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Double jeopardy and the DUI, continued

In our prior post, we began a discussion about the Fifth Amendment’s double jeopardy clause as it applies to DUI. Citizens shall not “be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb.” The government t cannot charged or sentence drivers twice for the same crime.

The clause is a straightforward constitutional protection that does not always seem straightforward in application. For example, the Washington State Department of Licensing can suspend your driving privileges in an administrative process separate and apart from penalties issues during sentencing in criminal court.

Double jeopardy and the DUI

Constitutional rights are at the heart of the entire criminal justice system in Washington and across the nation. As criminal defense attorneys, they are also at the center of our practice at Green & Ritchie PLLC. We fight for our clients to protect their rights and make sure that the government does not abuse its power.

The Constitution and its amendments limit the power of the government. One of these limitations comes by way of the double jeopardy clause. The Fifth Amendment strictly limits the government’s authority by prohibiting prosecution for the same crime, either after acquittal or after conviction. It also prohibits the government from punishing a citizen twice for the same offense, like drunk driving.

DUI roadblocks: are they legal or do they violate my rights?

Many of the scenarios we discuss in our blog involve a random traffic stops. They involve situations in which a police officer suspects DUI because he or she observes the driver swerving across lanes, running a red light or driving erratically. Random observations are not the only source for drunk driving arrests.

Law enforcement agencies across the nation often use checkpoints or roadblocks to target drunk or drugged driving. You may see them around the holidays, like New Year’s Eve or Memorial Day, when rates for drunk driving historically increase. The question becomes, “Do they violate your rights?”

What is the deferred prosecution program? Am I eligible?

The government cannot take away or limit your rights without just cause or due process. A state or federal court cannot sentence you for a crime without a conviction based on sufficient evidence. This is why prosecutors get the first chance to present their case. If they do not provide sufficient evidence, even if assumed true, you can file a motion to dismiss the charges.

After the prosecution presents its case, you get your chance to present a defense. You may contest the accuracy or validity of the evidence. You can show that witnesses are unreliable or that police made mistakes that violated your rights. You may suffer with an alcohol abuse disorder diagnosed by a licensed medical doctor, but this is not a defense to drunk driving. You may, however, be eligible for deferred prosecution.

How much does an ignition interlock device cost?

When ignition interlock devices (IID) were developed, safety advocates and state officials quickly found an opportunity for their use in sentencing for DUI. They hoped that the device would help prevent first-offense drivers from becoming habitual offenders.

Advocates also argue that the device helps fight recidivism by allowing those who make a mistake to keep driving but under a watchful eye. Drivers who have been convicted of DUI may even appreciate having the device in lieu of losing their driving privileges entirely. Of course, there are drawbacks as well, like the cost associated with IIDs.

License suspension possible at arrest and conviction for DUI

Washington has a zero tolerance policy and some of the strictest drunk driving laws in the nation. A court does not even have to convict a person for DUI for the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) to suspend their driving privileges from 90 days to two years.

The initial suspension mentioned above is an administrative suspension based only on the fact that police reported an arrest for suspicion of driving while impaired. The DOL does not need to establish any evidentiary proof of intoxication to take away an individual’s driving privileges.

You have the right to a jury trial… but do you always?

Constitutional rights are paramount for life in the United States, and they have been the focus of our recent blog posts. We have already covered briefly the rights and protections afforded by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments.

In this post, we will discuss one of the most important rights. It was so important to the framers of the constitution that they listed it twice. The first mention is in Article III of the Constitution, and the second mention is in the Sixth Amendment. We are talking about your right to a trial by jury.

The Sixth Amendment: powerful but complicated protections

Constitutional rights are not something that everyone thinks about often, and they are easy to take for granted. The truth is that they influence many aspects of our everyday life. When police suspect that you committed a crime, they become even more crucial to understand and remember.

We are using a few posts in our blog to highlight some of the important protections afforded to citizens by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Our first post focused on the Fourth Amendment as it applies to traffic stops and arrests for suspicion of drunk driving. In this post, we will focus on your Fifth Amendment rights.

DUI? Probable cause is necessary for the traffic stop and arrest

Many people these days would find watching viral videos on YouTube, reading status updates on Facebook or scouring Pinterest for the latest trends more interesting than learning about history. Who cares what a bunch of old men in wigs said or did back in the 1700s anyway?

Everyone should care. The protections written into the old musty documents known as the Constitution and the Bill of Rights can affect your life in a much great way than any tweet or social media post, especially if you find yourself accused of drunk driving.

16.6 million Americans suffer from an alcohol use disorder

If you are at least 21 years old, consuming alcohol in Washington is legal. In fact, beer and liquor is a staple at many personal and professional social gatherings. Friends may toast to an engagement. Co-workers unwind at happy hour after a stressful day at work. Executives discuss major business deals over drinks.

These events can be very stressful if you are struggling with alcohol abuse or dependency. If you are, you are not alone. According to 2013 data from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, approximately 16.6 million adults aged 18 or older have an alcohol use disorder.

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