There is so much information about substance use and abuse that finding the right resource is often time consuming and frustrating. Rest assured, you have come to the right place for an objective assessment to determine what if any concerns you or your loved one might have with alcohol and or drugs.

Can I avoid license suspension on a DUI arrest in King County?
When a person is arrested for DUI in King County they will be given a notice of a civil administrative lawsuit by the Department of Licensing. This is a legal action that will result in the suspension of the person’s driver’s license, permit or privilege, if they had a breath test of 0.08 or higher (0.02 or higher for drivers under 21 years of age) or if they allegedly refused a breath test. This suspension of the driver’s license, permit or privilege to drive in Washington State may affect anyone arrested, even if they have a License from another State.

THE SUSPENSION IS AUTOMATIC IF THE PERSON DOES NOT REQUEST A HEARING AND PAY THE HEARING FEE (or request a fee waiver) WITHIN 20 DAYS OF THEIR ARREST(or 20 days after receiving notice of a blood test result). The license, permit or privilege to drive can be suspended for 90 DAYS, ONE YEAR, TWO YEARS OR MORE, depending on the person’s driving history and whether there is an alleged refusal to submit to the test. Go here to request a hearing on line.

There are ways to avoid the license suspension but YOU CAN NOT AVOID THE SUSPENSION IF YOU DO NOT REQUEST A HEARING WITHIN 20 DAYS. Winning administrative suspension cases isn’t easy. The rules can make it difficult for the driver. But, while there are no guarantees, hiring an experienced attorney can improve your odds in a King County DUI arrest. The Department of Licensing will also suspend a person’s license, permit or privilege to drive as a result of a criminal conviction.

How can I help my case?
An experienced DUI attorney will provide a checklist of things to do and look out for and will work together with you to avoid and or minimize the impact of any charge against you. In our practice, we don’t leave anything to chance or any rock unturned. In order to defend people charged with DUI in Washington State, our attorneys want to know everything. When your hire us we will give you’re a checklist to make sure we get everything we need to guide you through. Everyone should consider gathering the following in order to assist their attorney in representing them, the following things:

Confidential alcohol evaluation: A confidential evaluation designed to determine if you have or are beginning to develop a problem with alcohol and or drugs is essential to good advice. This evaluation is not to be disclosed to anyone other than your Attorney at Law.

If you have a pilot’s license an Interstate trucker’s license or are in a profession that is regulated by the government any written evaluation can be a devastating career problem. If you are licensed by or regulated or require clearance from the FAA, ICC, DOD, DOH or you are a Firefighter, Police Officer or other professional you need good advice.

But where can you go to obtain such an evaluation and know that your privacy is protected. NO less than five separate Federal and State Laws protect you from any disclosure of your alcohol evaluation. Any treatment agency that asks you to sign a medical/alcohol release to anyone other than your attorney may not be working in your best interest. WE WORK WITH ALCOHOL EVALUATORS WHO DO NOT FEEL THEY TO FIND A PROBLEM. We work with several local alcohol counseling agencies that either do not provide treatment or who know that referrals from Stein Lotzkar and Starr are to remain strictly for the attorney’s eyes only.

If appropriate, begin an Alcohol Information School and attend the DUI Victim’s Panel.

Driving Record: A ten-year printout of your driving record, including departmental actions. You can go to any driver’s license examination office (where you renew your license) and obtain this for a small charge.

Written narrative: A written statement of everything that happened on the day in question. I do not need to know every single detail, but it is important to know what you did that day, when you ate and who you were with. It is very important to know everything about your alcohol and/or drug use. Please be very specific about what you drank, when, where and how much. It is also important to know about any interaction or conversation you had with the police officer(s).

Witness list: The full, legal names, street addresses and telephone numbers of all potential witnesses in your case, along with a short written summary of what the individual may be able to testify. Anyone whom you were with prior to your arrest, during the period or after your release.

Medical records: Any medical records that may be important to your case. If you have diabetes, asthma, acid reflux, corrective lenses, or any other condition or injury which may have affected you on the date in question, obtain the doctor’s or hospital’s charts and notes on your case. Please provide us with a description of your illness or injury, the name, address and telephone number of your treating physician, and the doctor’s charts. You will be requested to sign a medical release in order to allow us to have and use this information.

Photographs of the Vehicle and Scene:
A. Please take photographs of the road that you traveled before you were stopped by the police officer. Have someone drive your vehicle while you take photographs of the roadway. Take photographs approximately every 200 feet so there is a landmark in each set of photographs. Be sure to include road surface details, street and traffic signs, and other details of significance.

B. Please photograph the inside and outside of your vehicle.

C. If you can safely take photographs of the scene of the location where you were stopped and where the physical field sobriety tests (if any) were performed, please do so. Photographs that show accurate close-up, medium and long distance views of the scene where the tests were done are very helpful. If you cannot safely do this please let me know and we can discuss hiring an investigator.

NOTE: A camera with a clean 50mm lens is preferable. Make sure not to shoot into the sun. Do not do anything to change or distort the scene, but do take lots of photographs. Please provide us with the photographs and keep the negatives in a safe place.

* Driver’s License Appeal: You must file an appeal of the issuance of your temporary license and probationary license within THIRTY days of your arrest. Please sign it and mail to the Department of Licensing with the $200.00 fee by registered mail with return receipt requested.

If you receive a notice from the Department of Licensing regarding your license or privilege to drive, read the notice carefully. You must send in your notice of appeal promptly and submit any fee required with the signed hearing request. Again, you should send the notice by registered mail with return receipt requested.

What difference does it make to hire an attorney experienced in DUI practice?
A hard working DUI attorney will learn everything about you and your case. An attorney should demand that the prosecuting attorney provide them with the police officer’s report, the breath test document and any other document or information that the prosecutor intends to use against you.

You may also find that your attorney is able to obtain information such as the officer’s training history, the breath test machine’s history and any video or audio recordings. It may be helpful to get additional information such as the officer’s training manuals regarding the administration of Physical Field Sobriety tests the Preliminary Breath Test (if any) and the Evidential Breath Test.

An experienced DUI attorney knows what to look for, where to look and how to find the information that may be crucial to your case. A person facing a DUI should find the experienced attorney they need.

What fees should I expect for legal representation?
There are several aspects to DUI representation. There is a criminal charge; there may also be a hearing with the Department of Licensing. Individuals who work in regulated fields may need representation with regard to the agencies that regulate them.

Some cases are resolved with relative ease or by seeking treatment that can avoid prosecution.

Preparation for a DUI trial takes significantly more time and effort than cases that are dismissed or resolved promptly by a plea bargain. As a result, some attorneys offer their clients a fee agreement that provides for one fee that will cover the attorney’s fees for the first part of the case and an additional fee if the case should go to trial. Only if the case is set for trial does the client have to pay the second part of the attorney fee. Because most cases do not go through trial this may be a fairer way to arrange to pay an attorney.

What happens at Trial?
Trial consists of several stages. A good King County lawyer will often have Motions in Limine or preliminary motions. These are requests that the court direct the parties and the witnesses to proceed in a certain way. After the Court hears preliminary motions it will bring approximately 18 -24 prospective jurors into the court. These prospective jurors are randomly selected from people who have driver’s licenses or state identification. In DUI cases the Jury consists of 6 members. The other prospective jurors are there in case some or all of the first 6 are unable to be jurors or are not wanted by the defense or the prosecutor. Each party can excuse up to three jurors for any lawful reason. Jurors who are biased, incapable or who may be greatly inconvenienced if required to sit on the case may be excused by the judge for good cause.

Once the Jury is chosen the prosecutor makes an Opening Statement that is suppose to tell the jurors what evidence the prosecutor believes he or she will produce. The defense attorney may also give an opening statement at this time or later in the case. The prosecutor then calls its witnesses. Each witness is sworn under oath and testifies in response to questions asked by the prosecutor in front of the jury. The defense may then ask cross examination questions of the witness. The prosecutor will usually call the arresting officer(s) and civilian witness who may have evidence. In addition, if there is a breath or blood test that has been ruled admissible the prosecutor may call a member of the State Toxicologist’s Office or a Breath Test Technician to testify about the test. Each witness may be cross examined by the defense. Knowing what questions to ask and what questions not to ask in cross examination is the job of the defense attorney.

Once the Prosecutor has completed its case, the Defense may call witnesses. The defendant does not have to testify unless he or she chooses to. If the defendant does not testify the Jurors are told that they may make no inference from the fact that the defendant chooses not to testify. If the defendant does testify, the prosecuting attorney will have the opportunity to ask them questions. In case involving the issue of intoxication it can be helpful if the defendant can testify. A good defense attorney will advise their client about the risks and benefits of testifying. The Defense may also call witnesses such as people who know or saw the defendant on the night in question. Sometimes doctors or others who may testify about a disability or a trait of the defendant that the officer did not know about and might have misinterpreted. Experts may testify about alcohol absorption and metabolism or about the breath or blood test. A King County attorney should guide the person facing a DUI and work with them in developing the case and the witness’s testimony.

What about plea bargains and alternatives to trial?
Trials can be expensive; witnesses are served with subpoenas, experts may require fees for their services and exhibits and instructions must be prepared and copied. A well-qualified King County lawyer may spend more hours preparing for trial then the number of hours they are actually in trial. DUI cases sometimes take two or more days to complete.

Trials are uncertain. The cases that tend to go to trail are the cases that the parties disagree about most. Trials may be fun and challenging for the attorneys and expert witnesses, but a person who is looking at mandatory jail time, license suspension and the very serious penalties involved in a DUI conviction has a lot on line.

What can a person expect in plea bargain negotiations? It depends on their case, their history and the particular prosecutor, police officer and court involved.

The most common plea bargain negotiations result in a reduction or amendment of the DUI charge. Sometimes the reduction is to a less severe type of DUI charge. In other cases a person will be offered a plea to a reduced/amended charge. Some DUI charges are reduced to charges such as;

Negligent Driving in the First Degree means driving a motor vehicle in a negligent manner likely to cause injury to other persons or property while exhibiting signs of having recently consumed alcohol. Negligent Driving in the First Degree carries up to 90 days in jail and a 1,000.00 fine. There is no mandatory jail or mandatory loss of license as a result of this conviction.

Reckless Driving is driving a motor vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other person or property. It carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a five thousand dollar fine. There is no mandatory jail but there is a mandatory 30 day loss of license.

A good attorney can explain the possibilities and the likely impacts of a plea bargain to their client.

What is the prosecutor trying to prove?
In order to prove a DUI charge the prosecutor must prove that the defendant was driving a motor vehicle in King County on a particular day while their ability to drive was appreciable affected by alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Appreciably affected means affected to any noticeable degree, it does not mean drunk. Washington case law does not distinguish between legal, illegal, prescriptions or over the counter drugs or medications. Any drug or medication that affects a person’s ability to drive may be the basis for a DUI charge.

A prosecutor may also prove a DUI case with evidence that the person was driving and then within two hours of driving had a blood or breath test showing an alcohol concentration of 0.08 grams of alcohol per 210 liters of breath or 21 deciliters of blood as a result of alcohol consumed at or before the time of driving.

What happens at the Pre-Trial Motion Hearing?
After the Pre-Trial Conference the court will schedule a Pre-Trial Motion Hearing. This hearing is often like a mini trial without the jury. The court may hear testimony from the police officer and other witnesses. After the court has heard from the witness(es) the lawyers will argue the motions to the court. The judge will then make rulings. The court may suppress evidence; even dismiss the case at this point. Depending on the strength of the motions or depending on the Judge’s rulings this is the time when your attorney and the prosecutor are most likely to discuss the case in earnest. Negotiated resolutions are more likely to occur at this stage than earlier in the process, making it vital to be represented by an attorney experienced in King County DUI cases. After the Pre-Trial Motions the case is set for trial (if it has not been dismissed or negotiated).
What happens at the arraignment hearing for a DUI charge in King County Washington?
After an arrest a person may be given notice to appear in court by the police officer at the time of his or her release. If you are released or post bail your court date can be as soon as the next day. In other cases a person may wait weeks or even months to receive a notice to appear for arraignment.

In most cases, the driver is released by the police officer after arrest. The police officer sends the report to the prosecutor. The prosecutor files a complaint with the court. Then the court sends notice to the person to appear for their arraignment. This process can take several weeks.

Once the court receives the complaint the court will mail notice of an arraignment date. The notice will come in a plain envelope and will be mailed to the address that is on the driver’s license, ID and/ or the address given to the officer.

At arraignment the court asks the person to confirm their correct name and address. The court advises the person of the charge(s) against them and provides them with a copy of the complaint. The court will also advise the person of their rights as a criminal defendant and of the minimum and maximum penalties that you face.

If a person is convicted of DUI they will face the following mandatory and maximum penalties.

The Court will ask the person to state their plea of guilty or not guilty. A person should always be represented by an attorney when they enter their plea. It does not matter how guilty or embarrassed a person feels, a plea of Not Guilty protects the person’s rights and gives them the ability to get the advice of an attorney and negotiate a resolution of the matter that may avoid or reduce some of the penalties.

The best way to make sure that you are protected is to hire a qualified King County DUI Attorney BEFORE ARRAIGNMENT.