Impact of a Decision; Conciousness of Guilt

April 24th, 2014

Recently our Court of Appeals, Division One (State v. Mecham, No. 69613-1, April 21, 2014) came down with an unfavorable ruling for folks facing a DUI charge in Washington State. Undoubtedly this ruling will be appealed to our State Supreme Court, but as of now one’s decision to refuse’ voluntary’ field sobriety testing can be used by prosecutors to claim that a person refused FST’s because he believed he was guilty of DUI.

In legal terms it is called, “consciousness of guilt”. Essentially what that means is that when it comes to the refusal of FST’s, a Prosecutor can argue to a jury that the reason a defendant declined to perform FST’s is because they had a “guilty conscious” or in other words, they knew they were DUI and that they were going to fail the tests.

Prior to this recent ruling, such an argument applied only to refusals of breath or blood tests. In short, if a person declined voluntary field sobriety tests the refusal of the tests could be admitted into evidence but it was not necessarily allowed to show a “consciousness of guilt”. The Prosecutor could bring up the refusal to perform FST’s but not infer or state that it was because the subject knew he was going to fail the tests. Now, however, a prosecutor can argue that a person didn’t take the ‘voluntary’ field sobriety tests because he knew he was guilty of DUI and/or that he would fail the tests.

Based on Division One’s ruling, it will be interesting to see if police officers will now be advising people that their refusal of voluntary field sobriety tests may (and can) be used against them in a criminal trial. Will folks be affirmatively put on notice of the impact of their decision to refuse to perform field sobriety tests? Will they affirmatively be required to be put on notice, similar to what is required pursuant to our implied consent laws and breath/ blood testing? It seems only logical that this should be required since prosecutors can now argue that the person refused these tests (despite them being voluntary) because they were drunk and they knew they would fail them. That said, only time will tell how all this ‘jockeying for position’ will play out on the scene of the stop, in the cop-shop and in courtrooms around the state; there really never is a dull moment in the field of criminal defense, that is for sure.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Justice – too little, too late?

April 19th, 2014

Justice was certainly not done when a Bellevue police officer failed to cite a colleague for (1) drunken driving, (2) conduct field sobriety tests or (3) make an effort to obtain the officer’s blood-alcohol level before letting him leave the scene with his wife. Justice, however, was done this past Wednesday when that same officer, Doug Brennan, was fired for his lack of action against his fellow officer. Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo found that Brennan had violated department ethics, arrest and false-information policies when handling the November 20, 2013 incident.

On November 20, 2013 while Officer Brennan was off duty he was passed on Interstate 90 by a Jeep Cherokee traveling 73 mph, well above the posted 60 mph limit. Brennan noted that the Jeep was “swerving all over the roadway.” Although off duty, the driving was such that Officer Brennan felt it necessary to pull the car over. Upon contact, he recognized Officer Andrew Hanke as the driver of the car. He also allegedly smelled alcohol through the window of Officer Hanke’s vehicle.

Officer Brennan thereafter took it upon himself to not process Officer Hanke for DUI but to rather call Hanke’s wife to have her come and get him. More astonishingly, Officer Brennan permitted Hanke’s wife to drive Officer Hanke home in his car while he waited for her to get a ride back to the scene so she could pick up her vehicle. Now if that is not ‘black tie service’, what is? It certainly is not a service provided to any ol’ regular motorist stopped for DUI. Most, if not all, other motorists similarly situated would have been carted off to jail and charged for DUI. They would have been facing months of court hearings and the very real prospect of having a lifelong conviction for DUI, a gross misdemeanor.

The sad fact is that if this type of incident was caught once, we can only be left to believe that it has happened on several occasions without detection in the past. How many good citizens have been arrested, charged, prosecuted and even convicted for DUI where a similarly situated law enforcement agent simply ‘got off with a warning’? Perhaps we will never truly know that answer – and that is just plain frightening.

Since the incident, not only has Officer Brennan been fired, but Officer Hanke has resigned from the Bellevue Police Department, and the Bellevue Police Department has been left with trying to repair its image for having high standards of integrity and professionalism.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Distracted Driver Crackdown Commences

April 8th, 2014

Starting on Thursday of this week, law enforcement officers will be cracking down on distracted drivers in Washington State. The extra patrols are part of the ‘U Drive. U Text. U Pay’ national campaign, which is acting in concert with Washington’s Target Zero campaign to eliminate traffic fatalities and serious vehicle related injuries by 2030.

Washington’s laws prohibit the use of handheld communication devices while driving. The joint campaigns will involve officers from more than 100 law enforcement agencies. The ‘crackdown’ will run through April 15, 2014. It is important to note that often a DUI investigation is started only after a seemingly innocuous traffic stop like that of distracted driving. The officer stops a person because he sees the driver talking on a cell phone or texting, and upon contact the officer notices the ‘tell tale signs’ of DUI – bloodshot, watery eyes, the odor of alcohol, flushed face and slurred speech. So drivers best beware … law enforcement officers are looking for more ways than one to ‘skin a cat’. Avoid being the cat, don’t drive distracted.

If you or a loved one gets ‘skinned’, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

DOL, DUI and License Suspensions

April 5th, 2014

When someone gets cited for DUI, one of the consequences of the incident is the very real and demoralizing prospect of having his/her driver’s license suspended or revoked for a period of time. The period of time of the suspension/ revocation depends on a myriad of factors ranging from whether the person has prior DUI’s to what the breath or blood test result was on the date in question.

If someone has their privilege to drive suspended in Washington, they should go to DOL’s interactive website. The site is actually quite helpful. The following is the specific link to ascertain how and when someone can reinstate their privilege to drive in Washington, https://fortress.wa.gov/dol/dolprod/dsdreinstatements/.  Another helpful source is DOL’s interactive email at ‘DRIVERS@DOL.WA.GOV’. One of DOL’s representatives will generally answer any question posed in a quick and efficient manner. Obviously, no one wants to lose his or her privilege to drive, but at least DOL has instituted a quality method by which folks can figure out if, and when, they are eligible to drive.

If you lose your privilege to drive because of a DUI incident in Washington State, you should not only check with DOL as to when you will be eligible to lawfully drive again, but you should also immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce DUI penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

DUI pilot program put on hold; considering constitutionality

March 29th, 2014

As of last week, participation by Chelan County in a DUI pilot program has been put on hold because of concerns about whether the program was constitutional.  The argument against constitutionality is that the program would have sanctioned a suspected offender before he or she was actually convicted and was only on ‘conditions of release’ pending the outcome of his/her case.

The program, which was adopted by the state Legislature last year, would have required repeat offenders to be put in jail until they saw a judge; repeat offenders could not be bailed out before they attended a court appearance.  Upon their release, the program would require repeat offenders to have their blood tested twice a day for alcohol abuse.  Pursuant to the program’s terms, if convicted, the repeat offender might have been monitored in the foregoing manner for up to six months.  Monitoring would have involved morning and evening testing at the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.  From a financial standpoint, the program would have required the hiring of two additional people. It would also have required a location with public access seven days a week.

Chelan County intends to re-evaluate the program after an in-depth legal review. Chelan County has recently received funding for a handheld, random-test device that operates similarly to a cell phone and vehicle interlock devices. The funding allows local judges to administer tighter sanctions so as to increase forced sobriety for those already convicted of DUI.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Driver beware: road renovations = DUI increases

March 22nd, 2014

Those ‘going out on the town’ dancing, eating and bar hopping this weekend should be well aware that work on several major roadways is expected, and the same will undoubtedly have a ripple effect for traffic on both sides of Lake Washington. Often with major road construction comes folks not familiar with the unforeseen road closures and other miscellaneous road changes.  These people get pulled over by officers for making mistakes that they would not otherwise normally make while driving. Generally, as a result, DUI processing is increased during these road construction periods because once these folks get stopped, the officer smells alcohol and observes the other tell tale signs of consuming alcohol and/ or smoking marijuana (bloodshot, watery eyes, flushed face, slurred speech etc.).

So to everyone who is ‘going out on the town’ this weekend be well advised that the Seattle Department of Transportation will close all but a single lane on the northbound Interstate 5 collector-distributor to replace worn and aging expansion joints from Friday, March 21, 2014 until Monday morning, March 24, 2014. Also, the State Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct will be closed for additional inspection work, Saturday, March 22 2014. In addition thereto, the Seattle Department of Transportation will have a nighttime closure on southbound SR 99 as well as daytime closures of the Mercer Street ramps to I-5 as part of the Mercer Corridor Project.

Eastside drivers will need to use alternate exits on I-405 to reach downtown Bellevue as the southbound off-ramp to Northeast Eighth Street will be closed all weekend for drainage and barrier work.

If you or a loved one gets in a bind as a result of a traffic stop that turns into a DUI arrest this weekend, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A Seattle DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and we all understand that people make mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

St Patrick, Alcohol, Law Enforcement = DUI

March 15th, 2014

As most folks know, Saint Patrick’s Day is a cultural and religious holiday celebrated annually around the world on March 17th. The holiday celebrates the most commonly-recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick (c. AD 385–461). The day commemorates Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. It celebrates the heritage and the culture of the Irish in general, and the Lenten restrictions on eating and drinking alcohol are lifted for the day, which of course has encouraged and propagated the holiday’s tradition of abundant alcohol consumption worldwide. Because of this aforesaid ‘abundant consumption’, the holiday is second only to New Year’s Eve when it comes to DUI arrests. Green beer runs plentiful, which tends to bring out a younger more energetic crowd, according to law enforcement.

Due to this year’s arrival of St. Patrick’s Day, law enforcement in and around the Puget Sound, like in years past, will be running extra patrols through, and including, Monday. According to law enforcement, the younger crowd “[ge]nerally tend[s] to make poorer decisions, meaning they want to get in their car and drive.” Officers will be looking for impaired driving, the signs of which include slow reaction time, swerving in and out of lanes, and forgetting to turn on a vehicle’s headlights and/or turn signals.

So … have fun but be safe out there this weekend. Hopefully it won’t happen, but if you or a loved one gets in a bind as a result of a St. Patrick weekend DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney immediately. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and we all understand that people make mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Washington Marijuana DUI’s on the Increase?

March 8th, 2014

The Washington State Patrol claims there has been almost a 25% jump from last year in drivers that tested positive for having active marijuana in their system.  1,362 drivers tested positive for active THC.  720 of those 1,362 had levels in their system high enough to lead to an automatic drugged-driving charge under the state’s legalized marijuana law.  Interestingly, however, there has not been an obvious corresponding jump in car accidents.

Over the past year Washington has also seen a spike in drivers testing positive for inactive marijuana in their system.  The inactive compound for marijuana is called ‘carboxy THC’.  Having carboxy THC in one’s system means the person used marijuana within days or weeks of his arrest, but that he is no longer impaired by it.

Washington state toxicologist, Dr. Fiona Cooper, recently claimed that 60 percent of the folks who tested positive for carboxy THC in 2013, also tested positive for at least one other substance in their system, usually the substance was alcohol.  In short, more Washington state drivers tested positive in 2013 than in years past.  Undoubtedly, this increase can be attributed to Washington’s legalization of marijuana.  Some (like, Alison Holcomb, the Seattle lawyer who drafted Washington’s legal pot law) are actually calling for an immediate public education campaign to highlight the dangers of driving under the influence of marijuana.  Colorado, the only other state to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, launched a $1 million television campaign this past week.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

King County Deputy Arrested, DUI Suspected

March 1st, 2014

Law Enforcement and our Washington judiciary are cracking down on DUI’s.  The crackdown even includes DUI’s that allegedly involve government employees while on the job. Mill Creek Police will soon be conducting a criminal investigation into a King County Sheriff deputy’s arrest on suspicion of DUI. The King County Sheriff’s Office will also be conducting a separate internal investigation. The 19 year veteran of the KCSO alleged crashed his patrol car into the rear of another vehicle. Police responded to the accident near 132nd Street Southeast and Bothell-Everett Highway. The deputy allegedly showed signs of impairment while at the scene. Alcohol was ruled out. A drug recognition expert was called to the scene. After the DRE did his work-up, he requested and received a signed blood draw warrant from the courts. The results of the blood draw are pending. The deputy has been placed on administrative leave for the time being.

So it is very clear, even folks enforcing our laws are not immune from being investigated for driving under the influence if the situation warrants. To reiterate information from blogs past, Washington state’s DUI laws are constantly getting tougher; the public’s outcry is causing a major crackdown on alcohol and/or drug fueled accidents. Now more than ever, hiring a Seattle DUI attorney can help – at a minimum – reduce DUI related penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI related charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.

Another DUI Bill Moving Forward to the House of Representatives

February 17th, 2014

Washington state prosecutors who handle DUI cases may be able to seek harsher sentences under a bill passed by the Senate on Friday February 14, 2014. The new legislation expands the types of prior offenses that can be used in sentencing, and gives a more comprehensive picture of an offender’s criminal past. Senator Joe Fain (R-Auburn, 47th Legislative District), who put the bill forward to the Senate, said, “Keeping dangerous drivers off the roads is an essential public safety priority for all Washingtonians. Prosecutors must have the tools to pursue sentences that address the severity of past actions under the influence of alcohol or drugs. By allowing the courts to look at a broader pattern of behavior, we can make progress toward keeping families safe.” The new bill received unanimous support from the Senate and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

If you or a loved one gets in a bind as a result of a DUI contact a Seattle DUI attorney immediately. A DUI attorney is not going to judge you, and we all understand that people make mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI attorney to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI attorney as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.