DUI arrest by phone or in person. You will be assigned a hearing officer who will determine the following: (1) Whether the officer had reasonable grounds to stop you; (2) Whether you were under lawful arrest; (3) Whether you were read your rights; (4) Whether your alcohol level was over the legal limit or whether you refused the breath test.
Typically this hearing will take place approximately 60 days after the date of arrest. After the hearing, you can expect a written ruling from the DOL hearing examiner either granting or dismissing the suspension. Depending on the ruling and who the hearing examiner was this can take 2-4 weeks.
If your license gets suspended by the Department of Licensing you may be eligible to apply for an ignition interlock license or an occupational license to get to and from work.
What happens if you get charged with a DUI in Court
If you are formally charged, your first court date will either appear via a summons through the mail or on a ticket issued to you at the time of your arrest. Find your next court date & court location. Generally, if you get a DUI arrest in the City of Seattle the arraignment will be within a few days and the arresting officer will give notice at that time. If you get a DUI arrest in King County by a Washington State Patrol Trooper or King County Sheriff you will get notice of a court date. Usually 1-3 months after the date of the arrest.
What happens at your DUI arraignment?
Your first court appearance is your arraignment. This is where the Prosecutor will read the charges against you, and you will formally enter a plea. The Judge may set bail, and/or impose conditions on your release. At a DUI arraignment, the conditions of release can include the following: ignition interlock device, SCRAM bracelet, abstain from alcohol, no driving without a valid license and insurance, and no refusal of a breath or blood test if a DUI arrest happens again.
What happens at your next DUI hearing?
If you didn’t speak to a DUI Attorney before your arraignment, you need to contact one immediately. The next hearing after your arraignment is a pre-trial hearing. Typically one of three things may happen at this hearing: (1) You can continue your case to another pre-trial hearing for a variety of reasons; (2) You can plead guilty as charged or accept any plea deal that you get offered; (3) You can maintain that you are not guilty of this crime and set your case for trial.
What happens if you set your case for a DUI trial?
You may request either a bench trial heard by a Judge, or a jury trial heard by a group of your peers. Typically you will have several court dates in between your pre-trial and jury trial that you may or may not be required to attend. A jury trial on a DUI case may last 1 day or 1 week depending on the number of witnesses, and evidence that will be presented. You will be required to attend every day of the trial. If you are found not guilty then the case will be dismissed. However, if you are found guilty then RCW 46.61.5055 will determine your minimum sentence.
A Washington State DUI is a serious matter. Contact my firm today to speak with an experienced Seattle DUI Attorney for a free 60-minute consultation. Remember it is of vital importance to speak with an experienced DUI attorney right away to not only answer any questions you may have but also to start building a defense to beat the DUI charge.