DUI Pretrial Conditions of Release Restricted by Court Ruling

By Garth O'Brien | March 14, 2007 
Filed Under DUI

The Washington State Court of Appeals issued a ruling recently restricting district and municipal court judges from imposing certain conditions of release for DUI defendants.

It is typical for judges to impose the following conditions of release at an arraignment hearing for those charged with DUI:

Complete a substance abuse evaluation from an approved agency;
Attend 1 to 7 AA self help meetings per week;
and for some repeat offenders or egregious cases
House Arrest;
Weekly meetings with the probation department.

The arraignment is an opportunity for the defendant to receive notice that the government is filing criminal charges. It is also an opportunity for the defendant to make a plea to those charges. It is always recommended to plea not guilty until you have discussed all the options with an attorney.

Once a defendant enters a plea of not guilty at the arraignment hearing, the judge then must determine two things. Is the defendant a flight risk and is the defendant a danger to the community. If the judge determines a defendant is a flight risk or a danger then bail can be imposed. If the defendant cannot post bail the defendant will be held in jail until his case concludes. This could mean at least 2 or more months in custody.

Judges were also allowed to release the defendant without bail, but they would require the defendant to adhere to conditions of release. Many of those conditions are listed above. The Washington State Court of Appeals ruled these conditions before a finding of guilt are unconstitutional and violated court rules.

I do not condone drinking and driving and I do not support relaxing the DUI laws. However, our constitutional demands a presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt by the government. House arrest is confinement. Seeking evaluations is costly. This is not how an “innocent” person should be treated.

That being said, a competent attorney will advise their client to seek the evaluation immediately. A competent attorney will also require their client to attend a victim impact panel and sometimes attend AA no matter what the court recommends.

This ruling might be a blow for safeguarding community safety, but it might also generate support for mandatory interlock devices in every vehicle operated in the United States. This is the clear solution for eradicating DUI, alcohol related automobile accidents, and death from these accidents.

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