The Washington DUI Process
Snohomish County DUI Lawyer Answers Your Questions
- What is the timeline for a DUI case?
- Will I only have to appear in criminal court for my case?
- Will I have to go to trial for my DUI?
- Should I take a plea bargain or take my case to trial?
- How do I clean up the effects of my DUI?
1. What is the timeline for a DUI case?
Most people who have been arrested for a DUI want to know how long it will
take to fight the case. The process can take anywhere from one to four
months, with some cases taking as long as nine months. Below is a general
timeline of the DUI process in many states:
Arrest for DUI: One of the first things you should do is ask to speak with a lawyer. Law
enforcement officers might have an on-call attorney available or you might
need to find your own representation.
Immediately following the arrest: An arraignment is generally scheduled for the next business day following
your arrest. The timing on this can vary by state and court scheduling,
but for the most part it will be your first appearance in court. Your
presence is required in court and this is where you enter a plea and are
advised of your rights.
As soon as possible: Enroll in a treatment program. Treatment or classes don’t take long
and will probably be required anyway, so the sooner you get started the
better. Early treatment may even speed up the process.
Within 20 days: Contact the licensing agency or department for your state. You must generally
request a hearing regarding the status of your driver’s license.
You may receive a letter from your state informing you of the deadline
for this submission and it must be completed within that timeframe. A
hearing is usually scheduled within 60 days of your arrest date.
6 weeks: This is generally about the time that your legal counsel will schedule
a pre-trial conference with the prosecuting attorney to negotiate a plea
bargain for you. Most times, the court will set this date in coordination
with your attorney.
6 weeks to 3 months: Additional hearings may be scheduled regarding the suppression of evidence
if your attorney has filed any motions on your behalf. Your lawyer may
file these motions if they believe that your constitutional rights were violated.
Within 3 months: If your case proceeds to trial, then a trial usually occurs within 3 months
after your arraignment or initial plea if no plea bargain has been reached.
After the trial or plea bargain
Sentencing will be imposed soon after a plea bargain is accepted or the
conclusion of the trial.
DUI penalties can include jail time, home detention, fines, community service, or alcohol classes.
2. Will I only have to appear in criminal court for my case?
Generally, once you have a DUI case, you will need to complete a series
of steps within the court system as well as with the Department of Licensing
(DOL). You may be required to take counseling and alcohol education courses
as a condition of regaining or retaining your driver’s license.
In addition to a court appearance, there are a few other likely outcomes
that should be expected from a DUI. After your hearing, a judge will likely
request that you attend ADIS, or alcohol and drug information school,
as well as a victim impact panel. During these types of courses and programs,
you will be educated on the effects of alcohol and the impacts that the
decision to drive while under the influence can have on others. You may
also be required to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) classes as well as
perform a certain number of hours of community service. While these requirements
may enable you to avoid a jail sentence depending on the details of your
case, they are typically in addition to the suspension or revocation of
your driving privileges.
For the most part, the events after a charge may include a series of court
dates, including an arraignment where you will enter a plea. When you
have a DUI case, all appearances in court are mandatory and it’s
not a good idea to miss them. You will also want to make sure you are
complying with all requirements set by the state in regard to keeping
your driver’s license, which may mean attending classes or further hearings.
3. Will I have to go to trial for my DUI?
After an arrest for a DUI, it’s natural to have concerns about the
trial process. Few people have previous experience upon which to fall
back. Fortunately, at the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC, our Snohomish
County DUI lawyers help provide information about the process following
your arrest and answers your questions.
There may be a large number of DUI arrests that will not result in a trial.
Long before the court date, we will review your case to see whether the
prosecutor’s case is especially strong or weak. We then act as your
advocate by challenging the case – this process is called pretrial
During pretrial litigation, the charge is scrutinized and our legal team
raises challenges against the evidence, and the procedures that were used
to gather the evidence. We will examine a variety of issues, such as the
legality of the traffic stop, whether there was probable cause for your
arrest, whether you were advised of your rights, and whether breath or
blood tests were administered properly.
The reason pretrial motions are so critical following a DUI is that the
motions may limit or exclude evidence that could be very damaging or may
have been improperly obtained. Our Lynnwood DUI lawyer explains that a
common result of the pretrial motions is plea bargaining. During a plea
bargain, our DUI attorneys will work with the prosecutor to come to an
agreement that allows you to plead guilty to a lesser charge.
Ultimately, the decision of whether to go to trial for your DUI arrest
rests with you. We will make recommendations and use our skill to help
you receive a favorable outcome in pretrial motions. But you make the
decision whether to accept a plea bargain or proceed to court.
4. Should I take a plea bargain or take my case to trial?
When arrested for a DUI, you may settle on a plea bargain during the pre-trial
conference, at which time your attorney will discuss your case with the
prosecutor. If you choose not to accept the plea bargain, your case will
go to trial.
In order to determine whether or not you should accept the plea bargain
or if you should go to trial, it is important to have an open and honest
discussion with your legal counsel in order to weigh the risks and benefits
associated with going to trial. It is important to note that only you
can make the decision whether or not you want to take your case to trial,
as your attorney is only meant to provide you with advice and guidance.
When making the decision, there are several things you should take into
consideration. These include:
- Will the financial cost of going to trial outweigh the costs of the plea bargain?
- Based on the evidence against you, how good are your chances of winning
if you go to trial?
- What are the possible long-term effects on your life if you lose the trial
versus taking the plea agreement?
Obviously, you want to be able to walk away from your DUI charge without
a conviction. At the same time, you don't want to take unnecessary
risks if the odds are stacked against winning a trial. With the help of
our legal team at the Law Office of Mark W. Garka, PLLC, you will be able
to make the best decision possible for your case.
5. How do I clean up the effects of my DUI?
A DUI is extremely messy, and your arrest can leave a lot of trouble in
its wake. Having a legal professional on your side can help you clean
it up, allowing you to look better before you go to court and possibly
helping you increase your chances of keeping your driver’s license
and your reputation intact.
In cleaning up after a DUI, it can help to think of your DUI attorney as
an expensive janitor. He or she will work hard to find available defense
strategies, but will also be proactive. This means helping you sign up
for drug or alcohol awareness classes, as well as classes that help you
understand the impact of DUI on others. Essentially, your lawyer will
be tasked with making sure that you look like a fine, upstanding citizen
who made an innocent mistake and just wants a second chance before you
even step foot in the courtroom.
The last thing you want after an arrest is to have the courts look at you
as just another irresponsible driver of whom to make an example. Taking
serious steps to improve your appearance before the courts is important.
Experienced legal counsel can help show the judge how serious you are
about not receiving another DUI in order to help you fight your charges
and minimize any repercussions from your mistakes.