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How a Seattle DUI is Different Than Most

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Apr 15, 2012 | 2 Comments

Early Saturday morning, I received a telephone call from an individual who was arrested for DUI late Friday night in Seattle by a Seattle Police Officer. This person had actually received a citation for DUI and at the bottom of the yellow ticket was notice of a court date early this week. The person arrested was shocked that he already had his first court date (arraignment) within a few days following his arrest.

Unlike many other jurisdictions, people who are arrested for a Seattle DUI by a City of Seattle Police Officer will have their first court date within a few days following their arrest. This is the standard procedure for Seattle DUI cases (unless there is a blood draw where there is a delay awaiting the results from the Washington State Toxicology Labratory). People must take immediate action to prepare for their arraignment.

It is very common for the Seattle City Attorney to request very stringent conditions of release for people accused of a Seattle DUI. Always will there be the requirement for abstinence from alcohol/drugs, law-abiding behavior and the promise to appear at all future court dates. More onerous conditions that may be imposed include the requirement to have an ignition interlock device on any vehicle the person operates, day reporting (where an individual reports to Seattle Probation for a possible breath or urine test to ensure sobriety), wearing a SCRAM device (an ankle bracelet that detects alcohol through the skin), house arrest or even cash bail. As such, it is absolutely imperative that a person meet with an experienced Seattle DUI attorney in that short time frame between their arrest and arraignment to make sure they are prepared for their first appearance.

Arraignments in Seattle Municipal Court are in courtroom 1002 of the Seattle Justice Center at 10am on Monday through Fridays and in courtroom 2 of the King County Jail on Saturdays at 9am. During the weekdays, the presiding judge of the Seattle Muncipal Court- the Honorable Steve Rosen- handles the arraignments. On Saturdays, there is typically a rotation between court commissioners and pro-tem judges who appear.

At the arraignment, after a plea of not guilty is entered and the judge has imposed conditions, the case will then be set for a pre-trial conference (commonly known as PTC) and will be sent to one of several other courtrooms. The case will then remain in that other courtroom except for a readiness hearing which is always on Friday morning's in courtroom 1002.

As far as the prosecutor assigned to the case, for Seattle DUI cases it is actually assigned to a "team." Each of these teams is composed of a group of prosecutors. Only when the case is set for motions and trial will a Seattle DUI case be assigned to an attorney who is then responsible for the case until the final outcome.

The main point I am trying to make in this post is that anyone who is arrested for a Seattle DUI needs to take immediate action and speak with an attorney as quickly as possible to make sure they are prepared for their first court appearance.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 18 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.


Dan Jaffe Reply

Posted Apr 19, 2012 at 11:14:06

Seattle has one of the quickest arrest to arraignment times anywhere, and it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle or give up important rights if you don’t take immediate steps to make sure that you have proper representation and an understanding of the procedure before the hearing occurs.

Aaron J. Wolff Reply

Posted Jul 01, 2012 at 02:20:15

Absolutely. When a person is arrested by a Seattle Police Officer for a DUI, they will receive a citation when released. Handwritten at the bottom left of the citation is a date for an arraignment. This is usually only 2-4 days later (and can even be on a Saturday). Many times, people do not even recognize this on their paperwork prior to contacting me. Given how the Seattle City Attorney’s office commonly requests bail or an interlock, a person arrested for a Seattle DUI should contact an attorney immediately.

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