If you were arrested in the City of Seattle for DUI or Physical Control, you should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. You should not risk going to your first court appearance without an experienced DUI attorney at your side.
Typically, you will be required to appear in court within hours of your arrest. At this hearing, you will be advised of the charges against you and of your rights. You will be asked to enter a plea; then the court will address conditions of your release.
The judge can release you on your personal recognizance (PR) with certain conditions you must keep to remain released from custody. In the alternate, the judge could impose conditions and also have you taken into custody until you post a certain amount of bail to secure your release. Seattle prosecutors often request substantial bail be paid or bond posted. Typically, the Seattle prosecutors also ask the court to impose onerous pretrial release conditions such as requiring installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive, total abstinence from alcohol, and the condition that you are to stay out of bars, taverns and parties where alcohol is served.
If you have a history of prior alcohol-related offenses, particularly those involving driving, there is a very good chance the prosecutor will ask the judge to order you to post a very high bail amount to secure your release. In Seattle Municipal Court, some judges are known to have required $50,000 to $100,000 bail on a repeat-offender DUI case. You should not go to this hearing without experienced legal counsel, familiar with Seattle Municipal Court, at your side. We are here for you right now, with an attorney available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call us before your court hearing so we can provide you with the information and immediate assistance you need. We are here for you at (206) 219-5645 or 1-877-DUI-ANSWER.
At your first court hearing you will be given a date to return for a pretrial hearing for your driving under the influence case. You may have several pretrial hearings in Seattle Municipal Court before your case is eventually resolved. Your case can be resolved in a number of ways. Although dismissals are rarely given, an error of constitutional magnitude or a lack of evidence could result in the charge being dismissed. You can plead guilty (not recommended), resulting in immediate conviction and the resultant consequences. You can assert your right to a trial and make the prosecution prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Finally, your attorney may successfully resolve your case by obtaining a reduction of the charge resulting in lesser consequences than a DUI conviction. An option for persons who believe they suffer from alcoholism and need treatment is called a “deferred prosecution.” Although rarely recommended for a first DUI, if you have priors, it may be an option to consider.
What is the worst case scenario? The worst case scenario is a conviction for DUI as charged. A conviction for DUI in Seattle will result in harsh consequences.
There are penalties the court will impose, including:
Mandatory jail time
Mandatory fines, costs and assessments
Mandatory suspension or revocation of your license
Mandatory ignition interlock device installation to start and drive your vehicle
Mandatory substance abuse evaluation, and treatment, if required
Attendance at Alcohol Drug Information School and/or a DUI Victim’s Impact Panel
If you have a history of certain prior offenses, they may result in enhanced penalties including significant extended confinement in jail, higher fines and a longer license revocation and ignition interlock period. As of July 1, 2007, a fifth DUI in ten years will be prosecuted as a felony and conviction would require incarceration in prison.
Aside from the penalties the court will impose, consequences follow you outside of the courtroom. You will need to obtain SR22 insurance and rates may increase. You may have difficulty renting a vehicle. You may be prevented from entering certain foreign countries, such as Canada. You may have problems with current or future employment. If you have a specialized license or board certification related to your employment, there may be problems following a DUI conviction.
In addition to the criminal case against you in Seattle Municipal Court, there is likely a civil case against your license with the Department of Licensing (DOL). After a DUI arrest, the Seattle police officer must report to the Department of Licensing when a driver refused a test, or took a test and the result was .08 or higher (for those over the age of 21); .02 or higher (for drivers under the age of 21); or .04 or higher (for commercial vehicle drivers). The Department of Licensing will automatically suspend or revoke the person’s license to drive on the 60th day following the arrest. To contest this action, you have only 20 days from the date of arrest to request a hearing (unless you were administered a blood test).
The Department of Licensing action is entirely separate from the proceedings in court, and the outcome of one has virtually no effect on the outcome of the other. Thus, your license can be taken away by the DOL even if you have not been convicted of DUI. The consequences of a license suspension or revocation for a commercial driver are extremely severe. Again, you have only 20 days from the date of your arrest to request a hearing to contest the suspension of your license (unless your arrest involved a blood test). If you are late in requesting this hearing, you will lose your right to a hearing. Adhering to these stringent deadlines is crucial in the effort to keep your license.
As all of this is sinking in, you probably realize that you need to find a good attorney who will really fight to help you avoid the harsh potential consequences of a DUI charge. A DUI charge is difficult to defend, requiring specialized knowledge of scientific principles of breath and blood testing, and of conditions that can affect the accuracy of the test result. Very few attorneys have acquired the specialized knowledge that these difficult cases require. If you needed brain surgery, you wouldn’t have your family general practitioner do the operation, likewise, you should carefully select an experienced, knowledgeable and skilled lawyer for your DUI / DWI case. At Callahan Law, we have chosen to focus on DUI defense.
You also want an attorney who will “think outside the box” introducing creative and innovative strategies in your defense. This is the hallmark of Callahan Law; we constantly seek new strategies to unravel the prosecution’s case. We conduct an independent investigation seeking to uncover facts favorable to you, then use those facts to your best interest.
Having an attorney who is prominent in the field and who has earned the respect of her peers, judges and adversaries certainly cannot hurt your case. Ms. Callahan has been voted a SuperLawyer Rising Star by her peers. She has earned the respect of judges and prosecutors throughout the state for the earnest efforts she makes in defense of her clients accused of drunk driving. She has argued before the state supreme court and is admitted to practice in the U.S. Supreme Court. Law enforcement officers respect her courtroom skills; often they refer friends and family members charged with DUI to Callahan Law. She is a published author in the field, her book, DUI Book, Washington Edition, will be released soon.
At Callahan Law, we seek winning strategies and employ creative and innovative approaches to defend our clients. We will do the same for you. Call us at our Seattle office at 206-219-5645, or toll-free at 1 877 DUI-Answer (1-877-384-2679). Our lawyers are here for you, 24/7/365.