A DUI charge in Spokane usually triggers a First Appearance court hearing the next business day. At this hearing the judge will read your rights and the consequences of a DUI conviction, which may include jail time, fines, loss of driver’s license, ignition interlock device, SR-22 insurance and alcohol/drug treatment.
Next, the judge will address each case individually by verifying your name, address and date of birth. If you have already retained an attorney, then your attorney will do most of the talking for you. The prosecutor will then summarize the police report to establish probable cause. This allows the judge to evaluate whether there is evidence supporting each element of the DUI allegation. This is not your trial, so there’s no need to bring witnesses to this hearing.
A First Appearance can also be an Arraignment Hearing where you enter a Not Guilty plea. This simply preserves all your rights, including the right to trial. It also allows you to review the evidence against you, to investigate suppressing evidence and to negotiate a resolution that might avoid some the mandatory penalties of an actual DUI conviction.
At this first hearing the judge is required to impose Release Conditions. These are restrictions on your behavior that remain in effect until the case resolves. Usually, these are simple, but sometimes they include installing the ignition interlock device or random alcohol/drug testing. Violating these conditions could result in the judge ordering you back to court and perhaps booking you into jail.
At the end of your First Appearance the judge will schedule your next court appearance called a Pre-trial Hearing. This will be approximately one month after your First Appearance. Most DUI cases have several Pre-trial Hearings occurring in monthly cycles until the case resolves.
Remember most people accused of DUI in Washington State will have two separate cases: the criminal case in court and a separate Department of Licensing matter. The experienced DUI attorneys at Cooney Law Offices can guide you through these cases. We can help!