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The DUI Process in Washington

Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

I have represented folks charged with Driving Under the Influence from all walks of life, and I understand being arrested and cuffed can be a very frightening experience.So, what should you do if you have been accused of Driving Under the Influence?

The Initial DUI Investigation

Many times a DUI arrest begins with a routine traffic stop. Reasons for stops include speeding, weaving, improper turns, not using a signal and any other violation of the traffic code. Occasionally, an officer will contact a driver who has already pulled over to the side of the road or has been in an accident.

After you have been stopped, the officer can extend the stop into a DUI investigation if they develop a reasonable suspicion of driving impaired. Signs or “clues” include slurred speech, odor of alcohol, bloodshot eyes, or coordination issues with handling your license and insurance.

Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests are physical, roadside tests that you will be asked to perform so that the officer can evaluate your coordination, reaction time, and balance. The three primary “standardized” tests are:

Walk and Turn;One-leg stand; andHorizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN)

If you agree to perform any of these tests, the results will likely be used against you, even if you think you did well. For example, you might be unknowingly displaying a “clue” because you are not familiar with the test.

Once you complete the field sobriety tests, the officer normally requests you provide a sample into the Portable Breath Test (PBT), which is a small handheld breath testing device. However, the results of these devices are not admissible at trial and are prone to error and inaccurate result.

If you are placed under arrest, you will be asked to consent to testing of your blood alcohol concentration with a breath testing machine. Washington now uses the AlcoTest 9510 Breath Test Machine, which replaced the DataMaster. If you refuse to provide a breath sample, you could face a year-long license revocation for refusing and the officer can always obtain a warrant to obtain a sample of your blood for testing.

The Summons to Appear

At some point, depending on the allegations you will receive a summons to appear in court for your Arraignment Hearing, and is the first time you need to appear in court for your DUI charge. The next hearing following the Arraignment Hearing is the Pre-Trial Hearing. Many cases can be resolved at this hearing depending on the evidence and any prior history.

If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s important to contact an attorney immediately to begin some steps on your case that could help with a positive resolution. Call me directly at 206-729-3477 and let’s discuss your case.

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