Being charged with any crime is bad. Being charged with DUI is horrible. You know you’re facing potential jail time, fines, license suspension and other possible penalties. This DUI charge is already wreaking havoc on your home. Your job may be being threatened. You are starting the right way by looking for a defense attorney as you will want one right away.
You may be wondering, “Why the urgency? Why do I need a defense attorney right away?” Because your license is at stake. Right when you were arrested with DUI the report was sent to the Department of Licensing to get your license suspended and you only have one chance to attempt to avoid that. The officer would have handed you a hearing request form. This needs to be turned in with the $375 fee within 20 days or your license will be automatically suspended. It’s smart to consult with a defense attorney to make sure this is all done correctly.
Your defense attorney can help you through the DOL hearing process also. This is very different from most hearings so it can be a little intimidating. It will be done completely over the phone. Plus, the arresting officer is not required to be present. However they can be subpoenaed and you and your defense attorney could decide whether that would be the best strategy in your case.
Although this is separate from the DUI case itself your defense attorney will look into similar defense strategies. He will examine whether there really was probable cause to stop you in the first place. He will investigate whether you were legally advised of your rights. Plus, he will examine how the breath test was given and whether it was accurate. Some of these strategies may even get the whole DUI charge dropped. Then the license suspension threat drops too. Wouldn’t that be a relief? That being said, it should be noted that this is not automatic. The DOL hearing and DUI hearing are completely separate and the DUI judge is not required to consider the findings of the judge at the DOL hearing. So even if the administrative suspension does get overturned at the DOL hearing you will still need to go through with the other hearing. On the plus side it also means that if you’re experience at the DOL hearing does not go in your favor it doesn’t necessarily mean the DUI case will not. But it would be a good sign if the methods at the first worked – even though the judge doesn’t necessarily have to consider the findings of the first judge (s)he will be using similar laws.
Let’s say the DOL hearing doesn’t go as you hope. Now you’re probably wondering, “How do I get to work?” You may have other concerns as well such as children at school, school that you go to, someone that you take care of or even other regular reasons that people need to be able to drive such as personal errands. For almost everyone a driver’s license suspension is a major inconvenience. It may seem hopeless but it’s not.
If you’ve ever been suspended for a different reason such as unpaid tickets you may be familiar with what is called an occupational restricted license. So you may be thinking this could be the route to go. After all, even though it has restrictions on days and times it would still make it possible for you to do what you needed to do most. However, in Washington, that is no longer an option for those whose license has been suspended due to DUI reasons. What you will want to discuss with your defense attorney is what is called and ignition interlock license (IIL).
An IIL will make it possible for you to drive while your suspension is in effect. It will require you to install an ignition interlock device at your expense plus get the rather expensive SR-22 insurance. Then, of course, you would also have the inconvenience of using IID breathalyzer before and even during driving. So, it may be what you need but it would generally be advised to see what happens at the DOL hearing first.
This can be quite a stressful experience. Don’t even do the early steps alone. Get a Tacoma DUI defense attorney on your side as soon as possible. Please call the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – the first consultation is free.