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What to know if you get a DUI

Let me just start by saying, bad things sometimes happen to good people and being charged with a DUI does not define you. A DUI charge can, and has, happened to people from all walks of life. Frankly, how many of us can really say there was never a time that we drove after consuming alcohol? Many of us know, we were just lucky enough to not have been pulled over, or worse, caused harm to another while drinking and driving. 

Most often people are actually pulled over for something they would have done despite any consumption of alcohol. Most DUI stops are actually based upon speeding and it's only once the officer pulls you over that that they notice the odor of alcohol or slurred speech and watery eyes. There are actually thousands of DUI arrests each month in the State of Washington. I once cross examined a police officer who testified that he alone averaged over 100 DUI arrests each month. That's just one officer and there are hundreds on duty at any given time throughout Pierce County.  

You are not a bad person if this happens to you, but how bad is a DUI? There's no getting around it, it's bad.  First of all if you are convicted you will do time in jail. Jail time is mandatory in Washigton State. You can also anticipate large fines, expect a breathalizer to be installed on your car, for at leasst a year, and you will be required to attend alochol/drug treatment. These are just the immediate consequences of a DUI conviction.

There are also potential employment impacts; if you drive for a living you can plan on loosing your job and future employment opportunities may also be limited as employers may not want to hire you with a DUI conviction. If you like to visit Canada now and then, you can figure on never going to Canada again; they will turn you away at the border if you have been convicted of a DUI, no matter how long ago it was.  

You can also expect your insurance rates to go through the roof and keep in mind a DUI conviction NEVER comes off your record. 

So, who do you call if you do get a DUI? The area of DUI criminal defense is constantly changing so be sure to find an attorney that knows this area of the law. Dui attorneys work in certain courts every day, they know the courts, the Judges, and the Prosecutors, and with this knowledge they are in the best possible position to give you the best representation.

What questions should you ask when interviewing a prospective DUI attorney? Well, first of all, it's not about how many DUI trials they have won. For example, I won 100% of my DUI trials last year but I only tried 3 DUI trials all year! Despite having represented hundreds of people accused of DUI the truth is most cases are resolved through negotiations. The only DUI I would ever take to trial, is one that I am confident I can get a better resolution from a jury than from negotiating with a prosecutor.  It is far better to try to get a resolution that you can count on, then to take the risk of allowing a jury to determine your fate. 

You should ask the following:

  1. How long have you been representing DUI clients?
  2. How many DUI cases did you have over the past year?
  3. How often are you in (whatever court your case is filed in)?
  4. Do you know who the Judge will be?
  5. Do you know who the prosecutor will be?
  6. What are your thoughts about my set of facts with this Judge and Prosecutor?

The decision you make on which attorney to hire is pivotal.  It can make the difference between the DUI destroying many parts of your life over it being a hiccup. I am a strong believer that the most important thing about hiring an attorney is that that you feel comfortable with that person. As the right questions but trust your gut, you will know within a few minutes of the call whether this person is making sense to you or just slathering you with legalese. 

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Cynthia Macklin has been practicing law in Tacoma Washington for nearly 20 years. She has represented thousands of DUI clients over the years.

If you have a question about your particular case please feel free to call the law office for a free confidential consultation at 253-566-0808.