DUI Defense Attorney Kent WA
What Should I Expect After a DUI Arrest?
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI, you are probably feeling scared, embarrassed, and overwhelmed. You have probably spent a night in jail and are now facing license suspension, fines, and possible jail time.
After a Kent DUI arrest, two legal actions will follow. The first will be with the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL). If a driver is pulled over and tests over the legal limit on a breath test, or if they refuse to take the breath test altogether, the DOL will send a notice of license suspension. The minimum suspension for a first-time offender is 90 days and will increase for repeat offenses.
The second legal action to follow a DUI arrest is a court appearance. Drivers arrested for a DUI must face a court appearance to face the DUI charge. At this court appearance, you will enter a plea which will determine next steps with the court system. This court appearance is completely separate from your DOL action. It is highly recommended that you hire an experienced Kent DUI lawyer to help with not only the DOL action but the court action as well.
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After being arrested for a DUI, the DOL will notify you of a license suspension starting 60 days after the initial arrest. This suspension can be contested by submitting a DOL hearing request and paying a fee within 20 days of the DUI arrest.
There are a few different factors that will determine how long your license will be suspended. These factors include blood alcohol level at the time of arrest and prior offenses. The DOL will take these factors into account when determining your suspension length, which will range from anywhere between 90 days and four years.
In addition to the license suspension, you may be required to register for SR-22 insurance. The suspension is also a possibility for those drivers with a commercial driver’s license. Drivers will have a chance to contest this as well.
What Happens if I Contest my License Suspension?
If you decide to contest your license suspension, you will first need to fill out the DOL hearing request and pay the fee. The DOL will then grant a hearing within 60 days of the DUI arrest.
This hearing may take place by phone or in person. Once it is scheduled, the state will assign you a hearing officer who will investigate the details of your arrest. Some of the details that will be reviewed include whether or not the police officer had reasonable grounds to stop you, if you were read your rights, if you were under lawful arrest overall, and if your blood alcohol level, in fact, was over the legal limit.
The DOL will typically send a written ruling within 2-4 weeks of the hearing. This ruling will include the outcome of the hearing, either dismissing or imposing the license suspension. If your license is suspended, you may still have the option to obtain an occupational or ignition interlock license.
What Happens if I Get Charged with a DUI in court?
If you are formally charged with a DUI, your first court date summons will arrive via the mail, or by a ticket written at the actual DUI arrest. Follow these links to find your court date and court location.
For most DUI arrests in Kent, the arraignment will be scheduled within a few days of the arrest. The time between the arrest and arraignment is often longer, between 1 and 3 months after the initial arrest if you were pulled over by a State Patrol Trooper or a King County Sheriff.
What Happens at the DUI Arraignment?
The arraignment will be your first court appearance after the arrest. At this time, the prosecutor will name the charges set against you and you will formally enter a plea. The judge may then set bail, and/or the conditions of your release. The conditions may include the use of an ignition interlock device, abstaining from alcohol, a SCRAM bracelet, and no option for refusal of a blood or breath test if you are arrested for another DUI in the future.
What Happens at the Next DUI Hearing?
If you went through the DOL and arraignment without consulting an experienced Kent DUI attorney, now is the time to contact one. Your next hearing is the pre-trial hearing where one of three things generally happen. The first option would be finding a valid reason to continue the case at another pre-trial hearing. The second option is to plead guilty and accept one of the plea deals that the court offers. Your final option will be to maintain your innocence and set a trial date.
What Happens if You Set Your Case for a DUI Trial?
If you choose to maintain that you are innocent and go to trial, you will have two options. You can request a bench trial with a judge, or a jury trial with a group of your peers. There is usually multiple court dates between the pre-trial hearing and the actual trial, some of which you may not be required to attend.
For the actual DUI jury trial, the number of witnesses, and evidence will determine the length of the trial. You will be required to attend every day of the process which could range from one day to one week. If the jury finds you not guilty, your case will be dismissed. However, if you are found guilty, RCW-46.61.5055 will determine the length of your sentence.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI in Kent, it is vital that you contact a professional DUI attorney right away. At Leyba Defense, we are experienced in building an aggressive defense to beat your DUI charge. To learn more or to schedule a free 60-minute consultation, call us at 206-504-3131 or fill out our contact form here.