Understanding Your Spokane DUI Case
5 Major Blocks of Information That Will Help You Understand Your Spokane DUI and Hire a Spokane DUI Lawyer
"You've Probably Never Been Arrested Before. You've Never Worked With a Spokane DUI Attorney. Your Not Really Sure What to Do Next. This information is a great place to start. We've helped 100s of good people with Spokane DUI cases. We know what most of your questions are and we've tried to answer them here."
How Much Trouble Am I Really In?
Technical DUI Stuff
Driving Under the Influence is a Gross Misdemeanor in Washington State. What's a gross misdemeanor? Basically, it's a certain level of criminal charge, which means that you could face up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. Don't panic yet! If this is your first offense, it's unlikely that you will be actually facing the full penalties. * Quick Note - some lawyers will try to scare you by making you think you are actually facing a lot of jail time. It is theoretically possible, but it would be very rare to face that harsh of a penalty for a first offense. I can tell you that I've handled 100's of Spokane DUI Cases, and I've never had a first time DUI offender come close to that. Just Be Aware!
Expected Spokane DUI Consequences
Okay, I'm probably not facing the full penalties, then what are the likely consequences? Well it does depend on your facts and how high high your breath test was (or if you refused). Nonetheless, you're probably looking at one to two days of jail. Maybe none at all.
What Category is Your DUI?
Washington DUI Law has mandatory minimums as far as jail and fines. It's broken down by your BAC level (or if you refused) and your past DUI history. Assuming that you've had no prior DUIs in that previous seven years you will be in category 1. If your BAC level was under 0.15, then you will be a 1(a) DUI, and that has a mandatory minimum of 24 hours in jail and a minimum fine of $941.50. If your BAC was equal to or higher than a 0.15, you will be considered a 1(b) DUI. The consequences for a 1(b) DUI are 2 days of jail and a minimum fine of $1,195.50. * Note: If you refused to take the BAC Test, you are considered a refusal case, and will automatically be categorized as a 1(b). Refusals have other consequences as well.
Let's Talk About Jail Time
The good news is that if you have a good Spokane DUI Lawyer, that your jail time is generally controllable. There are ways to avoid it completely. However, sometimes due to facts or grumpy prosecutors they want you to serve a bit of jail. This is less likely if you have pretty basic and common facts in your DUI Police Report.
Even if it looks like you're going to get stuck with some jail time, you can usually convert it to electronic home monitoring (a.k.a. EHM). As of today's date (June 2016), each jail day can be converted into 15 days of EHM. So a 1(a) would be 15 days of EHM, and a 1(b) would be 30 days of EHM. Of course that is if you receive the only the mandatory minimums. More good news! If your BAC is on the lower end, or not extremely high, your Spokane DUI Lawyers may be able to get your DUI charges reduced to a different charge. The two most common reductions in Spokane are reducing a DUI to a Reckless Driving or a Negligent 1st Degree Driving. Neither of these charges have a mandatory minimum for jail or fines.
* Note: if your DUI charges are reduced to a lesser charge, it will likely still count against you as a DUI. That means if you ever got another DUI within 7 years of this DUI, than it would be counted as a second DUI.
Other DUI Consequences and Penalties for a Spokane DUI
A judge can order you to serve up to 5 years of probation, if you are convicted of a DUI. It depends on what jurisdiction you are in. However, for your Spokane DUI the local judges usually ask for 24 months of probation. It may be less, if your charges are reduced.
Bad News! Probation has a monthly fee associated with it. Right now in Spokane, that monthly probation fee is approximately $40 per month. So, if you get 24 months of probation, you'll have to pay a total of $960 just for probation. Obviously, this amount could be a lot higher so keep that in mind if your prosecutors are asking for more than the norm.
How Does Probation Work?
You generally will not have to deal with the Probation Department, until you case is fully resolved. In Spokane, you will typically go straight over to probation after you enter you plea (official resolution with the court). They will do an intake on you and get all of your case information, what the court ordered you to do, and your contact information. They will also explain how probation works. * Note: our Spokane DUI Lawyer will usually walk over to the probation department with you and get you set up. We know it's kind of scary and foreign.
However, the typical probation for a person with a first time Spokane DUI Offense, is going to be "monitored probation", which essentially means they are watching your record for new charges and making sure that you complete all court ordered requirements in the time given. Under monitored probation, they will essentially leave you alone unless you do not complete your requirements or send in the required paperwork (common issue). However, if you get a new charge, they will order you back to court by issuing a "show cause", which requires a court appearance for you to explain yourself.
The other level of probation is known as "supervised probation". Here the probation department is going to be more involved in your life. This is usually for folks that have some prior criminal history or some more serious behavioral or substance abuse issues.
Assessments & Required Classes
If you plead guilty to a DUI charge, or even if you have a reduced charge, the court will most likely order you to complete an alcohol/drug assessment. The court wants to make sure that you do not have an lingering substance abuse or addiction issues that will likely land you back in court. These assessments typically cost between $75 - $150 in Spokane. * Note: ask your Spokane DUI Lawyer about what treatment agencies they would recommend. Some tend to be a bit biased in our opinion. After all, they make money by providing treatment. There are also great differences in customer service.
In order to complete this assessment, you or your DUI attorney will need to supply the agency with a copy of your driving abstract, your criminal history report (a.k.a. DCH), and a copy of your police report. You will also most likely be required to take a urinalysis test for alcohol and possible narcotics. Apparently, this test can detect alcohol from as far back as 5-7 days. So avoid drinking or using drugs before this test.
Results: your test can come back showing "no significant problem" ("NSP" in lawyer speak), or it may indicate a level of treatment. Typically, treatments are in blocks of 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year. Most first time offenders receive an NSP finding. In that case, you will be required to go to a class known as alcohol drug information school (ADIS). This class, of course, costs between $75 - $150. It will have to be completed in a timely manner or probation will haul you back into court.
You'll need to make sure that the probation department receives proof that you have completed this assessment, and that you have completed the ADIS or entered treatment. They will also want a copy of your diagnosis/assessment.
Required Victim Impact Panel
Once your case is settled, or if it is, the court will require that you attend a Victim Impact Panel. This panel will expose you to different sides and stories about how DUI has effected peoples lives. It costs approximately $40. If you fail to do this in a timely manner, probation will likely issue a show cause.
You actually have to pay the police department back for the time it took to arrest and process you. This can run any where from $80 to $150 or more. * Note: If you DUI cost recovery amount is more than $100 look at it very closely. Sometimes law enforcement gets a bit heavy handed, but the judge may reduce the amount if it seems excessive and unjustified.
What About My Driver's License?
First, the good news. If this is a first-time Spokane DUI offense, you can usually get an ignition interlock device and license to keep driving (there are some exceptions).
If you are convicted of a 1(a) DUI, your license will be suspended for 90 days, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock system in your vehicle for 1 year (if you wish to drive).
If you are convicted of a 1(b) DUI, your license will be revoked for 1 year, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device for 1 year. REFUSAL - if you refused to take the BAC Test the license consequences are much harsher. With a refusal your license will be revoked for 2 years, and you will an ignition interlock for 2 years.
* Every time you request a different license or apply to reinstate your original license, there will be a fee. For the ignition interlock license there is a non-refundable $100 application fee. To reinstate your license, you will need proof of SR-22 Insurance and you'll have to pay a fee (approx. $150). Yeah, the state gets you coming and going with a DUI.
What is an Ignition Interlock Device?
A device that is installed in your vehicle that requires you to provide a breath sample to start the vehicle and also at certain intervals. If the device detects a certain level of alcohol, it will not allow the vehicle to start (or perhaps stay running). These devices cost around $75 - $150 to install, and have monthly rental fees of approximately $100. The device must be calibrated every month or as directed. A positive test on the device may get you hauled back into court. * Tip: there are devices that help hide the portion that you breath into to help avoid any embarrassment (ex. disguised as a coffee travel mug).
* Important Note: if you have an out-of-state (non-Washington) driver's license, you may not be eligible to get an ignition interlock license that allows you to legally drive in Washington. This mostly effects students, military personnel, and those folks that live just over the state line. There may be some other ways to deal with this issue.
SR-22 Insurance - A.K.A "High Risk Insurance"
If you are convicted of a DUI (or a Reckless Driving), you will be required to have SR-22 insurance for 3 years. Sometimes this is an actual policy or a merely a supplement to your existing car insurance policy. Rates vary. It might be worth shopping around.
You've Actually Got Two Cases Pending Against You.
Your Spokane DUI Arrest Automatically Triggered a Separate Washington Department of Licensing Case Against You
You should have received some DOL paperwork from the arresting officer. This typically is a DOL DUI Hearing Request Form, and an Indigent Fee Waiver for the DOL Hearing. The important issue here is that if you do not request a hearing, the DOL will automatically suspend your driving privileges in Washington.
You are not required to fight the suspension from DOL, but you may want to. This is really an issue that you should discuss with you Spokane DUI Lawyer. If you do want to fight the DOL, then you will have to submit $375 (or whatever the hearing fee is at the time). If you are not financially well off, you may qualify for the Indigent Fee Waiver.
*Note: the indigent fee waiver can be tricky to fill out. You must fill it out completely and make sure that you follow the instructions and send the forms to the correct addresses that are indicated.
You must request this hearing within 20 days of the date of your Spokane DUI arrest.
The hearing request must be postmarked or requested online. If you don’t have a Washington driver’s license, then you may not be able to make the request online. If your late by even one day, the DOL will deny your request. They will not make exceptions. *Note: before you send in your DOL hearing request form, it is a good idea to speak to a DUI attorney. I can only speak for my DUI firm, but we have certain ways we like to handle these requests. We do not suggest that you even attempt to try to handle your DOL Hearing yourself.
What Are the Chances of Winning a DOL DUI Hearing?
This really depends on your case facts. Overall the statistics are not great. The DOL wins more than its challengers, but it still can be worth it. In some circumstances, you may avoid a license suspension in both your criminal case and your DOL case. Regardless of whether you request the hearing or not, the DOL is going to send you a form letter stating that your license will be suspended at some future time. If you requested your hearing in a timely fashion, you can probably ignore this letter.
What happens at the hearing?
During your hearing, the hearings officer will only consider certain issues. They DO NOT take into account someone’s lack of criminal history, what a good person someone is, or their job. The do not care if you were only a 0.09 or if you were a 0.23 for your administrative hearing. The issues they do consider are the following and only the following:
- Whether you were under lawful arrest.
- Whether an officer had reasonable grounds to believe you had been driving or were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in this state while:
- Under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug.
- Having alcohol in your system of 0.02 or more and were under the age of 21.
- Whether you were advised of your rights and warnings as required by RCW 46.20.308(2).
- Whether you refused to submit to the test. or If the test was administered, whether the test indicated an alcohol concentration of:
- 0.08 or more if you were age 21 or over.
- 0.02 or more if you were under 21.
Where will the hearing take place?
The administrative hearing is done by telephone. You may have a hearings officer who is located in Olympia or another city like Spokane. You do not have to go anywhere for the hearing. If you have hired a Spokane DUI Lawyer, you may not have to appear for the hearing. However, you do have a right to be at the hearing if you choose.
When do I get the results of the administrative hearing?
A ruling rarely occurs at the time of your administrative hearing. It is most common that a hearings officer will take up to thirty (30) days to issue a written ruling which will be mailed to your address they have on file with you. You may update your mailing address by going to the Washington DOL's website.
If I lose the administrative hearing and the suspension is upheld, how long will the administrative suspension be for?
If you have no prior suspensions of your privilege to drive, and you took the breath test which came back at 0.08 or greater, the suspension would be for ninety (90) days. If you have no prior suspensions of your privilege to drive, and you refused the breath test, you would be looking at a year (1 year) suspension.
If I lose the hearing, when will that suspension take effect?
It will vary, but again, the decision will be mailed and in it, there will be a clear start date. Make sure you check your mail every day. Sometimes hearings officers will begin the suspension within a week or two of you receiving the decision.
Can I drive during the period of suspension?
Yes, if you qualify. You have to take a few steps, but generally if you have a valid, unexpired Washington driver’s license or valid out of state license and have a Washington residence you generally can. The steps include having the interlock device installed in any vehicle you choose to drive, obtaining proof of SR22 insurance or financial responsibility, and applying for the actual license.
Do I have to get an interlock device, insurance, the interlock license and do I have to pay a reinstatement fee?
No. A person can choose to wait out an administrative suspension if they will not be driving. You do not have to have an interlock device based on an administrative suspension (you may for a criminal conviction). Yes. You would need to carry SR 22 insurance or proof of financial responsibility any time your license is suspended. You generally will need this for three (3) years. No. If you do not plan on driving, you do not need to apply for an ignition interlock license. Yes. You will have to pay a reinstatement fee at the end of your suspension before your license will be “clear” allowing you to drive. *Caution* These Rules Do Change So Double Check Them with Your Attorney.
What happens if my license is suspended as a result of a conviction in court AND by the Department of Licensing?
There is a rule requiring that you be given credit for any additional suspension. For example, if you have a 30-day license suspension because you were convicted of Reckless Driving, and you received a 90-day administrative license suspension, you would not have a total suspension time of 120 days, you would only have a total of 90 days. You would get credit for what suspension you have already served.
If my DUI is reduced or dismissed in court, why would I still have a license suspension?
The criminal action and the administrative action are completely separate. One has no bearing on the other. Your DUI case could be completely dismissed and you could still have an administrative suspension because it is triggered by the arrest for DUI.
After my administrative license suspension is over, am I good to drive?
No. You will need to pay a reinstatement fee before you will be valid with the Department of Licensing.
Next, Useful Tools to Compare Spokane DUI Lawyers
I've Never Hired a Spokane DUI Lawyer
Most People Do Not Know What to Ask or What to Look For When Hiring a Spokane DUI Lawyer. So it's Hard to Know How to Compare Lawyers. But, This Should Help.
What is it that a Spokane DUI Lawyer is actually going to do for you?
First off let's have a reality check. The vast majority of Spokane DUI cases are settled by negotiations. Very few go to trial, because it is expensive, and frankly, many DUI cases are just not good trial material. The odds are pretty stacked against DUI Defendant these days. However, some DUI cases do have facts that are worthy of a trial. I should note also that you have a Constitutional Right to go to trial as well, if you so desire. So, if we assume that you are in the average majority, your case will likely get settled by negotiation as well. So let's look at the real skill sets that you need:
- Experience = 200+ DUI cases. You want a Spokane DUI Lawyer that is experienced. Now, experience alone doesn't me anything. I'm not attempting to pick on newer lawyers. Believe me, there are many gray-haired lawyers that do substandard work. What you really want to find is a DUI attorney that has handled at least a few hundred Spokane DUI cases. In my opinion, its best if most of that experience comes from acting as private counsel versus time as a public defender. Why does it matter how many cases? Over the amount of time it takes to handle that many cases, the attorney should have a good feel for what good and bad resolutions look like. Also what red flags exist in your case and how certain judges and prosecutors will likely react to various issues. Of course, over that period of time they're skill set should also be better. For example, our firm has probably observed several thousand cases over the last 12 years. We have a pretty good idea about how the chips might fall, which helps us develop strategies and advise clients early on. By the time we hear your story and ask a few questions, we can pretty accurately predict your possible outcomes.
- Strong Negotiation Skills: if the vast majority of Spokane DUI case are settled by negotiations, don't you think it would be wised to hire a skilled negotiator? How can you tell if someone is a good negotiator? Look at their client reviews. Do you see lots of happy clients. Of course, you will have to wade through some reviews that have a questionable authenticity, but you can usually spot the really heart felt ones. Make sure the reviews are current and relevant. Having a host of happy family law clients may not help you much if you have a DUI case. So to this point your looking for an attorney that has handled 200+ DUI cases in Spokane, and that has a good amount of relevant, current, raving reviews about their DUI work.
- Personality: handling criminal law cases requires an ability to manage the many personalities around the lawyer. They have to be able to keep some cool in adverse situations. They can't lose it every time a prosecutor doesn't give them what they want. If they treat prosecutors and judges poorly, it will be reflected in their results, which are really your results. *Note: if the lawyer is an ass to the person that they are wanting to pay them, just imagine what they're like to the other key players that will impact you.
- Training: does the attorney have any other training than law school and continuing education? Don't assume that law school totally prepares a lawyer to competently handle clients or do trial work. It doesn't. If they do not have additional training, then most of their training is "on-the-job", which isn't always a bad thing. However, the lawyers that are intentionally building and investing in their skills are an obvious choice, because they care about their craft. *Note: see how we are kind of "backwards engineering" a profile here.
- Resources: this is such an overlooked issue that it sickens me. Lawyers work with information. Much of our information comes from case law, statutes, codes, rules, and policy. Most people think that we all have the same access to good information. We don't. Busy lawyers do not have time to spend in law libraries. Most of us have some kind of access to electronic information sources. But not all, because it costs money. Some are too poor, and other are too cheap. It's the cheap ones that make me mad. They tend to be lazy and wait to hear of something new in the courthouse, or if they see another lawyer doing it. That may come too late to help you. We invest in systems (not just one), that is keep up to date with the newest information available. It lets us know, when something new and important comes into being. We spend thousands every month to make sure that our clients receive the best representation that is using the best information. So, ask your potential Spokane DUI Lawyers what kind of systems they use for legal research in their office. If they are not investing in information, why should you invest in them? (Sorry, off the soapbox now).
- Reviews & Ratings: you want to find an attorney that is well reviewed and rated. I wouldn't be concerned if they have a few poor rating, but I would be if they had several. Overall, you want a more highly rated DUI Lawyer. You should see recent reviews (at least a few in the current year) that are good and that speak to your issue. It does little good for you, if your lawyer has great reviews for other areas of law, but none for DUIs. *Note: this is very biased, but be suspicious of lawyers with tons of reviews. Its best, in my very biased opinion, to find lawyers that have between 12-30, or whatever, but when you see one lawyer on the page with a much great amount than the others around him, who are rated just as well, try to think about the reasons that may be. Maybe they are earned them, but maybe not. So, examine carefully - its your butt at stake.
Bottom Line: Your looking for a Spokane DUI Lawyer that has:
- handled 200+ Spokane DUI cases
- has negotiation skills - that you can see in their reviews/results
- has good balanced personality - (*Note - fist-pounders are all show)
- has invested in training beyond law school and yearly required education
- has invested in good information/legal research resources
Comparing Spokane DUI Lawyers' Fees - What Are You Buying?
Well we addressed some of that above, but there are a few other considerations as well.
What Determines the Hourly Legal Fee or Legal Costs?
- Experience & Expertise
- Complexity of Your DUI Case
- Time to Finalize or Resolve Your Case
Frankly, some lawyers just mood price. They can be all over the place, which is stupid, because it makes clients mad.
The Best Way to Compare Fees is To Covert Them Into Hourly Units
It's more and more common for Spokane DUI Lawyers to quote a case price. Now some will quote a base price, and then have certain hourly limits and so on.... So find that out right away. It sucks to pay your lawyer when the court is running slow, and that happens a lot.
Example: let's suppose you got a quote for your Spokane DUI that was $5,000. Do you know how many hours the lawyer will put into your case? Probably not, and they may squirm and waffle, when you ask them. However, make it easier by saying something like, "with all of your DUI experience and expertise, how many hours on average would a case like mine take?" If they say 10 hours, then you are paying $500 an hour, if you have an average type case.
My point is not to tell you what prices should be, but rather to have you asking questions, get you comparing, and making sure the prices match are supported by real value and skills.
The best way to go about this is to get at least a few quotes. Find out how many hours they think the case will take. Then you can weed out the unsupported extremes, and find the services that make sense for your needs. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Just be honest and tell the DUI lawyers that you are interviewing a few lawyers and will pick the best fit. If they get uppity, no worries there are tons of lawyers to pick from.
*Note: the uppity lawyers are the ones who usually cannot justify their prices, or at the very least lack the emotional IQ to understand where you're coming from. It's your skin on the line. If you have a doubt in your gut, move on.
*Note #2: our opinion, just to help you out, is that the average or typical first time offender DUI in Spokane takes anywhere from 10-15 hours. Obviously, this is just a guideline, and complications will make it take longer. BUT, this is why we have a Guaranteed Fixed Flat Fee Rate Quote. If we quoted it wrong, and it takes longer it's not your problem, and we do not ask for more money.
Our Offer to You
- Guaranteed Fixed Flat Fee Rates - One Price
- Payment Plans if Needed
- Dedicated "Superb" "10 out of 10" Spokane DUI Lawyers
- We Only Take 10 Clients Each Month - Low Volume - More Attention on Your DUI Case
- Flexible Appointment Times (After Hours or Weekends)
- No High Pressure Tactics - Free Spokane DUI Consultations
- Free Valet Parking