The Criminal Charge of DUI
If you were arrested by a Washington State Trooper or a County Deputy Sheriff, then you will likely be charged with DUI in the District Court in the County where you were arrested. If you were arrested by a municipal police officer, then you will likely be charged with DUI in the Municipal Court in the municipal locality where you were arrested. Some towns do not have their own courts so, in those cases, you may be charged in a different court.
If the arresting officer did not notify you of a court date, you will likely receive a summons in the mail to appear in court on the charge of DUI for a preliminary hearing. If the address that you provided to the arresting officer is no longer the address where you either reside or receive your mail, then you may not receive the notice to appear in court. If a summons is sent and you fail to appear in court, a warrant for your arrest could be issued by the court. Make sure that you provide a current address to the arresting officer so that you will receive notice of your court date.
The Arraignment/Preliminary Hearing
At the arraignment, you will enter a plea of not guilty, and the court will determine whether there is probable cause for the government to go forward with the charge against you and set conditions of your release.
The arraignment is not an evidentiary hearing where you will be placed under oath. A not guilty plea is expected by the Judge and the Prosecutor. You are not testifying under oath as to the facts of the case. By entering a not guilty plea, you are preserving your constitutional rights. You have the constitutional right to be presumed innocent. This is a legal presumption. By pleading not guilty, you are not waiving that presumption of innocence.
If the Judge finds probable cause for the charge of DUI, the Judge will set conditions of your release. Standard conditions of release imposed by the courts upon a person with no prior criminal or DUI history, with a breath or blood test that, although over the legal limit, is less than twice the legal limit, usually includes the requirements of no new criminal law violations, no alcohol consumption, no driving without a valid license and insurance, and no refusal to submit to a breath or blood test if lawfully requested.
However, the facts of every case are different and different Judges impose different requirements. If you have prior history or an exceptionally high breath or blood test, you could face more severe conditions of release. The court may require you to immediately obtain an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate. The court could set bail at a high amount and take you into custody on bail. The court could require you to obtain and pay for an alcohol monitoring device that you must wear 24 hours a day to measure and record whether you have any alcohol in your system. The court could order you on house arrest, where you must wear an ankle bracelet that you must pay for.
In all cases, it is important for you to be proactive and consult with an experienced, competent DUI defense attorney as soon after your initial arrest as possible, and prior to your first appearance in court. Barbara Bowden is well known for her vigorous and effective defense of her DUI clients. She and the lawyers in her law firm collectively have in excess of 75 years experience representing DUI defendants. We don’t handle divorce cases, bankruptcy, or other civil matters. The vast majority of the cases we accept are DUI’s and driver’s licensing issues.
The Civil Administrative Action by the Department of Licensing
It is important for you to know that in addition to the criminal DUI charge, the Department of Licensing will suspend or revoke your driving privilege effective 60 days from the date of your arrest, if you submitted to a breath test and blew .08 or higher, or if the officer claims that you refused to submit to the evidential breath or blood test. If the test was a blood test to measure alcohol concentration, the Department of Licensing will suspend your driving privilege 60 days from the date it sends notice of suspension in the mail to your address of record on file with the Department of Licensing .
You only have 20 days from the date of your arrest, or in the case of a blood test, 20 days from the date notice is given, to request a hearing with the Department of Licensing to contest the suspension or revocation of your driver’s license. You must pay a $375.00 hearing fee along with your request for hearing or the Department will deny your request for a hearing and your license suspension will be automatically imposed.