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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog

What will an officer do if I am stopped for a DUI?

It can be intimidating to be pulled over by a Washington police officer, whether for a routine traffic infraction such as speeding or for allegedly suspicious driving behavior. If the officer suspects that you may be under the influence of alcohol, he or she will likely administer a variety of tests in order to determine if you are impaired. It is important to know your rights related to these tests if you are ever suspected of a DUI.

Drivers are subject to implied consent laws in every state in the United States. This simply means that drivers are assumed to have already given their consent to chemical testing if they are suspected of driving while under the influence. Chemical tests typically include Breathalyzers, urine or even blood tests. It is possible to refuse a chemical test, although there are consequences for doing so, such as a virtually automatic license suspension that can last anywhere from six months up to a year.

Driver in fatal accident accused of drunk driving

One person is dead following a fatal accident just off of a Washington highway, and at least three others were injured. Police believe that the driver who apparently caused the wreck was under the influence of alcohol while behind the wheel. He has since been charged with vehicular homicide related to the drunk driving accident.

The evening of the crash, a group of six men went to the theater to watch a movie about skateboarding. This activity was supposedly followed up by drinks and rounds of pool at a bar. Around 3 a.m., when the group had loaded back into vehicle, one of the men allegedly requested that the driver perform “slap the rail," which is a skateboarding move.

Police say motorcyclist accused of DUI was nude at the time

A Washington motorcyclist is behind bars following allegations of drunk driving. Although police say that it was a hit-and-run wreck, he was later arrested and now faces multiple charges related to the wreck. Aside from being accused of DUI, he also faces allegations of indecent exposure.

The 42-year-old man was riding his motorcycle when police say that he struck two other vehicles. They say he fled, and when they eventually located him, he was only a short distance away and also apparently naked. It is believed that he may have been riding his motorcycle nude at the time of the accident.

Man charged with DUI after being pulled over by motorhome

An unusual traffic stop ultimately led to the arrest of a Washington driver. The arresting police officer was not in a police cruiser at the time of the stop and was instead driving a motorhome that doubles as a mobile processing center for alleged DUI charges. While not typically used for such action, the motorhome does have emergency lights.

The incident occurred at roughly 3 a.m. when an officer was returning the motorhome to a local police officer. As he was leaving the Interstate, he claims that he spotted a vehicle that was operated suspiciously. Apparently, there were no other officers or police vehicles in the area that would have been able to pull the driver over.

DUI, vehicular homicide charges for man in single-vehicle wreck

A single-vehicle accident recently resulted in one injury and one death. Authorities suspect that the accident may have been caused by drunk driving, and the surviving individual in the wreck has been accused of DUI and vehicular homicide. Apparently, Washington police are still investigating the wreck.

While it is unclear why the driver lost control of his vehicle in the first place, Washington authorities believe that the man’s pickup drifted off of the road at the time of the incident. It subsequently struck a nearby guardrail, which caused the vehicle to roll. It ultimately came to a stop back on the road in the north lane of Highway 7.

Washington man charged with DUI after almost striking officer

Washington residents may be unaware that a drunk driving charge does not necessarily have to be related to alcohol. Recently, a man was charged with DUI after allegedly imbibing certain prescription medication. The authorities claim that he drove while under the influence of such medication and almost ran over the foot of a Washington police officer with his vehicle.

At the time of the incident, the officer was in the process of impounding a car. The man accused of the DUI is said to have driven his truck into the parking lot where the impounding was taking place, and ended up blocking the driver of the tow truck in. The officer involved approached the truck driver, but according to him, the driver insisted that he was not blocking the tow truck.

What makes a DUI a felony in Washington?

In Washington, you can face a felony drunk driving charge if you have previous DUI convictions or if someone was injured in an accident in which police say you were driving while drunk or drugged. In particular, if you have four or more DUI convictions on your record in the last 10 years, then prosecutors may charge you with class C felony DUI. The charge may also carry a felony status if you have a prior conviction of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault.

In any case, felony DUI charges should be taken very seriously. People convicted of felony DUI face severe penalties, including jail time, fines, higher insurance rates, alcohol treatment programs, ignition interlock devices, community service and probation. Some people also lose their jobs. To seek the best possible outcome, people accused felony DUI will need to mount a strong legal defense.

Judge dismisses DUI charge against Spencer Ware

Back in January, just a few hours after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the New Orleans Saints in the NFL playoffs, a Washington State Patrol officer stopped a vehicle driven by Seahawks running back Spencer Ware. According to police, Ware was arrested after a number of callers reported seeing an SUV erratically moving across lanes of traffic. Police also claimed that Ware, who had three passengers with him, ran a red light before being pulled over.

Ware submitted to a field sobriety test and a breath test, the latter of which indicated blood-alcohol levels of .124 percent and .122 percent. The legal limit is .08 percent. The police report also says that while Ware was in a room for breath testing, he admitted that he was driving because he was less intoxicated than his friends.

Federal experiment expected to lead to pot-impairment guidelines

Decades of scientific research eventually led to the establishment of .08 percent as the nationwide blood-alcohol limit for drivers. However, even now, testing for alcohol impairment is far from a perfect science. Samples can be tainted or otherwise compromised by flawed testing and procedural mix-ups, and standardized field sobriety tests are still largely subjective.

Now significant research is being done on how cannabis use affects drivers, the goal being to establish guidelines for what is regarded as driver impairment and what is regarded as safe, reasonable use. The federal government funded a years-long experiment in which volunteers consumed controlled amounts of marijuana and alcohol and then got behind the wheel of a driving simulator. According to a chief researcher on the project, the volunteers "were happy to participate."

Court: WA police officers can't skip warrant for blood testing

Is a blood sample for a blood-alcohol test essentially the same kind of evidence as a fingerprint, voice recording, article of clothing or some other item seized in an investigation? No, said a Washington Court of Appeals. The three-judge panel recently heard a case involving a man whose blood sample was seized and then tested in connection with a drunk driving investigation.

The test indicated that the man's blood-alcohol content was .12 percent and that he had Valium in his system. However, the warrant that was obtained to take (or seize) a blood sample said nothing about testing (or searching) the sample. The accused man was convicted of DUI, but he appealed the conviction, claiming that the state had no probable cause to test the blood sample for traces of drugs. In the police report, the arresting state trooper noted the smell of alcohol, not suspicion of drug use.

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