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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

What Washington residents should know about pretrial motions

In a DUI trial, there may be step between the preliminary hearing and the beginning of the trial. This is referred to as the pretrial motion, and it is the time when a defense attorney or prosecutor may ask to have certain evidence excluded or compel someone to testify. In some cases, a request may be made to drop the case at this point.

As a general rule, these motions are made in an effort to create boundaries for any trial that may take place. For instance, it may be decided during such a hearing that a legal argument cannot be made during trial. The court could also decide that certain testimony or evidence cannot be introduced when the case is heard. For instance, it may be possible to ask that a prior DUI conviction be inadmissible during a defendant's current case.

A defense attorney may also ask that evidence obtained during a traffic stop or any other point be thrown out because it may have been obtained illegally. If a defendant believes that harassment or other police misconduct has occurred, it might be possible to ask for that officer's personnel file. This could help establish that illegal or unethical behavior contributed to an individual being charged improperly.

Those who are charged with DUI may have several ways to defend themselves against a charge. An attorney may choose to make use of pretrial motions in an effort to have evidence suppressed or limit the scope of witness testimony. If evidence or testimony is allowed to be submitted at trial, an attorney may attempt to cast doubt upon it. This may be done by questioning the credibility of a witness or the reliability of any test done to determine that a driver was impaired.

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