Q. I didn’t receive a ticket or notice to appear in court, what does this mean?

A. After your release from jail, some police agencies can give you a ticket to appear in court. This court date can sometimes be within a day or two of your arrest, so if you received a ticket look at the appearance date and time very carefully. Be sure to go to the scheduled court date.

Most police agencies do not issue you a citation to appear. They will give you a copy of your breath test results and a hearing request form and tell you that something will come in the mail from the courts. If the police have followed this procedure, they officers report will be sent to the prosecutor’s office for review. The prosecutors will then review it and in most instances file charges.

Q. Why is there a hole in my license?

A. The officer punches a hole in your license to make it into a temporary license which is good for 60 days from the date of your arrest. You will automatically be suspended after 60 days unless you send in a hearing request form. If you do not send in the hearing request form within 30 days (from the time of your arrest) with the $100.00 fee, you will be suspended.

Q. What is an SR 22 insurance certificate?

A. If your license gets suspended by the Department of Licensing or the courts, you will be required to get an SR 22 certificate. An SR 22 certificate is proof that you have liability coverage on your automobile. The Department of Licensing will require an SR 22 certificate before they issue you an occupational license or a new license following a period of suspension.

Q. What is an ignition interlock?

A. An Ignition Interlock Device is a breath testing device that is installed in your car. You are required to blow into the device before the car will start and periodically while you are driving. If there is alcohol in your system your car will not start.

The courts can order installation of the device as a condition of pretrial release (at arraignment), as a condition of sentence if you are convicted or in deferred prosecutions.

Q. What is a deferred prosecution?

A. A deferred prosecution is a way to resolve your DUI and avoid many of the mandatory minimum penalties in your case. In exchange for reducing some of the penalties (no jail, lower fine, no license suspension) you are expected to enter and complete an intensive two year outpatient treatment program. In some cases, this is a good option. In many cases it is not.

Whether or not a deferred prosecution is a good option in your case will depend on a number of factors. It is critical that you consult with an experienced DUI attorney before making this important decision.

Q. What if I didn’t take the breath test at the station?

A. In Washington, you do have the right to refuse the breath test at the station. However, the consequences of refusing are very harsh and you will still be charged and prosecuted for DUI. If you refuse the breath test at the station, your length of suspension is at least one year, more if you have prior DUI’s. The prosecutor will be able to use the fact that you refused against you in court. The refusal will increase the mandatory minimum penalty that the judge will be required to impose.

Q. What is the first thing that I should do?

A. The first thing you need to do is take a deep breath and try to relax and think clearly. You can’t change what happened but you can start making good decisions about how you are going to handle your case. The first important decision is finding someone to help you get through both the department of licensing process and the court system.

You need to call an experienced attorney who handles these types of cases. It is important to realize that not all attorneys, not even all criminal attorneys, have the experience or expertise to give you the best advice and defense possible. Consult with an experienced and qualified DUI attorney to discuss the particular facts and circumstances of your case.

Q. What should I expect at my initial meeting with an attorney?

A. The initial consultation or meeting with your attorney is an opportunity for you to discuss your case in the privacy of an office and determine whether the attorney has the experience and qualifications necessary to best represent you.

It is important that you bring any and all paperwork that you received from the officer, the court or the Department of Licensing. You should expect that an attorney will review all of the paperwork that you have brought, thoroughly discuss the incident and any concerns that could affect the case.

More importantly, you need to know how your DUI will be handled and that the lawyer has extensive experience litigating DUI cases. Many attorneys that handle criminal matters do not have the necessary background or experience defending DUI cases. Often times we hear from these clients after they have plead guilty that their lawyer read the reports told them it was a tough case and that they needed to plead guilty. That is not the kind of attorney you need. Rene Cespedes will provide an initial one hour consultation at no cost.