Charged With A DUI In Seattle?
Being arrested for a DUI can be a troublesome and daunting experience, especially before you’ve received an assessment of your situation from a Seattle DUI attorney. If you’ve reached this page, you (or someone you know) have probably been charged with a DUI in Seattle. Having been accused of driving under the influence is a demoralizing and confusing time and you are likely very worried about your future. Speaking to a Seattle DUI attorney can help you feel like you are not alone in this fight. Now is the time to take control of the consequences of a potential DUI conviction and find a lawyer that you can rely on and trust to help you through this ordeal.
The DUI Process in Seattle
The majority of DUI cases start with the initial stop by a police officer. The initial stop could have been for something as simple as a burned out light or something more relevant to spotting a DUI, such as weaving across the yellow line. Whatever the reason for a stop, a DUI arrest might follow.
After the stop, the officer will typically ask you to step out of your vehicle if he suspects a DUI. A field sobriety test is normally administered in such a scenario. If the officer believes there’s enough evidence, he will arrest you for the suspicion of driving under the influence. As the arrest is being made, the arresting officer must read you your Constitution Miranda Rights. If your Miranda Rights were not read to you, that’s one thing to pay attention to note.
After the arrest, the suspect will likely be taken to the police station to undergo a breath test. Some police stations book the accused person and keep them in jail for a period of time, while others are released right after. In Seattle, the police department will usually give a DUI citation to the accused right away at the police station. The citation should contain the DUI charges and a mandatory court date schedule in the next coming days or weeks.
Seattle DUI Booking Process
Less commonly, the arresting police office will decide to book the suspect immediately into jail. When booked, an interview by a member of the jail staff will be conducted to determine the bail amount (if any). During this interview, several criteria will be taken into account: criminal history, jurisdiction, and suspect’s overall attitude during the arrest. If the accused is booked, his or her fingerprints will be taken; they will be searched and questioned, photographed, and then placed into a jail cell. Finally, you will be told what your bail amount is and will be allowed to call a friend or bonding company to pay for the bail and get you out of jail.
Seattle DUI Investigation
The suspect is now out of jail and the arresting office has all the evidence that they are going to be able to use against you. No more evidence can be gathered against you. It could take anywhere from a few hours to a few days to file official criminal charges against the accused. In many counties in Seattle, charges are filed via an investigation. This means that the prosecutor will review the evidence gathered by the arresting officer and review whether there is sufficient evident to file DUI charges. The prosecutor will file a complaint in court and the courts will send notice to the accused to appear for the first court date.
You may expect that this process would be quick, and in many cases it is only 1 to 6 weeks. However, the maximum amount of time that the government has to file DUI charges after the initial arrest is up to two years. Even though it might seem like there is no rush until charges are filed, it is critical to speak to a Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Just because you haven’t been charged yet, doesn’t mean that you will not in the near future.
Seattle DUI Criminal Process
Each jurisdiction has it’s own rules for the criminal process, which is why speaking to Seattle DUI attorney can help you navigate the complex, and often confusing, legal proceedings. The usual 6 steps in the criminal process includes the: arraignment, pre-trial, readiness hearing, trial, and sentencing.
The arraignment is a very short step in the process, where the defendant stands before a judge (often for less than 5 minutes) and confirms their personal information, their understanding of the charges, and enters a plea (Guilty, No Contest, or Not Guilty). Usually a Seattle DUI attorney will not accompany you to the arraignment.
This is where negotiations occur between the defense and the prosecuting attorney. Nobody wants a case to trial because that costly, time consuming, and the outcome is uncertain for both sides. So it is during the pre-trial that the defense and prosecuting attempt to come to an agreement that can help them avoid a trial. The prosecutor is likely to give the defendant an offer, which would resolve the case immediately. Offers often come in the form having the defendant agree to a certain lesser punishment in return for pleading guilty for the DUI charge. If you have a Seattle DUI attorney at this step in the process, it is possible they might be able to get the case dismissed or get a favorable plea agreement.
This is where your Seattle DUI attorney has the chance to challenge the evidence gathered by the arresting officer. Your attorney will build a case for you in this step of the process.
This usually occurs up to a week before the schedule trial. This is the last chance before the trial where your attorney and the prosecution can come to an agreement and prevent this case from going to trial.
You have two options for a DUI trial. The first option is a jury trial where 6 jurors decide the defendant’s guilt. The second option (and maybe a better one) is called a bench trial, where the judge alone decides your case. Your Seattle DUI attorney can advise you to the correct type of trial for your unique situation.
If the defendant is convicted of their DUI charges, or if they accept a plea deal, the judge will deliver his final sentence in this step of the process. At this point, the defendant’s future is in the hands of solely the judge. This is why most people want to avoid having a trial. This final stage of the process is highly unpredictable and can fluctuate wildly based on a judge’s mood during the sentencing. In most cases, if found guilty, a defendant can expect to take alcohol classes, have their license suspended, or even have a device put in their car that requires a breath test before starting the engine.
Seattle DUI Defenses
Now that you are familiar with the Seattle legal process for DUIs let’s discuss some of the possible defenses for a DUI in Seattle. This of course is not an all encompassing list, but it should provide a general overview to show that there are many option available for you and your Seattle DUI attorney to work through.
This is the defense which questions whether or not the government can provide solid evidence that you were indeed the driver. If you weren’t the driver, you couldn’t have been driving under the influence.
A DUI begins with the initial contact by the police officer. The officer must be justified in the initial stop. Some examples of reasonable stops by an officer include:
- Swerving or weaving
- Speeding or driving to slow
- Burned out taillight or headlight
- Headlights off at night
- Talking on cell phone
- Changing lanes without turn signal
There are many more acceptable justifications for stopping an individual, but there are just as many unacceptable ones that can be used by a Seattle DUI attorney to defend DUI charges.
This defense questions whether the police officer was justified in detaining you or whether he should have just cited you for the offense in question and let you go. For example, an individual is stopped for speeding. Then the officer calls a second officer to the scene to evaluate the individual for driving under the influence. On many occasions, it has been found unlawful to detain an individual for an unreasonable amount of time while waiting for an additional officer.
What there enough evidence to make the officer justified in arresting you for a DUI. Some commons questions to suggest probable cause:
- Was your face flushed?
- Did you pass the Field Sobriety Tests?
- Were your eyes bloodshot or tired looking?
- Did you have good balance?
- Did you admit to drinking or smoking?
- Admissibility of breath test: the police officer must follow all of the rules associated with utilizing this test including, a 15 minute observation period, checking your mouth prior to the test, the machine must be calibrated, and more.
- Admissibility of blood draw: blood draws require a warrant to be admissible and you must be provided with a copy of the warrant, given a receipt for your taken blood, and the toxicologist must have followed the protocols.
- Implied Consent Warnings: the police officer must read you some required warning prior to any breath or blood test, including additional warnings for those individuals with a commercial driver’s license (CDL).
Get A Free Consultation With A Seattle DUI Attorney
As you can see, the criminal justice system is not a easy thing to navigate. That’s why it is crucial to have an experience lawyer on your side fighting for your rights. They know the process and have the knowledge necessary to get you the most favorable outcome.