Things to Consider when Cited for DUI

October 24th, 2014

Potential DUI clients who visit with us for the first time often ask us similar questions. One such question is, “What can I do to show that I am taking this seriously?” Greg and I answer this question the same way each and every time, immediately attend a DUI Victims Panel. Attending a DUI Victim’s Panel helps show that you are taking responsibility for the situation you find yourself in (without admitting guilt), and it may help reduce the number of conditions of release a court may impose upon you while your case is pending in a court of law.

A DUI Victim Impact Panel is an awareness program for those facing a driving under the influence of alcohol or other drug related charge. The participant attends a two – two point five hour educational session, consisting of a non-confrontational presentation by individuals who volunteer to tell their own personal stories of how impaired drivers forever changed their lives. Once completed, the participant receives a ‘certificate of completion’ that can be filed with the court.

First time offenders may also want to participate in an alcohol/ drug information class, which is geared toward helping people make more responsible decisions concerning alcohol and other drug use. Classes are typically 8 hours, and are intended to be non-judgemental forums for honest and open discussions about drug and alcohol use. The participant also learns valuable information about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the body, and similar to the victim panel, receives a ‘certificate of completion’ that can be filed with the court.

So there you have it, two things that can be done right away if facing a first time DUI in Washington State.  We have said it before, but it definitely bears repeating … Washington DUI laws are getting tougher. Be smart when arrested for DUI, immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorneys will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Ever Evolving Laws

October 14th, 2014

Could there be a change in the future to Washington State’s texting while driving law? The law, as written, may be a bit outdated according to a Washington’s State Traffic Safety Commission. Currently, the law is not specific enough to deal with surfing the net, checking emails or sending instant messages on one’s phone because it was written before smart phones were all the rage. Simply put, the technology wasn’t available when the original law was written in 2007.

The Traffic Safety Commission wants the law to say drivers can use mobile devices only when a car is pulled off the road, in a position where the car can remain, or otherwise stay, stationary. The commission wants to ban any form of holding a phone while operating a motor vehicle. The law in its current form is not specific enough and may permit for use of a cell phone if it is held at a distance or the speaker is engaged.

If approved, the changes would permit the state to be eligible for additional federal funds to help states pay for distracted driving education and more enforcement campaigns, and we all know how much our state government loves federal subsidizing.

If you or a loved one is cited in Seattle or anywhere else in greater western Washington, it is imperative that you seek the assistance of a qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense attorney. The Seattle criminal attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those cited for unlawful offenses all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case.

The Crackdown Continues

October 3rd, 2014

Accidents, injuries and overall carnage are what keep causing the government’s aggressive policy to ‘crackdown’ on DUI’s. Case in point, on the evening of September 20th a driver in West Seattle was booked into custody after a multiple-scene crash north of Morgan Junction. The first part of the accident was on the southbound side of California street, where the driver is allegedly to have hit a cab (ironically being patroned by folks choosing to not drink and drive). The second part of the accident was on the eastbound side of SW Raymond, where the driver allegedly went over a traffic circle, and came to a stop after hitting a parked car between 42nd and 41st.

Initially it was believed that no one was injured. However, upon further review the passengers in the taxi apparently may have suffered a concussion and a bad sprain, respectively. The driver, 39 years old, spent five and a half hours in jail before getting out on bail and now faces DUI, Reckless Driving and Reckless Endangerment charges. It is very clear that these types of incidents are the very types that the government is concerned about, and it is equally clear that they are ‘sending a message’ by their seemingly draconian prosecution policies.

In short, it is quit clear that Washington DUI laws are simply getting a lot tougher. Be smart when arrested for DUI, immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorneys will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Ban Smoking Pot in Cars? It is Only a Matter of Time.

September 26th, 2014

Under Revised Code of Washington 46.61.519 it is unlawful to drink or have an open alcohol container in a vehicle while on a Washington roadway, and soon it may be unlawful to smoke or have an open marijuana package inside a vehicle too. This is so because state officials want the Legislature to tweak the state’s recreational marijuana law so that it’s illegal to smoke marijuana in a car.

Currently there is no explicit language under Washington State law covering marijuana in vehicles; although the passage of Initiative 502 in 2012 legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Washington State, it did not cover every facet of marijuana use. Although the law prohibits ‘public use’ of marijuana, officials apparently believe that many people don’t think their car is a ‘public place’ and thus smoking in their car is a safe harbor. Authorities hope to clarify things with the above referenced ‘tweak’ to the law.

The laws surrounding marijuana in Washington State are ever changing. So be smart when faced with an allegation that you may have violated the law, especially when the incident involves a vehicle. Immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorney will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses that may be applicable to your case. Don’t go at it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI lawyer.

The Law of Hailey and the Unfortunate Impound

September 25th, 2014

Under Washington law if a person is arrested for Driving Under the Influence, the car being driving will be towed away by a private tow company, and it will cost a ‘pretty penny’ to get the car out of the tow lot. Why you may ask … well … because of Hailey’s Law.

What is Hailey’s Law? Hailey’s Law is a law that went into effect on July 22, 2011. It requires a mandatory impound hold on any vehicle driven by a person cited for DUI. Only after a minimum 12 hour hold is up may a person retrieve their vehicle. The citing officer has absolutely no discretion whatsoever. This is so even if there is someone that can come get the car or even if the car can be legally left where it was stopped. Hailey’s Law was created after a tragic accident. Someone was arrested for DUI, released, then went back to their car and drove again, got into an accident, almost killing the people they hit. The person hit was named Hailey. In an effort to avoid another tragic accident the legislature passed Hailey’s Law, the mandatory tow rule.

Interestingly, there appears to be one exception to Hailey’s Law. That exception is as follows: if you are the registered owner of the vehicle and someone else was arrested for DUI in your car, then you can have the car released from the tow company without having to wait for the entire twelve hours, but it can only be release to you.

So the question we are often asked here at SQ Attorneys is: How do I get my car back once it has been towed pursuant to Hailey’s Law? Generally, the arresting officer will give you the tow company’s information. If the officer did not provide that information then one should contact the law enforcement agancy associated with the arrest. Also, the information is often on the ticket or citation received or somewhere on the related paperwork provided by the arresting officer. Once the tow company is ascertained, call them and find out if they actually have the car on their lot, what time they can legally release it, and how much it will cost. Also be sure to ask what documentation is required in order for you to retrieve the car. As you can imagine, towing rates differ depending on the towing company, the city of origin length of impound and the like.

If you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence, seek a Seattle DUI Attorney immediately. Hiring a seasoned Seattle DUI attorney is imperative when facing the prospect of a DUI conviction. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI lawyer will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney. So … be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI lawyer when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

IID Required, It Is The Law

September 16th, 2014

Getting stopped, arrested and charged with DUI is undoubtedly a traumatic experience. There a plethora of consequences that immediately arise while the DUI case is pending in the courts. To name just a few, a person faces the prospect of possibly spending time in jail, posting bail, wearing an ankle bracelet that has sensors to detect alcohol, or that ensures the person remains at home. However, if someone is arrested and charged with a second DUI, RCW 10.21.055 is quite clear, the imposition of an ignition interlock device is required. RCW 10.21.055 reads, in part:

“(1) When any person charged with or arrested for a violation of RCW 46.61.502, 46.61.504, 46.61.520, or 46.61.522, in which the person has a prior offense as defined in RCW 46.61.5055 and the current offense involves alcohol, is released from custody before arraignment or trial on bail or personal recognizance, the court authorizing the release shall require, as a condition of release, that person to (a) have a functioning ignition interlock device installed on all motor vehicles operated by the person, with proof of installation filed with the court by the person or the certified interlock provider within five business days of the date of release from custody or as soon thereafter as determined by the court based on availability within the jurisdiction.”

This statute, and its requirements, applies regardless of the age of the previous DUI, and the requirement to maintain an ignition interlock will remain in place throughout the processing of the DUI case, as outlined below:

“(2) Upon acquittal or dismissal of all pending or current charges relating to a violation of RCW 46.61.502, 46.61.504, 46.61.520, or 46.61.522, or equivalent local ordinance, the court shall authorize removal of the ignition interlock device and lift any requirement to comply with electronic alcohol/drug monitoring imposed under subsection (1) of this section. Nothing in this section limits the authority of the court or department under RCW 46.20.720.”

As we here at SQ Attorneys have said time and time again, DUI laws in Washington State are continuing to get a lot tougher. Be smart when arrested for DUI, immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorneys will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI lawyer when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Plea Bargain Away!

September 11th, 2014

When is it a good time to plea bargain on a driving under the influence case? This is a fair question, and the answer is it is always good to see what the prosecutor is willing to do to resolve a DUI case. A defendant does not have to accept a deal or an offer, but he would be foolish not to assess what type of deal can be obtained instead of going straight to trial. Every case is individual unto itself. No two cases are alike.

So what is a plea bargain you may ask? A plea bargain is where a qualified Seattle DUI attorney, after reviewing all the evidence the government has, and after fully investigating the DUI case, negotiates with the prosecuting attorney to amend or reduce a DUI charge. These negotiations often happen during a DUI pre-trial hearing, but can also happen any time while the case is pending in the court. Often the negotiations take place via email, phone calls or even in person. Negotiations do not just have to happen at the courthouse.

Sometimes attorneys have to litigate legal issues at a motion hearing before any productive plea bargaining takes place. Typically, though, much of the negotiations take place at pre-trial hearings, which are set by the court for the purpose of forcing the parties to get together and talk about the case.  Some typical reduced results from plea bargaining on a DUI case are: Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment and/or Negligent Driving. If no plea bargain can be reached, well … that is generally when the parties set the case for a jury trial.

Whether a plea bargain is acceptable really depends on the evidence and the defendant’s personal situation. Thus, it is always important to retain a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer who will aggressively contest all the government’s evidence and fight for the best outcome for his client. It is a DUI defendant’s right to have a Seattle DUI lawyer on his case, and exercising this right is not frowned upon by the court or the government. In fact, they actually expect it. So … ‘lawyer up’ if charged with DUI in the State of Washington.

Got DUI Probation?

September 8th, 2014

On probation with the court for a DUI conviction? If so, you best ‘toe-the-line’. Washington State’s DUI laws require that a probation violation be dealt with very harshly. By law, a judge is required to impose a number of conditions of probation which will be in effect for ‘up to’ a five-year term of probation. These conditions will include, as required by law: (1) not driving a motor vehicle without a valid license and insurance, (2) not driving a vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more within two hours of driving, and (3) not refusing to submit to a test of breath or blood upon lawful request of a police officer, among others. If the court finds that one or all of these violations have occurred, then the law is clear: “the court shall order the convicted person to be confined for thirty days, which shall not be suspended or deferred.” This is the penalty that would be imposed upon a person who was convicted of a first offense DUI who violates any of the mandatory probation conditions. There is also a mandatory 30 day loss of privilege to drive in Washington State.

In an effort to ‘monitor’ probationers, Washington State DUI courts often schedule periodic reviews to determine compliance with the conditions of probation. Many courts leave it to their probation department, which can be quite spendy for the probationer because he actually gets to pay for the privilege of being on probation. A few examples of courts that ‘pass the baton’ to their probation department are: the City of Seattle, the City of Lynnwood, the City of Edmonds and South District Court in Lynnwood, Washington.

As we have said before, DUI laws in Washington State are continuing to get a lot tougher. So be smart when cited for DUI, immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorneys will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone, and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI lawyer when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Driving While Suspended – It is Possible to do Legally!

September 1st, 2014

A common question we at SQ Attorneys get asked is: ‘Can I drive a vehicle if my driver’s license gets suspended due to a DUI?’ Well, in Washington State the answer is simple – ‘yes’ … so long as you take the appropriate steps with the Department of Licensing. This is so because there are certain conditions that apply which may, or may not, restrict a person’s ability to drive while their license is suspended due to a DUI.

There are three types of license suspensions that would be applicable in Washington due to a DUI: (1) An administrative license suspension from the DOL; (2) A driver’s license suspension following a DUI conviction; and (3) a driver’s license suspension for a reckless driving conviction reduced from a DUI.

If you are facing an administrative license suspension there are two possible options to drive a car. First, a person can simply elect to not to drive during the suspension period and then apply for a drivers license following the suspension period. This will require high risk insurance upon eligibility to reinstate their license. Second, a person can apply for the ignition interlock license (“IIL”), which will allow him to drive during the period of suspension. The IIL requires a person to: (1) file an IIL application with DOL, (2) pay $100, (3) get and maintain high risk insurance, (4) install an ignition interlock device and (5) actually receive the ILL from the DOL. It usually takes DOL about 5-20 business days to process the application and approve the IIL.

If a person is facing a license suspension for a DUI conviction, he really only has one option if he wants to drive during the suspension period – apply for and receive the ignition interlock license. 

Finally, if a person is facing a license suspension for a reckless driving conviction reduced from a DUI, he needs to apply for and obtain both an occupational license and a IIL to be able to drive during the suspension period.

As every Seattle DUI attorney knows, Washington State has some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation. A DUI conviction can and will result in hefty fines, loss of privilege to drive and jail time. For repeat offenders, the consequences are severe. For individuals who have been arrested or charged with DUI, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of your rights and obligations. Thus, contacting a Seattle DUI lawyer is highly recommended. A seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer will be aware of the ever changing state and federal legislation that could result in more severe fines and penalties associated with a DUI conviction. In short, arrested for DUI? Lawyer up.

‘Prior Offense’ Definition Expanded

August 24th, 2014

Earlier this year a major change in Washington State DUI law occurred. The bill responsible for the change was SB 6413, which drastically altered what can be considered a “prior offense” when it comes to DUI sentencing. Prior to this change, if you were arrested for a DUI your sentence generally was determined by the number of “prior offenses” you had, i.e. how many DUI’s or DUI’s reduced to a lesser charge (Reckless Driving, Reckless Endangerment, Negligent Driving 1 Degree or Deferred Prosecution) you had for criminal history. SB 6413 changes things. Now a prior offense can include (in addition to those mentioned above) any of the following: (1) driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence, (2) a BUI, (3) operating an aircraft while under the influence, (4) operating an off road vehicle while under the influence, and even (5) operating a snowmobile while under the influence.

DUI laws in Washington State continue to get a lot tougher and this new law only shows how difficult things are becoming. So be smart when cited for DUI, immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and trained Seattle DUI attorneys will sift through the myriad and numerous defenses in a Washington DUI case. So if facing a DUI, do not go it alone and do not just hire some ‘general’ practitioner. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney. Be smart … hire a qualified, skilled Seattle DUI lawyer when arrested for DUI in Washington State.