Court Procedures in DUI Cases

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Dalton Law Office, PLLC
Vancouver, WA DUI Defense

Overview of Court Procedures in DUI & Related Cases

What Kinds of Proceedings Can I expect if I’m Arrested for DUI?


In Washington, two separate proceedings typically begin if you are arrested or charged with a driving offense and blow a BAC or provide a blood test over the legal limit or refuse to provide a breath sample.  First, you will likely be cited into court to answer to your charge.  


Department of Licensing Administrative Hearing


In addition to the criminal charge in court, the Department of Licensing (DOL) will likely begin an administrative process to suspend or revoke your right to drive for a defined period of time.  You have a right to have a DOL hearing and will need to pay careful attention to the time limits for requesting that hearing.  If you don’t request the hearing in time, you can lose your right to fight the suspension or revocation.  In most cases, our flat fee includes representation in both the criminal case and the civil, administrative DOL hearing.


First Court Appearance and Arraignment


Typically in Southwest Washington Court, bail and release conditions are determined by the judge at the first appearance and additional appearances are scheduled.  At the first appearance, the judge makes a determination about whether to set bail or other conditions of release and additional court appearances will likely be scheduled.  It is often important to have an attorney at this first appearance as courts are getting heavier handed with pre-trial release conditions.  Recent statute changes require strict monitoring and release conditions in some cases, particularly where there are prior alcohol-related, driving offenses.  Having an attorney present at the first appearance can make a substantial difference in trying to avoid more stringent release conditions.


In a misdemeanor case, at the first appearance, we will typically enter a plea of not guilty to preserve all the client’s rights.  This is standard procedure.  In felony cases, however, another hearing (called arraignment) typically follows within a short time period.  At arraignment, the state will present the formal charging instrument and the person being accused will be asked to enter a plea.  In either case, getting an attorney involved before entering a plea or speaking with the judge can help you protect your rights, help you to avoid giving the prosecutor statements that can be used against you, and preserve all of your options.   


Pre-Trial Court Hearings and Procedures


During the time after first appearances and before trial or pre-trial hearing dates, your attorney will gather information from the state, including the police reports and any other evidence the state may use in its case.  Some kind of pre-trial hearing is usually scheduled.  In regular DUI and misdemeanor cases, this gives the parties a chance to see if they can resolve the case before trial and to handle or schedule for pre-trial matters, like motions to suppress evidence.  


Aggressive attorneys typically conduct an independent investigation during the pre-trial stage and will interview state’s witnesses.  If legal issues helpful to the defense can be raised, the attorney will often file motions.  Sometimes pre-trial motions are used as bargaining chips.  Your aggressive DUI lawyer will use available angles obtain the best available offer for pre-trial settlement, if you are at all interested in settling the case.  If you are focused on fighting the charge, your aggressive DUI attorney digs in, fights important pre-trial battles and prepares to attack the government’s case during trial.  Ms. Dalton is an aggressive DUI lawyer, skilled and experienced in trial and motions.


Making all of your court appearances is extremely important.  Prosecutors often file additional charges of bail jumping when defendants miss court and this can seriously complicate trying to resolve a case.


Trial, Pleas and Alternative Resolutions


Depending on the circumstances, some cases may be resolved without entering a guilty plea to a charge or by entering into treatment programs that can drastically reduce the amount of jail time that might otherwise be imposed. The options vary, depending on the seriousness and the type of charge, and can include deferred prosecutions, and drug or mental health and treatment alternatives.  Your attorney can advise you as to whether any of these options might be available to you.

Aggressive criminal defense services available in Southwest Washington areas including Clark County, Vancouver, Camas, Washougal, Battleground, Ridgefield, Cowlitz County, Skamania County, and other areas.

Please see disclaimer.

Ms. Dalton is a skilled and experienced fighter who takes the time to find out what clients want and need and fights for the best result possible.


Get help now by calling 360-213-0013 for your free initial consultation.   



The Law Office of Nicole T. Dalton, PLLC - HOME PAGE

2904 Main Street, Suite 100, Vancouver, WA   98663

Phone 360-213-0013 - FAX 360-213-0714


Whether you choose to fight your case or you are looking for damage control ... having an experienced, skilled, and aggressive DUI attorney will provide you with the ability to make an informed decision and choose your best available option with confidence.  


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