In most jurisdictions in Washington, when a person is arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) he or she can expect to be charged within a few days to a few weeks. This is not only the intent of the state legislature, it’s what most people facing DUI charges desire. It gives them the ability to face the issue, get it resolved, and move on with their life as soon as possible. For a person arrested for DUI in King Count by the Washington State Patrol (WSP) or possibly the King County Sheriff’s Office, this is not so.
Currently, people facing King County DUI charges can expect to wait a minimum of two months and possibly more than a year before their case is filed in court. Whether this if for strategic purposes, lack of man power due to budgetary constraints or filing limitations imposed by the King County District Court system, the reult is the same. Delay and uncertainty.
Historically, this is not the first time there have been inordinate delays in the the filing of DUI charges from the King County Prosecutor. Between 1998-2005, delays in the filing of King County DUI charges ran anywhere from six months to the full two year statute of limitations. From our experience, we saw individuals who went uncharged for these large periods of time, in some cases for multiple DUIs. In fact, our office alone saw at least six cases that, despite a DUI arrest and in some instances high BACs, were never filed. And while for those individuals, the wait was worth it, for others it was unbearable. It meant putting their careers, their education, and their lives on hold.
The delays we are seeing today began back in late 2007, early 2008. Initially, these filing delays were only four to eight weeks. Now they are nearly back to 2004 levels. What does this mean for the person waiting for DUI charges to be filed in King County? For one thing, don’t just sit back and wait. The vast majority of DUI cases will be filed. Be proactive. Speak to an attorney. Accomplishing things that the court will expect prior to the filing of charges, will help immensely. Also, there is a Department of Licensing component to most cases and the DOL doesn’t wait. The DOL can and will suspend the license of a person who either refused a breath test or blew over a .08 irrespective of King County DUI filing delays.