DUI SUCCESS RATE*
OTHER CRIMINAL CHARGES SUCCESS RATE*
*dismissed or reduced
this is not a guarantee of result – every case is unique
Kitsap County Courts Can Be A Shock For Some
Unlike other courts throughout western Washington, Kitsap and the municipal courts are rigid in their protocols and take a tough approach to defendants who fail to abide by timelines or court orders. Get advice from a local attorney while being investigated or as soon as you are charged.
What is the culture in Kitsap on DUI and other criminal prosecutions?
Kitsap is tough on DUI and criminal prosecutions. While Washington has the reputation of being “soft on crime,” Kitsap County has plotted another path. For example, the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney has developed its own “DUI Prosecutor” positions, staffed by Deputy Prosecutors who are highly trained and specialized in building the State’s case against you.
The District Court panel of Judges, or “Bench,” is comprised of nearly all ex-prosecutors. While fair, they aren’t far removed from their days advocating for conviction on behalf of the State.
Kitsap may have a small town allure but, in reality, the opposite is true. Attorneys from across the water may have swagger in Seattle, but it often equates to failure in Kitsap.
Unfamiliarity with local forms and protocols result in DUI defendants at a disadvantage. Often, attorneys who have experience in other counties make promises that do not ring true in Kitsap. We have been practicing in Kitsap for more than two decades. Having local counsel matters.
Our consultations are 100% free so there is no risk.
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What should I expect in the different courts throughout Kitsap?
The Kitsap County Prosecutor’s office handles a lot of cases. However, the municipal courts in the Kitsap Peninsula are also quite busy. While the general rules apply throughout the county, over our twenty years of practice, we have noticed there are some differences.
Below are some differences that practicing attorneys need to know. This is why local representation matters. It reflects poorly on a defendant when the defense disrespects the court by appearing unprepared. These are trivial differences but still relevant.
If you are a Witt Law Group client, we will discuss in detail the more significant “culture” of the courts when it comes to critical aspects of your case, such as conditions of release and the court’s scrutiny of resolutions.
- Kitsap County District Court – This is a fast-paced court, requiring pleadings to be precise and filed in advance. The Court doesn’t want to slow down and accommodate attorneys who don’t understand the local processes.
- Poulsbo Municipal Court – The prosecution is contracted out to the Kitsap County Prosecuting Attorney but the municipal court forms are all unique to Poulsbo. Turn-over with County DPA’s emphasizes the need to understand Deputy Prosecutor rotation.
- Bremerton Municipal Court – The prosecution is handled “in house” by a Bremerton City Attorney. Forms are all electronic in what seems to be a complex, experimental system. We believe Bremerton to be the most strict court in the County. Issues that plague this court can trickle down and become issues for the defendant.
- Port Orchard Municipal Court – This Court operates like an extension of the Kitsap District Court, except on a smaller scale. Forms are different and were not “modernized” to be e-forms over the pandemic.
- Bainbridge Island Municipal Court – This is a small Court, operating only two days a week. It is the farthest removed from the County seat, and has only small ties to the County in overall culture and operation.
Take These Steps Today To Help Your Case
Why should I be concerned if I was arrested and released?
In Kitsap County, approximately 25% of our cases will involve arrests that resulted in the defendant being released or driven home. The client will not have been booked into jail or been given notice of any court date. This creates serious confusion and problems.
These clients come to us having missed their DOL deadline and they also have a higher rate of outstanding warrants. This means we are starting from a less than stellar position on defense. The sooner we can clean up the warrant mess, the better!
The longer you wait to have private defense clean this up (public defense cannot do this because they aren’t assigned until your Arraignment) the worse your case becomes. While time may heal old wounds, time makes criminal cases much more painful.
Why did the officer release me without any information about court?
In fairness to law enforcement, they do not set court dates and do not know when a case will be charged by the prosecutor. Many people are under the misconception that cops will decide if you are facing a criminal charge when, in fact, only the prosecutor can charge you. An officer forwards reports and the charging decision will be made by a prosecutor.
The problem lies in the crime lab delay. Currently, blood sample results are being returned anywhere from six months to twelve months later. If you understand the speedy trial rule, this puts the prosecutor in a bind if she charges you but can’t produce the evidence to convict you for 12 months.
So, the officer takes your blood (this happens on both marijuana and alcohol DUI cases) and then releases you so the speedy trial clock won’t start ticking. When the lab result comes back, the prosecutor charges you with DUI 18 months later (yes, still within the Statute of Limitations). Hopefully, your address is current so you do not miss that Summons and get a warrant!
What if I just “see how it goes” with public defense?
When people use this strategy, they don’t realize the error of their ways until it is too late. Critical timelines pass and lines get drawn in the sand. While we always try to do a “hard-reset” and get a case going in the right direction, some cases that sat with public defense are just too far gone.
Public defense is judged by a different standard – they are required to provide competent assistance when there is a “liberty interest” at stake. If private defense attorneys used this minimal standard, we would have many upset clients. Simply put, there is a lot to criminal case that goes far beyond just assisting with a “liberty interest.”
At a bare minimum, our clients rely on us for (1) driver’s licensing issues, (2) professional licensing issues, (3) ignition interlock issues, (4) security clearance issues, (4) employability issues (5) interstate compact issues, and (6) navigating challenges with other pending cases. Additionally, our clients never risk a warrant because we notify them of court dates, pending deadlines, and provide court links.
Ask us about our low fee monitoring service.
If you have not been charged yet or do not have a Summons to appear, we will oversee the process and prevent you from getting a warrant.
Can You Beat A DUI?
Absolutely! However, “beating” a DUI can be a complex challenge and is very fact-specific. Some people charged with DUI will have the complicating factor of serious criminal history. Some may have refused the breathalyzer and have a special allegation attached to the DUI charge. Occasionally, a person will be arrested for DUI but an accident also occurred. When there are injuries to passengers or another victim, this can be a game changer in a case originally charged as a DIU.
Depending on the strength of the state’s case, the resolutions for these scenarios might look very different. The case may resolve in a positive outcome but not the same outcome for each client. For some cases, the best legal strategy must be used immediately at the outset of the case. In other cases, it might be best to have the client do some proactive steps and then discuss the case with the prosecutor. An experienced defense attorney will know the best course of action.
Will I Go To Jail?
Most likely, no. We work very diligently to determine an individual plan for each of our clients to address this issue. With this plan, we present our clients in such a positive light that jail time is unnecessary. Immediately upon hiring us, we will create your “to do” list, which will set you up for success. We use the weaknesses of the State’s case, along with your proactive measures, to aggressively negotiate on your behalf. In 98% of our cases, clients have served no jail time.
Department of Licensing — Your Privilege To Drive
In Washington, a DUI charge can be a bit complicated. DUI charges are not just handled in the criminal court. If your blood alcohol was over .08, DOL will also suspend your license. To challenge the DOL’s suspension of you license, you need to send in the correct form within 7 days from the date of your arrest.
The Department of Licensing will also take action to suspend your license. Matters get worse if an accused person already has a DUI on their record, or if the person has a CDL.
Public Defenders can not help with your license suspension through DOL because pubic funds provided for public defense are for criminal cases only. The DOL is an administrative hearing. So, if you do not hire private defense, you must handle this hearing on your own.
The DOL hearing is tough. The hearing examiners are employees of the Department of Licensing so it is hard to believe they are truly impartial or independent in their review. Statistics would support this since the success rate for winning a DOL hearing is very low. Without understanding your legal defenses, a non-lawyer has almost no chance of winning this hearing.
When you hire Witt Law Group, we handle both the criminal and administrative side of your case. We are accustomed to handling complex cases where an individual has prior convictions, has refused the test, or is under 21 years of age.
If you have an out of state license, you must send the request in the mail. The online option will not work. Don’t wait until the last day!
How Our Attorneys Help
Our defense strategy begins at our very first meeting. Washington State is known as one of the toughest States on DUI sentencing. Our number one goal is to help our clients avoid the long term negative consequences of the DUI conviction. In other words, we strive to resolve cases in a way where our clients are not sentenced in accordance with the DUI Sentencing Grid. We have a strict method that we follow in each and every case, beginning at our first meeting or phone call. What you can expect during our first contact is that we will:
- Speak with you about the facts and ascertain what potential defense issues that your case has to explore.
- Speak with you about what potential exculpatory evidence needs to be pursued.
- Make sure you understand the important timelines, such requesting your DOL hearing within 7 days.
- Collect all of your info, including who we can and who we can NOT speak with.
- Provide you with all the forms that you will need as your case moves forward.
- Describe to you the Washington State law relevant to your DUI case.
- Most important, we will collaborate to devise a strategy that will provide the best possible outcome.
- Within several days of taking your case, we will provide you a set of “marching orders” custom made around the facts and circumstances of your case. The proactive efforts of our clients that have ultimately opened the door to terrific outcomes.
As The Case Is Pending
Once several of these tasks have been completed, we start the process of deciding upon a path forward for your case. The decision is based on our clients wishes and upon the facts of each case. There are typically four paths that a DUI case can follow.
- Motions to Suppress and / or Dismiss. There must typically be a Constitutional violation surrounding the stop and / or arrest. You are asking the Court to find that the stop or arrest was unconstitutional, and then throw out all of the evidence.
- Pre-Trial Diversion. This is a contract between the government and the defendant. A successful “PDA” usually results in a reduced charge, but can result in dismissal.
- Deferred Prosecution. This is a five year treatment plan that ends in dismissal. You can only do one Deferred Prosecution in your lifetime.
- Trial by Jury or Judge. This is the riskiest path. It is based upon our assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case. This has the largest risk, and the largest reward.
The vast majority of our cases are resolved as Pre-Trial Diversion Agreements. Deferred Prosecutions are a great option for people who believe that they truly have a drug or alcohol dependency issue and need to seek treatment for their issue. Motions and Trial account for only a small percentage of resolutions, but should always be considered when the facts give rise.
What Will A Private DUI Defense Attorney Cost?
Making the decision to hire private counsel is critical. Public Defenders are competent lawyers but they are overworked and have extremely large caseloads. Simply put, their caseloads limit the amount of time they can dedicate to each case.
Hiring a private attorney to work on your behalf is a financial commitment. In Kitsap County and Thurston County, the average cost for first time DUI defense will be approximately $4,000 and possibly a bit more if you are charged with a second DUI or additional criminal charges. This fee includes all work efforts on your behalf. There should not be any additional hourly fees with the exception of a trial fee. Over 90% of DUI cases do not go to trial but the trial fee should still be listed in a fee agreement.
If someone quotes a fee that is significantly lower than the average fee, it is important to determine if the lawyer is an “expert” in DUI defense. A very low fee can be a red flag. Likewise, if an attorney quotes you $6,000 for a first time DUI defense, that should give you pause. Consider what you are paying for with that fee. There are some large firms with very large overhead that need to charge higher than normal fees.
Do not be embarrassed about calling after hours to talk through fees or any other matter regarding your legal defense. Hiring a lawyer is one of the most difficult decisions you can make.
The cost of a private defense attorney is often less than what a defendant using public defense will pay for long-term considering fines, restitution, jail time, and loss of driving privileges.
DUI Below .08 Standard
Washington law enforcement has been pursuing DUI arrests when the driver is below the .08 limit. This often confuses drivers who are arrested and learn that they tested well below the .08 standard.
Most drivers assume the case will be dropped when they appear before a judge. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. In truth, the DUI statute (RCW 46.61.502) has always given the State the authority to pursue charges against a defendant who is below .08 under the “affected by” prong.
The .08 measurement is really a standard with no meaning. As long as an officer can use the impaired portion of the statute, you can be arrested for DUI regardless of your breathalyzer reading.
What Are The Punishments For DUI In Washington State?
The punishments for a DUI conviction in Washington State are severe. Typically, crimes handled at the District Court / Municipal Court level (which DUI is one) do not have mandatory minimum sentencing. Driving Under The Influence is one of the few exceptions to this rule. For every DUI conviction, there is a “sentencing range” that has been established by the Washington State Legislature. The factors that determine a person’s sentencing range include the level of the blow (or refusal), and the individual’s past DUI history, if any.
Below are the mandatory minimums, commonly known as the DUI Sentencing Grid. Our highest priority is to have our client’s case dismissed or avoid being sentenced under this grid.
DUI Sentencing Grid
|BAC Result < .15 or No Test Result||No Prior Offense||One Prior Offense||BAC Result > .15 or Test Refusal||No Prior Offense||One Prior Offense|
|Mandatory Minimum /|
Maximum Jail Time2
|24 Consecutive Hours / 364|
|30 / 364 Days||Mandatory Minimum /|
Maximum Jail Time2
|48 Consecutive Hours / 364|
|45 / 364 Days|
|If Passenger Under 16|
|Additional 24 Hours||Additional 5 Days||If Passenger Under 16|
|Additional 24 Hours||Additional 5 days|
|EHM / or Jail Alternative||15 Days in Lieu of Jail||60 Days Mandatory||EHM / or Jail Alternative||30 Days in Lieu of Jail||90 Days Mandatory|
|Alternative to Mandatory|
Jail + EHM
|N/A||At least 4 Days Jail+180|
|Alternative to Mandatory|
Tail + EHM
|N/A||At least 6 Days Jail +|
6 Months EHM
|Mandatory Minimum /|
|$990.50 / $5,000||$1,245.50 – $5.000||Mandatory Minimum / Maximum|
|$1,245.50 / $5,000||$1,670.50 / $5,000|
|If Passenger Under 16|
Minimum / Maximum
|$1,000 / $1,000 – $5000 +|
|$1,000 / $2,000 – $5,000 +|
|If Passenger Under 16|
Minimum / Maximum
|$1,000 / $2,000 – $5.000 +|
|$1,000 / $2,000 – $5,000|
|Driver’s License||90-Day Suspension||2-Year Revocation||Driver’s License||1-Year Revocation|
2 Years if BAC refused
|900 – Days Revocation|
3 vears if BAC refused
|If Passenger Under 16|
|Additional 6 Months||Additional 6 Months||If Passenger Under 16|
|Additional 6 Months||Additional 6 Months|
|24/7 Sobriety Program||If available||If available||24/7 Sobriety Program||If available||If available|
|Alcohol / Drug Ed. / Victim|
Impact or Treatment
|As Ordered||As Ordered||Alcohol / Drug Ed. / Victim Impact or Treatment||As Ordered||As Ordered|
assessment / treatment
|N/A||Mandatory / treatment if|
assessment / treatment
|N/A||Mandatory / Treatment|
|II Device||DOL imposed in all cases.||DOL imposed in all cases.||DOL imposed in all cases.|
The Value of a Good Chemical Dependency Evaluation
Don’t be offended or alarmed if we ask you to immediately schedule a chemical dependency evaluation. Your drug and alcohol evaluation is one of the best tools for any case involving substance use. Many people think that it will negatively impact their case but, more often, it has the opposite result.
In addition to being helpful during negotiations, when received early in a case, the evaluation can be used as a tool to impact bail, conditions of release, and even dismissal of charges. However, if you choose a treatment agency based on insurance coverage or other uninformed reasons, you can make a terrible mistake. Not all treatment agencies are the same in terms of attention to timelines and details when it really matters.
At the end of your case, if treatment was required as part of your alternative resolution, a poorly run agency can cause very serious problems for your case if they are not reliable with filing monthly reports. We are very particular about where our clients go for evaluations–the evaluators must consistently be fair, unbiased, and able to produce documents in a timely fashion to the court and probation.
WE GET RESULTS
Ryan and his team have gone above and beyond for me during my case. They are prompt, efficient and thorough. I had a complete understanding of what was going on. Ryan took a situation that was scary for me and not only made me feel better about it, but also delivered results I didn’t know was possible. I highly recommend Ryan!
Ryan worked diligently and extensively all angles on my case and remained steadfast to the end, ultimately negotiating a huge win for me. I can’t thank him and his team enough. I would recommend Ryan to anyone seeking and needing great legal representation.
Excellent Attorney and Person. Affordable with a professional staff and proficient service. Thank you Ryan for helping me walk through one of the most difficult experiences in my life.
Call Early in the Process
We will speak with anyone about their DUI charge, day or night. We encourage the late night phone call, because we want to help you at the earliest moment in the process. Call us from the roadside and we can assist you in making important decisions that will impact your case.