Washington State DUI Process

The DUI process in Washington State generally begins with the stop and arrest. The initial traffic stop may be due to a DUI checkpoint, a simple traffic violation such as failure to use your indicator, or after an accident or breakdown. Though initially the officer may not have reason to suspect the involvement of drugs or alcohol once they do they will proceed accordingly. Generally the first step is to question the suspect about how much you have had to drink after which they will order you out of the vehicle to have you partake in field sobriety tests. Once the officer believes they have enough evidence indicating a DUI they will make the arrest. After being placed in police custody the suspect’s Miranda rights will be read to them and they will be taken to a police station for a breath test. Typically after a breath test is administered the suspect is released.

Periodically instead of being released the suspect will be booked into jail. Factors contributing to this can be the particular jurisdiction where the arrest was made, the suspect’s criminal history and the suspect’s attitude with the officer. If a suspect is booked into jail they will be searched and questioned, finger-prints will be taken, they will be photographed and placed in a cell. Bail will be set and the suspect will be allowed one phone call.

Typically all of the information an officer will need involving a DUI case will already have been collected by the time the suspect is released. Most suspects of a DUI charge will have been given a breath test and will receive a copy of the results immediately.

Depending on the jurisdiction the criminal charge will either be filed immediately or filed via investigation which means that the officer will submit his or her report to the prosecutor and once they determine there is enough evidence they will file a complaint in court at which point the suspect will receive a notice for their first court appearance. The maximum time between when an arrest is made and a charge must be filed in the state of Washington is two years. After a DUI charge is filed the criminal process begins which consists of five steps: arraignment, pre-trial conference, motions, readiness, hearing and trial.

The very first hearing after a DUI arrest is made is called an arraignment. The arraignment is when the suspect will hear the specifics on which charges are being filed against them and they will have an opportunity to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If a judge has reason to suspect the suspect is a threat to the community or poses a flight risk they can order bail.

The pre-trial conference is an opportunity to try and reach an agreement with the prosecutor and let the judge know how the suspect’s case is progressing. If at this point the suspect accepts the offer made by the prosecutor then the case is resolved, otherwise the judge will set a date for trial.

Motions or evidentiary hearings are something asked for by the defense. They are hearings when the judge will decide what is admissible evidence and if there was probable cause for the initial stop. The suspect’s attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses, present testimony or other evidence. The suspect will be required to be present at any motions or evidentiary hearings regarding their case.
A week before trial reading hearings are held by the judge to confirm each side is ready to continue onto trial. Plea agreements may still be reached at this point, otherwise the case is set for trail.

In the state of Washington the suspect has two options for a trial, a trial by jury which consists of six jurors from the state of Washington, or a bench trial which involves only a judge.

Arrested For DUI in Seattle

Arrested For DUI in Seattle