I was arrested for DUI, and the officer said that I had a right to speak to an attorney. What happens if someone decides to exercise this right?

Being arrested for a DUI is scary, especially if you have never been through the criminal justice system before. After you’ve been arrested, it is your right to speak to an attorney before talking to police officers. Speaking to an attorney may not only help you make informed decisions about your case, but it will give you some sort of comfort knowing that someone is on your side. And although some police officers may seem intimidating, they should not interfere with your right to speak to an attorney. In fact, they are required to help you through the process.

According to Washington court rules, a defendant’s right to counsel in criminal proceedings starts “as soon as feasible after the defendant has been arrested, appears before a committing magistrate, or has been formally charged, whichever occurs earlier.  See CrRLJ 3.1(b)(1); City of Seattle v. Koch, 53 Wn.App. 352, 356 (1989); Heinemann v. Whitman Cy., 105 Wn.2d 796, 799-800 (1986).  Under CrRLJ 3.1(b)(1), a defendant “who desires a lawyer shall be provided access to a telephone, the telephone number of the public defender or official responsible for assigning a lawyer, and any other means necessary to place him or her in communication with a lawyer.” (Emphasis added) CrRLJ 3.1; Koch, 53 Wn.App. at 356.

However, the rule specifically requires that, at minimum, a defendant be provided access to the number of a public defender or official responsible for assigning a lawyer.  See CrRLJ 3.1(c)(2). This means that whether you get arrested for a DUI (or any other crime) in Seattle, Bellevue, Renton, Kent, Kirkland, Auburn, Burien, Federal Way, Lynwood, Shoreline, or Pierce County, there should be a public defender available to help you.

And once you invoke your right to counsel, all questioning by police officers must stop until an attorney is contacted (unless you initiate the communication yourself or a lawyer is present). If your request is unclear, police questioning should be limited to clarifying your request. So be sure that if you ask for an attorney, you do so clearly and expressly. Of course, you should always be polite and courteous during any interactions with the police. See Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477, 101 S. Ct. 1880, 68 L. Ed. 2d 378 (1981); State v. Robtoy, 98 Wash. 2d. 30 (1982); State v. Valdez, 82 Wash. App. 294 (1996); State v. Reuben, 62 Wash. App. 620 (1991); State v. Johnson, 48 Wash. App. 681 (1987); State v. Wheeler, 43 Wash. App. 191 (1986); State v. Wheeler, 34 Wash. App. 559 (1983).State v. Aronhalt, 99 Wash. App. 302 (2000), State v. Radcliffe, 139 Wash. App. 214 (2007).

So, if you are arrested for a DUI in Washington, you should ask to speak with an attorney before answering questions. If you do not have your own attorney, ask to speak with a public defender. If you feel that you may have been denied your right to an attorney, you should get in touch with an attorney as soon as possible. For a free consultation and an affordable DUI defense, feel free to contact the Law Offices of Raymond Ejarque.