DUI SUCCESS RATE*
OTHER CRIMINAL CHARGES SUCCESS RATE*
*dismissed or reduced
this is not a guarantee of result – every case is unique
Thurston is tough
It is important that you do not delay in getting the advice of an experienced DUI & criminal defense attorney if you have been charged in Thurston County or by the City of Olympia.
Are Thurston County Arraignments in person?
Unlike other counties in the area, Thurston permits defendants to appear for their DUI Arraignment on Zoom. The decision to remain on Zoom has been a positive move since it allows for easier access to justice. People no longer have to find child care or take an entire day off of work to appear for a 15 minute court hearing. This also cuts down on issuing warrants for failure to appear.
The decision to permit DUI Arraignments via Zoom is somewhat unusual since it is common for courts to take defendants into custody when, at the Arraignment, the judge learns of past DUI history or warrants. However, for now, DUI Arraignments remain on Zoom. Always check with your lawyer for changes to this practice.
If you were not arraigned immediately following your DUI arrest, keep your mailing address up to date with DOL. The court will issue you a Summons to appear and mail it to your current DOL address. If you miss your court date because you never received the Summons, a warrant will likely be issued. We offer a low cost monitoring service to make sure this does not happen.
Finally, while DUI Arraignments are permitted via Zoom, this is not true for all criminal charges in all courts throughout the Thurston area. Some charges with the domestic violence special allegation will require a defendant to appear in person. Again, always check with your attorney as to whether your physical presence is required in court.
Our consultations are 100% free so there is no risk.
Reach an attorney now.
Why should I be concerned if I was arrested and released?
When a driver arrested for DUI is released rather than booked into jail, it creates confusion. Often, the person has been dropped off at home or released to a friend or family member without proper guidance for future expectations. The driver does not know when to appear for the Arraignment or how notification of a court date will arrive.
In addition to the risk of missing the Arraignment, the individual will also fail to request a DOL hearing to prevent the suspension of his or her license. With such a short DOL timeline, it is common for drivers who are cited and released to miss the deadline. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to the hearing request deadline. The department of licensing will suspend you even if you were not given proper notice of your right to request the hearing. To complicate matters, the person may unknowingly get suspended and then drive without a valid license This leads to an additional criminal charge of DWLS.
If you do not have an upcoming court date scheduled or you have not received your Summons, we offer a monitoring service to avoid the risk of a warrant. We can also help you with the DOL hearing request.
Does Thurston County offer a Pre-Trial Diversion or SOC?
Every city and county prosecutor has their own unique way of resolving DUI cases. Sometimes, a case will have weaknesses yet not warrant an immediate dismissal or reduction of charges. In that situation, a prosecutor will often agree to a “delayed” dismissal or may reduce the charge to a less serious offense after a period of probation (you must stay crime-free). The process or protocol to accomplish this result varies by county.
In Kitsap County, it is called a Pre-Trial Diversion Agreement (PDA). In Pierce County, it is called a Stipulated Order of Continuance (SOC). In Thurston County, the prosecutors do not like the delay in a PDA or SOC so they reduce or dismiss a charge at the resolution hearing. There are no lengthy continuances to a final resolution.
Additionally, Thurston County also allows for DUI defendants (with criminal history) to apply for DUI Drug Court. There is always the possibility of a Deferred Prosecution but we never recommend that for a first time DUI charge.
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.
What is DUI Drug Court?
For clients with multiple DUIs, this is an option. It is far more intense in terms of treatment and a longer duration than a deferred prosecution but it is the right fit for some people. You need to qualify and it is not an automatic alternative resolution. You cannot qualify with a first offense DUI. This is a Thurston-specific option.
What agency is charging you with a crime?
If your DUI arrest occurred within the unincorporated areas of Thurston County, the city limits of Tumwater, or the city limits of Rainer, you will be charged by the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office. Additionally, if you are a minor and accused of a juvenile offense that occurred anywhere in Thurston County, you will be prosecuted by the Thurston County Prosecutor’s Office.
What is a DUI prosecutor like?
This can vary a lot by county and city. For example, the prosecutor’s office is often a “first stop” in a lawyer’s career. In larger cities, they tend to hire deputy prosecutors with some experience from law school or post-law school. In small towns, your deputy prosecutor might be a brand new law school grad. While that might make you think the case will be easier to resolve, the opposite is often true. New lawyers often don’t know how to assess the weaknesses in their cases because they see every case as a “code red” and make a mountain out of a mole hill.
When you are arrested in a larger county with more experienced deputy prosecutors, this can be a benefit to the defendant because experienced prosecutors tend to assess a case’s strengths and weaknesses more accurately. This allows for much more productive negotiations.
Thankfully, most of the deputy prosecutors handling DUI cases in Thurston County have some experience. However, remember that deputy prosecutors are still humans with biases and egos. If your case has some egregious facts or you were especially rude or difficult during your arrest, the DPA may choose to make an example of your case. It is best to hire experienced counsel to navigate a resolution where you feel they are not giving you a fair review.
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.
- Reduction in Charges. This is a negotiated outcome where the State will agree to amend the DUI to a lesser charge in exchange for a plea to the lesser charge.
- 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.