We frequently represent individuals charged with driving offenses, such as driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug, also described as a DUI, or DWI. It is important to note that when a person is charged with a DUI, he or she is being prosecuted by two different government entities. The first is the prosecutor in the jurisdiction in which he or she were charged. If convicted in court by a prosecutor in this venue then the person charged will have been convicted of a crime, a gross misdemeanor offense, and upon first conviction, carries a minimum sentence of 24 consecutive hours in jail, $940 minimum fine in addition to court costs, a 90 day suspension of driver’s license and a requirement for the person to install an ignition interlock device. The minimum mandatory penalties are higher if the BAC is .15 or higher, if there is a test refusal, or if there are prior DUI offenses. The second government entity that prosecutes a person charged with DUI is the Washington Department of Licensing. The Department of Licensing initiates license suspension proceedings independent of the criminal charge, and care must be taken to comply with the requirement of making a timely request with the DOL for a hearing to contest any such administrative license suspension or revocation sanctions. These two prosecutions are independent of each other. Our firm regularly defends our clients from both the allegations of the prosecutor and Department of Licensing while informing our clients and explaining a very complicated situation.
We also represent people charged with other driving offenses such as reckless driving, the elements of which are driving any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for persons or property. This charge is also considered to be a serious traffic offense in the same category as DUI. Great care must be taken to ensure that these cases are defended to the fullest extent in order to avoid the substantial penalties, which include the suspension of a driver’s license. Other types of traffic offenses that we defend are charges such as hit and run attended, driving a vehicle while license suspended, negligent driving in the first degree and no valid operator’s license without identification.
In addition, we provide representation on other cases that do not involve criminal offenses, but involve traffic infractions that can have significant financial consequences. A finding of committed on a traffic infraction can also result in higher insurance costs, the requirement to complete a traffic safety course or, in extreme circumstances, the suspension of your license to drive.
Misdemeanor and Gross Misdemeanor charges are litigated in District Court and in various Municipal Courts, which are considered lower courts. Each county has its own District Court and many cities have their own Municipal Courts. The lower courts
that we practice in include Cowlitz County District Court, Longview Municipal Court, Kelso Municipal Court, Kalama Municipal Court, Woodland Municipal Court, Castle Rock Municipal Court, Wahkiakum County District Court, located in Cathlamet, WA, Clark County District Court and Vancouver Municipal Court, located in Vancouver WA, Battle Ground Municipal Court, located in Battle Ground WA, and Lewis County District Court, located in Chehalis WA.