Our office has been hearing a lot of questions about what will happen if someone is arrested for a DUI in Washington State during the current Covid-19 emergency situation. The questions make sense as this is an unprecedented time to be charged with a crime in Washington State.
A driver arrested for DUI may be scared that, with the courts shutting down, that they may find themselves in jail indefinitely and thus face intolerable risk for being exposed to coronavirus. There is not much information out there and the courts are nearly impossible to reach at this time.
The situation was clarified somewhat by the Washington State Supreme Court when it issued an emergency order on March 18, 2020, ordering all state courts to cease most court hearings and instead to do necessary hearings remotely by telephone and video unless impossible.
Our team of four attorneys at the Law Offices of Lance Fryrear are working daily staying on top of what is going on with each of our local courts. Happily, there is some relief for those arrested for DUI in this crisis. The Washington State Supreme Court took into account the reality that people will still be arrested during this time and created a process to keep as many people out of jail as possible. Here is how it works:
When you or someone you know is cited with a DUI, the arresting officer may either put the DUI driver in jail pending a hearing or let them go home pending a hearing. What happens next in your Washington DUI case depends on what the officer did as far as this decision.
If the officer lets the DUI driver go home after his or her arrest for driving under the influence, the driver’s arraignment or first appearance may be deferred until a date 45 days after the filing of charges. The Court may still do the hearing before that by phone or video, but the driver should not have to physically walk into a courthouse before then. Each court is different so an attorney should be contacted right away to determine what to do.
If the officer takes the driver into custody after the arrest for driving under the influence, the court will hold driver’s arraignment or first appearance the next normal court day after the arrest, usually a weekday, except in Seattle where there is often Saturday court. At attorney should still be contacted immediately to argue to get the driver out of jail. A skilled Lynnwood DUI attorney can argue that the courts have been ordered to consider the current Covid-19 emergency to be a factor that favor the release of the driver from jail. This is especially so if the driver is part of a vulnerable or high-risk group as defined by the Centers for Disease Control.
Please also remember, and this is important, that the Washington State Department of Licensing only gives a driver seven days to request a hearing regarding the suspension of their driver’s license after a DUI arrest. For this reason, it is imperative to contact a Lynnwood DUI attorney immediately upon arrest or release from jail.
If you are unsure of the status of your Washington State DUI arrest, call our experienced legal team today and we will help guide you through the process during these confusing times. Call us and we will be there for you.