Most people who have been arrested and charged with a DUI, if there is any disposition short of an actual dismissal, will likely face a review hearing in some form or another. Whether the result of the case is a conviction for DUI, a plea to a reduced charge (such as Negligent Driving in the First Degree or Reckless Driving), entry into a deferred prosecution, or some other form of conditional deferral, at some point the court will set a review to determine whether or not the conditions of sentence have been complied with. Unless you are absolutely certain that you have complied with all court orders, do not appear at such a hearing without contacting a DUI lawyer. If you have a lawyer on retainer as part of the original case, obviously seek his or her counsel first. If you do not have an attorney, either because the original attorney has withdrawn from the case or because there was never an attorney on the case to begin with, make sure you contact a DUI attorney as soon as you receive notice of the review the hearing. If you know that you have not complied with the court's orders or that there is a new DUI or other criminal law violation, it is even more imperative that you seek counsel immediately.
While most attention is focused on the actual defense of the DUI charge, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of jail time and other consequences imposed in most cases occurs at a DUI review hearing. What follows is a synopsis of the different types of review hearings and the different circumstances in which they occur as well as the potential consequences one might face.
An "administrative review" is simply a pre-scheduled review to determine if the defendant has been following the conditions of the court. Payment of fines, completion of evaluations or treatment programs, absence of new criminal conduct and compliance with other terms of probation are common reasons the court will set an administrative review. These "hearings" are normally set at the time of sentencing and generally don't require the presence of the defense. If something is awry, the court will schedule a formal hearing and send out notice to the defendant and usually (but not always) defense counsel.
A scheduled review is also usually set at the time of sentencing. It is set for the purpose of having the defendant return to court to see if court imposed deadlines have been met. In many courts, the defendant's presence is or can be waived if he or she is in total compliance. In others, the appearance is mandatory. If you are unsure as to whether your appearance is mandatory or if you are in compliance, be sure to check with either your attorney of record, the court, or, if all else fails, contact a DUI lawyer.
Unscheduled Review (Non-Compliance with Conditions)
An unscheduled review is one that comes on after the court has learned that the defendant has somehow fallen out of compliance with the court's sentencing directives. Once a transgressions or failure to complete an ordered condition is reported to the court, a date is set for the defendant to answer to the allegation. Because of the unscheduled nature of this type of review, it is important to keep the court notified of any address changes during the period of probation. The court will send notice to the last known address. If the defendant does not appear, even if he or she didn't receive notice, a warrant will be issued.
Deferred Prosecution Review
Deferred prosecution reviews generally fall into any of the three above categories. The court will schedule two reviews, at the time the deferred prosecution is formally entered. The first is a "two year" review. The purpose of this is to make sure that the two year treatment program was completed. (See Deferred Prosecution) More often that not, the defendant's presence is waived if he or she non-compliant with treatment. The second is a "five year" review. This final date is to dismiss the DUI, assuming that all conditions of the deferred prosecution were met. If there have been any new violations that are discovered at the two and five year reviews, the court would likely address the violations at that time. Likewise, courts often schedule administrative hearings throughout the course of the five year plan in order to track progress. If violations are discovered, either through probation or these administrative check-ups, the unscheduled hearing would then be set.
Conditional Disposition Review
Conditional disposition reviews are similar in nature to the deferred prosecution review. A conditional disposition is where the State agrees to dismiss or reduce a DUI charge if the defendant follows certain agreed conditions. It differs from a deferred prosecution in that a "deferred" is a program that has been specifically created by statute and it's terms are non-negotiable. A conditional disposition can literally be comprised of any agreement the parties can imagine. Normally, however, it is an agreement to reduce the DUI charge to something lesser in exchange for the defendant abiding by certain conditions over a one or two year period of time. As such, the review processes are very similar.
What makes the review process so daunting is the prospect of the very stiff sanction the court can, and often does, impose if a violation of conditions is found. For deferred prosecutions and conditional dispositions, adverse findings would result in a conviction for DUI and commensurate jail, fine, and license suspension. If the review is post-sentencing on a previously established conviction, whatever portion of the jail or fine that has been suspended could be levied. Certain violations on a DUI probation (driving on a suspended license, refuse a breath test, driving without an ignition interlock) carry mandatory 30 day jail sentences.
Review hearings truly can be the most dangerous aspect of DUI defense. People who received no to very little jail for the underlying offense are often given much greater punishments upon review, even for behavior that is not as serious as the DUI itself. Never walk into a DUI review situation without a DUI lawyer, especially if there is the possibility that a violation has occurred. If you have any questions about an upcoming review, contact our Washington DUI lawyers as soon as possible.