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Is license suspension really the answer in DUI cases?

License suspension is a sanction under most state’s drunk driving laws, and has been for a long time. In Washington, even a first-offense DUI results in suspension or revocation for at least 90 days under the implied consent statute. If you refuse a breath test or have a prior conviction on your record, that number increases.

Although it is the go-to penalty, many disagree with the plan of action. It is difficult to enforce, easily ignored and unreasonably burdens the defendant instead of addressing the impairment issue. In addition, suspensions stay in place even in cases that do not result in conviction. Is there another option?

5 things to know about a domestic violence no-contact order

Under Washington law's zero-tolerance policy for family violence, police responding to a domestic dispute call are required to make an arrest in most instances. One of the first things that will happen after an arrest is that a judge will issue a no-contact order pursuant to RCW 10.99.040.

In many cases, the parties involved in a domestic dispute are married, in a long-term relationship or have children together. A no-contact order will affect your daily life and your family's. It can also result in significant burdens that could last for months or even years.

A DUI can be the wake-up call people need to get help

Alcoholism is a progressive and chronic disease that affects many people across the nation. Although it may sneak up over time, it can significantly affect many aspects of the individual’s life and his or her family’s. It is also an underlying issue in many DUI cases.

The Mayo Clinic published online a few of the symptoms that increase the likelihood that a person struggling with alcoholism will drive while impaired. These include the person’s inability to predict how much alcohol they will consume in a given period of time or for how long that period will last. Alcoholism also hinders a person’s ability to consider the potential short-term and long-term consequences of drunk driving.

Restaurant Recovery: rehabbing alcohol issues in the industry

The name “Restaurant Recovery” might sound like the title to a reality television show about rehabbing a struggling establishment. It’s not. It is a non-profit group focused on a different kind of rehab: helping bartenders, servers and other restaurant workers struggling with alcohol or drug problems.

We talked about the wider issue of alcohol abuse in our previous DUI-related post about bartenders and addiction. One of these bartenders co-founded the group Restaurant Recovery with his wife. The road they took to get there was filled with hard work and required a lot of patience.

Bartending + Addiction: the recipe for a DUI cocktail

Last published in 2007, a survey conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showed that an estimated 12 percent of all full-time bartenders, servers and others who work in the hospitality industry admitted that they consumed significant amounts of alcohol.

Alcohol abuse and addiction is a problem for many bartenders, and it is not difficult to see why. Dealing with addiction is not easy. Imagine the level of self-control it would take for an addict to pour liquor, mix drinks and serve beer for hours on end without taking a sip.

Think you can't be arrested for domestic violence? Never say never

With back-to-back Super Bowl appearances by the Seattle Seahawks, Vancouver is a place where football is alive and well. Although the primary purpose of the NFL is athletic competition, those associated with it have the power to influence many aspects of our lives. Recent high profile cases involving NFL athletes, like Ray Rice or Adrian Peterson, have prompted some very serious public conversations about domestic violence.

It might be easy to watch the awareness campaigns and think, "I'm not a violent person. Those don't apply to me." Due to Washington's zero tolerance policy for violence, the reality is that average people, even innocent people, often find themselves in police custody and facing serious domestic violence charges.

Police will arrest now, ask questions later in domestic disputes

The reality is that intimate partners and family members fight. When you live with someone every day, eventually that person is going to do something to annoy you or make you upset. When you have a significant investment in the relationship, emotions can intensify any disagreement very quickly.

Imagine a situation in which you and a family member or partner are yelling at one another. The police show up at your door. Maybe you called them. Maybe a concerned neighbor did. The real question is, "Do you know what is about to happen?" 

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If police have even a suspicion that domestic violence has occurred, they are going to make an arrest now and ask questions later.

A blood alcohol test is just a picture without context

Field sobriety tests and breath tests are tools that police officers use to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content at the scene of a traffic stop. A “failed” test gives the police probable cause to make an arrest. It does not mean that the person will be convicted of DUI in Vancouver. These tests are prone to human error and other factors that often make them unreliable in court.

As an added measure, law enforcement officers may conduct a true blood test at the station -- or in some cases with a handheld device on site. This test does not measure your ability to balance or the amount of alcohol on your breath. Instead, it directly measures the level of alcohol in your blood. How exact is this test? Can anything affect these results?

Questioning the validity of some DUI studies

We live in a data-driven age. Data is now collected and analyzed on an unprecedented scale by everyone from researchers to retailers. In some cases, those who collect our personal data may come to know us better than we know ourselves.

One of the downsides to all this data, however, is that if interpreted irresponsibly, it can lead to erroneous conclusions. An important point to remember is that correlation is not the same as causation. This too often gets downplayed or overlooked when research is reported in the media.

The potential costs associated with a DUI can add up quickly

There are costs associated with most criminal convictions, and those costs can add up quickly. Drunk driving is a good example. In addition to fines and court fees, a defendant may also need to pay for the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device. And with a DUI conviction, drivers can almost certainly expect a rate increase on their auto insurance.

In today's post, we'll discuss some of the costs associated with a DUI in Washington state. We'll also discuss more local data related to costs here in the Vancouver area.

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