Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the topic that best suits your question.

  1. I have been charged with a DUI what should I do?
  2. What happens in court after I get charged?
  3. What is the driver license hearing ?
  4. How do you defend a DUI case?
  5. What is the ignition interlock?
  6. Will I go to jail?
  7. Can I still drive?
  8. What is involved with the alcohol evaluation?
  9. What is a deferred prosecution?


I have been charged with a DUI what should I do?

Don’t panic and don’t  be too hard on yourself.  A DUI should never be taken lightly.  On the other hand most people who get DUIs are responsible hard working individuals who often just made a mistake.  Washington has among the toughest DUI laws in the country.  But with the help of an experienced knowledgeable DUI attorney you can maximize the possibility of a favorable outcome that will have the least impact on you and your future

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What happens in court after I get charged?

The first court appearance is generally the arraignment. This is the appearance where you go on record and enter a formal plea of not guilty.   The judge also orders you to follow  a number of critical release conditions.  One of the main conditions  is whether you have to post bail or whether you can stay out of jail without having to post bail by being granted personal recognizance.    This will depend on a number of factors including prior history if any, the BAC level , your ties to the community and the general allegations against you.  Other conditions that can be decided include ignition interlock or ankle bracelet requirements, attendance at AA meetings and various other conditions intended to protect public safety.  It is vital to have an experienced attorney representing you at arraignment to present favorable points about you and to argue for the least burdensome release conditions.

The next stage is the pretrial hearing.  There are three basic things that can happen at the pretrial 1) case resolves 2) case is set for trial 3) case is continued.  As an experienced DUI attorney I have developed the judgment to determine how best to proceed at the pretrial.

If a case cannot be resolved at the pretrial stage it will be set for a motion hearing and then a trial.   At the motion hearing the prosecutor will put the arresting officer on the stand to testify.  The defense attorney cross examines the officer to point out inconsistencies or other issues that can the defense. The defense also presents argument to dismiss the case or to suppress evidence. The motion hearing is a critical stage and every defendant should have a skilled defense attorney on their side.

Next comes the trial itself.  This is where the decision is reached about whether you get convicted or not .   You have a right to a trial by a jury of your peers.   In most cases this is the option you want, although in rare cases,a decision is made to waive jury and have a judge trial.

The trial includes jury selection,  opening arguments, witness testimony , closing arguments,  jury deliberations and then the  verdict.  As your defense attorney I fight at every step of the process to show that the prosecutor cannot prove its case against you.

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What is the driver license hearing?

The driver hearing is a separate administrative action to suspend your driver license . It is conducted over the phone by the administrative hearing officer. There are various strategies to win such as scrutinizing the police report for errors and omissions and arguing lack of probable cause.  The hearing can also provide the defense with another opportunity to cross examine the arresting officer and  further prepare your defense if you go to trial.

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How do you defend a DUI case?

A DUI case breaks down into several basic parts including the driving,  general observations of the persons speech , coordination and appearance, field sobriety tests and the breath.or blood test.   The claimed observations can be fought by raising questions about their accuracy.  In some cases reviewing a video can lessen or contradict the significance of the claims in the police report.   In one case an officer was determined to have been simply copying and pasting information from one report to another which led a number of cases being dismissed.  Field sobriety tests can be contested by emphasizing that the tests force people to do unnatural movements such as walking heel to toe which many cannot do well even if they are sober.  Doubt can be raised about breath tests by searching for machine error, flaws in test administration, and the science behind the breath test. Areas of inquiry for blood tests include whether the sample was taken and handled correctly.

In addition to having  over 25 years of DUI courtroom experience, I have attended numerous seminars and trainings on DUI defense.  I  have applied DUI defense tactics in motion hearings, trials.  interviews of officers  and prosecution witnesses such as the state toxicologist.  When I defend a DUI  I thoroughly review each part of the case and aggresively attack the weaknesses in the allegations against you.

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What is the ignition interlock?

This is a mechanical device that is installed on your vehicle to detect the presence of alcohol in the driver.  It requires the driver to provide a breath sample before starting to drive and also to occasionally stop and pull over and provide more breath samples.  It cam be required as a release condition while your case is pending. It can also be required if  an individual is convicted and as a condition of reinstating a suspended license.  Issues related to the interlock  can arise when traveling out of state and when renting a car.  In some case a driver can get an exception to the interlock requirement when driving an employer owned vehicle. Interlock laws are complex and failure to comply can result in more criminal charges. It is advisable to retain an experienced attorney who can guide you through the maze of interlock rules and other procedures related to a DUI charge

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Will I go to jail?

A DUI has a maximum jail sentence of 364 days.  A first time DUI  with a breath reading of under .15  check if kids in the car and accident has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 1 day.  Mandatory minimum sentences increase based on factors including past convictions and breath test levels or refusals to take the breath test.  A judge can give any sentence up to the maximum no matter what the mandatory minimums are.  There are also fines, interlock requirements and license suspensions.   While there is no guarantee of a specific result in many cases I have saved clients from the onerous conditions of a DUI by getting a reduced charge such as  negligent driving.

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Can I still drive?

In most cases if your license is suspended you can still drive  by getting an ignition interlock livense.  This requires installing an ignition interlock,  getting SR 22 insurance and  obtaining an interlock license issued by the department of licensing.

 However if you have a commercial drivers license you will often lose your CDL even if you get an ignition interlock to drive a non commercial vehicle.  CDLs require analysis by the attorney to determine if your case can be resolved in  a way that avoids loss of the commercial drivers license.

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What is involved with the alcohol evaluation?

An alcohol evaluation by a state certifed evalautor is done in almost every DUI  case. You can be required to do anywhere from an 8 hour class to up to 2 years of treatment. The evaluation is a critical part of a DUI case. It is also important to select an agency that will be fair and accurate and who will not “overevaluate” you and recommend more costly and time consuming treatment than what you actually need.  After years of experience I am aware of which agencies to recommend for your evaluation based on their reputation for providing evaluations that are both credible and fair.

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What is a deferred prosecution?

This a specialized form of alcohol treatment that lasts for 2 years and results in a dismissal of the DUI charge if successfully completed.  Even though the treatment  itself lasts for two years, you are on probation with the court for 5 years.  Although there is a benefit of a dismissal a deferred prosecution, it is not always a good option.  There is a substantial time commitment and expense involved. If an individual does not have a serious problem with alcohol they will not qualify for a deferred prosecution. An experienced DUI  attorney can help you consider your options and decide if a deferred prosecution os appropriate for you.

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Mark S. Lee
Attorney at Law
40 Lake Bellevue Drive
Suite 100
Bellevue  WA 98005
Phone: (206) 250-4249
Fax: (206) 452-2030