The Seattle DUI Process
The DUI process moves forward quickly. You need to take fast action if you hope to avoid conviction; get in touch with a Seattle criminal defense lawyer from Blair & Kim, PLLC immediately after your arrest. Our early involvement in your case could lead to a full dismissal of charges or other advantage that could greatly benefit you. As a former prosecutor, our DUI attorney has handled over 15,000 cases, and has an exceptional depth of understanding of the criminal justice system and the DUI process. The steps in the process are as follows:
You are pulled over for an unrelated traffic infraction that proceeds to a DUI investigation if law enforcement considers that you are exhibiting signs of intoxication. Under constitutional law you cannot be stopped without probable cause. If it is determined that you were pulled over with no cause to do so, it is very likely that your case will be dropped, as the evidence gathered could then be suppressed. There can be conflicting reports from officers at the scene, or exaggerated reports or accusations of swerving within your own lane, or that your speech was slurred, eyes red or that you smelled like alcohol. Any police stop could have errors that could be challenged with the help of a skilled Seattle criminal defense attorney from Blair & Kim, PLLC.
Field Sobriety Tests
Certain tests can be administered, including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. These are not mandatory, and if asked to perform them you are not required to do so under state law. You are required to take the blood or breath test, and refusing it can lead to severe penalties. The testing procedures are often incorrectly applied per the standards outlined by the NHTSA (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration). Even the most accurate of the tests has been shown to be only 77% accurate. If you were subjected to these tests and then arrested, there could be room for an effective challenge.
If the officer or officers involved believe that you were operating your vehicle while impaired they will arrest you. Once you are in custody, if law enforcement chooses to interrogate you about the incident, you must be read your rights, as you do have the right to have an attorney present, which is a crucial factor. Never answer any questions until your attorney arrives to protect your rights.
Breath and Blood Tests
After your arrest, you are taken to the station for a breath test. In cases in which an accident has occurred, a blood test will be taken at the hospital where you are being treated. Roadside breath testing units are unreliable and if you are asked to have this test, request that you be taken to the station for testing.
In most DUI cases, the booking will not occur until after the breath test has taken place. In many cases, the accused is then released with a court date.
The arraignment is the process in which you are formally charged. It could take place a few hours or days after your arrest. Never appear at any court hearing without an attorney, or make a plea without first getting a full review of your case. You may have options that could lead to a case dismissal or other advantage that your attorney can negotiate. Do not plead guilty or you will have no option other than taking the punishment meted out by the court.
There is a hearing that takes place prior to trial that allows your attorney to negotiate with the prosecutor and allows the judge to be updated on the progress of your case. Your trial date could be postponed if your defense attorney needs more time to gather further evidence, or to further negotiate with the prosecutor regarding the charges you are facing. You could get a plea offer in some cases, and you have the right to decide if you wish to accept any such offer. If no plea is offered or accepted, your trial date will be set.
You have the right to a trial by jury under the constitution. A jury trial for DUI consists of a panel of 6 jurors. In some cases, it could be of benefit to waive your right to a jury trial and have what is termed a bench trial - one in which the judge decides the case. You could be found not guilty of the charged, and that objective should be addressed by an attorney that knows the legal process inside out. With our extensive background as a prosecutor, there are few lawyers that better understand the entire process, how the case will be viewed by both the judge and prosecutor, and how to present a case with the best possible chance of success.
If you are found guilty, it is likely you will be sentenced immediately. In more serious cases, you could be held or released while awaiting sentences, and bail may be required. It is imperative that you have defense counsel that is prepared to do everything possible for you, and has a record of success. Our firm is prepared to act at once on your behalf.
Contact a Seattle DUI lawyer if you have been arrested and charged with DUI. We assist you through every step of the process, and protecting your rights, freedom and future is our mission.