What to do if stopped and arrested

South King County Criminal Lawyer

What to do if you are arrested for a South King County DUI

An arrest for a South King County DUI must be taken seriously. Over the past several decades, anti-drunk driving groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving have impressed law makers, law enforcement, and judges with the dangers of drunk driving. The result has been ever stiffer penalties for Washington DUI offenses.

But a DUI can be resolved successfully with the help of the right South King County criminal lawyer.

What law enforcement officers look for

Law enforcement officers are always on the look-out for drunk drivers, but they are especially vigilant between 11 pm and 3 am. Officers will often park near or patrol areas where bars and restaurants are located.

Officers look for reasons to pull drivers over such as traffic violations (running a light, rolling through a stop sign), or erratic driving (driving too fast or too slow, weaving). They also look for vehicle and equipment violations such as expired tabs and broken headlights or taillights. These infractions give the officer “probable cause” to stop and cite you.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Michael D’onofrio.

What happens if you are stopped

Once the officer has stopped you, the officer will look for signs of alcohol impairment such as the odor of alcohol, bloodshot or watery eyes, slurred speech, trouble following directions, and lack of coordination. On observing any of these signs, the officer may detain you for investigation of a DUI.

If you are stopped on suspicion of DUI, the best policy is to be polite and cooperative with the officer. Rudeness or combativeness will only aggravate your situation. Provide the officer with your driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration. Although you should be polite, do not make any statements to the officer, regardless of how much the officer urges you to answer questions. Simply tell the officer you are invoking your right to remain silent.

The officer may ask you to submit to field sobriety tests. The purpose of these tests is to provide the officer with “probable cause” to arrest you for DUI. Although the officer may give you the impression that you must take the tests, they are completely voluntary. You are not required to take them and there is no penalty for refusing, although the officer may still decide to arrest you.

What happens if you are arrested

If the officer arrests you, the officer will take you to the nearest precinct with a breathalyzer machine. Unlike the field sobriety tests, the breath test is not voluntary. If you refuse to take the breath test, you face a license suspension of a year or more. Blowing into the machine is always the best action; you can fight the result later in court.

If the officer decides to cite you for DUI based on your driving and breath test results, the officer will give you a citation, a copy of the breath test ticket, and a Department of Licensing hearing request form. In some instances you will be given a summons to appear in court. Or it may be sent to you in the mail.

What happens to your driver’s license

When you are arrested for a DUI you face two separate actions: the case against you in criminal court, and administrative sanctions by the Washington Department of Licensing. The DOL will suspend your license if you fail or refuse a breath test. However, before the suspension takes effect, you are entitled to a hearing. You must submit your DOL hearing request form within 20 days of your DUI stop or arrest. If the officer did not give you the hearing request form, or if you have lost it, go to the DOL website : www.dol.wa.gov and print the hearing request form.

Finding the right South King County criminal lawyer

The day following your arrest, you should begin looking for a South King County criminal lawyer to represent you. Look for a lawyer who:

  • Will fight earnestly in your defense.
  • Is not afraid of the courtroom.
  • Is easy to talk to; discussing every aspect of your case is crucial to obtaining a good result.
  • Treats your case as the most important one.
  • Will keep you apprised of the progress in your case every step of the way.

If you would like to consult our attorney about a South King County DUI, she will be happy to provide you with a free consultation. Please complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page, and our South King County criminal lawyer will respond promptly. Or call her toll-free number provided above.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer John Dadow.