DUI Defense - The first 30 days
The most critical time period regarding your DUI case are within the first 30 days. It is important that you either hire an Attorney within this time period or that you take action to secure potential evidence that is in your favor.
First Week - Rest Assured You Need To Begin Looking For An AttorneyMany times I have clients call me up and say I do not think I was arrested for DUI. This is confusing for many people because on many occasions the defendant is never put in jail. TV shows have given people the idea that you must be placed in a jail cell to be under arrest. This is not true and especially for an alleged DUI. If you were taken to a precinct and subjected to a breath or blood test you were placed under arrest. Most likely they had you fill out a DUI information form as well. This is all part of the police report that is then provided to the prosecutor to review and decide on bringing charges. So that next morning when you wake up it is important to start the process of obtaining an Attorney.
Second Week to 20 days - You need to begin finalizing your decision on an Attorney and DOL AppealThis week is critical as you have a quickly approaching deadline to challenge a license suspension by the Department of Licensing (DOL). You have under Washington law 20 days from the date of the arrest to request a review hearing from the DOL. Failure to request this hearing will result in an automatic suspension. The fee is a large one compared to most states at $375, but for that $375 your Attorney has the option to subpoena the arresting officer and to cross-exam him under oath. Making the effort to appeal the DOL suspension could prove fruitful not just at the DOL stage of the process but in the Criminal process as well.
30 days out - Complete Gathering of All Video EvidenceNot all departments have dash cam's on their police vehicles. Washington State Patrol does have dash cams and retains these video's pretty well. However, I always prefer to obtain these as soon as possible because they can take some time to get to you and they are useful at both the DOL and Criminal Hearings. The earlier on you get this video the better idea your Attorney will have on the appropriate strategy for your defense. An equally critical part of evidence is the video from the Breath Machine room. When individuals are taken back to the precinct to give a evidentiary breath test there is sometimes video that is taken of the testing process. Washington has a very specific testing process that must be followed. Officer's routinely check boxes off claiming they "followed" the regulations. Sometimes this video is the only evidence of deviations. The tricky part is that due to space constraints these precincts routinely tape over these videos. Some places do this as early as 30 days after arrest. Add to this the fact that many prosecutors wait at a minimum 60 days before charging an individual and you can see how this evidence is lost a vast majority of the time. So it is important to hire an Attorney within 30 days and have that Attorney request any and all video evidence. Additionally if you can not finalize your decision on an Attorney or you are representing yourself you should make a request for the video's on your own to preserve the evidence.
Additional PointersAt arraignment if you have not hired an Attorney, make use of the public defender that is present. Do not speak to the prosecutor about your case, under no circumstances plead guilty.