A DUI charge involves so many little details that we encourage you to call us for specific information regarding your particular case. The following is just a general overview.
Being charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) can be a traumatic and scary experience, but we are here for you! When you hire Shuman Law, you are choosing a firm with decades of experience in seeking justice and defending your rights.
Having a knowledgeable, experienced, and well-liked attorney in your corner takes a lot of the weight off of your shoulders. With us on your side, you will be fully informed as to what is going on, and you will know exactly what your options are at each step of the process. You are hiring us for our experience and professional opinion, but you are the boss in the relationship – you decide how your case takes shape.
Our goal upon entering a case is to get the best possible negotiated outcome offered and then let our client make the decision as to whether we take that deal or we fight the matter all the way through motions and trial. Whatever your decision is, we are behind you 100%.
A DUI is a unique gross misdemeanor charge in that it carries mandatory minimum sentences depending upon the level of your breath test, any other history of DUI, and other possible factors.
There are so many details involved in a DUI case that it is impossible to outline them all on this website or to foresee what issues may arise in your particular case.
The shape your case takes will greatly depend on what the police report tells us about the incident. Any attorney who promises what they can do for you without seeing a report is not being honest with you.
The most important thing to understand about receiving a DUI is that there are two arenas in which you must fight it. When you are arrested, an administrative action through the Department of Licensing is automatically started against your license. That is separate and distinct from the criminal charge, which will be commenced in the appropriate court.
The only potential administrative penalty arising from a DUI arrest is suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, and the length of that sanction will depend on whether you took the breath test or not and what your DUI history is. This has nothing to do with the criminal charge that will be commenced against you in court.
You are, however, allowed to challenge this administrative action, and we always recommend that our clients do so. When you are arrested, a report of your arrest is sent to the Department of Licensing (DOL), and your license to drive will be automatically suspended if you do not send a request for an administrative hearing within seven days of your arrest. It costs $375 to request a hearing, but you can apply for a hearing at no fee if you are found to be indigent.
If you lose the administrative hearing, you are entitled to obtain an “ignition interlock license” through DOL. In order to qualify for this license you must apply for it after obtaining SR-22 (high-risk) insurance and getting an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle.
There are mandatory minimum penalties for a DUI conviction, and those include jail time, fines, license suspensions/revocations. All of these are based on whether you took the breath test, and if so, what the level of that breath test was, as well as any DUI history you have on your record.
These penalties are only mandatory if you are convicted of DUI, and many of our outcomes enable you to avoid some of penalties.
There are a number of ways to handle a DUI case, and the results can vary dramatically depending on what court you are in and who the particular prosecutor and/or judge is. We have extensive experience in Pierce, King, Kitsap, Lewis, Thurston, and Mason counties, so you can rest assured that we will know the best approach to your particular case.
When you retain us, we will obtain the police report, any police videos from your stop and arrest, and any maintenance and repair records of the breath test machine. From those, we will develop the best approach to your case. There are literally hundreds of potential legal issues that can arise from a DUI stop and arrest, and these are the issues that we seize upon in negotiating your case.
Your case will first be set for an arraignment. That hearing is a procedural formality where the prosecuting authority will formally charge you with DUI.
At that initial hearing, the court will impose conditions of your release, and those typically involve the requirements that you have law-abiding behavior, not drive without valid license and insurance, not possess or consume any alcohol or mind-altering drugs not prescribed, and not refuse a breath test if requested by law enforcement with reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence. In addition, if you have any prior DUI activity on your record, the law requires that the judge order an ignition interlock on any vehicle you drive or an alcohol sensor device which you wear on your ankle.
The court will set what is known as a pretrial hearing approximately 30-45 days later. By the time of this hearing, we will have the police report, and we will have begun negotiating with the prosecutor. It is not unusual to have two or even three pretrial hearings if no acceptable deal is offered. Then we set the matter for motions and trial.
Once a matter goes beyond the pretrial hearing stage and is headed for trial, we will file motions based on the legal issues we see in your case. Should your case reach this stage, we will make sure you are fully informed at to each step in the process. If we do not get the case dismissed through the evidentiary motions, then the matter will be set for trial. A misdemeanor trial is conducted in front of a 6-person jury, and it will typically last 1-2 days, but it can go longer if there are a lot of witnesses or evidentiary issues.
We have a wealth of trial experience, and we’re very successful at trial, but every case varies. After a trial, both attorneys are allowed to speak with jurors who are willing to speak with them, and it’s oftentimes surprising to hear what they base their decision on. Given the unpredictability of going to trial, an agreed amendment to a lesser offense such as reckless driving, reckless endangerment, or negligent driving in the first degree can be a great resolution of a DUI case. In fact, if you spend any time observing in court, you will see that this is the way the majority of DUI cases are resolved.
However, as stated above, our client is our boss, and if you are adamant that you do not want an offer from the prosecutor, but want to take your chances at trial, then we are behind you completely, and we will vigorously try your case. All we ask is that you consider all the information we give you, which is based on our training and experience.
Any agreed disposition of a DUI by an amendment to a lesser charge will invariably require that you obtain an alcohol and drug evaluation and do any recommended follow-up. For the majority of first-time DUI clients, the diagnosis is “no significant problem,” and the only follow-up necessary is a one-day alcohol and drug information school. The courts will also routinely order that a DUI victims panel be attended in those cases as well. This is a four-hour class presented by victims and/or loved ones of those injured or killed by drunk drivers.
Most people who get a DUI never get another one. It’s a difficult and stressful experience, but with us in your corner, you can feel secure in knowing that we will protect your rights. We help you understand each step of the process so you can best retain control over your case and its resolution.