Monday, September 30, 2013

DUI arrest in the City of Seattle....What next

If you have been arrested for a DUI in the Seattle City limits then your DUI case will be filed in the Seattle Municipal Court.  Facing a DUI in Seattle Municipal Court is a bit different than other jurisdictions.  From the date of your arraignment to the Judges to the probation department everything is a little bit different than other Courts.  Here is everything you need to know about a DUI in Seattle Municipal Court.

First the arraignment.  Your arraignment will be a couple days following the DUI arrest.  It will be either in room 1002 if it falls on a weekday or it will be in the King County Jail if it is on a Saturday.  In most cases regardless of the breath test and the number of offenses the Prosecutor is going to ask the Judge to impose several conditions.  Abstain from alcohol, bail, and an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive.  That's right pretty tough conditions on a first offense, but that is one of the quirks of Seattle Municipal Court.  Obviously you want to object to these conditions.

Second negotiating with the Prosecutors is a little unique.  Like most Prosecutor offices a schedule will come out a few weeks prior to a pretrial hearing.  However in Seattle Municipal Court there are two Prosecutors at a pretrial hearing.  A "talking head" who just speaks on the record, and a "negotiating" Prosecutor who is in one of the attorney conference rooms outside the Court room.  

Third there are two readiness hearings.  That's right the hearing you appear before you announce ready for a trial is called the readiness hearing.  In Seattle Municipal Court there is a first and a second readiness.  Although this is not as common as it used to be.  It still occurs.  The DUI lawyer needs to appear at both.  At the first readiness hearing you can ask for a second readiness hearing if you need additional time to negotiate or there are outstanding issues and either party is not ready for trial.

Fourth is the master calendar.  This is actually pretty cool.  Every DUI case that gets set for trial on a particular week in Seattle Municipal Court appears Tues morning at 8:30.  There the Judge will go through every case.  The parties will either announce they are ready, ask to pass, or ask for a continuance or note a resolution has been reached.  After about 2-3 passes the Judge will start assigning cases to a particular trial Courtroom.  Then the Prosecutor and the DUI Attorney will go to that Courtroom and start the trial.  

The other big difference with Seattle Municipal Court is the requirement of probation on almost all DUI cases if the alcohol/drug evaluation and ADIS/VIP requirements are not done.  In other Court if you don't get the ADIS/VIP class done at the time of sentencing the Judge will give you 90 days or so to get it filed.  There is no probation requirement but simply a deadline.  In Seattle Municipal Court unless you can convince the Judge to go against the norm you will be required to check in with a Probation officer so they can monitor your compliance with the ADIS/VIP.  Why is this a big deal?  Other than the time commitment there is also an additional court fee to be monitored. 

Obviously every court is different, but in my opinion Seattle Municipal Court has some quirks that if you're not familiar with can seem quite odd.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and all other traffic offenses.  Leyba Defense PLLC has offices in downtown Seattle and Bellevue, WA. 

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