Facing a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge anywhere in Washington State is an extremely intimidating and fearful proposition. DUI arrests in Washington are increasingly prevalent and numerous persons are even being charged with DUI when their Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC)is below .08. Many municipalities have even instituted police patrols labeled “DUI Squads” to address drinking and driving within their communities.
If you have been arrested for DUI anywhere in Washington State, it is important that you retain knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced representation. That being said, one of the most difficult challenges you initially face is the prospect of locating and selecting a “DUI” attorneyfrom within the gamut of websites and phone book solicitations. It may be uncomfortable to candidly ask for assistance from family and friends in your efforts to locate a skilled DUI attorney and you may feel it is necessary to initiate a search on your own using the internet or many phone book advertisements. Keep in mind, however, if you have been referred to an attorney who primarily practices DUI law, that may be a highly significant factor in assessing the skill, experience, and reputation of the particular attorney or firm and is something you should take into consideration when deciding who to retain.
Of course, one of the many pieces of information you want to gather from the attorney or firm is the number of DUI cases they have handled and their familiarity with the numerous statutes and administrative codes in Washington State. Another highly crucial piece of information you need to obtain is the attorney's knowledge of the BAC DataMaster (the “breathalyzer” used in Washington State) if you submitted to a test. You would also want to know that if you refused (or were alleged to have refused) a breath test how that would affect your liberty and driving privileges.
If you choose to search through websites and phone book ads regarding DUI representation in Washington State, it may be helpful to know that all lawyers are bound by a strict set of Rules of Professional Conduct (RPC) which govern appropriate advertising campaigns and limits. For example: RPC 7.1 states:
“A lawyer shall not make a false or misleading communication about the lawyer or the lawyer's services. A communication is false or misleading if it contains a material misrepresentation of fact or law, or omits a fact necessary to make the statement considered as a whole not materially misleading.”
Furthermore, RPC 7.3(a) states: A lawyer shall not directly or through a third person, by in-person, live telephone, or real-time electronic contact solicit professional employment from a prospective client when a significant motive for the lawyer's doing so is the lawyer's pecuniary gain…
So, certainly direct phone calls and email contact offering representation on your DUI charge is a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct. Undoubtedly you may be concerned with the cost of DUI representation in Washington State, but take to heart these facts to put your hiring decision in perspective and keep these helpful tips in mind:
a) The lowest quoted fee/bid may not necessarily be in your best interest: the DataMaster (“breathalyzer” you may have blown in to) when originally introduced in Washington State was selected because its original manufacturer, Verax, underbid the competition by thirty percent even though the State Patrol's own research showed that another machine “performed superior to the rest.” So, consider that the experience, skill, and knowledge of DUI laws and cases in Washington are how the attorney bases his or her fee.
b) A DUI conviction cannot be expunged in Washington (i.e. it will remain on your record).
c) You will be denied entry into Canada if you have a DUI conviction and will not be eligible to even apply for “rehabilitation” for entry into Canada until after 5 years have elapsed since all sentences related to the charge have been satisfied.
d) Reputation is key: prosecutors, judges and even Washington State Troopers and Police Officers who respect an attorney or firm can go a long way when deciding on whom to hire. So ask a judge, police officer or other attorney what they think of the DUI attorney you are considering retaining; who better to ask for a referral.
This is your decision, your life and liberty at stake and you need to take the time to consider the many factors which can affect your choice. If you have questions about a DUI arrest, feel free to contact Nathan Webb for a consultation.