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Seattle DUI Attorney

Have you been arrested for DUI in Seattle Washington?

If you were arrested by the Seattle Police Department your case will be filed at the Seattle Justice Center, which is located at 5th Avenue and James in downtown Seattle.  We have been defending people accused of DUIs in Seattle Municipal Court for over twenty years and we are happy to give you a free consultation so you understand the road ahead.  Highly respected by judges, prosecutors, and his peers, Kevin Trombold and his staff enjoys bringing his experience to you and your DUI case.  Let him put you at ease.

One of the most common charges in Seattle Municipal Court is Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and Physical Control, which is treated the same as DUI but occurs when the car isn't moving.  A DUI in Seattle is a serious offense and requires a serious and experienced Seattle DUI attorney who focuses their practice on DUIs. For more than two decades Kevin Trombold has been standing between the City of Seattle Prosecutors and his people, executing all potential DUI defenses with great success. With more than two decades of experience in Seattle Municipal Court, Kevin knows the Seattle DUI prosecutors and Court and what's needed to obtain a good result in such a difficult environment.

Having pointed out the necessity of an experienced DUI attorney who's able to navigate the complex Seattle DUI Court system and after having suggested that you call us first, we know there are some that still want more details.  So here they are in all their glory and prejudice.

Seattle is one of the most difficult and busy places in the State of Washington to be arrested for DUI - 1550 cases filed last year.  The Seattle DUI laws are tough, the Seattle Police Department's DUI Squad is effective and experienced, the Seattle DUI Prosecutors have a high conviction rate and negotiate as though they are running for election every year.  The Seattle Municipal Court Judges are strict with punishments and supervision.  But all this makes success in your case even more satisfying for Kevin and his team.

Seattle Police DUI Squad

Seattle DUI Cases

The Seattle Police Department's DUI Squad is highly trained.  The average experience is close to two decades, with Officer Michl close to twenty five years on the force.   Many of the Seattle DUI officers are trained and qualified as Drug Recognition Experts.   The training to become a DRE is extensive compared to the average officer.  This training includes a field certification process and a one day final exam.  Each DRE must recertify every two years, and attend frequent in-service training.   The DRE's work is supposedly confirmed by the Washington State Toxicologist who analyzes blood samples submitted by DRE's following an impairment evaluation and arrest.

But don't be scared by such a show of authority.  Significant aspects of the Seattle DUI criminal prosecution remain to be challenged by competent counsel.  The science behind the Seattle DUI breath testing machines, the Seattle DUI field sobriety tests, even the Seattle DUI police reports forms are fruitful areas to raise challenges in cases.

Seattle DUI Squad Officer Michl

Seattle Municipal Court DUI Prosecutors

The Seattle DUI Prosecutors have strict negotiation standards that allow for few reductions.  Its even more important therefore to have an experienced Seattle DUI attorney, who understands the Seattle DUI negotiation standards and what evidence needs to be generated to provide a good outcome in any given Seattle DUI case.

Of the more than 32,000 DUI and Physical Control cases filed in 2013 throughout the entire State of Washington, the City of Seattle filed 1550 charges, King County filed 3687, Pierce County filed 2733, and Snohomish County filed 2236.   A more appropriate comparison, the City of Everett filed 206, and Tacoma filed 511 DUI and Physical Control cases.

Seattle Municipal Court Judges

The Seattle Municipal Court Judges are some of the most restrictive judges in the State when it comes to pretrial release on Seattle DUI cases - they have favored SCRAM (see below) bracelets and ignition interlock devices.  Soon they will be implementing a new hand held breath testing device similar to the portable breath tester you may have seen in the street at the time of your arrest.   An effective Seattle DUI attorney needs to understand how to work around the tendencies of theses judges to impose ignition interlocks and other alcohol monitoring devices.

A Seattle DUI Attorney

Kevin Trombold is a top rated Seattle DUI attorney that can help you as he has helped thousands of DUI clients arrested in Seattle for over twenty years.  Kevin has been handling Seattle DUIs since 1993 and knows what it takes to get a Seattle DUI dismissed or reduced.  Kevin has forged good professional relationships with prosecutors and judges in Seattle Municipal Court through years and years of negotiations, litigation, and trial.  He is respected as a Seattle DUI attorney by the Seattle Municipal Court DUI Prosecutors as well as the Seattle Municipal Court DUI Judges.

Kevin serves as the representative for all private DUI attorneys once a month at the Seattle Municipal Court Bench Bar meeting, which includes the Seattle Municipal Court Judges, the Seattle Police Department, Seattle Municipal Court Clerks and Bailiffs, Seattle Municipal Court Public Defenders, and the Seattle Municipal Court DUI Prosecutors.  Kevin has an intimate understanding of what happens in the Seattle Justice Center.

Watching Seattle DUI laws evolve and change has given Kevin the wisdom to speak at conferences to other Seattle DUI attorneys, and to write Seattle DUI articles for magazines and books.

Seattle DUI Penalties

Criminal Penalties for a Seattle DUIs are tough.  Starting at the arraignment, which is the first hearing in the criminal court process the Seattle Municipal Court DUI Judges tend to impose alcohol monitoring devices.  Call our office to discuss the exceptions to this intrusive practice, which can be very humiliating and result in loss of job and freedom of movement.  They call them "conditions of release" while the case is pending in court but they feel like punishment.

If convicted of a first offense DUI in Seattle people face a mandatory 1-2 days in jail depending on the level of breath test evidence or refusal of the breath test, mandatory fines up to $1121, mandatory license suspensions from 90 days up to 2 years, mandatory Ignition Interlock, mandatory probation or supervision up to five years, and high risk insurance once eligible for a license again.

Under the law, the DUI charge is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one day short of a year (364 days) in jail and a five thousand dollar fine.  There are mandatory jail sentences if convicted.  The judge has no choice if he or she receives a guilty verdict from a jury or a plea from a defendant - he or she has to order you to serve jail.  And since most people are released or bail out of jail after a DUI arrest in Seattle before talking to counsel, they are often short of the required twenty-four hours dictated by the statute and so have to go back to jail if convicted.  Sentences are larger for breath test results over .15 or refusals and again even higher for second or third offenses within a seven year term from the first offense.

As the charts below show, potential criminal penalties include mandatory jail, fines, license suspension for at least ninety days, ignition interlock on your car, an alcohol evaluation and treatment, and attendance of a DUI victims panel and high risk insurance.

The mandatory penalties in your case will vary in severity depending on your prior driving record. But remember that the prosecutor and the Department of Licensing have to prove numerous things before any of these penalties apply.

The Judges in Seattle DUI Court consider prior convictions within seven years at sentencing to trigger mandatory sentencing times.  Convictions prior to seven years are considered but don't trigger mandatory jail terms.  Within seven years means that the arrest for the prior offense occurred within 7 years of arrest for current charge.

Offense Penalty License Action
BAC < .15 or No BAC Jail: 1-364 days (or 15 days EHM allowed)
Fine: $866-$5000
Interlock: Required
90 day suspension
BAC ≥ .15 or refusal Jail: 2-364 days (or 30 days EHM allowed)
Fine: $1121-$5000
Interlock: Required
1 year revocation for BAC over .15
2 year revocation for refusal
Offense Penalty License Action
BAC < .15 Jail: 30-364 days & 60 days EHM
Fine: $1121-$5000
Interlock: 1 year minimum
2 year license revocation
BAC ≥ .15 or refusal Jail: 45-364 days & 90 days EHM
Fine: $1546-$5000
Interlock: 1 year minimum
2.5 year revocation for BAC over .15
3 year revocation for refusal
Offense Penalty License Action
BAC < .15 Jail: 90-364 days & 120 days EHM
Fine: $1971-$5000
Interlock: 1 year minimum
3 year license revocation
BAC > .15 or refusal Jail: 120-364 days & 150 days EHM
Fine: $2821-$5000
Interlock: 1 year minimum
4 year license revocation
Offense Penalty License Action
Reckless Driving Jail: 0-364 days
Fine: $0-$5000

30 day license suspension (IID on 2nd offense)

Offense Penalty License Action
Neg 1 Jail: 0-90 days
Fine: $0-$1000
None (IID on 2nd Offense)
Offense Penalty License Action
Minor DUI Jail: 0-90 days
Fine: $0-$1000

Based on alcohol, drugs or mental health

Deferred Prosecution Jail: 0 days
Fine: 0
Interlock: 1 year minimum
Probation costs: $25-$50/month

2 year treatment program, case dismissed after 5 years.


Court Suspensions and Revocations

License Suspended License Revoked
SR-22 insurance for 3 years
$150 re-issue fee
Alcohol evaluation & follow-up treatment
Minimum alcohol information school
SR-22 insurance for 3 years
$150 re-issue fee
Pass Driver's Ability Test
Alcohol Evaluation & follow-up treatment
Minimum alcohol information school

Civil Penalties

Civil penalties imposed by the state Department of Licensing include license suspension or revocation and a requirement for SR 22 high-risk insurance.


Department of Licensing Administrative Sanctions

Offense First Offense License Action Second Offense License Action
BAC ≥ .08 90 day suspension 2 year license revocation
Refusal 1 year license revocation 2 year license revocation (or until 21,
whichever longer)
Minor BAC ≥ .02 90 day suspension ≥ 2nd in 7 years:
1 year license revocation


Court Suspensions and Revocations

License Suspended License Revoked
SR-22 insurance for 3 years
$150 re-issue fee
SR-22 insurance for 3 years
$150 re-issue fee
Pass Driver's Ability Test

High Risk Insurance (SR-22)

If the Department of Licensing suspends your license, you will be required to carry SR-22 high-risk insurance for the three years after your license is reinstated. Clients are often worried about how much their rates will go up, and the answer depends on your driving record. It is important to shop around to find the best rate.

Pulled Over: Do's & Don'ts

No one plans to get pulled over for driving under the influence, so don't feel that you made a terrible mistake if you didn't follow the guidelines below. But for future reference, here are the rules of the road.

When you are pulled over:

  • Do give the officer your papers—driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance
  • Do blow into a breath-test machine BUT ONLY AT THE STATION
  • Do give blood at the hospital if your DUI involves an accident or suspected drug use
  • Do ask for an attorney
  • Don't say anything. As you have heard so often on TV, you have the right to remain silent. Be polite but decline comments.
  • Don't perform any Field Sobriety Tests. You are not legally required to take these voluntary tests and even a sober person can fail them.
  • Don't blow in the portable breath machine which officers keep with them in their squad cars. This machine is prone to serious errors. Simply tell the officer you are only willing to take the test on the larger machine at the station.

Seattle Municipal Court is located at Fifth and James just across the street from the Jail and the Seattle City Hall building.

Seattle DUI 20 Day Licensing Deadline

If you are arrested in Seattle for a DUI there is a 20 day deadline to request a Department of Licensing Hearing. Call our office for a free consultation with a Seattle DUI Attorney to discuss this very important deadline. We are available 24/7 to discuss this hearing request deadline.

A Seattle DUI will suspend your license unless you request an administrative hearing and discuss your case with an experienced Seattle DUI Attorney before 20 days after the arrest date.

Our phone number is 206-382-9200

Seattle Municipal Court Location

Seattle DUI Office Location


The Seattle Municipal Court DUI Judge just ordered me to put on a SCRAM device.  What is it? Some know the acronym to from the nuclear industry - Safety Control Rod Axe Man.  Its the device employed in the case of a nuclear melt down.  But, Seattle DUI arrestees should prepare for a new fashion accessory unless you have good counsel, SCRAM, also know as the alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet.  Its a "transdermal" device that takes period samples of the bodies sweat and measures for alcohol.  We eliminate about one percent of alcohol consumed in our sweat.

The device itself is known as the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM). The company that monitors the devices sends daily reports to probation and law enforcement officials. The bracelets are sensitive, and able to detect a 0.02 alcohol reading through the skin. They do not however, detect drugs in the defendant's system.

Seattle Municipal Court is planning to use these devices to monitor DUI defendants. Although a fashion faux pa, these bracelets serve a purpose other than being awkward. These devices do measure alcohol from the wearer's sweat, allowing judges an alternative from jail while the case is pending.

Keeping Seattle DUI arrestees out of jail saves the taxpayers money, and stops a further drain on law enforcement resources. The ankle bracelets are worn by defendants that are awaiting trial, or by those that have already been convicted and are on probation.

Sitting as Seattle DUI Judges, Judges Steve Rosen and Ed McKenna have said that the court is planning to use the bracelets in Seattle misdemeanor DUI cases.

Sentinel Offender Services has been awarded the contract to provide the bracelets and monitoring services for the City of Seattle in DUI and other matters. While Seattle Municipal DUI Judges favor the devices, in the past, these devices have been used in other counties in Washington. They are normally used for second or third time Seattle DUI offenders that are awaiting trial or when a persons breath test result is very high. This is in addition to the use of ignition interlock devices. The cost of having a defendant stay one day in jail is $85.00. The cost of monitoring a defendant with SCRAM, is approximately $15.00.

The untested devices have grown in popularity but have several hurdles prior to acceptance in the criminal courts. The number of false positives remains unknown.

Before Seattle starts using these devices in a courtroom as evidence of any kind they should be be subjected to scrutiny just as other alcohol measuring devices.

We Want To Hear From You

Your story matters. We want to hear from you. Call 206-971-0067 for a free consultation

Hundreds of Thrilled Clients

While my traffic case was minor, I didn't want to go it alone. My friend recommended Kevin to me. From the first phone conversation til it was resolved, Kevin and his team were pure perfection! This is the team you want on your side. Period. - K.M.