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Washington Drunk Driving Attorneys Disclaimer: The DUI Defense, Drunk Driving, DMV Drivers License Suspension, Driving Under the Influence, Driving While Intoxicated or other DUI defense information presented at this site should not be considered formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth here were dependent on the facts of that case and the results will differ from case to case. Please contact a Washington State drunk driving lawyer or attorney for a free initial consultation. This web site is not intended to solicit clients for matters outside of the State of Washington.

My DUI defense law firm serves the following Western Washington communities, among others: Snohomish County, King County, Skagit County, Alderwood, Arlington, Bellingham, Bothell, Brier, Camino Island, Darrington, Edgewood, Edmonds, Everett, Gold Bar, Granite Falls, Index, Lake Stevens, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Monroe, Mountlake Terrace, Tulalip, Mukilteo, Silvana, Smokey Point, Snohomish, Stanwood, Sultan, Woodway, Anacortes, Bow, Burlington, Clearlake, Concrete, Hamilton, La Conner, Lyman, Marbelmount, Mount Vernon, Sedro Wooley, Bellevue, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Mercer Island, Redmond, Seattle, Shoreline, Woodinville.

I also serve the following Zip Codes: 98011, 98012, 98020, 98021, 98026, 98033, 98034, 98036, 98037, 98043, 98046, 98052, 98072, 98082, 98087, 98201, 98203, 98204, 98205, 98206, 98207, 98208, 98213, 98223, 98241, 98251, 98252, 98256, 98258, 98259, 98270, 98271, 98272, 98273, 98274, 98275, 98287, 98290, 98291, 98292, 98293, 98294, 98296
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New book by Craig Cahoon
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How DUI Court Works

Although each Court System in Washington varies a bit on how they handle the initial stages of a criminal prosecution, the basic outline below will help you understand the Court Process as a whole.

When you get arrested for a crime, you will have several court dates to go through.  Your first time in Court is called an Arraignment.  Your next court date is called a Pre-Trial or Status Conference.  You may also have court dates for Motions or Trial.

Arraignment
This is your first time in Court, and it’s where you are formally told about the charges against you.  In the case of DUI, you may already know what the charge is before you even enter the Courtroom.  However, there can be additional charges of which you were unaware of like infractions for bad driving, or additional criminal charges the prosecution filed after your arrest for DUI.

Depending on the Jurisdiction, you will either be mailed a Hearing Notice or you will have to look on your citation (about 1/3 of the way from the bottom) where it says Mandatory Court Appearance for your court date and time.  If you’re not sure about the date or the time, call the Court Clerk’s Office (numbers are available via internet).  The Court you are in is listed at the top of the citation; e.g. a citation marked “District Court” and the offense happened in Snohomish County, you would do an internet search for “Snohomish County District Court.”

Arrive a few minutes early.  Most courts will have a computer printout of all the people scheduled for court that day, called a docket.  These printouts are generally in plain sight near the courtrooms.  Next to your name will be a courtroom number.  That’s where you need to go.  If you get confused or can’t find your courtroom, ask at the Court Clerk’s office – they are generally very helpful.

Once you get to the right courtroom, be prepared to wait.  Most Courts will have either a video or a paper that explains your rights at arraignment.  If it’s a paper, they will want you to sign your name – saying that you understand your rights.

Eventually, you will be called up in front of the Judge.  Don’t Panic.  This is not your time to explain what happened – there will be ample time for that later.  All the Judge wants to know at Arraignment is whether you understand the charge(s) against you and whether you want to plead Guilty or Not Guilty.  That’s it.

Common sense would tell you that if you did something wrong, you should take it easy on the Court System by pleading guilty and the Court System will take it easy on you by not sentencing you as hard as if you fought the charges.  Unfortunately, the Court System is not always based on common sense.  In fact, you will most likely be punished more severely if you plead guilty at arraignment rather than fighting the charge(s).  In other words, DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY!

Once you have pled Not Guilty, the Court will ask you about whether you want a lawyer.  The old cliché about “The man who represents himself has a fool for a client” is very true.  If you don’t understand the rules of court and the law regarding DUI (or any other crime) you don’t stand a chance against a well-trained prosecutor.

Attorneys
Lawyers come in two flavors: Private and Public Defenders.  You do not need to have a lawyer with you at Arraignment.  If you are planning on hiring a private attorney, you need only tell the Judge that and he or she will be satisfied – but will warn you not to wait too long to hire them.  If you can’t afford a lawyer of your own choosing then you may qualify for a Public Defender.  The Court will have a series of questions for you in order to determine whether or not you qualify based on your income, dependents, etc.  The downside with a Public Defender is that you have no control over who is appointed to your case.  Even if you qualify and have a Public Defender represent you, you can always have a private attorney take over at any time.  It’s very common for people with a Public Defender to hire a private attorney – so don’t worry, your Public Defender will not be upset if you replace him or her with a private attorney – they may even be relieved since it means one less case to handle.

After the Judge addresses the issue of your Lawyer, the Court will then address your release status.  If you have a clean record, you will probably be released on your promise to come back.  If you have a criminal record, the Judge may impose a bail or bond amount to ensure you will come back.

The Court will assign a date upon which you will need to come back for your Pre-Trial hearing.  If you can’t make it on that date, make sure to tell the Judge about your conflict so another date can be picked.  If a conflict comes up later, contact your lawyer immediately so he or she can file a motion for continuance of the court date.

You will leave with Court with a piece of paper telling you the date and time of your next court date.  Don’t be surprised if this is two to three months from your arraignment date.  This may seem like a long time, but don’t wait – if you need to find an attorney start immediately as it may take a long time to find the one you want and to get the money together to hire them.

Once you’ve hired your attorney, that person will need to send in a Notice of Appearance, telling the Court and Prosecution that they represent you.  They will also need time to get all of the Police Reports and other documents the Prosecution intends to use against you (collectively referred to as Discovery).  After your attorney has all of the Discovery, they will need to sit down with you face to face and discuss your case.  One of the bizarre rules in Washington State is CrRLJ 4.7, the rule that allows your lawyer to get the Discovery in your case.  The same rule actually prevents them from giving you a copy of the Discovery – even though it’s your case!  This rule is even more bizarre considering the fact that if you were to fire your lawyer and represent yourself, the State would be REQUIRED to give you a copy of the Discovery.  Nonetheless, nothing prevents your lawyer from giving you access to the Discovery whenever you want – as often as you want; they just can’t send you home with a copy.
How DUI Court Works

DUI Penalties

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Fax 360.322.7360

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3405 - 172nd Street NE, #5-242

Arlington, WA 98223

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