1 Arrest – 2 Cases
For many people arrested for DUI, this is their first and only encounter with the criminal justice system. And without doubt this encounter is proving to be a very unpleasant one. If you live in the Bellevue, Kirkland and Eastside commuminities we can help.
Most DUI cases begin with a simple mistake. You forgot to signal a turn, drifted out of your lane, or failed to come to a complete stop. Out of nowhere came the flashing blue lights. From that point on, everything went downhill…very fast.
Suddenly you’re standing outside the car performing a series of balancing tests. The next thing you know, you’re sitting in front of the breath-testing machine. What do you do? Blow… not blow? You make a decision and hopes it’s the right one. You have just entered the world of DUI. Free-falling without a parachute. You will eventually land but the question is: Where… and how hard ?
A single DUI arrest usually results in two different cases: One in the criminal court. One with the Department of Licensing. In each case you run the risk of losing your drivers license. That’s right. Your license can literally be suspended twice for the same act.
Case # 1: Criminal Court
Without question DUI laws are some of the most aggressive on the books. In light of all the potential penalties your defense needs to be equally aggressive. Most lawyers have a generic approach to DUI defense. It’s as if they just put your name over the top of the same old file they have used for years. I have earned a reputation for developing effective and innovative defenses tailored to my clients’ unique set of circumstances in Bellevue, Kirkland and all the Eastside communities. Your case will be challenged from every angle conceivable. Whether based on constitutional law, caselaw, statutory authority, or court rule, no stone is left unturned.
Here is a sample of what is at risk in a DUI case. Anyone convicted of DUI will face loss of driver’s license followed by mandatory ignition interlock and SR22 insurance. Your five years of probation will include mandatory alcohol treatment. Penalties increase dramatically if you have prior DUI offenses within the last seven years – even if those charges were reduced or you were given a deferred prosecution.
Alcohol treatment deserves special attention. If you are found guilty the law requires you to get an alcohol evaluation. Your evaluation will probably fall into one of three categories: NSP, SP1, or SP2. The judge will order you to complete treatment (as well as a DUI Victim Panel) according to your category.
NSP (no significant problem) 1 day class
SP1 (significant problem 1) 1 year out-patient treatment
SP2 (significant problem 2) 2 year in-patient or out-patient treatment
Many alcohol treatment agencies, like lawyers, are simply out for your money. Agencies usually charge around $150 for a one day NSP class. The cost for SP2 treatment usually ranges from $3000 to $5000. When you walk into their office with a DUI under your belt, which evaluation do you think you’ll get? After so many years in this business I have a pretty good idea who will give you a fair alcohol evaluation and who will not.
Case # 2: Department of Licensing (DOL) Washington State
Your arrest for DUI has immediate consequences. If you were taken to the police station and asked to take a breath-alcohol test, your license will be suspended if you either 1) refused to take the test; or 2) took the test and your breath-alcohol concentration was over the .08 limit. If that is the case then you have only 20 days from arrest to request a hearing to challenge the suspension of your drivers license by the Department of Licensing. Otherwise you will automatically lose your license under the Implied Consent laws.
The DOL hearing is a win or lose situation. Unfortunately, by law, it is the Department of Licensing who decides who wins and who loses. The hearing examiner is not an independent administrative law judge but rather, an employee of the Department of Licensing. (Now you understand why these cases are so difficult.)
The hearing addresses 4 issues. In a nutshell they are:
1. Was there reason to suspect you were driving under the influence of alcohol.
2. Were you arrested.
3. Were you read Implied Consent Warnings.
4. Did you either refuse the breath test or blow over the legal limit.
Hearings are typically conducted by telephone. The arresting officer is not involved in the hearing unless specifically requested. Instead the officer faxes a copy of the arrest report to DOL. That report is labeled “Exhibit 1.”
It takes more time to fax the report than it takes DOL to present its case. Here is why. The hearing examiner will merely ask two questions: 1) Whether you have any objection to admitting Exhibit 1 into evidence; and 2) whether you have any evidence or legal argument to present. That’s it! Five seconds for DOL to present the case against you.
If you feel as if you’re fighting a battle with one arm tied behind your back, there is a reason – you are. All the more reason why I prepare and defend your DOL case with as much intensity and scrutiny as I do in your criminal case.