The Department of Licensing will take your license if you do not act to stop them.
First YOU WILL BE GIVEN A NOTICE OF A CIVIL ADMINISTRATIVE LAWSUIT BY THE POLICE OFFICER and /or THE DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING. This is a legal action designed to take away your drivers license (even if you have a License form another State) and/or your privilege to drive in Washington State. MAKE SURE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF LICENSING HAS YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS. If the department does not have your current address you may not receive important notices about your suspension or about your court dates. You can update your address by going to any of the Drivers License Examinations Offices around the state and completing a form. Your can also update your address at the departments website; http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/
If you do not request a hearing and pay the hearing fee (or request a fee waiver) within 20 days of your arrest your license will automatically be suspended 60 days after your arrest.
Your license suspension could be for 90 days, one year, two years or more.
The Prosecutor will charge you with a DUI.
In order to prove a DUI charge the prosecutor must prove that you were driving while your ability to drive was appreciable affected by alcohol, drugs or a combination of alcohol and drugs. Appreciably affected means affected to any noticeable degree, it does not mean drunk. Washington case law does not distinguish between legal, illegal, prescriptions or over the counter drugs or medications. Any drug or medication that affects your ability to drive may be the basis for a DUI charge
A criminal case is started when a prosecutor files a complaint with the court. In a few places the police officer will file a citation with the court. Because of the complexity of the law it is more common for the police to send a copy of their report to the prosecuting attorney. The prosecutor will then file a complaint charging DUI with the court. The court then sends the defendant a Summons or Notice to Appear at the address on the person's dirver's license or given to the police.
Appearing in court. Bring a Lawyer
You may be given notice to appear in court by the police officer at the time of arrest.
In most cases, the driver is released by the police officer after arrest. The prosecutor then files a complaint with the court. The court will then mail you notice of an arraignment date (Seattle Municipal Court calls this hearing an intake). The notice will come in a plain envelope and will be mailed to the address that is on your drivers license or the address that you provided to the police officer. This process sometimes takes months. Hire a lawyer early and get ready.
At arraignment the court will call you forward and ask you to confirm your true and correct name. The court will advise of the charge(s) against you. The court will also advise you of your rights as a criminal defendant. THE COURT WILL ASK YOU TO STATE YOUR PLEA, GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY. YOU SHOULD (almost) ALWAYS ENTER A PLEA OF NOT GUILTY. After your plea the court will consider BAIL AND CONDITIONS OF RELEASE.
Motions magic and good lawyering
Lawyers file Pre-Trial Motions which are designed to suppress or limit the evidence that can be [produced at trial. These motions are presented at a hearing which is like a mini trial without the jury. The court may hear testimony form the police officer and other witnesses. After the court has heard form the witness(es) the lawyers will argue the motions to the court. The judge will then make rulings. The court may suppress evidence; even dismiss the case at this point. Depending on the strength of the motions or depending on the Judges rulings this is the time when your attorney and the prosecutor are most likely to discuss the case in earnest. Negotiated resolutions are more likely to occur at this stage then earlier in the process. After the Pre-Trial Motions the case is set for trial (if it has not been dismissed or negotiated).
Trials are expensive; Trials are uncertain. The cases that tend to go to trail are the cases that the parties disagree about most. This may be fun and challenging for the attorneys and expert witnesses but a defendant who is looking at jail, loss of license and an Interlock in his or her car for a year has a lot on line. The most common plea bargain negotiations result in a reduction or amendment to one of the following charges with the understanding that the defendant will plead guilty to the amended charge
Negligent Driving in the First Degree means driving in a negligent manner likely to caused injury to other persons or property while exhibiting signs of having recently consumed alcohol. It carries up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine there is no loss of license as a result of this conviction.
Reckless Driving is driving in a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of other person or property. It carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and a five thousand do
At the beginning of the The Court will bring in18 -24 perspective jurors. In DUI cases the Jury consists of only 6 members. Each party can excuse up to three jurors for any lawful reason. Jurors who are biased incapable or who may be greatly inconvenienced if required to sit on thee case may be excused by the Judge.
Once the Jury is chosen the Prosecutor makes an Opening statement that is suppose to tell the jurors what evidence the prosecutor believes he or she will produce. The defendant may also give an opening statement at this time or later in the case.
The prosecution then calls its witnesses. Each witness is sworn under oath and testifies in response to questions. The defense then asks cross examination questions of the witness. Once the Prosecutor has complete its case the Defense may call witnesses. The defendant never has to testify, the Jurors are told that they may make no inference form the fact that the Defendant chooses not to testify
Acquittal, Hanging, Appeals and Sentencing
If the jurors agree that there is a reasonable doubt in the case, they must acquit the defendant. If they all agree the defendant is free. If they can not agree the jury is hung (not really it is just a saying). After a jury fails to reach a verdict the case can be tried again with a new jury. If the jury convicts, the defendant is sentenced.
The mandatory minimum sentence for a first offense with a breath test under 0.15 is one day in jail, a $350 base fine (which will total between $850 and $1250) plus probation costs. Every person convicted of DUI must have an alcohol evaluation and follow the recommendations of the counselor, they will lose their privilege to drive for at least 90 days and be required to have an ignition interlock in their car for one year. There are special insurance requirements for four years. This is just the beginning, a DUI Conviction has many additional penalties