1. Is a DUI a traffic ticket (like speeding)?

No. A DUI is a serious criminal charge in Washington. The penalties for a DUI include mandatory minimum jail, fines and license suspensions, ignition interlock conditions, and the court can sentence you up to 5years probation. The maximum jail and fine can be up to 364 days and $5,000. To read more about specific sentencing requirements try this link: WWW.Courts.WA.Gov

However, the government/prosecution must prove that you committed the offense beyond a reasonable before any penalties can be imposed (NOTE: The Department of Licensing (DOL) may be notified of your arrest, and they can start an action to suspend your license before your are proven guilty. This is a separate action by the DOL that you must also defend, and you should speak to your attorney about this action immediately because there is a deadline for filing a request to challenge the suspension).

For these reasons, a DUI is not like a speeding ticket, and should be taken very seriously.

2. Do I need a lawyer for a DUI?

Yes. You need a lawyer the minute the officer puts you in the back of a patrol car to transport you to the Breath Testing machine, and you should ask the officer, politely, to contact one for you as soon as possible after you arrive at the BAC machine, which is usually the police station or jail. (See Part 3 of How to Prepare for and React during a DUI investigation).

We can help you protect, preserve, and defend your rights like the right to collect evidence, remain silent, have a license hearing, get a jury trial, avoid excessive bail and other conditions that might be imposed while the case is pending, and we act as a buffer between you and the Government.

3. My DUI ticket says I have a mandatory appearance; What's that?

After being arrested and Processed for a DUI, the first time you appear before a judge will be for a hearing called an "Arraignment." For a DUI case, this is a hearing that you a required to attend. The judge will review the initial reports of the officer to determine whether or not the officer was justified in arresting you, inform you of the charge, and ask you to enter an intial plea. YOU SHOULD HAVE AN ATTORNEY, and plead NOT GUILTY. Also, if this is your 2nd or 3rd offense or if you blew over a .15 or there was an accident or children involved, the Court may set very serious and strict conditions on you at this hearing. CALL NOW TO PREPARE: 360-734-0908

4. What happens if I plead "Guilty" at my Arraignment?

Pleading guilty the first time you appear in Court is a bad idea. You may feel guilty after being handcuffed, taken to the jail or police station, and forced to appear in court, but you are Innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, SO DON'T PASS UP THE OPPORTUNITY TO GET A BETTER RESULT for yourself by rushing into a guilty plea.

Pleading guilty will mean you are convicted of the crime of DUI. Sentenced to jail, fines, probation, license suspensions, and be on conditions of probation for up to 5 years.

5. I was arrested/stopped for a DUI, I was asked to take the Breath Test, issued a DOL Hearing Form, but no ticket for DUI. What should I do?

Some Counties & Cities are having their officers refer the reports from their investigations to the prosecutors office for review prior to filing a charge. This gives the Government an opportunity to correct any defects, and prepare their case for court. This is very common in Snohomish and King County where the lag time between arrest and charging is taking about 6-8 weeks, sometimes longer. When you are charged, the court will summons you in for an Arraignment.

In the meantime, you should also be preparing your case for trial, and you have a 20 day deadline to request a hearing to fight your license suspension. Currently cellphone tickets, but that may soon change.

6. Is my driver's license or privilege immediately suspended after a DUI arrest?

After being arrested and/or cited for a DUI, you are now on a temporary license or privilege to drive. That means that you are able to drive for at least 60 days from the time of your arrest, and if you request a DOL Hearing (by filling out and submitting the Hearing Request Form), your temporary license will be extended for up to 150 days, or until a final decision is made regarding your license.

7. I have a license from a different State or Country, so is it possible that I will be suspended there too?

All 50 states have signed a "Non-Resident Violators Compact" that means if your license is suspended in one state, it will be suspended in every other State.

The compact assumes that States will communicate regularly and that doesn't always happen. British Columbia has not signed any such agreement with Washington. However, just because you don't have a Washington driver's license, it doesn't mean that you can still drive in Washington, if you lose your privilege to drive in Washington.

8. Is there any way to keep driving if I lose my license?

Yes. The State has created a new license for people suspended from alcohol offenses. It's called the Ignition Interlock License. If you are eligible for the license, you will be able to drive during your DUI suspension. Unfortunately, certain drivers, like those with a CDL or those who want a CDL will still be disqualified from driving. Also, young drivers are not eligible. To read more visit: WWW.DOL.WA.Gov or text or email me.

9. Can I still travel freely if I'm convicted of a DUI?

A DUI Conviction in Washington translates to what's considered a felony in Canada, or an Indictable Offense. Immigration Laws in Canada prohibit entry to Canada if you are convicted of what Canada considers an Indictable offense. Unfortunately, travel to Canada can be drastically limited if you are even charged with a DUI. You can reach much more at:


Also, if you are on probation for your 2nd or 3rd DUI, there is an interstate probation agreement that requires that you register with a probation department in the State where you move if you have not completed probation.

10. Should I Consider a Deferred Prosecution?

A Deferred Prosecution is an order by the court to defer/delay the prosecution of your case because you are willing to admit that you committed the charged offense(s) because of alcoholism, drug addiction, or mental health problems. Only certain offenses, including DUI, qualify for a Deferred Prosecution. It has limited uses/purposes with significant commitments on your part, but with the promise of significant rewards if you successfully complete the conditions and treatment required by the court.

The court will usually order many of the same conditions as a DUI conviction carries, but without the conviction. These conditions will include 5years of probation to monitor all conditions at a cost of about $3,300 or more, at least 1 year of ignition interlock device ($1,000), and completion of a Treatment Program (usually 2years in duration at an average cost of $3,000). If you successfully complete these conditions without fail, and without any new convictions, then the court will dismiss your qualifying charges.

As of January 2011, the Deferred Prosecution is only granted once in a lifetime, and the choice is one that you should only make after consulting an attorney.