Phil Weinberg on the Details of DUI Defense

Washington DUI law is complex and sometimes harsh. Mandatory minimum jail time is imposed for any DUI conviction; the higher the blow or if you refused to blow, and the more prior DUI charges that resulted in conviction or ‘conviction equivalents’ within the past seven years, the more jail time you will potentially face, especially without a proper defense. Equivalents of a DUI conviction, within the past seven years, include deferred prosecutions (even though a deferred prosecution is not a conviction) and DUI charges that were pled down to Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving in the First Degree (Neg. 1).

The costs go up with the seriousness, too. There are probation costs for five years of probation. There are possible driver’s license suspensions resulting from the administrative ‘DOL Hearing’ that now costs a whopping $375 just for the fee to get the hearing (which is conducted by phone no less), and there are also driver’s license suspensions resulting from court convictions for DUI or Reckless Driving, but not for Neg. 1. The length of driver’s license suspension for DUI convictions increases dramatically with high blow (over 0.15) or a refusal to provide breath samples and also increases even more dramatically if you have priors within seven years of your current arrest date. Suspensions range from 90 days to four years.

Washington State DUI law provides for conviction based upon “a number” (driving at or over the state’s legal limit of .08) or based upon “words” (whether a refusal to blow or not, if the police, and then later the court, determine that your driving was appreciably “affected by” consumption of alcohol (or drugs, whether illegal or prescription drugs) then you can suffer a DUI conviction even without a ‘blow’ (i.e., with no breath test at all).

The DOL Hearing and the court case are completely separate proceedings, so you need to act fast to try to avoid license suspension. You now have only 20 days from your stop and arrest for DUI to request a DOL hearing and this is true even if the prosecutor does not file your criminal case on ‘the court side’ for weeks or even months. Cases with blood draws instead of breath tests take the prosecutors longer to file because the lab work is backlogged and takes sometimes several months, but now, right after you are stopped, is always the right time to retain an experienced DUI attorney because there are proactive things you can and should do right after being arrested to maximize the chances of a favorable outcome. These include, but are not limited to, getting an alcohol/drug evaluation, attending a DUI Victims Impact Panel, seeing if you have any underlying medical or mental-health conditions, preserving witness statements, photos of the roadway as it was on the date you were arrested, or getting expert mechanics to inspect your vehicle — while such evidence is still close enough in time to be relevant and before it is no longer available.

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My job is to fight for you and your rights, and to prevent these things from happening to you to the best of my ability. I am a skilled, effective and experienced DUI defense attorney, whether you have a DUI in Redmond or a DUI in Everett or Lynnwood. I have gotten DUI’s from Bellevue, Shoreline, Edmonds, Everett and other DUI’s in Washington State reduced to Reckless Driving and Neg. 1, and many dismissed all together. I have even gotten deferred prosecutions that had been ongoing for many months dismissed and the cases closed because the first lawyer who handled the case overlooked challenging probable cause for the stop. Such great results occur when I am the defense attorney in all the local courts, in Bothell, Kirkland, Lake Forest Park, Seattle and all other municipalities. I get results.

At your first appearance in court (arraignment), the judge will look at your criminal history, especially your DUI history (if any) and your other driving history. The court will then set your conditions of release. In serious repeat offender cases this might include a bail, in which case you’ll be taken into custody and have to sit in jail until the bail is posted, placing you on electronic home monitoring or even requiring you to install an ignition interlock device (‘blow and go’) on your vehicle to be able to drive.  This all can happen despite the fact that at that point you are still presumed innocent and have not been convicted!!!

There are dozens of legal challenges to the admissibility or adequacy and weight of the numerous items of evidence against you that the police are trained to gather and assemble before and at the stop, as well as after that during the booking process. An experienced DUI litigator is aware of these legal challenges and keeps up with the ever-changing laws about them. I’m including the very frequent changes in the DOL rules. There are numerous state and federal constitutional issues involved. These include whether the initial stop was based upon probable case (PC), whether the driver/suspect was advised of their constitutional rights when arrested (so-called Miranda rights, as well as our state’s implied consent warnings regarding breath or blood testing/samples), whether there was a demand to speak with an attorney and how the police handled that, and many other constitutional issues. It is a constantly changing field, too, one that is rather complicated. You need an experienced DUI attorney to protect you from having your rights taken away, and a good lawyer in these cases can save you a lot of money, too, in some cases saving you more money than the amount of their fees compared to a poorly handled case with a bad and very costly outcome.

Don’t go to court without an experienced DUI attorney. Do not face the court alone and talk to me before you talk to a judge. Let me protect you. I care about your rights. I have been fighting for them since 1986. You want to get this behind you as painlessly and inexpensively as possible, and to steer clear of jail time and excessive fines and other unfair treatment by the police, prosecutors, the courts and their probation officers. You want to have an experienced, skilled DUI attorney fight to save your driver’s license and your freedom and to try with all their knowledge and experience to keep your record clean or from having another bad blemish. That is my job. Call an affordable, caring but an as aggressive as needed attorney. Phillip L. Weinberg — Washington State, King County and Snohomish County DUI criminal defense attorney. Put my 26 years of fighting the system and the government on your side.

I’m here to help you through this very difficult and scary time in your life using what I’ve learned during a lifetime in the courts defending those accused of crime against the overwhelming power and resources of the government. In the courtroom, your defense lawyer may well be the only person that cares about your legal rights and the fair outcome of your case. The prosecutor often, but not always, could not care less — he or she often just wants to convict another defendant and get promoted. The judges, too, do not often care as much about your rights as we do, and tend to often ‘rubber stamp’ the prosecutor’s characterization of you and what you did.

Let me fight for your rights, freedom, reputation, future job opportunities and good standing in the community. I will fight hard for you. JUSTICE DEMANDS NO LESS.

More information is available in my DUI FAQ