Pot Use and Driving

August 26th, 2015

We all know about the government’s crackdown on DUI’s in Washington, and we all know that pot use was recently legalized here in Washington. Now the two are intertwined more than ever before.

Recent data from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission appears to evidence that the number of drivers involved in fatal crashes with THC in their body increased from 38 in 2013 to 75 over the past year. This increase seems to be in line with the opening of state regulated pot stores in 2014. Interestingly the data shows that half the drivers with active THC in their system were also under the influence of alcohol. So that begs the question, do Washington drivers now feel more comfortable driving after consuming pot compared to years past?

In Washington if ‘active’ THC exceeds 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, that is enough to convict a driver of DUI regardless of any other evidence. So regardless of whether one feels safe driving after consuming marijuana, he/ she best be smart about doing it because the government is watching and is aggressively trying to hunt down impaired drivers, whether by alcohol, drugs or both.

If you are cited for an alcohol or drug DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

What is the Purpose of Probation?

August 18th, 2015

When you are convicted and sentenced for a crime you generally are put on probation. The purpose of probation is to permit the court an opportunity to oversee you for a period of time, and to ensure that you stay out of trouble. In essence, it is the ‘carrot and stick’ approach to doing business.

Generally, for a DUI conviction the court will have 5 years of oversight, compared to a negligent driving or reckless driving conviction where the court will have 2 years of oversight.

Some standard conditions of a DUI probation are: (1) have no new criminal law violations; (2) don’t drive without a valid license and/or insurance; (3) don’t have a breath test of .08 or greater within two hours of driving; (4) don’t have any major moving violations; (5) don’t have any additional alcohol/drug related offenses; (6) get an alcohol/ drug evaluation and do any proscribed follow up, with a minimum of attending an alcohol/ drug information school and DUI victim’s panel. The most common DUI probation violations seem to be new criminal law violations, failure to do treatment and driving without a valid license/insurance.

If you violate one of the following three conditions of a DUI sentence the court is mandated by law to sanction you with 30 days confinement: (i) Not drive a motor vehicle in Washington state without a valid license to drive and proof of liability insurance or other financial responsibility; (ii) not drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle within Washington state while having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more or a THC concentration of 5.00 nanograms per milliliter of whole blood or higher, within two hours after driving; and (iii) not refuse to submit to a test of breath or blood to determine alcohol or drug concentration upon request of a law enforcement officer who has reasonable grounds to believe you were driving or were in actual physical control of a motor vehicle within Washington state while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug. It should also be noted that for each incident involving a violation of one of the mandatory conditions of probation your license, permit, or privilege to drive will also be suspended by the court (and the Department of Licensing) for thirty days.

Some additional conditions a court may impose during probation include: (1) non-repetition, (2) installation of an ignition interlock device on the probationer’s motor vehicle, (3) alcohol or drug treatment, and (4) ‘supervised’ probation. A court may also impose ‘other conditions that may be appropriate’. If these conditions are violated, the court has the ‘discretion’ to sanction you, but is not required to.

If you are cited for DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

New DUI Laws on the Horizon … Again

August 13th, 2015

New DUI legislation (HB1276) is going into effect on September 26, 2015. As usual, the government is ratcheting things down in our DUI arena, and continues to be tough on folks driving while impaired. That said, there are some benefits under the bill for those cited for DUI.

The bill extends eligibility for the ignition interlock license (under certain circumstances) to defendants convicted of vehicular assault or vehicular homicide. It also clarifies that the DOL can issue an Ignition interlock license to drivers with an out-of-state license, i.e. military members and their families living residing in Washington State due to their military service. The affirmative defense of ‘safely off the roadway’ (permitted in physical control cases) can now also be used in DOL administrative proceedings. Pursuant to HB1276 defense attorneys will be granted access to their client’s abstract of driving records, similar to what is already authorized to the courts and prosecutors. HB1276 requires that courts to notify DOL when an ignition interlock device is ordered as a condition of release while a criminal case is pending, and also requires the court to notify the DOL if the aforementioned order is rescinded. Judges will be required to order participation in 24/7 (or other alcohol monitoring) if a driver with history chooses to sign an affidavit of non-driving. Additionally, the Bill requires IID violation sentences to run consecutive to any sentence imposed for DUI or physical control. And finally, under HB1276, it will be illegal to have an open container of marijuana in a person’s vehicle.

If you are cited for DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Get off the Road!

August 5th, 2015

We all know accidents happen, big and small. But with our severely congested roadways, it is what happens after the accident that really matters. To shore up a big problem, Seattle could soon follow state law by requiring drivers to get their banged-up cars off the Seattle streets after a collision. Why? To save everyone else from delays, and prevent secondary crashes.

It is anticipated that later this month legislation will be introduced by a member of the Seattle City Council that would require drivers who can safely move their vehicles after a crash do so, and to make it clear that police may push or tow stopped vehicles on Seattle streets, without fear of liability, as is permitted under state law. The moniker for this new legislation is affectionately known as ‘Steer it, clear it’.

Under state law the Steer it, clear it law reads: ‘the driver of any vehicle involved in an accident resulting only in damage to a vehicle which is driven or attended by any person or damage to other property must move the vehicle as soon as possible off the roadway or freeway main lanes, shoulders, medians, and adjacent areas to a location on an exit ramp shoulder, the frontage road, the nearest suitable cross street, or other suitable location … Moving the vehicle in no way affects fault for an accident.’ RCW 46.52.020; House Bill 2345.

Presumably this new legislation is geared towards clearing up any confusion between State and City obligations for people involved in car accidents on our roadways. This became a concern after a moderately recent accident in which a toppled truckload of frozen cod blocked the southbound viaduct for nine hours. Not surprisingly, a lengthy report issued by national experts last month said Seattle lacked policies and a sense of urgency to clear traffic incidents.

If you or a loved has been arrested or charged with a violation of the law in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense 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 arrested for crime 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 criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for a driving offense, theft, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other law violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Budgetary Hogwash

July 27th, 2015

An interesting article in the Seattle Times today claimed that Washington State’s 39 counties are draining their budgets by fighting crime and keeping their communities clean. See ‘Washington counties struggling with criminal-justice costs’ (hereinafter, the ‘Article’). According to the Article, counties spend about $120 million annually just to cover the cost of indigent defense in Felony matters. The Article waxes on about ways the counties try to get creative on stretching their crime enforcement budgets, and claims that a big concern is not centered on ‘lightening strike’ cases, but, on the whole, the overall structural pressures criminal justice budgets face. The Article says the counties claim that many ‘decisions’ are being based on available resources and their allocation, and whether criminal charges should even be filed regardless of the legitimacy of the allegations.

What is concerning about the Article is that regardless of all of the pontificating on how to solve the problem, many charges like DUI (which have a legitimate built in legislative structure to deal with reduction of charges and punishment … and hence the reduction of costs and overruns) have been largely ignored … at least in King County. Most, if not all, King County DUI cases that several years ago would have been easily and quickly resolved are now bogged down in our legal system, undoubtedly costing tax payers voluminous amounts of money due to the overarching change in the negotiating policy by the King County Prosecutor’s Office (which, of course, has been denied by the KCPO, but is certainly evident in application). Cases that just two years ago would have been resolved in two or three hearings now can take up to a year or more to resolve. These cases now involve numerous hearings, month after month. Law enforcement personnel’s’ time in court via testimonial hearings has increased tenfold, and many officers are required to return to court over and over again without testifying because of court congestion. In short, the dockets in district court have sky rocketed in motion hearing and jury trial volume. As a direct result, monies paid to jurors, court staff and law enforcement personnel most certainly have also increased.

It is one thing to be tough on crime, but to claim out one side of your mouth that the budget is tight and bankruptcy is near, and then out the other side of your mouth deny any culpability for the problem created is somewhat shameful and certainly disingenuous. The legislature has provided a means to soften budgetary concerns, at least as it relates to some misdemeanors and district court matters. If counties such as King County choose to no longer effectively use what the legislature has provided they have no legitimate basis in rhyme or reason to claim they are ‘struggling with criminal justice costs’, and they most certainly should not be entitled to any reimbursement by way of a petition to the state for help to pay for police, lawyers, court personnel and other ancillary costs. Managing a budget is part of the job and tax payers expect, or otherwise demand, that our governing bodies to do it effectively.

Now, more than ever, if you are cited for DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

The crackdown is evident, here is why

July 22nd, 2015

Why is the prosecution ‘cracking down’ on DUI’s? Why have things gotten so difficult to negotiate in the DUI world over the past several years? Why are so many DUI cases being set for trial and being litigated without any meaningful negotiations taking place between the prosecution and the defense? And why are so many jails woefully overburdened with DUI inmates?

Well, one only need to look at the local section of the Seattle Times today and read the 3rd to last paragraph of the paper’s article on Richard Hicks, ‘Renton man guilty in fatal boat crash’. The third paragraph reads, in part: ‘In 2002, Hicks was arrested for investigation of DUI and reckless driving in King County. When evidence of the level of alcohol content in his system was suppressed in court, prosecutors amended his charge to reckless driving … Hicks pleaded guilty and was sentenced to a year in jail, with all the time suspended.’ In short, Mr. Hicks already had an alcohol related incident on our roadways, and in the eyes of the government, ‘got away with one’.

The government, it seems, feels that over the years there simply has been too many people stopped for DUI that are ‘getting away with one’ and in turn they have shut off the ‘let’s make a deal’ spigot. As a direct consequence of this non-tolerance policy, the cold reality is that there are now more DUI cases going to trial, significantly more DUI convictions taking place, and a major influx of DUI inmates in our jails. Will this dragonian position on a non-mens rea crime result in fewer folks choosing to drink and drive? Only time will tell, but it sure seems that is what the government is banking on.

Now, more than ever, if you are cited for DUI in Washington state it is smart to immediately seek the assistance of a Seattle DUI lawyer. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI attorney, among other things, can quite possibly save a person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, extent of loss of privilege to drive and amount of jail time to be served. Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart … hire a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for DUI in Washington State.

Don’t Despair, Hire an Attorney

July 19th, 2015

Theft or shoplifting charges in Washington State can be a felony if the property in question is valued at more than $750, or a gross misdemeanor (3rd Degree Theft) if less than $750. Since theft is considered to be a crime of moral turpitude, a conviction can result in employment termination or prevent future employment or housing opportunities.

As noted above, Third Degree Theft (Theft 3) includes stolen items worth $750 or less. Theft 3 is a Gross Misdemeanor and includes possible jail time that can be up to 364 days or house arrest, fines up to $5000 and court ordered restitution. Second Degree Theft (Theft 2) includes stolen items worth between $751 and $5000. Theft 2 is a class C felony and includes jail time up to 5 years, fines up to $10,000 and court ordered restitution. First Degree Theft (Theft 1) includes stolen property with a value exceeding $5000. Theft 1 is a class B felony and includes jail time up to 10 years, fines up to $20,000 and court ordered restitution. Those numbers and days sound pretty scary. But do not despair, there are many things an attorney can do to protect you and to resolve the case with a favorable outcome. The ‘fix’ may take time, but is often achievable with good old fashioned hard work and experience.

If you or a loved has been arrested or charged with a crime like Theft in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense 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 arrested for crime 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 criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for Theft, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

The Unfortunate Consequence

July 10th, 2015

Some Washington gross misdemeanor crimes require that a person be immediately booked into custody, namely (1) domestic violence charges and (2) second offense DUI’s that occur within a ten year period of time. Under Washington law these crimes require that a person see a judge before she can be released from custody. God forbid the person is arrested on a Friday. In that situation the person is unlikely to see a judge until the following Monday! Yikes.

When the person actually does go to court, the judge reviews a statement of probable cause to determine “Conditions of Release.” This document is provided by the government, so you can only imagine that it is written to substantiate the government’s belief that the person committed a crime. After determining probable cause the judge will either: (1) release the person on her “Personal Recognizance” (or as some say, “Promise to Appear”), or order that the person not be release unless she posts bail. Either way, the court sets ‘conditions of release’. Such conditions may include: (1) Limitations on where the person can go; (2) Prohibitions on the consumption of alcohol, marijuana and other non-prescribed drugs; (3) Prohibitions on a person’s right to possess firearms; (4) Prohibitions on a person’s driving or requirements that she not drive a car that is not equipped with an ignition interlock device; (5) Prohibitions on person’s right to travel freely; (6) Requirement that a person attend pre-trial probation or court monitoring; (7) Requirement that person wear an alcohol monitoring device; and (8) Requirement that person be on electronic home monitoring.

The conditions are intended to keep the community safe from any further wrongful conduct by the person, and also to ensure that the person appears for all future court dates. These conditions can be expensive and very cumbersome … and lord knows they can be embarrassing too – wearing shorts or a skirt with a bracelet on the ankle often attracts strange looks and challenging questions that folks aren’t too keen on trying to explain.

If you or a loved has been arrested for domestic violence or DUI in Washington State immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense 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 arrested for crime 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 criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

DV Awareness Front and Center

July 7th, 2015

The Women’s World Cup is – as they say – in the books. What a phenomenal victory and stellar performance by the US Women’s National Team. And with such accolades comes a platform for public awareness.

Hope Solo, the US goal keeper and current Seattle Reign player, is ensuring her voice is heard with regard to the impact of domestic violence allegations. She says that she is done playing the victim. As most of us all know by now Solo was the defendant in a domestic violence case in 2014, wherein the charges brought against her were ultimately dismissed after several contentious court battles with the prosecuting attorney.

Regardless of the dismissal, Solo claims she lost countless endorsements, and that her name and reputation were blemished; she is now compared to the likes of Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson. In short, she says that “from here on out, no matter what happens, I’ll forever be associated with domestic violence.”

And therein lies the significance of this short post; let Solo’s statement be a lesson to everyone: A simple allegation of domestic violence can forever blemish one’s persona. It can impact job opportunities and public perception; the impact goes beyond just family. It has the potential of creating a lifelong public stigma. Unfortunately, in our current political and legal climates, prosecutors error on the side of guilt, not innocence. A claim of domestic violence, no matter how seemingly trivial, will result in criminal charges being filed and court proceedings moving forward. One charged with domestic violence best be prepared.

If you or a loved has been arrested for a domestic violence related crime in Washington State immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense 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 arrested for crime 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 criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for domestic violence related malicious mischief, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

Warrants still in Vogue

June 26th, 2015

This past Monday the US Supreme Court’s more liberal members, acting as the court’s majority, ruled that law enforcement is not carte blanche allowed to inspect hotel and motel guest registries; they either need an owner’s consent or a judge’s permission via a warrant. The ruling most likely will have a much broader impact than just hotel and motel registries, and serves as notice that warrantless searches done to assist in the curtailing of prostitution and illicit drug dealing will not be tolerated.

A group of hotel and motel owners challenged a Los Angeles ordinance because they objected to the fact that it allowed the police to look at the registries at any time of day or night without the owner’s consent and without a warrant. Justice Scalia, who is well known to be a ‘strict constructionist’ with regard to his legal views, noted that the majority’s basis for its ruling and alternatives to searching registries without a warrant or owner authorization was “equal parts ‘1984’ and ‘Alice and Wonderland’”, and that the majority had struck a needless blow to a barely intrusive law enforcement practice. In other words, Justice Scalia saw no problem with carte blanche searches of hotel and motel registries.

If you or a loved has been arrested or charged with a crime in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense 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 arrested for crime 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 criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other crime, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.