We Know The Court Systems Of Oak Harbor And Whidbey Island
The lawyers of Platt, Thompson and Buescher have been defending against Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges in Oak Harbor and Island County since 1990. Our DUI defense attorneys have specific knowledge concerning the locality that may help defend against any DUI charges.
Visit our DUI Defense page for more information about DUI defense in general.
Arrest and Administrative Processing In Oak Harbor
Most DUI cases begin with an arrest in the field (but cases involving a blood draw are oftentimes commenced through service of a complaint and summons). Officers who arrest drivers 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.
Oak Harbor Police Department squad cars usually have dash cams that record DUI stops. The Oak Harbor Police Department recently began using body cameras as well. Most local Washington State Patrol squad cars also have dash cams. Both the OHPD and WSP are also generally responsive to requests for dash cam recordings. This video evidence can be critical to your case.
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. If a picture tells a thousand words, videos are priceless.
After an arrest the defendant will be taken to a location for a breath test. In Island County those locations include:
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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.
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 in the same building, 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 Presiding Judge of the Island County District Court. Commissioner Ron Costeck is the current Court Commissioner. Other local attorneys may preside over proceedings as Judge Pro Tems if the Judge or Commissioner are unavailable on a given court day. Both Mimi Buescher and Craig Platt have served in this capacity.
DUI General Procedure
The Preliminary Appearances for those accused of DUI and who are out of custody are typically held at 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 usually presides over the hearing at the Island County District Court in courtroom number 2 while the defendant remains at the Island County Jail and appears in court on a TV screen. This system was in place well before Zoom became popular (i.e. before Covid).
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 install an ignition interlock device, be subject to mobile breath testing, or enroll in a transdermal alcohol monitoring program (SCRAM anklet) and submit proof of compliance to probation.
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, Thompson & Buescher are aware of the arguments the court has found persuasive in terms of pretrial release conditions.
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 Costeck.
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 (cancelled) in DUI cases assuming conditions of release have been set. CrRLJ 4.1(g); LCrRLJ 4.1.
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, Thompson & 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, 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. Typically, pretrials are set over several times as the lawyers investigate and negotiate. Our clients need not attend these since we fille Waivers of Attendance in every case for their convenience. We go to court for them. They can live their normal lives
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 motion hearings will be scheduled as well.
Readiness and Motion 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.
Motion hearings for the Island County District Court are typically held on Mondays at 2:00 p.m. Motion 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. The attorneys of Platt, Thompson & Buescher will place each DUI case under a microscope to try to identify legal arguments that will support motions to suppress evidence or dismiss charges.
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.
Trials begin with Voir Dire (jury selection). The lawyers ask the jurors questions to see if they can be fair. Each side can excuse up to three jurors without giving a reason (preemptory challenge), and also any jurors who the court finds are not able to be fair (challenge for cause).
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 in blood test cases. Defense counsel will have an opportunity to cross examine each witness. After the state puts on its case in chief the defense may put on its Case in Rebuttal. 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 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 Draeger Alcotest to educate the jury about problems with the test results. 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 Rebuttal the parties will make Closing Arguments. The jury will then deliberate and announce its verdict. If they are “hung” and cannot unanimously agree, a mistrial could be declared.
Overall, Platt, Thompson and Buescher is uniquely familiar with Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and the rest of Island County. Contact our office to discuss your DUI charge today. Call 360-474-3994 or reach out by email.