Oak Harbor and Island County DUI Defense

The lawyers of Platt & Buescher have been defending against Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges in Oak Harbor and Island County since 1990. The Oak Harbor DUI defense attorneys of Platt & Buescher have specific knowledge concerning the locality that may help defend against any DUI defense. Visit our DUI Defense page for more information about DUI defense in general.

Arrest and Administrative Processing In Oak Harbor

Virtually all DUI cases begin with an arrest in the field (few are commenced through service of a complaint and summons). Officers who arrest driver’s for DUI generally claim the same “standard” observations in each case—blood shot watery eyes, slurred speech, odor of intoxicants, poor coordination and driving, etc. Therefore, video evidence is critical to challenge the officer’s assertions.

Most Oak Harbor Police Department squad cars have dash cams that record DUI stops. Most local Washington State Patrol squad cars have dash cams as well. Both the OHPD and WSP are also generally responsive to requests for dash cam recordings.

The Island County Sheriff patrol vehicles do not have dash cams. This is unfortunate. Dash Cams protect officers and citizens alike. They also keep law enforcement accountable. For example, the Whidbey News Times reported that an unnamed Island County Sheriff allegedly assaulted an Oak Harbor man on June 3, 2014 at about 4:00 p.m. during a traffic stop. A dash cam may have provided a disincentive to engage in such alleged conduct or may have otherwise confirmed or dispelled the allegations regarding the incident.

After an arrest the defendant will be taken to a location for a breath test. In Island County those locations include:

  1. Oak Harbor Police Department—Datamaster 140073 is located at the Oak Harbor Police Department. There is a video camera at this location. The Oak Harbor Police Department is generally responsive when video footage is requested. Video footage of the administration of the BAC test is critical for identification of breath test issues. Oftentimes police reports and breath test tickets to do not reveal problems while video evidence often does.

    To learn more about Datamaster 140073, repairs, breath tests, and instrument documentation visit: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/breathtest/wdms_home.htm

  2. NAS Whidbey—Datamaster 949174 is located at NAS Whidbey. It is maintained by the Washington State Patrol at this location and members of the WSP have security clearance to access this location. There is also a video camera at this location. Unfortunately, the Island County Prosecuting Attorney has historically failed to take any steps to obtain this video evidence. The Island County Prosecuting Attorney knows about this video recording. Datamaster 949174 has also been at this location since at least 1997. The recording is on a loop and will be recorded over within 30 days of the date of the arrest according to the Department of the Navy. The state’s failure to do anything to obtain this video and its destruction may support a motion to dismiss depending on the circumstances. See, e.g., Seattle v. Fettig, 10 Wash.App. 773 (Wash. Ct. App. 1974) (negligent destruction of video evidence favorable to DUI defendant violated due process and required reversal of DUI conviction).

    To learn more about Datamaster 949174, its repairs, breath tests, and instrument documentation visit: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/breathtest/wdms_home.htm

  3. Island County Sheriff’s Office South Precinct—Datamaster 949068 is located at the ICSO South Precinct. The Island County Sheriff does not have a video camera recording breath tests conducted at this location.

    To learn more about Datamaster 949174, its repairs, breath tests, and instrument documentation visit: http://www.wsp.wa.gov/breathtest/wdms_home.htm

  4. Island County Jail in Coupeville—Datamaster 949154 is located at the Island County Jail in Coupeville. The Island County Sheriff does not have a video camera recording breath tests conducted at this location (although countless cameras are located in the jail). It seems the Island County Sheriff has an aversion to maintaining video cameras that may make Sheriff’s accountable or may otherwise capture favorable evidence.

In most cases, the arresting officer will book and release the defendant after administration of the evidential breath test. The defendant will then be provided with a court date for his or her preliminary appearance. In some cases, a defendant may be held in jail pending the preliminary hearing.

The Court

Most DUI cases are handled in the courthouse located in Oak Harbor at 800 SE 8th Ave. The courthouse in Oak Harbor houses several different courts including the Island County District Court and Oak Harbor Municipal Court. If an Island County Sheriff or Washington State Patrol Trooper makes an arrest for DUI, the case will be heard by the Island County District Court. If a member of the Oak Harbor Police Department makes an arrest for DUI, the case will be heard in the Oak Harbor Municipal Court. Judge William Hawkins is currently the judge of the Island County District Court. Linda Kipling is the current Commissioner. Retired Judge Peter Stow will occasionally preside over proceedings when either the Commissioner or Judge is absent. Attorney Jennifer Brainard will also serve as a Judge Pro Tem if the Commissioner or Judge is absent.

General Procedure

Preliminary Hearing

The preliminary appearance for those accused of DUI and who are out of custody is typically held on a Monday at about 1:00 p.m. Preliminary appearances for those who are in custody at the Island County Jail in Coupeville will usually be held at 8:30 a.m. the morning after the arrest via video conference. Judge Hawkins will preside over the hearing at the Island County District Court in courtroom number 2 while the defendant remains at the Island County Jail. Preliminary appearances for those who are in custody at the Oak Harbor Jail will also be held at 8:30 a.m. the morning after the arrest. Commissioner Kipling will preside over the hearing in courtroom number 1 and defendant’s will be physically transported to the courtroom from the Oak Harbor Jail.

At the preliminary hearing the court will determine whether probable cause exists to support the charge and will inform the defendant of the nature of the charge, the right to be assigned a lawyer at every stage of the proceedings, and the right to remain silent. The court will also determine pretrial release conditions. CrRLJ 3.2.1. Standard pretrial release conditions in the Island County District Court and Oak Harbor Municipal Court typically include: (x) personal recognizance; (x) possess or consume no alcohol, marijuana or non-prescribed controlled substances; (x) reappear for all future court dates; (x) not refuse any breath/blood alcohol or drug test or Drug Recognition Examination; (x) commit no further criminal violations; (x) not drive without a valid license and proof of insurance; (x) not leave the State of Washington without prior Court permission. However, depending on circumstances of the crime or the defendant’s criminal history, the court may order that the defendant be detained in jail pending trial and order bail to be set. Other times the court may order the defendant to enroll in a transdermal alcohol monitoring program (SCRAM anklet) and submit proof to probation. The court may also order the defendant to obtain an ignition interlock device in his or her vehicle. At times the court has also ordered random urinalysis as well as a pretrial release conditions.

Ultimately, pretrial hearings can be quick, simple, and may involve relatively few pretrial release conditions. Other times, the preliminary hearing may be involved and may result in intrusive pretrial release conditions. The DUI defense attorneys of Platt & Buescher are aware of the arguments the court has found persuasive in terms of pretrial release conditions.

Arraignment

Following the preliminary hearing the court will set an arraignment. The Island County District Court arraignment calendar typically falls on a Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. and is held in courtroom number 2 with Judge Hawkins. The Oak Harbor Municipal Court arraignment calendar typically falls on a Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. and is in courtroom number 1 with Commissioner Kipling.

The DUI attorneys of Platt & Buescher strive to not only fight against DUI charges, but also seek to make the process as painless as possible. That means keeping the client out of court to avoid disruption in their daily lives. Fortunately, the local rules in Island County permit the arraignment to be waived in DUI cases. CrRLJ 4.1(g); LCrRLJ 4.1.

Pretrial Hearing

Following the arraignment the court will typically set a pretrial hearing. The pretrial calendar for the Island County District Court is held on Tuesdays at 9:00 a.m. The pretrial calendar for the Oak Harbor Municipal Court is held on Wednesdays at 1:00 p.m. The local rules in Island County permit defendants to file a waiver of attendance that permit their attorney to appear on their behalf. LCrRLJ 3.4. This will also avoid disruption to the daily lives of clients. The DUI attorneys of Platt & Buescher will attend the hearing in the client’s stead.

The pretrial hearing is basically a status conference where the parties advise the court on matters concerning exchange of discovery, plea negotiations, motions, scheduling, and other matters concerning the status of the case. Depending on the circumstances of the case and needs of the client, one or more pretrial hearings may occur. Many cases are resolved at the pretrial hearing stage. If the parties are unable to reach a resolution the case will be set for trial and a date for readiness and other motions hearings will be scheduled as well.

Readiness/Motions Hearings

Readiness hearings are typically scheduled the week before trial and are held on a Monday at 1:30 p.m. The purpose of the readiness hearing is to advise the court of whether the parties are ready for trial.

Motions hearings for the Island County District Court are typically held on Mondays at 2:00 p.m. Motions hearings for the Oak Harbor Municipal Court are typically held on Mondays at 9:00 a.m. There are countless motions that may be filed in a given DUI case. For examples of motions that may be filed in a DUI case refer to our DUI Defense page.

DUI Trial

Those who are in custody have a right to be brought to trial within 60 days of the date of arraignment less time that is excluded under CrRLJ 3.3. Those who are out of custody have a right to be brought to trial within 90 days of the date of arraignment less time that is excluded under CrRLJ 3.3. A DUI trial typically lasts about two days depending on the case.

Voir Dire (jury selection) is commenced first. Opening statements are then given. The state then puts on its case in chief in an attempt to prove DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. The state’s witnesses typically include the arresting officer, breath test technician, and a member of the Washington State Toxicologist Laboratory. Defense counsel will have an opportunity to cross examine each witnesses. After the state puts on its case in chief the defense may put on its case in rebuttle. Defense witnesses may include the defendant, other witnesses with personal knowledge (e.g. a passenger in the vehicle or others who may testify about defendant’s sobriety at the relevant time), and expert witnesses. Expert Witnesses utilized may vary depending on the case. In a breath test case, one with a Ph.D. in bioengineering may testify about breath testing and the weaknesses of the Datamaster to undermine the test. In a refusal case, an expert in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing may be important. In some cases expert witnesses may not be necessary at all. Each case is different. After the case in rebuttal the parties will make closing statements. The jury will deliberate and announce its verdict.

Overall, Platt & Buescher is uniquely familiar with Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Island County generally. Contact our office to discuss your DUI charge today.