You Can Fight Back Against DUI Charges
There are few events as traumatic as being arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence, whether for alcohol, marijuana or prescription medication. Our firm understands that good people can be charged with DUI and that a mistake should not lead to a lifetime of regret.
Whatever your circumstances and whether or not this is your first offense, you will need skilled and dedicated representation to guide you through the process. Our firm will provide you with zealous representation to ensure that you receive a favorable and fast resolution of your case, so that you can move forward with the rest of your life.
What Happens After You Are Charged With DUI?
If you have been charged with DUI (whether for alcohol, marijuana or prescription medication), you will face two separate actions:
- An administrative action by the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL)
- A criminal action by the county or city in which the DUI arrest occurred
Our firm has the knowledge and experience to represent you in both actions and assist you in obtaining the most favorable possible outcome for your case.
The Administrative Action By The DOL
The DOL action will determine whether your license should be suspended, revoked or retained by you, but subject to restrictions. Be aware that the decision by the DOL does not depend on your being found guilty in the criminal action. Therefore, even if the DUI charge is later dismissed or a jury finds you not guilty, the DOL still has the authority to suspend, revoke or restrict your driving privileges. The administrative hearings are less formal than the criminal proceeding, but nevertheless you will need an attorney to help you maximize the probability of a favorable outcome.
You have 20 days from receipt of the notification of the pending DOL action to file a request for hearing. The notification will either be provided to you by the arresting officer at the time of arrest or will be mailed to you by the DOL if the DUI charge was the result of a positive test obtained from a blood sample. The fee for the hearing request is $375 and is nonrefundable. Because of the short amount of time between receipt of the notice and the deadline for filing the request for hearing, it is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible after you receive the notice.
The Criminal Action By The County Or City
The following is a summary of the typical steps in a DUI case. Throughout the process summarized below, remember that it is your attorney’s job to provide you with legal advice that includes a strategy for your case, a description of the foreseeable outcomes and the likelihood of each outcome. Only you have the right to decide whether you will plead guilty or not guilty, accept a plea deal or proceed to trial.
Arraignment: After your arrest, you will receive a notice with the date of the arraignment, the court appearance at which you will enter your plea (typically not guilty). At the arraignment, the court may set the terms of your release, treatment requirements, driving restrictions, etc. Finally, the date of the pretrial hearing will be set.
Pretrial hearing: The pretrial hearing is where most cases are resolved. Prior to the pretrial hearing, your attorney will thorough investigate your case, then meet with you to discuss the merits of your case as well as any potential problems. At this meeting, your attorney will also provide you with advice and recommendations for the best possible method of resolving the charges against you.
After consulting with you and based on your instructions, your attorney may attempt to negotiate a favorable plea to the original DUI charge with the prosecuting attorney. For example, in some cases, the prosecuting attorney may be willing to reduce a charge of DUI down to reckless driving or negligent driving, reducing the impact of the criminal charge on your pocketbook and insurance premiums. This is but one possible outcome and it is important to remember that every case is different and will be influenced by, among other things, your criminal and driving history and the evidence related to your arrest.
Motions hearing: If your case is not resolved at the pretrial hearing, there may be a separate motions hearing. A motions hearing may be scheduled anywhere from a few weeks prior to trial to the morning of trial and depends on the rules of the court in which the case is being litigated and the preference of the judge.
The motions hearing may be necessary because the prosecuting attorney failed to turn over all of the evidence related to your case or there is a dispute between the attorneys regarding which evidence may be used if the case goes to trial. Prior to the motions hearing, your attorney will discuss the strategic and legal issues to be addressed at the hearing and how these issues hurt or help your case and provide you with an estimate of the likelihood of success for each issue.
Based on the outcome of the motions hearing, the prosecuting attorney may be willing to further reduce the charges against you or may completely dismiss the case. Your attorney will discuss with you the outcome of the motions hearing, the impact the court’s rulings are likely to have on your case and advice on how to proceed.
Readiness hearing: A readiness hearing is just what it sounds like — a hearing in front of the judge to determine if the prosecution and defense are ready to proceed to trial. In some cases, the prosecution or the defense (or both) may need to have the date of the trial pushed back. In other cases, the prosecutor and the defendant may have agreed to a plea deal and will advise the court of their agreement at the readiness hearing. Several issues can be addressed at the readiness hearing that will determine when and if your case will proceed to trial.
Trial: Most people have seen episodes of “Law and Order” or one of the many TV shows that dramatize trials and are familiar with how a trial works. A trial consists of jury selection, opening statements by the attorneys for each side, presentation of the evidence by each side (including documents, testimony and possibly expert witnesses), closing statements by each side, and the court’s instructions to the jurors on the law and its application to the evidence. Most DUI trials last only a couple days, but may be longer depending on the type of evidence presented, the number of witnesses who testify, etc. As a general rule, the more complex the case, the longer the trial will last.
After both sides have presented all of the evidence, the jury will convene in a private room to discuss the evidence and reach a verdict. The amount of time the jury needs to make a decision varies and can be anywhere from an hour or two to a couple of days. The jury then presents its verdict to the judge, who confirms the decision with the members of the jury. Finally, the verdict is read to the defendant.
Mount A Strong Defense With The Help Of An Experienced Lawyer
To learn more about how The Lewis Law Firm, PLLC, can help in your case, come meet us for a free initial consultation. To schedule an appointment, call 425-943-9652 or contact us online. Our office is in Issaquah, Washington.