A DUI charge In Spokane, Washington will normally lead to a First Appearance court hearing within a few weeks of the arrest. During this hearing the judge will recite your constitutional rights and the potential consequences of a DUI conviction, which may include jail time, house arrest, fines, loss of driver’s license, ignition interlock device, SR-22 insurance and alcohol/drug treatment.
The judge will then address each person’s case individually. Most judges ask if you understand the charge and if you received a copy of the citation. If you already have an attorney, then your attorney will do most of the talking. The prosecutor will be required to establish probable cause by summarizing the police report. In some cases the judge may have already reviewed probable cause, which is simply a legal determination that there is some evidence supporting each element of the DUI allegation. This is not your trial.
In Spokane most judges will allow a Not Guilty plea during the First Appearance hearing. This avoids you having to return to court for a separate Arraignment Hearing and preserves all your rights, including the right to trial. It also allows you to review the evidence against you, to investigate suppression of evidence and to attempt to negotiate a resolution that might avoid some the mandatory penalties of an actual DUI conviction.
During the First Appearance the judge will impose Pre-trial Release Conditions. These are restrictions on your behavior pending the resolution of your case. Usually, these are simple restrictions, but sometimes they will include installation of the ignition interlock device or random alcohol/drug testing. A violation of these conditions could result in the judge ordering you back to court and perhaps even booking you into jail while the case is pending.
At the end of your First Appearance the judge will schedule your next court appearance called a Pre-trial Hearing. Your first Pre-Trial Hearing will be approximately one month after your First Appearance. Most DUI cases have several Pre-trial Hearings occurring in monthly cycles.
Remember most people accused of a DUI in Spokane, Washington will have two separate cases: the criminal case in court and a separate Department of Licensing matter. Fighting both cases will give you the best chance for the best resolution.