The Seattle DUI Process

The DUI Process

The DUI process moves forward quickly. Our early involvement in your case could benefit you in many ways, including a full dismissal of charges. As a former prosecutor, our DUI attorney has handled over 15,000 cases, and has an exceptional understanding of the criminal justice system and the DUI process. The steps in the process are as follows:

The Stop

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, then it is very likely that the evidence gathered as a result will be suppressed, which could lead to dropped charges. There could also be conflicting reports from officers at the scene, or exaggerated reports or accusations of swerving, slurred speech, red eyes, or the smell of alcohol. Any police stop could have errors that could be challenged with the help of a skilled DUI defense attorney.

Field Sobriety Tests

Certain tests may be administered, including the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. These are not mandatory and, according to state law, you may choose not to comply if asked to perform these tests. However, you are required to take the blood or breath test, and refusing to do so 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 performed any of these tests and were subsequently arrested, there could be room for an effective challenge.

The Arrest

If the officer or officers involved believe that you were operating your vehicle while under the influence 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.

Booking

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

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.

Pretrial Conference

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.

The Trial

Under the Constitution, you have the right to a trial by jury. A jury trial for DUI consists of a panel of 6 jurors. In some cases, you might benefit from waiving your right to a jury trial and, instead, have a bench trial - a trial in which the judge decides the case.

Sentencing

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 your sentence, 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.