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AV Preeminent
Avvo Client's Choice Award 2018
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2019 Champion of Justice

Tacoma DUI Defense & Pierce County DUI Defense

For Tacoma DUIs in Tacoma Municipal court, Judge Verhey presides over DUI cases. However, she is stepping down at the end of the year and Dwayne Christopher has been elected to her position. It is uncertain how the municipal court will handle DUIs going forward. If they will all be assigned to Judge Christopher or a different Judge or divided amongst the various Judges.

The City of Tacoma has prosecutors who have worked on DUIs for decades. Unlike the County which also handles felonies, the City only has jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases. Therefore, the prosecutors do not rotate to special assault units, drug units, vulnerable victim units, etc. In some cases the same prosecutors are still handling DUIs as when Mr. White worked against them as a student and public defender back in 1995.

That said, hard work and a thorough analysis by Smith and White’s DUI lawyers can win you a reduction in charge. In fact, unlike most courts (Judges) that will reduce a charge on the prosecutor’s say so, Judge Verhey will not accept a reduction unless the DUI defense lawyer can explain to her sufficient grounds to warrant a reduction. In fact, if you hire the DUI defense attorneys at Smith & White, PLLC early enough, upon reviewing your case we may suggest your exercise your Affidavit of Prejudice to force a different Judge to hear your case. Do not be confused by the name, Judge Verhey is a very fair and unprejudiced Judge. However, depending on the specifics of your case, her strong knowledge and familiarity with DUI law may or may not be an advantage to you. It’s also unclear if this requirement will continue after Judge Verhey retires but our Smith & White DUI lawyers will let you know.

Pierce County DUI Defense. In the Pierce County District Court they rotate which judges are assigned to hear DUI cases. However, much like the City of Tacoma, the Pierce County Prosecutors Office has attorneys assigned to the Misdemeanor Unit who handles only DUI cases. While this attorney may be new and inexperienced, he or she will be guided by an experienced supervisor. Currently, Erika Nohavec is the Misdemeanor Division Chief.

For the outlying cities in Pierce County (Puyallup , University Place, Lakewood for example), the prosecution is generally handled by the City Attorney’s office (or the contracted attorney paid to handle these cases by the City Attorney who does not want to handle them). Judge Beall presides over Puyallup DUI cases (and all others). Judge Beall is actually a former defense attorney that worked opposite Derek Smith of Smith & White, PLLC when he prosecuted for the City of Kent. Therefore, they have a long term working relationship.

Judge Susan Adams is the new Judge for the City of Lakewood DUIs (and all cases). She is both former Director of the Crystal Judson Center and a Pierce County District Prosecutor. Her background is mostly in combating domestic violence. As the cities of Steillacomb, University Place and DuPont do not wish to prosecute their own cases, they contract court services, both prosecution and Judge, with the City of Lakewood.

SERVING YOU FROM OUR OFFICES IN TACOMA. For an initial consultation with our Tacoma DUI defense lawyers, call Smith & White at (253) 203-1645. Or email

Client Reviews
I was represented by James White and have been nothing but satisfied with the outcome. Jame is very efficient and eliminates much of the stress that the judicial system can place on an offender. I am very grateful to have such a great attorney and owe him my gratitude for helping me when times were rough. Not only is he professional, but he is also someone you can talk to on a personal level. I highly recommend James White and would undoubtedly use him again in the future. If you are in search of an attorney, do yourself a favor and have the law offices of Smith & White represent you. Mike D.
I contacted James after my charge for reckless endangerment, and right from the start he was informative and reassuring. James worked hard to get me the best possible outcome, and was always very quick to return a call or text. He was straightforward and honest with me about my case, explaining both the good and the bad in a way that was reassuring without being misleading. Overall, I highly recommend Smith and White to anyone who is looking for the most professional representation in their legal matters. Matthew B.
Attorney James White was a beacon of hope for me at a time when my options appeared limited and the likeness of a satisfactory resolution seemed close to nothing. Not only was he able to defend me in a specific sticky situation in which I hired him for, I felt as though he also went above and beyond in efforts to provide me with the best outcome possible. His calm and professional demeanor offered such a great assurance to myself and those I care about around me. I am completely grateful for his service and I most definitely recommend Mr. White. Leyasha J.
Derek Smith guided us through a troubling legal situation with absolute professionalism. This was my first experience with a trial situation and Mr. Smith was able to address all of my questions and concerns in a way that helped address some of the fear I had regarding the legal system. Mr. Smith was highly effective during the trial and the result ended up in our favor. Legal troubles are scary and it was great knowing we had a fantastic legal team on our side to help navigate the somewhat confusing situation. My wife and I emphatically recommend this law firm. Steve B.
Mr. Smith was wonderful to work with. He was professional, knowledgeable and effective!! He takes the time to listen, which is amazing and can be a hard quality to find! He is informative and straight forward, which I truly appreciate! He was quite helpful on another matter that I asked his advise on. Thank you!!! Melika