I was arrested for a DUI, but the officer never told me when I have to be in court. Does this mean that I wasn't charged?
No. Most police agencies in the State of Washington do not file the DUI charges directly and do not give the individuals that they arrest court dates. Instead, they will usually only provide a Driver's Hearing Request Form for the Department of Licensing and forward the DUI case on to the local prosecuting authority for the filing of charges. You should receive your court notice in the mail. The time for receiving this notice varies greatly from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
Will the court hold it against me if I hire an attorney to represent me on my DUI and plead not guilty?
A resounding NO! You have an absolute right under the constitution to challenge the evidence against you. Actually, most Judges are far more comfortable dealing with clients who are represented by counsel due to the fact that many potential conflicts can arise with people trying to represent themselves.
My breath/blood alcohol reading was below the legal limit. Do I have anything to worry about?
Possibly. In the State of Washington, even if your reading is below the legal limit or there are no alcohol results, the police and prosecuting attorney will proceed if they believe that there is sufficient evidence to show that even though your alcohol concentration was below the legal limit, that your ability to drive was appreciably affected by alcohol, thus charging you with a DUI. This opinion will be based upon the officer's observations and the tests that he/she conducted. Remember, the officer arrested you because he/she felt that your ability to drive was impaired so DUI charges may still be a very real possibility.
If I hire an attorney, does that mean that the case will go to trial?
Not necessarily. The vast majority of DUI cases do not go to trial. Whether or not your case will go to trial depends on far too many factors to list here.
In Washington State, if my license gets suspended for a DUI arrest or conviction, can I drive for work?
As of January 1, 2009, anyone suspended for a DUI arrest or conviction is eligible for an "IGNITION INTERLOCK LICENSE." Further, one may be eligible to drive "employer-owned vehicle" for work purposes if they apply for an "Employer Exemption."
What can a good DUI defense attorney do for me?
Having a good DUI defense attorney can make the experience far less stressful. They can answer your questions, prepare you for the proceedings each step of the way, and ensure that if there is a way to help you - they will find it. Often times, a successful DUI defense may mean a substantial reduction of the charges rather than a dismissal. In this scenario, you are able to accept some responsibility, while at the same time mitigating the long term effects. Most importantly, they will communicate. If you can't communicate with your attorney, there is a good chance that no one else can either and it can make a painful chapter in your life much worse.
What is Electronic Home Monitoring (EHM)?
Electronic Home Monitoring allows you to serve your commitment within the confines of YOUR own home rather than in jail. While EHM allows you to attend your regular work schedule and/or alcohol treatment, you are restricted to your home while serving an EHM sentence, an electronic bracelet is placed around your ankle.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
An Ignition Interlock is a breath analyzer that is wired into your vehicle's starting system. It is about the size of a cellular phone. In order to start your vehicle, you must breathe into the IID for several seconds, if your breath alcohol level is over the predetermined limit, usually .02, your car while not start. If your breath alcohol level is below the preset limit, then your car will start, and the IID will require you to breathe into the device periodically while you are driving
What is Work Release?
Work Release is a partial confinement program allowing individuals who are employed to continue working. While serving a work release sentence, you are allowed to go to work during the day, but must return to the corrections facility at night.
What if I am under 21 years old?
If you are a minor and provide a breath test sample of .02 or higher, the Department of Licensing will take action to suspend your license.(SEE FAQ # 2) Also, it is a crime for a minor to drive a car after consumption of alcohol over .02, thus you will face criminal penalties as well. Furthermore, if you are a minor and provide a breath test sample of .08 or higher, not only are you looking at a license suspension from the Department of Licensing, but you will be charged criminally as an adult DUI. Also, as stated in FAQ #4, even if your reading is under .08, they can charge you with an adult DUI.
I don't live in King County, does it make sense to hire an attorney that far from my home or court?
It is very likely that the only time you will actually go to your attorney's office will be for the initial consultation. All future contact will usually take place at the court or via telephone or email. The most important decision you will make in this entire process is selecting the attorney who will represent you, so why limit your choices due to a drive that you will only need to make once. Also, while not always ideal, we frequently are retained by individuals outside of Washington and can make arrangements to schedule an in-depth phone consultation, removing the need to come to either of our conveniently located offices.
Should I just hire a local attorney?
If the best attorney that you can find and afford is a local one, absolutely. However, you should not accept any less solely due to proximity. Washington's top DUI attorney's, both within our firm and others, routinely practice in Courts all around the State and are generally well known and well regarded everywhere we appear. At Veitch Ault & Associates, we have handled cases in almost every jurisdiction in the State but work primarily in Thurston, Pierce, King, Snohomish, Skagit, Whatcom, Island and Kittitas Counties. We also consider cases in the more remote parts of the State on a case by case basis. If we can't take your case, we have an excellent referral list of the top DUI attorneys around the State and will do our best to point you in the right direction.