If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Tacoma, Washington, your license, your liberty, and potentially, your livelihood, are in jeopardy. A clean driving record is required for jobs such as commercial drivers, fire-fighters, taxi drivers and others who have to drive a company or personal vehicle on the job. A DUI / DWI conviction on your record could cost you your job. With more companies doing pre-employment background checks for criminal records, it could even be hard to find a job even in for employers who do not require driving.
With regard to your license, the Department of Licensing will automatically suspend or revoke your license sixty days following your arrest. To contest this action, you MUST REQUEST A HEARING WITHIN 20 DAYS OF YOUR ARREST. This rule is strictly enforced, so if you have received a DUI in Tacoma, even though you have not been charged with a DUI (yet), you still must act in a timely manner to try to save your license.
You should be aware that the DOL matter and the criminal matter in court are two entirely different cases and rarely will one have any impact on the other.
As far as the criminal matter is concerned, in Tacoma, you probably will not receive a DUI citation from the arresting officer. The officer files the citation with the county prosecutor (if it is not a case that occurred within the limits of a city). The county prosecutor can take several months to file the charge with the court. When the charge is eventually filed, the court will send you a summons ordering you to appear for an arraignment.
At the arraignment, you will be advised of the charge against you and of your constitutional rights. You will be made to state whether you plead “guilty” or “not guilty.” Next, the judge will consider whether you should be released on your own recognizance (PR’d) and what conditions should be placed on your release. If you have no prior alcohol or driving related offenses, the conditions will typically be that you remain law abiding, not drive without a valid license and insurance, not consume alcohol or go to places where it is served. However, if you have certain prior convictions or failures to appear in court, the court may imposed more onerous conditions, including taking you into custody and requiring bail be posted for your release, requiring installation of an ignition interlock device in vehicles you drive, and other measures designed to keep you from drinking and driving.
Following this, you will be given a date to return for a pretrial hearing; typically within four to six weeks later. This hearing is similar to a status conference to determine the posture of the case and of the discovery process. If your attorney has completed the investigation and has negotiated a resolution of the case, and if you have already obtained an assessment from a state-certified treatment agency, this could be the last time you have to appear in court. More likely, you will have at least two, possibly three pretrial hearings before you resolve the case or determine you will take it to trial.
There are a variety of potential outcomes to a DUI / DWI / Physical Control case. Although we don’t recommend it, you could plead guilty and suffer the consequences of conviction. Your lawyer could fight the case by filing motions and seeking to exclude the evidence against you—this process often results in the prosecution offering to reduce the charge to some lesser offense. If the prosecution’s case is strong and they are not willing to offer a plea bargain, you can assert your right to a trial by either judge or jury.
The consequences of a DUI conviction include mandatory jail time and fines, mandatory license suspension or revocation, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, and up to five years probation. In addition, you will be required to get an alcohol / drug assessment and follow the recommendations, including up to two years of treatment if so indicated. If no treatment is necessary, you will at minimum have to attend an 8-hour alcohol drug information school and a DUI Victims’ Impact panel. The court will impose conditions of probation, which if violated, could result in your further incarceration and additional suspensions of your license.
The consequences of a DUI conviction don’t stop at the courthouse door. Your insurance may be canceled. You will be required to obtain high risk SR 22 insurance, which may be a financial hardship. You may be excluded from travelling to foreign countries such as Canada. Rent-a-car companies may exclude you from renting a vehicle. If your job requires that you drive potential clients in your vehicle, the ignition interlock device may be a source of embarrassment to you. It seems also that having a DUI conviction makes it more likely that law enforcement will stop your vehicle in the future, ostensibly for some slight driving or equipment irregularity, although the officer’s true motivation is to see if you have been drinking. This is so because they have access to DOL records and are almost constantly running plates. Because public sentiments about drunk driving are so extremely negative, officers have become extremely aggressive in hunting down drunk-drivers.
As the seriousness of the situation begins to sink in, you might be wondering how to select a lawyer to help you out of this mess. First, you should ask whether the lawyer is a general practitioner, handling a variety of matters, or whether the lawyer focuses his or her practice on DUI defense. A DUI case is difficult to defend—more difficult than many felonies. It involves scientific evidence, methods and technology; such specialized knowledge is not easily acquired by those who take the occasional DUI case. You wouldn’t want your family physician to handle your brain surgery; you shouldn’t trust your DUI case with a lawyer who is not trained, experienced, skilled and respected in the field of DUI defense.
At Callahan Law, we are driven in defense of those who drive. Ms. Callahan has attended several training seminars presented by the manufacturer of the DataMaster breath test machine and owns her own DataMaster. She also owns portable breath testing devices. Access to this equipment makes it possible to experiment reenacting potential circumstances that result in falsely high breath test results. She been trained by NHTSA instructors to administer standardized field sobriety tests, and she can easily spot errors that the officers have made in administering clients’ tests.
At Callahan Law we have the knowledge, experience and skill to handle even the toughest DUI/DWI cases. We strive to obtain the least possible consequences for every client. When you hire Callahan Law, you can be confident that we will seek cutting-edge strategies and innovative approaches to your DUI case. Beyond that, we believe that nothing is more important than giving our clients hope and reducing their anxiety. Our Client Specialists go beyond the call to ensure that you have what you need when you need it with a smile and an attitude that conveys our sincere and genuine concern for you. Why don’t you call us now? Knowing what to expect can make a world of difference in your perspective. We have attorneys on call who are waiting to help you feel better about your case. Contact us at 1-877-DUI-Answer (1-877-384-2679). We are here for you.