If you have been arrested for DUI in the Whatcom County or Bellingham area, how and where your DUI case will be processed depends upon where exactly you were arrested and which police agency arrested you. If you were stopped and arrested by either the Washington State Patrol or the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and you were in Whatcom County, in all likelihood your case will be filed into Whatcom County District Court and prosecuted by the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office. If you were arrested by a City of Bellingham Police Officer, your case will be processed in the Bellingham Municipal Court and handled by the Criminal Division of the Bellingham City Attorney’s Office. If you have been arrested for driving under the influence in Whatcom County, contact a Bellingham DUI Lawyer as soon as possible.
DUI Cases in Whatcom County District Court
Those who are arrested for DUI and find their cases pending in Whatcom County District Court will, in many instances, be held on the night of their arrest until they are seen by a judge. Whether or not the defendant is held in custody, the first appearance, or arraignment, will usually occur on the next business day. At the arraignment, the judge will inform the defendant of the crime with which he’s been charged and then ask that a plea be entered. In virtually every case, that plea should be not guilty. After being arraigned the court will determine what conditions should be imposed on the defendant while the case is pending. If a person has no criminal or DUI related history, barring a high breath test, accident or some other aggravating factor, he or she will likely be released upon their personal recognizance or promise to appear at the next court date as well as some minor standard conditions (maintain lawful behavior, no consumption of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs, etc.) If the defendant has DUI related or criminal history, or there is the presence of an aggravating factor, the imposition of bail, participation in pretrial probation services, order for an ignition interlock device or even placement into home detention while the case is pending is possible. At arraignment, two future dates are set. One is a pretrial conference known as an Omnibus Hearing and it is usually scheduled about 6 weeks after the arraignment. The other is the prospective trial date which is set about two week after Omnibus.
The vast majority of investigation and negotiation done on a DUI case occurs in the window of time between the arraignment and the omnibus hearing. While it is advised that a person facing a DUI charge in Whatcom County have an attorney prior to arraignment, it is vital that a Washington DUI Lawyer be contacted well in advance of the Omnibus Hearing.
One feature of the Whatcom County District Court System that sets it apart from from most other courts in Washington, is the size and functioning of the Whatcom County Probation Department. At Milios Defense, we have not come across a more rigorous and demanding probation department anywhere else in the State. Review our Washington DUI Self Help Guide. The more proactive you are, the greater the likelihood that you can avoid the expense and rigors of an experience with Whatcom County Probation.
DUI Cases in Bellingham Municipal Court
The DUI process in the Bellingham Municipal Court does not differ greatly from its counter part at the county level. In fact the same caveat about the Whatcom County Probation Department applies the Bellingham Municipal Court. This is because Whatcom County contracts with the City of Bellingham to provide DUI and criminal offender supervision. The City of Bellingham, however, does have its own court as well as its own judge and court rules. It currently has arraignments on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, pretrials on Monday and Tuesday afternoons and jury trials on Tuesday mornings. Visit the Bellingham Municipal Court website for current information.
If you have been arrested for DUI in Whatcom County or the Cities of Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale or Lynden, contact a Washington DUI Lawyer at Milios Defense with any questions you may have or for a free consultation.