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If you are like most of our clients you are probably stunned and in shock because of your DUI / DWI / Physical Control arrest.  You may even feel traumatized by the experience.  You have probably never been in trouble before in your life, and you don’t like how it feels at all.  You would never condone drunk driving and you simply cannot believe this is happening to you.

You are not alone.  Few people realize that enjoying a meal out, along with a glass of wine or a few beers, could land you in big trouble on your way home.  Law enforcement agencies in the state of Washington have become extremely aggressive in identifying and stopping vehicles for even the most trifling driving irregularities—all in the hunt for drunk drivers.  Some agencies require officers to stop three vehicles every hour to hunt for impaired drivers.  

If you believe that your breath or blood alcohol level has to be .08 or higher to be charged with a crime such as drunk driving, you would be wrong.  Even if your test is well under a .08, or there is no test result at all, you can be charged with a DUI if the officer has probable cause to believe that your driving was affected by alcohol or any drug.

If you have been charged with DUI or Physical Control, we can help.  At Callahan Law, our experience has shown that your anxiety level decreases as your understanding of the process and what lies ahead increases.  We provide here answers to some of the basic questions you may be wondering about.  However, if you would like to speak with someone now, one of our attorneys is waiting for your call at 1-877-DUI-Answer (1-877-384-2679).

The first thing to understand is that you have two cases pending against you following a DUI / DWI / Physical Control arrest:  a criminal case in court for the DUI and a civil case with the Department of Licensing action against your license. 

After you have been arrested for DUI or Physical Control, the officer notifies the Department of Licensing.  You have only 20 days after your arrest to request a hearing to contest with the suspension or revocation, which will automatically take effect if you don’t request a hearing.  If you do not request a hearing in a timely manner, your license will be suspended or revoked 60 days after your arrest.  (Timeframes may differ if you were administered a blood test.)  If you have questions about when to mail in your hearing request, call us.  We can advise you.

In the criminal court case, you will either receive a citation from the officer at the time of your arrest, or you will receive a summons from the court several days, weeks or months AFTER your arrest.  This depends on which court has jurisdiction over your case.  The citation or summons will direct you to appear in court for your arraignment.  At that first hearing, the court will advise you of the charge against you and of your constitutional trial rights.  You must enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty” after which the court will establish your “conditions of release.”  These may include that you abstain from drinking alcohol, maintain law abiding behavior, not drive without a valid license and insurance, and stay out of bars and taverns. 

However, if you have prior DUI convictions, other prior alcohol-related offenses, a high breath or blood test, or if an accident was involved, the court may have you taken into custody pending the posting of bail or bond.  Under these circumstances, judges often also require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on any car you drive.  If have any of these factors in your case, you need skilled legal representation at your arraignment.  DO NOT GO TO YOUR ARRAIGNMENT ALONE.  At the very least, if you cannot locate an attorney, bring a friend or family member who can post bail or obtain a bond to secure your release.

After the arraignment you will be given a date to return to court for a pretrial hearing.  Your DUI case can be resolved at the pretrial hearing, although typically, you will probably attend at least two or three before your case is resolved. 

A DUI case is resolved by a plea “as charged,” a plea to a reduced charge, a plea that involves postponing your case foe a probationary period with a reduction to a lesser charge after a year or two years of law abiding behavior (called a pretrial diversion, stipulated order of continuance, a continuance without finding, “slow reckless,” “slow neg,” depending on the jurisdiction), a deferred sentence (rare in DUI cases) or a deferred prosecution (only available for persons diagnosed as having alcoholism, a drug addiction, or a mental condition requiring treatment).

If you are convicted of a DUI, the court will sentence you to:

  • A mandatory jail term
  • Mandatory fines, costs and assessments
  • A mandatory license suspension or revocation
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device installation on any car you drive
  • A mandatory alcohol/drug assessment (and treatment if required)
  • SR 22 insurance
  • Completion of an eight-hour Alcohol / Drug Information School and/or a DUI Victim’s Impact Panel
  • Up to five years of probation

If you have certain prior alcohol-related convictions, the consequences are much more severe.  They will also be more severe if you refused the test, or if you took the test and the result was at or higher than .15.  As of July 1, 2007, a fifth DUI in ten years is a felony and conviction will mandate confinement in state prison.

Aside from the court imposed penalties, the consequences don’t end at the courtroom’s threshold.  You may be denied admission to foreign countries, such as Canada.  Your insurance company may cancel your policy.  You will be required to obtain SR22 high risk insurance.  You may have difficulty renting a car.  Your career may suffer if you are in the military, if your job requires a driver’s license, or if your employer requires a clean criminal / driving record.  For some occupations, a DUI conviction may be career-ending (pilots, commercial drivers, law enforcement), for others, it causes problems with an employer due to the time you have to take off from work for court hearings, jail terms, and treatment.

Regardless of this, don’t give up hope.  At Callahan Law, we don’t shy away from even the toughest cases.  We are driven in defense of those who drive—and our mission is to give you hope for the future and to reduce your anxiety now.  We will defend your license and your liberty.  We are by your side when it seems the whole world is on your back. 

If you are thinking that you need the help of an attorney, you are right.  But how do you pick the right attorney?  You should not trust your DUI case to just any attorney.  These cases involve scientific testing methods and technology.  Accordingly, you should choose an attorney who has specialized knowledge, training and skill in these scientific methods and technology, and who has knowledge of the laws concerning these forms of evidence.  Ms. Callahan owns her own Datamaster breath test machine, similar to the machine you may have encountered in your case.  She uses this and her portable breath testers to conduct experiments in her cases.  The manufacturer of the breath testing machine taught her the science and technology the machine employs.  She has also been trained in Field Sobriety Testing and Drug Recognition Evaluation training by NHTSA instructors and she is certified to administer standardized field sobriety tests; this helps her spot errors that the officers have made in the administration or scoring of these tests. 

At Callahan Law we have the knowledge, experience and skill to handle even the toughest DUI/DWI cases.  We work hard to obtain for you the least possible consequences for your case.  Often, we can negotiate a reduction of the charge to a lesser offense.  Sometimes, when the prosecution’s case is strong, we force the prosecution to trial.  When you hire us at Callahan Law, you can be certain that you will have a team of lawyers who bring to bear every possible defense in your case.  In every case, we seek cutting-edge strategies and innovative approaches.  We would like to help you with your Pierce County DUI.  Contact us at 1-877-DUI-Answer (1-877-384-2679), we have attorneys ready to help with a free consultation.

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