If you have been arrested for DUI anywhere in King County by either a WSP trooper or King County Sheriff's Deputy, your case will likely be filed in King County District Court (KCDC).
DUI filings in KCDC, which used to be backed up for months, now take on average two to four weeks following arrest. The officer therefore may not have given you a date to appear in court, but he should have given you the Request for DOL Administrative Hearing form.
I was arrested for DUI in King County. Where will my case be handled?
There are currently several divisions of the King County District Court: South (Kent/RJC, Burien, Auburn), East (Bellevue, Issaquah, and Redmond), and West (Shoreline, Seattle). DUI and other criminal misdemeanor charges are currently filed in Seattle (downtown), Redmond, and Kent/MRJC courts in King County.
Auburn Division only handles City of Auburn criminal cases; Shoreline Division handles King County and Shoreline traffic infractions and Shoreline misdemeanor offenses, and Burien Division handles King County and Burien traffic infractions and Burien misdemeanor offenses.
Each district has several judges assigned to hear DUI and other criminal matters. The King County District Court bench is known for being tough on DUI and other criminal offenses, particularly when there is prior related history.
If you were arrested by a city police officer, for instance in Federal Way or Kent, within city limits, and not on a highway or freeway, chances are your case will be filed in that city's municipal court.
I received a summons to appear in King County District Court. What happens next?
At your first appearance (arraignment) the Court will set conditions of release which may include bail and/or alcohol monitoring (Ignition Interlock, EHM with Sobrietor). The court will issue a pretrial hearing date, usually about four to six weeks later.
What will happen with my court case?
The outcome of your King County DUI case depends on several factors. Was there a breath test or a refusal? What was the Breath Alcohol Content (BAC) reading? Did you do Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)? Did you admit to drinking? Were there any passengers in the car? Were you cooperative with the officer?
If you have been recently arrested for DUI in King County, or charged with DUI in King County District Court, you need an experienced attorney who is both focused on DUI defense, with knowledge of the policies and customs of the KCDC system and the King County Prosecuting Attorneys that handle DUI cases there.
Prosecutors in King County are notoriously tight-fisted when it comes to plea offers. In fact, it appears their deputy prosecutors have been ordered to not negotiate DUI cases at all. (Read my recent blog article on the subject here.) Because of this, trial is common in KCDC even for first offense DUIs. More DUI cases go to trial in King County District Court than any other court.
I've been arrested for DUI in King County. What should I do now?
You should consult with an experienced King County DUI defense attorney as soon as possible, before your court date. The penalties for a DUI conviction in King County are increasingly harsh and include license suspension, jail time, fines and monetary fees, ignition interlock requirements, and SR-22 insurance requirements. Although KCDC may take weeks to file your DUI case, remember that the Department of Licensing (DOL) plans to suspend your license 60 days following your arrest – regardless of whether you've yet been charged – and you face automatic suspension unless you request a hearing within 20 days.
If you face a DUI charge in King County, it is essential that you speak with a DUI lawyer who understands the current state of King County DUI and Washington DUI law as well as the customs of its courts. The King County bench has rulings on the admissibility of breath tests and refusal evidence that may differ from those in other courts, which in turn benefit your case. You need an attorney who is familiar with these rulings, and up to date with breath test admissibility in King County as well as other area courts.
You also need a DUI attorney who understands how the breath test machine (BAC Datamaster / Datamaster CDM) works, and how to attack its reliability. A strong King County DUI attorney must also be a skilled and experienced trial attorney. There is simply no way to develop the ability to attack the Government's BAC witnesses (BAC technicians and state toxicologists) without trial experience.
The DUI attorneys at Puget Law Groups have the skills, knowledge and experience to aggressively defend you in King County, and we try DUI cases in King County District Court on a regular basis. DUI Attorney Dan Gerl is a former DUI prosecutor with years of DUI experience throughout King and Pierce County both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He currently handles DUI cases in King County District Court and in courts throughout the Puget Sound area, as well as other criminal charges.
Click here to find out more information regarding DOL license suspensions, Ignition Interlock Device, how to request an Administrative Hearing to contest your suspension, and how to apply for a Restricted (IIL/ORL) License.
Click here for King County District Court contact information.