DUI, Reckless Driving, Physical Control

Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Process in Washington State

When you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) in Washington, you are subject to two proceedings.  Whether you were pulled over in Magnolia, Ballard, Bellevue or the University District, you will have these proceedings.

There is an administrative proceeding that is brought by the Department of Licensing (DOL). It involves your driving privileges.

There is also a criminal proceeding brought in court by either the city or county where the DUI is alleged to have occurred. Each of these two proceedings involves different governmental offices and a range of penalties.

Civil Proceeding and Department of Licensing (DOL)

The civil proceeding is called an Administrative License Revocation (ALR). When you are granted a license to drive, you are subject to what is known as the “implied consent” law. (This means that you agree to take a breath or blood test should if you are suspected of DUI.) If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08 percent or higher on this test, it’s evidence of impaired driving.

If arrested for DUI, you are subject to an automatic license suspension by the DOL. The amount of time of this suspension can run between 90 days and up to 3 years, depending on your DUI history. If you refuse a breath test as requested by a police officer or sheriff, you will likely lose your license for one year and the refusal may be used against you in court.

You have the right to contest the automatic license suspension by requesting a hearing with the DOL. This request must be submitted within 20 days of the date of your arrest. At the hearing, it is determined if the arrest was lawful, if reasonable grounds existed for you to be suspected of DUI, if you were informed of your rights properly about the testing, if you refused or submitted to a breath test, and, if you submitted, what the results were. Decisions concerning your license suspension are made by the hearing officer. You may have an attorney represent you at the hearing.

DUI Criminal Proceeding

The criminal case is initiated by a police report concerning your DUI that is sent to the prosecutor. After your arrest, you will either be released or booked into jail and required to post bond. Next, you are arraigned. Where you are arraigned depends on where you were driving.  For example, if you were driving in Bellevue, you will be arraigned in Bellevue’s Municipal Court.  If you were in Redmond, you will be arraigned in King County’s Redmond District Court.  An arrest in Bothell means you will be arraigned in the Bothell Muncipal Court.

Arraignment is a mandatory court appearance where the charges against you are read and you plead “guilty” or “not guilty”.  A court date is then set and your criminal case will proceed with pre-trial motions and then into a possible jury trial unless you choose to plead guilty to the charge or a reduced charge. If you go to trial, a six person jury will determine your innocence or guilt.  Or, in the alternative, you can choose to have your case tried to a judge.  It is your decision.

Penalties you are subject to depend on what you are convicted of. Washington State penalties for DUI include potential jail time or electronic home monitoring, fines, fees, and court costs. Physical control penalties are often similar to DUI penalties.

Other penalties also include the installation (at your expense) of an ignition interlock device (IID), a license suspension, alcohol or drug assessment, education including Victim Impact Panel attendance where you hear from those who have been injured as a result of drunk driving, treatment, and probation.

Experienced Legal Representation

Having an experienced lawyer representing you is highly recommended. Located in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood, Miller Law Group excels at DUI defense. We welcome clients from all over Seattle including South Lake Union (SLU), the University District, and Ballard, just to name a few locations.

Seattle attorney Jennifer Miller has extensive experience and an understanding of science and technical aspects of this legal area as well as experience in the court room getting results. Get the help you need to minimize the impact of a DUI arrest today.