Driving Under the Influence or a “DUI” charge tends to be the most common charge that you will see when you walk into a District Court courtroom in Snohomish or King Counties.
Everyone who gets a DUI immediately goes to the “this is the end of the world” extreme, but in reality DUI’s are charged against all different types of people, and there are definitely folks who you know who have gone through this, but have not made their battle publicly known. So the primary thing to know is that you’re not the first person that has gone through this, and that people have made it through these circumstances before without it ruining their lives. Getting one DUI charge doesn’t make you an alcoholic, a bad person, or a low-life.
On today’s roadways, police officers generally do not show mercy to anyone who has had even one drink, some marijuana earlier in the day, or, on certain occasions, those drivers who are just taking their medications as prescribed. In short, getting a DUI is a lot easier than you think. If and when it happens, you just have to be ready.
What Happens When You Get a DUI?
For a first-time DUI, an officer does not have to book you into jail and often times, if you are respectful to the officer, he will bring you home after he has processed the DUI so that you can at least sleep in your own bed. Your car will always be impounded when you’re arrested on suspicion of DUI, so getting that back should probably be your first priority, as the bill can rack up quickly if it sits there too long.
If you are booked into jail on your first DUI, it is smart to try to bail out as quickly as possible. Bail on a first DUI generally will be $1,000, and you can therefore get a bail bond for about $100, or you can post the full amount, which means that it will all be returned to you at the conclusion of the case.
One tip here is that if you are eventually convicted of a DUI (under a .15 BAC), you will have a mandatory minimum of 24 consecutive hours in jail. Therefore, if you’ve been in jail for let’s say 20 hours and then bail out, you will not be given credit for that. It may be wise to sit there for 4 more hours to get the full 24 hours in, which may mean you don’t have to go back to jail later on.
Once you are out of jail and you’ve retrieved your car, the best thing you can do is call a DUI attorney. It’s actually wise to call a DUI attorney before you’ve decided whether to take the breath test at the station as well, but here we’re focusing on what to do after you’ve been arrested. Most times when you leave jail or after you’ve been dropped off by the officer, you do not have a court date in your hand yet. You will receive a summons in the mail in the weeks or months following the arrest, which will tell you what your first court date is and what court it will be held in.
Again, sometimes this summons comes during the week of the incident and sometimes you have to wait and wait for it to arrive. This depends on several factors, one of which is whether you did a breath test or a blood draw. Blood draw cases have to be sent to the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory to be tested and then the results are returned to the prosecutor’s office. This means that your summons in a blood draw case will generally take longer. Just because the summons might take a while to get to you, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to just sit back and do nothing after the arrest, as there is also the Department of Licensing side to a DUI case.
What Does a Summons for a DUI Case Mean?
When you get arrested for a DUI you will generally be given a form showing you how to request a Department of Licensing (DOL) Administrative Hearing. This hearing must be requested within 20 days of arrest, regardless of what is happening with your criminal case, so there is a reason to get moving on talking to a DUI attorney once arrested. If you do not request a hearing within this 20-day time period, and your breath test was over the legal limit, your license will be suspended automatically starting 60 days after the incident date.
While you don’t technically need an attorney for the DOL hearing, to not have one is to basically throw away the money for the hearing ($375.00) as these are complex hearings where legal issues need to be understood and argued. An attorney can talk to you about what happened while it is fresh in your memory and can even help you submit the DOL hearing request. Essentially, the defense for your DUI can start long before the criminal charge is filed.
Your Best Chance to Successfully Handle a DUI Charge is a DUI Attorney
In addition to the benefits of having things fresh in your mind and having an attorney there to help you with the DOL hearing from the beginning, there are another few benefits to getting an attorney on board right away. There may be investigative items that need to be looked into which will disappear with time. An attorney might want to have you get started with a drug and alcohol evaluation right away. An attorney may want to start preparing pretrial motions for your case so that they can put the prosecutor on notice of issues right off the bat.
These are just a few of the reasons to consult an attorney right away, but the main reason this makes sense is that you’re usually going to be paying an attorney a flat fee for representation, so why not get your money’s worth and have him or her help you throughout? It should be the same cost either way so let your attorney work for you from the get-go.
We’re always more than happy to advise clients on DUI cases, and we want to get started working for you on Day One. A DUI charge is a daunting task, but having a trusted attorney on your side throughout makes you realize that this won’t be the end of your life as you know it. Give our office a call to set up your free DUI case evaluation.