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DUI Lawyer Ridgefield

How To Fight A DUI In Washington

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If you have been arrested for a DUI in Washington, you may be wondering what to do next. This article will explain how to proceed in court and on your case. One thing is for certain – hiring an experienced DUI lawyer can improve your odds of securing a great outcome. At Carley Legal Services, our office specializes in defending against these types of accusations.

After Arrest – Department of Licensing

Many people do not realize that when they have been arrested for a DUI, they often will have two cases: One with the court and the other with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). Either of these entities has the power to suspend your driver’s license no matter what happens on the other side of the case. Thus, it is important to hire an attorney who is keenly aware of how to operate in both arenas – the court and the DOL. You have a right to dispute this DOL suspension, but you must request a hearing within 7 days of your arrest. You can either submit a paper form or submit an online request here. Make sure to fill in your attorney’s contact information on this form so that the DOL can send any materials directly to your attorney.

A hearing with the Department of Licensing is conducted by telephone. During this hearing, the DOL will examine whether the officer had lawful justification to contact you in the first place. An inquiry will be made into the officer’s investigation – whether he improperly collected any evidence, cut any corners in his investigation, or violated any of your rights in arresting you. The DOL also examines the circumstances behind a breath test or a blood test draw. DOL hearings are often ripe with legal issues that a trained DUI defense attorney can spot and understand. Our office has a strong track record in defending against DOL suspensions.

Attend Your Court Dates

DUI Ridgefield

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to attend all of your court dates. Your attorney will stand together with you every time you appear before a judge. During your court dates, any number of things can happen. At your first court date – the “arraignment” – I would advise my clients to enter a “Not Guilty” plea. Doing so will preserve all of your rights, legal defenses, and options available to you. At your subsequent court dates, the judge will be periodically checking in with you and your attorney to see where the case stands. If the case proceeds to trial, your attorney will argue the merits of your case to a jury.

Communicate With Your Attorney

In my experience, there are often two sides to every story. In reading police reports with clients, there are often things in the officer’s report that the client disagrees with or things that happened that the officer left out of his or her report. It is essential that your attorney understand your perspective. The more we know about the case from your point of view, the better we are able to assist you in defending it.

Your attorney can also advise you about the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Your attorney can review the possible strategies to defend the case. A skilled DUI defense attorney can determine when the officer committed mistakes in the investigation. Some common scenarios involve the officer improperly administering field sobriety tests, failing to adhere to Washington’s strict breath testing protocols or even improperly collecting blood evidence.

Ultimately, your attorney provides you with sound legal advice about the best way to proceed. Keep in mind that this case is yours – You decide which direction this case goes, whether that be going to trial or negotiating the case. Your attorney should do well to advise you of all available options, as well as the pros and cons of each option, so that you can make an informed decision about the best way to proceed.

Will My License Be Suspended?

If the Department of Licensing rules against you or if the judge finds you guilty, then you may be able to sidestep the resulting license suspension. You may be able to maintain your ability to drive. While every case is different, there are often three requirements in order to keep driving:

  1. Install an ignition interlock device in any car that you drive
  2. Obtain SR 22 insurance
  3. Apply for an Ignition Interlock License

Once your application is approved, you should be eligible to drive if there are no other holds on your license. Your attorney can assist you in this process. It is very important to not drive unless you have taken the proper steps to do so. If you are not legally OK to drive following a suspension, you could be in violation of the judge’s order that you obey all laws. This is grounds for the judge to take you into custody. You could also potentially face new criminal charges, such as Driving While Suspended and/or Ignition Interlock Violation.

What Could Happen In Court?

It is important for you to meet with your attorney and review all possible options in your case. As the Defendant, you have a number of important rights. First and foremost, you have the right to go to trial. At a trial, you and your attorney will have the opportunity to challenge the prosecution’s evidence, cross-examine their witnesses, and argue your side of the case to a jury. Trials involve a large amount of strategizing and legal maneuvering, so it is always best to work closely with your attorney in preparing for trial.

You also have the right to have your attorney negotiate your case. Depending on the particular facts and circumstances of your case, you may be able to negotiate your DUI down to a reduced charge such as Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving. These charges do not carry the same penalties that a DUI carries. If the case is not able to be negotiated to a reduced charge, your attorney should fight to secure the minimum DUI penalty, which can be anywhere from 24-48 hours of custody or in the judge’s discretion 15-30 days of electronic home confinement.

In some situations, it may be wise to explore a program called Deferred Prosecution. Deferred Prosecution is a way to get your case fully dismissed. It is a 5-year program, and during these 5 years, the court requires you to be 100% sober, as well as no new law violations. During the first two years of the program, the court would expect you to engage in counseling and treatment. Deferred prosecution can be a fantastic way to get your life back on track and avoid a criminal conviction. Talk with your attorney if this is something that you might be interested in. You can learn more about Deferred Prosecution here.


A DUI arrest can impact several areas of your life – your driver’s license, your employment, and even your family. It is important to have an experienced defense lawyer in your corner. DUI defense attorney Tom Carley knows how to scrutinize a police officer report to uncover potential errors in the police officer’s investigation. We understand the interplay of the Department of Licensing and the court. Our criminal defense attorney appears at every court date with you so that you are not left standing alone before a judge. We provide each client with a hand-tailored approach to defending the case and provide honest and transparent advice to our clients. While there are never guarantees with the court, one thing is for certain – hiring a knowledgeable DUI defense attorney is one of the smartest decisions you can make.

Call our law firm today for a free consultation.

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  • Felony Charges
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Posted on by Thomas Carley
How To Fight A DUI In Washington

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