Do I Really Need a Seattle DUI lawyer?
Drunk driving is a serious crime in Washington state. All states function under laws that measure a drivers blood alcohol limit to determine if they have the ability to operate a vehicle. Whether or not an individual believes they are intoxicated, they can be found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) if their blood alcohol level exceeds .08%, according to the law.
The consequences of a DUI offense in Seattle can vary depending on the case. Consequences can range from license suspension, fines, or jail time. There are many steps that must be taken after a DUI arrest: your arraignment, obtaining a copy of the police report, learning about and understanding your field sobriety test, the preliminary alcohol screening (PAS), and the required blood and breath test for blood alcohol content. The collection of this data can help to gather evidence and information that will positively impact your case during a trial. If you choose to hire a Seattle DUI lawyer, they will be able to handle these items for you andhelp you through the full process.
Should You Hire a DUI Attorney?
Whether you collected the above data yourself or your drunk driving lawyer handled this for you, having a lawyer will not only make working through that data much easier, but also give you access to far more data. Getting an experienced lawyer’s opinion and assistance will help eliminate the chance of you missing something important.
There are many components involved with each DUI. Each case is different, but we have highlighted a few points to help you understand some of these steps:
1. Plea Bargaining
Many prosecutors and judges are pressured to move cases quickly through the system, with the crowded criminal courts and in an effort to save time by avoiding trial. Because of this, most DUI cases grant defendants the opportunity to negotiate a plea bargain.
During plea bargaining, a sentence is often reduced to a lesser change. For example, a DUI charge may be reduced from a Negligent Driving 2 charge to a Negligent Driving 1 charge.Plea bargaining can offer many benefits:
- Money Savings – A plea bargain takes much less time and effort than bringing a case to trial. Therefore, defendants can save thousands of dollars on attorney fees.
- Jail Time – Defendants who were held in custody may get out of jail immediately following the judge’s acceptance of a plea. This will depend on the offense; some offenders may get out of jail on probation. This may or may not include community service or drug and alcohol counseling requirements. In some cases, defendants may have to serve jail time, but this term is generally much shorter than the time that would have been served had they been found guilty at trial.
- Time Savings – Going to trial can take weeks or months before a resolution is reached. A plea bargain provides a quick decision, saving you time, money, and stress.
- Less Serious Offense on Record – A reduced sentence often looks much better on one’s record than a serious one, such as a DUI. In many cases, a Seattle drunk driving lawyer can plea bargain your DUI conviction down to Reckless Driving charge or a Negligent Driving 1 charge.
The legal knowledge and experience to successfully negotiate a plea bargain is important and should be taken very seriously. Therefore, having an experienced DUI lawyer is a wise choice that usually results in a better sentence. A DUI lawyer that is familiar with the judges and prosecutors in your case will give you a much better chance of plea bargaining a reduced sentence than attempting this alone..
2. Sentence Bargaining
Along with plea bargaining, sentence bargaining is also very useful in situations where a guilty plea may result in a long sentence. Sentence bargaining is often necessary when a prosecutor is asking for jail time that is far more than the mandatory minimum sentence. A knowledgeable DUI attorney will articulate to a judge why the Defense sentence should be followed instead of the prosecutor’s proposed plea sentence.
3. Choosing a Seattle DUI Attorney
If you do choose to hire an attorney, there are a few things to consider. First, be sure to hire a local attorney that specializes in DUI laws. A Seattle lawyer that represents DUI or DWI cases knows the court system and how best to represent your case. When choosing an attorney, don’t be afraid to shop around and find one with whom you feel comfortable working. A few tips for this process are:
- Schedule a Consultation With a Seattle DUI Attorney – These are always free of charge and will allow you to meet your attorney in person before making a decision.
- Ask Questions – It is important that you trust your attorney and feel comfortable working closely with them during your case. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to in order to understand your situation.
- Make Sure You Know Who You Are Working With – At many of the larger law firms, clients end up getting a new or young assistant on the phone every time they call instead of talking to the attorney that they hired. Be sure to find a DUI attorney that will be available whenever you need them when choosing a firm.
Hiring a DUI attorney may seem unnecessary in some cases. If at any time you are confused by the process or required steps, it may be best to hire an attorney to not only walk you through the process and answer questions, but also to increase your chances of a plea or sentence bargain. DUIs are a serious offense and having an expert DUI attorney at your side is the best way to ensure that you are represented fairly and correctly.
If you have been charged with a DUI offense in the Seattle area, Leyba Defense PLLC is available to fight for you every step of the way. Contact Leyba Defense PLLC today for your free 60-minute confidential consultation.