by: Brett Nagle
If you have been arrested for DUI or Physical Control in the State of Washington, you need the facts from an experienced Snohomish County DUI criminal defense attorney. Here is an overview: First, a DUI prosecution consists of two parts: (1) a civil hearing where the department of licensing (DOL) tries to take away your license; and (2) a criminal case where the State of Washington seeks a conviction, jail time, and the penalties outlined below.
Here, I will discuss the criminal law aspect of the case. But first, a word about your Department of Licensing hearing:
If you are arrested for DUI in the state of Washington, you must request a DOL hearing within 20 days of your arrest. If you do not request the DOL hearing and pay the required fee within 20 days, the department of licensing will suspend your license. If you drive with a suspended license in the State of Washington, you are committing a separate crime which could subject you to up to a year in jail each time you drive without a valid license.
DWI or DUI?
DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated, is a commonly used term to describe impaired driving charges in Washington State and throughout the country. DWI refers to old laws that required the prosecution to prove that you were intoxicated in order to convict you of DWI. Thus, the state had the burden of proving a driver’s BAC exceeded the legal limit in order to convict a person of DWI at trial. So, if a DWI attorney succeeded in getting the breath test result suppressed, the state often had no case.
Today, the DWI statute has been amended to DUI, or Driving Under the Influence. As you will see below, the state need not prove you were intoxicated – or above .08 – to convict you of DUI in Washington State. The state need only prove that you were affected by alcohol to an appreciable degree at the time of driving. This manner of proving DUI, available under the modern DUI statute, is known as the “affected by” prong. This explains why arresting officers offer field sobriety tests (FSTs), make detailed physical observations, and ask you a list of standard questions from the DUI arrest report. Unlike under the old DWI law, if the breath test is suppressed, the state will use this evidence to convict you of DUI.
DUI is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $5,000 fine. A conviction for DUI could cause you to lose your drivers license and require you to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car.
The exception to this maximum penalty occurs in the felony DUI arena. This applies to people with multiple prior DUI offenses, or occasions where people have been injured or killed as the result of an impaired driver. If this sounds familiar, call an experienced DUI/DWI attorney right away. Felony DUIs can mean prison.
Mandatory minimum penalties also apply. This means that if you are convicted of DUI, a judge must sentence you to at least a specified amount of jail time and fine. These penalties are imposed in addition to any Department of Licensing penalties. The mandatory minimum penalty that applies to your case depends upon: (1) your breath test level or refusal; and (2) the number of times you have been convicted of DUI or a charged reduced from DUI in the past seven years.
For example, if you are convicted of DUI and you provide a breath sample of between .08 and .149, the judge must sentence you as follows:
•1 day in jail;
•$350 fine (usually approximately $1,400.00 with costs and assessments); and,
•1 year of ignition interlock
The court may also order alcohol or drug treatment and make you attend a victim impact panel. You will also need high risk auto insurance (SR 22) for three years. These minimum penalties increase significantly if you have prior DUI convictions, refused the breath test, or provided a breath sample over .15. Consult an experienced Washington DUI attorney for advice specific to your case.
Disclaimer: this information is not intended as legal advice and is provided for illustrative purposes only. Please contact an experienced DUI attorney before making assumptions about your case.
Elements of DUI:
In Washington State, a person is guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or any drug if he or she:
•Drives a Motor Vehicle in the State of Washington; and,
•the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood; or
•while the person is under the influence of alcohol or any drug.
One thing you will notice is that it is possible to be convicted of DUI even if you are not offered a breath test. This is known as the “affected by” method of proving DUI. If the prosecutor can prove to a jury that you were “affected by” alcohol at the time of driving, you can be convicted.
Should you refuse to take the breath test, there are some things you should know:
•The state can use the fact that you refused the test against you at trial; and,
•criminal and department of licensing penalties may increase dramatically.
Consult an experienced Washington DUI attorney before you decide whether to take a breath test. Always ask to speak with an attorney at the scene of your DUI stop and before taking any breath test.
Local DUI Information
If you have been arrested for DUI/DWI in Washington, an initial question to consider is: Which court will handle my case?
While we have successfully handled DUI cases throughout Washington State, I have included some local DUI/DWI information relating to the courts I frequent the most. If your court is not listed, just give us a call and we will steer you in the right direction.
Lynnwood, WA DWI/DUI:
Lynnwood is served by three courts: (1) Snohomish County Superior Court; (2), Snohomish County District Court, South Division; and, (3) Lynnwood Municipal Court. The court that handles your case will determine whether a prosecutor or police officer charges your case, how long you need to wait to be charged, and how soon after your arrest you will need to appear in court.
Snohomish County Superior Court, located in Everett, Washington, has jurisdiction over felonies in Snohomish County. A felony is defined as a crime punishable by over one year in jail. Examples of felony DUI cases filed in Superior Court include: Vehicular Homicide, Vehicular Assault, and Felony DUI. So, unless you have multiple prior DUI convictions or are accused of hurting or killing someone, your DUI case should not be filed in Superior Court.
To charge you with a felony, a Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor must review your case and file an affidavit of probable cause with the court. Then you can be summonsed into court for arraignment. Arraignment is the first court hearing in the criminal justice process, where you will enter a plea and your attorney can demand discovery related to your case. Discovery usually means police reports, witness statements, and photographs collected by police or detectives.
This means that after your arrest, the prosecutor can take weeks or months to charge your case. When the prosecutor makes a decision, you will receive a summons in the mail to appear for your arraignment.
Snohomish County District Court, South Division, handles any Lynnwood DUI case (except felonies) where the Washington State Patrol (WSP) or Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office (SCSO) made the arrest. So, if you were stopped by a state trooper or county sheriff in Lynnwood, chances are your case will be filed into the South Division of Snohomish County District Court. South Division is located at:
20520 68th Ave West
Lynnwood, WA 98036-7406
This is just west of Highway 99 between Edmonds Community College and the main Lynnwood Post Office. South Division is Snohomish County’s busiest district court, with three elected judges hearing cases.
Cases filed into South Division are handled by the county prosecutors office, similar to felony cases described above. Following your arrest, the deputy or trooper will forward a copy of his or her DUI arrest report to the prosecutor. The prosecutor will make a charging decision and you will receive a summons in the mail to appear in South Division for arraignment. This charging decision usually takes about a month, but this can vary depending on how many other cases are awaiting charging.
Lynnwood Municipal Court:
Lynnwood Municipal Court handles non-felony DUI cases filed by the Lynnwood Police Department. So, if Lynnwood PD arrested you for DUI, chances are your case will be handled in Lynnwood Municipal Court.
Lynnwood Muncipal Court is located on the second floor of the police department in Lynnwood at:
19321 44th Ave West Lynnwood, WA 98046-5008
Lynnwood Municipal Court handles arraignments on DUI cases differently than Superior or District Courts. If you are arrested by Lynnwood Police Department for DUI, the officer will typically give you notice to appear in court the next morning following your arrest. Be careful to check for the court date at the bottom of your citation. If you miss this court date, a warrant will issue for your arrest.
If you have a question about which court is handling your Lynnwood DUI or whether you have missed a court date, feel free to call my office at 425-776-3300.
Everett local DUI/DWI information:
If you are arrested for DUI in Everett, one of three potential courts awaits you
Everett District Court
aka Snohomish County District Court, Everett Division
3000 Rockefeller Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
Snohomish County Sheriff Deputies and Washington State Patrol Troopers who arrest people for DUI in Everett refer there cases to the Snohomish County Prosecutor for review. As a former Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor, I personally reviewed hundreds of such cases and decided whether to charge DUI, or some other crime. At this point in the game, your “case” consists of police reports typed up by the arresting trooper or deputy. These reports usually take the form of a Washington State Patrol DUI Arrest Report, which is a standard form Snohomish County Deputies and Troopers carry copies of in their patrol cars. The Snohomish County troopers and deputies will fill in the blanks, indicating their observations of your driving and face to face observations. The deputy or trooper will attach a copy f the BAC datamaster ticket, indicating your breath test results – or a refusal. Typically, it takes 3-4 weeks for a prosecutor to review these reports and decide whether to charge you with DUI and/or something else. In the past, this delay has stretched to six months or even a year depending on the prosecutor’s caseload.
It is important to realize that this delay does not mean that you should delay in speaking with and hiring a good Everett DUI/DWI defense attorney. There are two critical reasons why you should not delay in contacting a DUI lawyer: (1) evidence may be lost by the time the state charges you a month or two after your arrest; and (2) you only have 20 days to request an administrative hearing through DOL. If you do not request a hearing, DOL will take your license without a hearing. The potentially lost evidence often helps us prevail in trial or negotiation. A good example of this evidence is video recordings from the dashboard mounted cameras installed on Washington State Patrol Troopers cars. Not all WSP cruisers have cameras installed, but the new Target Zero cars patrolling the bars and taverns along Evergreen Way in South Everett are equipped with cameras. Delaying in hiring a good Everett DUI defense lawyer could mean these recordings (which may show you were not as drunk as described in the trooper’s report) are gone forever. A qualified Everett DUI Attorney can file a public records request through WSP and usually have a copy of the video within a week or two.
Once a Snohomish County Deputy Prosecutor decides to charge you with DUI, they will file your case with Everett District Court (address above), which is on the third floor of the Snohomish County Courthouse in Everett, Washington. You will receive a summons from the court to appear for arraignment, along with a copy of a criminal complaint charging you with DUI in Snohomish County District Court, Everett Division. You will need to hire a qualified Everett DUI defense attorney prior to – or shortly after – arraignment. Your attorney will advise you of where to go from there.
Everett Municipal Court
3028 Wetmore Ave
Everett, WA 98201-4018
If you were arrested for DUI/DWI by an Everett Police Officer in Everett (extending from the trestle in north everett to the south border with mill creek), your case will be automatically cited into Everett Municipal Court. If you are not held in jail following your arrest, you will receive notice to appear in Everett Municipal Court the next day following your arrest for arraignment. It is imperative that you meet with an experienced Everett DUI attorney before or immediately after this arraignment date. At this date, the judge will set conditions on your release, possibly including and alcohol-detecting ankle bracelet, installation of an ignition interlock device, or even set bail and order you held in jail until the case is resolved. I would prefer to be present at this court date, alongside my client, when the court decides whether to order these conditions.
Snohomish County Superior Court
3000 Rockefeller Avenue
Everett, WA 98201
The third and most serious possibility for someone arrested for DWI/DUI in Everett is referral into Snohomish County Superior Court. Superior Court in Everett handles felonies. An example of a felony arising from a DUI arrest is vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter. If you injured or killed someone while driving under the influence in Everett, you probably earned a ticket to superior court in Everett. Another example occurs if you have multiple prior DUI convictions and the state is going to pursue a felony DUI. If you are held in Snohomish County Jail following your arrest, the state has 72 hours to file an affidavit of probable cause telling the judge why you should be held on the charge. If you are released, the state has years (statute of limitations) to decide whether to charge you with a felony. If this information applies to you or a loved one, turn away from the computer and call an experienced Everett DUI lawyer right away. Before ending my career as a prosecutor in Snohomish County, I handled hundreds of felony cases in Everett’s Snohomish County Superior Court. If this information applies to you, we have a lot of work to do.
Prior offenses and ignition interlock:
If you have been arrested for DUI and your record shows a “prior offense,” judges in Washington must require you to install ignition interlock on any vehicle you drive. A “prior offense” is any charge that was originally charged as DUI, even if that charge was reduced to reckless or negligent driving. This condition will be ordered as a condition of your release at arraignment, which is typically your first appearance in court. Other mandatory conditions of release also apply. Whether or not you have a prior offense, you should consult an attorney prior to arraignment so you can be prepared to address conditions of release.
What to do if you are stopped for DUI in Washington State:
1.Be polite. Most police officers/state troopers are good people trying to do a tough job. If you make their job more difficult, they will make your experience more difficult. The officer’s observations of your appearance, attitude and conduct often make a difference in the outcome of your case.
2.Ask to speak with a lawyer immediately. Call 425-280-8906 to reach a qualified DUI attorney. If Mr. Nagle is unavailable, ask the trooper/officer to put you in contact with another attorney. If the officer refuses, continue to be polite and see #3 below.
3.Do not answer any questions. If the officer asks you if you have been drinking, politely tell him or her that you do not want to answer any questions.
4.Do not take Field Sobriety Tests. Field Sobriety tests can include following a pen with your eyes (HGN), walk and turn, one-leg stand, and alphabet tests. You have a right to refuse these tests under Washington Law. Exercise this right and politely decline any FSTs.
5.Ask to speak with a lawyer before you take any breath test. Call 425-280-8906 and ask for Mr. Nagle. If Brett is unavailable, ask the officer to speak with another qualified Washington DUI attorney immediately. A qualified Washington DUI attorney can advise you whether to take the breath test.
Get the Facts:
Even if you did not follow some or all of the advice above, get the facts by speaking with an experienced Washington DUI attorney immediately if you have been arrested for DUI. Call 425-280-8906 for a free consultation with an experienced Washington DUI lawyer.
Mr. Nagle accepts cases throughout Washington State, focusing on greater Snohomish, King, Skagit and Whatcom Counties, including the following areas: Lynnwood, Everett, Mill Creek, Bothell, Edmonds, Arlington, Kenmore, Kirkland, Lake Stevens, Marysville, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, Redmond, Seattle, Stanwood, Seattle, Shoreline, Mount Vernon, Bellingham, Blaine, and Lynden. Brett specializes in Snohomish County, serving the following zip codes: 98223, 98012, 98021, 98241, 98020, 98026, 98201, 98203, 98204, 98205, 98206, 98207, 98208, 98213, 98251, 98252, 98256, 98258, 98037, 98046, 98087, 98270, 98271, 98272, 98043, 98275, 98259, 98287, 98290, 98291, 98296, 98292, 98293, 98294, 98273, 98274, 98225, 98226, 98227, 98228, 98229, 98230, 98231, 98264. We accept cases in other cities and counties throughout Washington State on a case by case basis.