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5 Tips for staying safe this Fourth of July weekend

It is that time of year again, when we say happy birthday to our great country. Fireworks will light up the sky at night. The American flag will be seen on houses and lining city streets. Many people across the nation will be celebrating Friday and Saturday night, and many of these celebrations will involve the consumption of alcohol.

There is certainly nothing wrong with having a few beers or glasses of wine this Fourth of July, but we want to remind our readers to stay safe while traveling. Here are a few tips to keep everyone safe, and help avoid a drunk driving charge.

Do you have to blow over a .08 BAC to be charged with DUI?

Under Washington law, driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 percent is a crime. If you have had a couple drinks at a restaurant or at a friend’s house, you might feel like you can drive safely but worry about getting a DUI.

Without a breath or blood test, it is often very difficult to judge when you have reached the threshold limit. On any given day, it might take more or less alcohol for your BAC to reach .08 percent depending on many factors, including the amount of food you ate. But is a .08 BAC the only basis for a DUI?

Understanding 'fruit of the poisonous tree' in criminal courts

When criminal defense attorneys prepare for a case, they do much more than study the evidence police and prosecutors plan to use against the defendant. There is another very important part of this process, and that involves looking at how they collected the evidence.

The Fourth Amendment protects our right to privacy, to be free of intrusion from the government into our lives. This means that police must have a legitimate reason or excuse to search you, your home or your business. When they want to search your home for evidence of a crime, they must have probable cause to suspect that one was actually committed.

The DUI breath test: to refuse or not to refuse?

Driving is a privilege not a right. The Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) does not automatically issue driver’s licenses. You have to fill out a few forms, take a few tests and agree to a few conditions before the DOL will give you a valid license. You may not even be aware of some of the conditions, like implied consent.

What is implied consent? Under RCW 46.20.308, drivers in Washington automatically consent to a breath test to determine impairment just by getting behind the wheel of their car. At this point, you may be asking yourself another question. “How does that law not violate my Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure?”

Who cares if the WSP is switching breath test devices? We do

Breath test machines are used in a very large percentage of traffic stops when the patrol officer suspects that the driver is impaired by alcohol. Prosecutors often use the test results to convince drivers to enter into a plea agreement or to prove the prosecution’s case for a DUI conviction at trial.

The machines are also prone to malfunction and human error, which are a couple reasons why the Washington State Patrol says that it is switching to a new model.

You can lose your license for a DUI arrest… without a conviction

How many times do you rely on your vehicle per day? Do you drive to work? Do you drive to doctor’s appointments? Do you pick your kids up from school? Do they play sports? Do you generally buy more groceries than you could physically carry home? Do you like to go to restaurants?

It is probably safe to assume that losing your driving privileges would make everyday life very difficult. One more question. Did you know that the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) can suspend your driver’s license for DUI even if you are never convicted of the offense?

Will DADSS reduce instances of DUI? Test results are pending

The hard truth is that alcohol impairment is a factor in many fatal accidents, leading to nearly 30 traffic deaths per year across the country. Statistics such as this one are why safety advocates continue to search for ways to prevent drunk driving, and legislators in Washington have passed laws that impose harsh penalties for DUI.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a major advocate for safe driving. For the past several years, the agency has worked with 17 major car manufacturers to develop a new automotive safety feature that it said could help dramatically reduce instances of drunk driving.

3 Steps You Should Follow If You Are Pulled Over For DUI

Being pulled over by a patrol officer can be a stressful and overwhelming experience for anyone. Seeing flashing red and blue lights in your rearview mirror can be particularly frightening if you had a drink or two before getting behind the wheel of your car.

You may worry about how a DUI could affect your life and immediately begin thinking of ways you should answer the questions the officer will inevitably ask. Wanting to explain your side of the story is a very natural reaction to a tense situation, especially if it is the first time you have faced a potential DUI. What should you do?

How much could a first-offense DUI really affect my life?

Drunk driving is a mistake that many people who consider themselves law-abiding citizens make only once. You might have a single drink and feel sober enough to drive safely. You might realize that you have no other way to get your car home from a bar and think, "just this once." A family member Thumbnail image for ES.DUI Enhanced Post.pngmay call on you to handle an emergency when you planned to stay home for the night.

Regardless of your reasons, driving while impaired is considered a serious crime under the law. A single conviction has the potential to turn your life upside down.

Washington lawmakers mulling over DUI 'promise' law

Ignition interlock programs are a way to hold drivers accountable for impairment. Drivers are required to blow into the device when they attempt to start the vehicle. If the machine detects any alcohol or pre-programmed blood alcohol content, the device shuts the vehicle off.

Prosecutors and defendants have argued that these devices are a better option than complete license suspension or revocation. License suspension disrupts the ability to earn an income, take care of active children and complete daily tasks. Ignition interlock allows people to continue driving, but it is also a very expensive option. Are there situations in which neither license suspension nor ignition interlock is appropriate?

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