The Sixth Amendment to the Constitution guarantees “the right to a speedy and public trial.” This is to keep defendants from languishing in jail or legal limbo for longer than necessary before they have been convicted of any illegal activity.
At the same time, if the charges against you are highly serious or complex, you and your defense attorney will need time to investigate and prepare a legal strategy. But for a relatively low-level charge like DUI, having to wait a year before finding out if you will even be charged tends to be a frustrating experience.
Waiting a year for a key piece of evidence
That year-long delay is not uncommon in cases of suspected drinking and driving involving a car accident on a Washington state road. Before filing charges, prosecutors generally wait until they receive all available evidence, including the toxicology report. But the Washington State Patrol handles all statewide blood testing at its crime lab. And for years now, WSP has faced a huge test backlog. So, it can be around a year before the prosecutor gets the report on a particular case. WSP says it is working on the backlog and hope to bring the toxicology report wait down to 60-90 days, which is what the waiting period was a decade ago.
Until then, you might be stuck with a suspended driver’s license and suspected by the public of causing serious injury due to driving under the influence. Then there is the uncertainty of knowing if you will have to go to jail or go through other punishments and have a DUI on your record.
While there might not be much you can do about the toxicology report, an experienced defense attorney can help you avoid unnecessary delays and errors.