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What Happens After a DUI Arrest in the State of Washington?

by | Jun 26, 2024 | DUI

What Happens After a DUI Arrest in the State of Washington?

Q: What happens immediately after failing field sobriety tests or a portable breath test?

A: If you fail the field sobriety tests or a portable breath test, the arresting officer will likely arrest you for suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI). You will be placed in handcuffs, informed of your rights, and transported to a police station for booking. The officer will also typically tow and impound your vehicle.

Q: What is the booking process like after a DUI arrest?

A: During the booking process, you will be:

  1. Photographed and fingerprinted.
  2. Asked to provide personal information, including name, address, and date of birth.
  3. Subjected to further testing, such as a more accurate breathalyzer test or a blood test to determine your blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

For a first offense DUI, you can be released at the Officer’s discretion if you are cooperative.  For a second or subsequent DUI (even if the first was reduced to a lesser charge), you will be held in custody until you can post bail or see a Judge who may release you on your own recognizance.  It would certainly benefit you to have an experienced DUI attorney at this appearance with you.

Q: What happens during the initial court appearance?

A: The initial court appearance, or arraignment, usually occurs within 48 hours if you are in custody, or within a few weeks if you were released on bail. During the arraignment:

  1. The charges against you will be formally read.
  2. You will be asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).
  3. The judge will set bail conditions, if applicable, and schedule future court dates.

Q: What is the Administrative License Suspension (ALS) process?

A: In Washington, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended 30 days after your arrest unless you request a hearing with the Department of Licensing (DOL) within 7 days. This hearing is separate from the criminal case and focuses solely on the validity of the license suspension.

Q: What are the next steps in the legal process?

A: After the arraignment and the ALS process, the following steps typically occur:

  1. Pretrial Hearings: These hearings address preliminary matters, such as evidence disclosure, motions to suppress evidence, and plea negotiations.
  2. Discovery: Both the defense and prosecution exchange evidence, including police reports, witness statements, and test results.
  3. Motions: Your attorney may file motions to challenge the evidence, such as the legality of the traffic stop or the accuracy of the breathalyzer test.

Q: How does the process differ in Tacoma, Lakewood, and Puyallup?

A: While the general procedure is similar throughout Washington, there are some specific considerations for Tacoma, Lakewood, and Puyallup:

  • Tacoma: DUI cases in Tacoma are handled by the Tacoma Municipal Court. This court follows a rigorous schedule for DUI cases, with strict timelines for hearings and evidence submission. Local procedures and judge preferences can influence case management.  Tacoma requires that all documentation related to the handling of a case be filed through their electronic filing system one day before hearing date.
  • Lakewood: In Lakewood, DUI cases are processed by the Lakewood Municipal Court. Lakewood generally adheres to state-wide procedures as to DUIs but does process continuances off the record.
  • Puyallup: Puyallup Municipal Court manages DUI cases in Puyallup. The court uses the O’Courts document management system for processing cases.  Puyallup is one of the few jurisdictions that continues to file DUI cases BEFORE the state lab results are returned.

Q: What should you do immediately after a DUI arrest?

A: Following a DUI arrest, you should:

  1. Request a DOL Hearing: Ensure you request a hearing with the Department of Licensing within 7 days to contest your license suspension.
  2. Attend All Court Dates: Missing a court appearance can result in additional charges or a warrant for your arrest.
  3. Comply with Bail Conditions: Adhere to any conditions set by the court, such as abstaining from alcohol or attending scheduled check-ins.
  4. Hire an experienced DUI attorney:  While self serving, it’s true that the consequences of DUI do make them one of the more sever gross misdemeanor criminal charges.  Combined with mandatory jail and license suspension, DUI is one of the few misdemeanors that generally cannot be removed from a person’s record.

By understanding the DUI arrest process and knowing what to expect, you can better navigate the legal system and take appropriate steps to protect your rights and future. For more detailed guidance tailored to your specific case and jurisdiction, consulting with a Tacoma DUI attorney is highly recommended.