I Was Arrested For A DUI In Lynnwood, What Do I Do Now?

Getting arrested for a DUI is a scary situation. From the moment you see the red and blue lights behind you, the situation is largely dictated by the Officer. Every DUI is going to be slightly different depending on the situation. If you were arrested, the Officer believed he had gathered enough evidence (throughout the entire contact with you) to establish probable cause to arrest you for Driving Under the Influence. This blog is not intended to address the specific points of the Officer’s belief (which is best done during a consultation with an attorney), but rather what do after you are released.

For many people this may be the first time you have been arrested, and what to do next is not necessarily easy to figure out. If you were arrested for DUI and either bailed out of jail or were released, you likely received a court date to return to the Lynnwood Municipal Court to be arraigned for DUI. This is a mandatory appearance designed to allow the judge to determine if you are a flight risk or a danger to the community and to impose conditions of release. If you have a prior DUI (or really any criminal history) you need to contact an attorney prior to this hearing. This will allow you to discuss your case specifics with the attorney and determine the best course of action to take to keep you out of custody. Even if this is your first DUI and first criminal offense, it is advisable to contact an attorney to discuss your case. Having an attorney with you at the arraignment phase will also show the court that you are taking the situation seriously and that you are not a flight risk, as you have already paid to retain counsel.

So what is an arraignment? An arraignment is typically your first appearance before the judge. You will be informed of the charges against you, your rights as a defendant, be advised to get an attorney to represent you, and it allows the judge to impose conditions of release to either ensure you show up to court and/or for the safety of the community. Typically for a DUI, the conditions are to have no further criminal law violations, to not drive without a valid license and insurance, to show up at all court dates and to get an attorney (private or public). The judge may also impose an ignition interlock device (the blow and go on your car if you choose to drive), a SCRAM bracelet (a monitoring device that you wear 24/7 that detects alcohol consumption), or may take you into custody and place a bail amount (the amount typically depends on the facts of the case and the criminal history). The conditions of release are an area that having an attorney there advocating for you is essential because the city of Lynnwood will have a prosecutor there advocating for those conditions. After the arraignment, the court will set a pretrial date for you to return. At that return, the judge will expect you to have an attorney and for the case to be moving forward.

While it is easy to get focused on the criminal charge of DUI, it is not the only area you have to be aware of. If the DUI arrest was for alcohol and you either refused to provide a breath sample or your breath sample was over 0.08 (0.02 if under 21); or for marijuana and the blood test shows more than 5 nanograms of THC (0 if under 21), then you also have a civil case against you from the Department of Licensing (DOL). If the DOL shows that you refused to take the test, had a breath sample over .08 (.02 for a minor), or had more than 5 nanograms of THC (0 if under 21), then they will suspend you license for no less than 90 days (1 year if you refused the test or more if you have had any prior DUI license suspensions). To challenge this suspension, you must request a hearing from the DOL. The Officer should have provided you with the form entitled “Request a DUI Hearing.” If you did not received the form, it can be found on the DOL website: http://www.dol.wa.gov/driverslicense/hearingsrequest.html. If you do not send in the form (and the check) then the DOL will automatically proceed with the suspension of your license. Long story short, the only way to save your license is to send in the form and challenge the suspension. Also, be aware that if you have a public defender for the criminal matter, they will not represent you at this hearing (which is held over the phone). So you will need to be prepared to either hire a private attorney or manage a defense on your own. When hired for a DUI, I typically represent my clients on both matters.

You need to also be aware of any tickets that you received because of this incident (speeding, following too close, headlights out etc.). It is not uncommon for some to focus on the criminal matter and forget that they have a ticket pending. These tickets can suspend you license if not paid. If this happens and you are not aware of it, you could be arrested for Driving on a Suspended License in the second degree which would also violate you conditions of release (no criminal law violation) on the DUI. As you can see, things can quickly snowball out of hand if you do not have a good grasp on the situation from the beginning. This is why I like to group all of these matters together for my clients. I prefer to be retained for the DUI, DOL hearing, and the infraction so that we can work together to get the best resolution and there are no unforeseen complications.

It is also important to understand the system you are no intimately involved with. The Lynnwood Municipal Court serves only the city of Lynnwood. It is located at 19321 44th Ave W., Lynnwood WA. The court is located on the 2nd floor, above the police station. The City of Lynnwood has hired (it is not an elected position) Judge Stephen E Moore as the presiding Judge. The City of Lynnwood also does not have its own prosecutor, rather it contracts that service out to The Law Offices of Zachor & Thomas. Zachor & Thomas hold the contracts to prosecute in multiple cities in and around Snohomish County. It is important to know the Judge and Prosecutor because each courthouse has their own local rules and customs. Knowing these local rules and customs is essential to obtaining the best result for you. I regularly practice in the Lynnwood courts and can tell you that each one is distinctly different.

This is only the beginning of this complex and multifaceted process. There will be a lot of work done by both you and your attorney throughout this process. You will likely have to get a drug and alcohol assessment and comply with the treatment recommendations. This can be tricky since there are a lot of agencies out there and not all have your best interest in mind. For some, the evaluation should be done as soon as possible, for others, later in the process. It all depends on the specifics of you case. That is why it is so important to contact an attorney, like myself, and set up a consultation as soon as possible. I offer free consultations so that you can get the information and make an informed decision as to how to proceed.

So, you were arrested for DUI in Lynnwood, what do you do now:

  • Contact The Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy and set up a free consultation
  • Mark your calendar to be present for you court date
  • Decide whether or not to challenge the DOL
  • Make sure you handle you infractions if you received them
    • Speak to an attorney first as they may be able to handle them along with the DUI
  • Attend you arraignment and plead not guilty (with your attorney)
  • If you have not yet spoken with an attorney, do so.

I offer free consultations and have a flexible schedule to meet your needs. If you have any questions regarding you recent DUI, do not hesitate to call the The Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy at 206-427-4901.

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Should I Really Hire An Attorney To Fight My Traffic Ticket?

It’s inevitable. At one point or another we have all looked in our rear view mirror and seen those ominous red and blue flashing lights. Sometimes they pass us by and other times we’re not so lucky. Now you have a traffic citation and you have to decide what to do with it. Should you just pay the fine, ask to mitigate or should you contest the ticket? And what do each of these options mean? Can a lawyer really help you out, and is it financially worth it?

YOUR OPTIONS are to pay, mitigate or contest. If you pay the fine, you admit the violation and it is reported to the Department of Licensing (DOL). The infraction will likely be on your record for three years and effect your insurance rates for the next three years (if not longer). If you mitigate, you admit the violation but are asking for the judge to reduce the fine because of extenuating circumstances. If your driving record is decent you have a good chance of having the fine reduce, however the violation is still entered as committed, reported to the DOL and effecting your insurance for the next three years. Choosing to contest the ticket is the only option that can keep the ticket off your record and away from you insurance.

CONTESTING your infraction does not mean that you have to stand up and say you were not speeding (or driving in the HOV lane etc.). What it means is that you are not admitting to anything and you are asking for the State or City to prove their case. The State or City then must present enough evidence to prove by a preponderance of the evidence (50.1%) that you indeed violated the traffic code. In reality, this is a very low burden for the State or City to reach. When it boils down to the Officer saying you violated the traffic code and you saying you did not, the Judges typically side with the Officers that they see everyday. This is where having a skilled traffic attorney handle your case can make all the difference.

AN ATTORNEY is trained to first look for procedural errors that may result in keeping evidence out; so it never boils down to your word against the Officer’s. With little or no evidence to present, the City or State’s job is much more difficult. There are many errors that can be found in an Officer’s report that can be used to obtain a beneficial result for you. Some issues may result in a dismissal while other may result in the prosecutor offering to amend you ticket to a non-moving violation (such as inattentive driving). These non-moving violations allow the City or State to still collect revenue, but since they are categorized as non-moving violations, they do not end up effecting your insurance.  The cost of an attorney up front is typically less than the amount you will pay in increased premiums for insurance over the next three years. This is especially important for CDL holders, intermediary license holders, or anyone the drives for work.

Every county, city, Judge, and prosecutor is different. Because of the low burden of proof that is required for the State or City to show a violation, judicial discretion plays a big role. It is not uncommon to have issues result in dismissals in one court, amendments in another, and no consideration in yet another. Having a working knowledge of the courts, prosecutors, and judges is essential to obtaining the very best outcome. I have defended people accused of traffic infraction in King County, Snohomish County, Skagit County and Whatcom county and each court has its own differentiating characteristics. It is the same way with the Cities, from Bothell to Lynnwood to Mill Creek to Mukilteo, all of them have their own distinct set of guidelines and procedures.

Your best chance at having your ticket dismissed is to hire a skilled traffic attorney. If you would like to discuss the specifics of your infraction, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy, LLC at 206-427-4901.