When do I need to hire an attorney?
You should consult with an attorney immediately after your arrest. There are several issues that need to be addressed right away. In cases involving a breath test above the legal limit, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will initiate an action to suspend the driver’s license. The driver has twenty days from the date of arrest to file a notice for hearing. The same is true for blood tests that yield a result above the legal limit, although the twenty day period will not start until the DOL receives the blood results and notifies the driver of the pending suspension. Having a DUI Defense attorney involved in this process is critical to your likelihood of success at the hearing. While this process is not part of the criminal case, it can lead to devastating results such as the loss of your license and other expenses such as SR-22 insurance and the installation of an ignition interlock license. The well-informed DUI Defense attorney will prepare your case to optimize your opportunity for success at the DOL Hearing. This preparation may include interviewing and subpoenaing witnesses, researching issues of law, and preparing a legal brief to outline why a license suspension is not appropriate.
In addition to the DOL Hearing, a DUI Defense attorney can start preparing your case for the upcoming criminal proceedings. The driver should keep in mind that they may be assigned a court date immediately after their arrest. However, depending upon the jurisdiction, the case may be forwarded to a prosecutor’s office to await a charging decision. The statute of limitations for DUI is two years. Consequently, in theory, it may take up to two years before a case gets filed. In most jurisdictions, charges will be filed within three months of the date of arrest. Regardless, it is not uncommon for the DOL Hearing to take place far in advance of the criminal case. Having a DUI Defense attorney involved early is advantageous in that it helps you to cover all aspects of your case so that critical errors can be avoided. Be sure to hire an attorney that can handle both your DOL Hearing and the criminal case.
Why should I hire a former prosecutor?
Many attorneys advertise their level of experience and background training. In the arena of DUI Defense, many practitioners are former prosecutors. There is no basis to conclude that an attorney is better qualified to handle your case because he or she was a prosecutor. However, I believe that my experience as a DUI prosecutor has helped me to become more skilled in the area of DUI Defense. As a DUI prosecutor I learned the other side of the coin from start to finish. I reviewed police reports and decided whether or not to file charges. I managed heavy dockets and practiced in court before judges on a daily basis. I tried cases and argued motions against experienced practitioners. As a consequence of this training, I am well-equipped to identify the weaknesses in a case and to understand best how to present those weaknesses to a prosecutor, judge, or jury.
Is a free DUI consultation really “free”, or are there hidden fees?
There are NO hidden fees. Simply call for an appointment. I do not put a timeline on the consultation but generally speaking the consultation takes approximately one hour. I consult with a potential client for as long as I feel it is necessary for them to understand their rights and the nature, scope, and expense of my services. I will not charge you anything prior to entering into a representation agreement with you.
Is your office available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
My office keeps regular business hours. However, because many DUI arrests happen at night or on the weekends, all off hour calls are personally forwarded to me. While I cannot guarantee that I will be available at the exact moment that you call, I do closely monitor all incoming calls. If you receive a voicemail greeting and leave a message, I will return your call as soon as possible. It is not uncommon for me to answer the phone at 3:00 AM on a Sunday morning. Also, I often take appointments on the weekend and evenings.
Am I going to lose my drivers license?
If you fail to apply for a DOL Hearing, or you lose the DOL Hearing, then your license will be suspended.It is important to understand that a DUI offense carries administrative penalties in addition to criminal penalties. The night of a DUI arrest, the arresting officer will punch a hole in your driver’s license if you refuse a breath or blood test or your BAC result is greater than .08. The officer should also provide you with a hearing request form so that you can challenge the suspension. Your license is still valid after it is punched until the suspension takes place by order of the DOL.
You can, and should, request a hearing to contest the administrative suspension. You may do so by filling out the Hearing Request Form that should have been provided to you by the arresting officer and mailing it to the Department of Licensing within twenty (20) days of the date of the arrest. Unless you are indigent, you must include a check or money order for $200 made out to the Department of Licensing.
If you request a hearing, the Department of Licensing must give you one within sixty days of the date of the arrest. The hearing will be presided over by a Department of Licensing examiner. Unless you request otherwise, the hearing will take place by telephone.
At the hearing, the DOL officer will offer the arresting officer’s police report as evidence against you and will then consider any testimony and/or argument that you wish to make. Defenses exist in DOL administrative suspension hearings that are not obvious to the uninitiated and an experienced DUI defense attorney will carefully explore the facts of your case to reveal all potential defenses.
If the DOL officer finds that the evidence establishes that the arresting officer had reasonable grounds to arrest you and that he complied with all of the necessary requirements in administering the breath test or that you made a knowing and intelligent decision to refuse the breath test, the suspension or revocation will be upheld. If, however, the DOL examiner finds that the evidence does not establish these elements, the suspension or revocation will be dismissed.
Also, if you lose the administrative hearing, you must obtain SR22 “high risk” insurance prior to reinstatement of your driving privileges and you must maintain that insurance for three years following reinstatement. You may also be required to re-take the written and/or driving exam.
Starting January 1, 2009, if your license is suspended, you may apply for an Ignition Interlock License (IIL). Also, you may apply for this license even before a suspension takes place. In the event that you receive notice of an administrative action against your license, you may apply immediately for the IIL. This special license allows you to drive during your suspension as long as you (1) maintain a functioning ignition interlock device in your vehicle throughout the period of your suspension; and (2) maintain SR22 high risk insurance. Even if you lose your hearing, the IIL remains available as an option. If you win your hearing, there is no need for the IIL unless you are convicted in court of DUI or enter into a 10.05 Deferred Prosecution. If you apply for the IIL before your hearing, the hearing will be canceled and you will lose the right to challenge the suspension.
How much is an attorney going to cost me?
When you hire an attorney, you will be asked to sign a representation agreement. At this point in time, the attorney should have outlined the fee AND you should understand the fee. Do not proceed unless you feel comfortable that the fee is outlined in a written agreement and you understand the fee. I charge a flat-fee for all of my DUI cases. In other words, I will advise the client what my charge will be for the entire case. If the client cannot pay the entire fee, in some instances I will agree to a payment plan. Fees for a DUI can be expensive. In the Seattle market, fees can range anywhere from $1,000.00 to in excess of $10,000.00. Before you hire any attorney, make sure you feel comfortable that they are dedicated to your defense, competent to handle your case, and you feel comfortable putting something as serious as your DUI Defense in their hands. Make sure they inform you whether the fee covers the DOL Hearing and a jury trial, and whether the attorney charges for mileage, travel time or other expenses.