Charged in Washington with a DUI? Why you might need an attorney.
A DUI charge in Washington is a criminal misdemeanor. A DUI carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail. Also, if you are convicted of a DUI you will do mandatory jail time. And, it stays on your record forever resulting in higher insurance premiums and missed employment opportunities.
Bad things sometimes happen to good peopleLet me just start by saying, bad things sometimes happen to good people. Being charged with a DUI does not define you. This is a charge that can, and has, happened to people from all walks of life. And frankly, how many of us can say there was never a time that we drove after consuming alcohol? Think back, spring break, occasion celebration, drinks with colleagues after work? Maybe many of us were lucky enough to not have been pulled over, or worse, caused harm to another. But fact is, not all of us, after a few glasses of wine, will make it to our destination without being pulled over.
I wasn*t driving like I was drunk.Most of the time, those unlucky enough to get pulled over by the police, are not pulled over because of driving erratically. Most often they are pulled over for something they would have done despite any consumption of alcohol. Most DUI stops are based upon speeding. Once pulled over, however, the Officer may note that there is an odor of alcohol, bloodshot watery eyes, or, slurred speech. Any one of these symptoms will alert an Officer. And why not, let*s face it, there are thousands of DUI arrests each month in the State of Washington. I once cross examined a police officer on the stand who testified that he alone averaged over 100 DUI arrests every month. He is just one officer, at any given time, every day, there are hundreds of police officers on duty in Pierce County alone.
What are some of the consequences of being convicted of a DUI in Washington?So, if it can happen to anyone, how bad can a DUI be? Well first of all, if you are convicted, you will do time in jail. Jail time is mandatory. And you can expect large fines, requirement to drive with an interlock ignition installed on your car for at least a year, and a requirement to do drug/alcohol treatment. Oh, and of course, this is just the immediate consequences of a DUI conviction. You can also expect your insurance rates to go through the roof. There are many potential employment impacts; if you drive for a living, you can likely kiss your job away. Further employment opportunities may also be limited as employers may not want to hire you with a DUI conviction. So, you like to visit Canada now and then? You can figure on never going to Canada again; they will turn you away at the border if you have been convicted of a DUI, despite how long ago it was. And a DUI conviction NEVER comes off your record. This is just some of the backlash that follows those who are convicted of a DUI.
What type of Attorney do you need?So, who do you call? Should you call the attorney who recently drafted your Will, or helped you with a real estate transaction? NO! The area of DUI criminal defense is constantly changing. DUI attorneys work in certain courts every day. They know the current laws, they know the courts, the Judges, and the Prosecutors, and with this knowledge they are in the best possible position to give you the best representation.
What questions should you ask of an attorney you are considering hiring?So what questions should you ask when interviewing a prospective DUI attorney? Well first of all, do not ask how many DUI trials they have won. I, for example, have won 100% of all DUI trials last year. Having said that, I only tried 3 DUI trials all year, despite having representing hundreds of people accused of DUI. Fact is, most cases are resolved through negotiations. The only DUI I would ever take to trial, is one that I am confident I can get a better resolution from a jury than from negotiating with a prosecutor. It is far better to try to get a resolution that you can count on, then to take the risk of allowing a jury to determine your fate. You should ask the following:
1. How long have you been doing DUIs?
2. How many DUI did you do over the past year?
3. How often are you in (whatever court your case is filed in)?
4. Do you know who the Judge will be?
5. Do you know who the prosecutor will be?
6. What is your thoughts about my set of facts with this Judge and Prosecut
Some final thoughts when hiring a DUI attorneyThis is just a short list. I am a strong believer that it is most important that you feel comfortable with your potential attorney. You will know within a few minutes of the call, whether this potential attorney is making sense to you. You*ll know what they are talking about, and they*re not speaking a different language consisting of legalese you can*t follow.
The decision you make on which attorney to hire is pivotal as it can make the difference in having this DUI destroy many parts of your life or ending up being one of those hiccups in life that we move on from and are