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Charged with a DUI: What are my Options?
When you are charged with DUI there are only a few limited options for your case: 1) Dismissal, 2) Plea Guilty—to some charge, 3) Jury Trial or 4) Deferred Prosecution.
Option 1: DISMISSAL
Your case can potentially be dismissed at any time during the criminal court proceedings. Sometimes a dismissal can be negotiated by your attorney, and sometimes there is a problem with the Prosecutor’s evidence. A dismissal is unlikely and only happens in a very limited number of cases. A dismissal can come in two forms: a dismissal with prejudice, or a dismissal without prejudice. A dismissal with prejudice means that the Prosecutor cannot refile the charges, ever. A dismissal without prejudice means that the Prosecutor can refile the charges during the statute of limitations for your case.
Option 2: PLEADING GUILTY—to something.
The goal for every DUI case is dismissal or negotiation to a lesser offense such as Reckless Driving or Negligent driving.
It is important to assist your attorney in the negotiations process. What the Prosecutor sees about your case is an 8 x 10 stack of papers that doesn’t contain much positive information about you. Make sure to tell your attorney about yourself: your degrees, accomplishments, goals, work history, specialty licenses etc. so they can do their best to negotiate a lesser charge or even get the case dismissed.
A Reckless Driving charge is a gross misdemeanor, it can be punished maximum 364 days in jail, $5,000 in fines and up to 24 months probation. In exchange for the reduced charge, there are usually additional DUI related sanctions as listed below in DUI Penalties.
A Negligent Driving charge is a simple misdemeanor, it can be punished maximum 90 days jail, $1,000 in fines and up to 24 months probation.
See DUI (RCW 46.60.502) Penalties Here.
Option 3: JURY TRIAL
Trial can be with a judge only, or with a Jury containing 6 of your peers. The first step is for your attorney and the Prosecutor to argue Motions in Limine—essentially what evidence the jury can and cannot hear. Then the parties participate in jury selection, which usually whittles a room full of 30-ish people down to 6—some times 7 for an alternate juror (in case one no shows or gets sick). The parties conduct opening statement, examine witnesses, and then provide closing arguments. The case is then submitted to a jury and they will come back with a 1) guilty, 2) not guilty, or 3) mistrial—or a potential mixture of any of these if there are multiple counts.
Option 4: DEFERRED PROSECUTION
A Deferred prosecution is a contract where you agree you have a substance abuse problem and that you are likely to recommit another offense if you do not receive help. The contract usually requires two years of treatment (sometimes more), urinary analysis, interlock ignition device, alcohol classes, no criminal behavior, fines, etc. in exchange for a dismissal after a period of 5 years. The process is intense, time consuming, expensive and labels you as an alcoholic in the court system—in the event you obtain any other alcohol/drug related charge in the future. You are only allowed one Deferred Prosecution in your lifetime. It is important to speak to an attorney about how this will affect your life, and if it is appropriate for you if you are interested in this option.
You have many options, call our office today to discuss how we can help you.
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Representation for criminal charges is based on a flat rate fee. We understand that criminal charges aren’t usually planned. Our office can work with you by accepting payment plans. We accept Visa, Mastercard, American express, Money Orders and Cash.