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Vancouver Criminal Law Blog

Man facing felony DUI allegedly tied up, sedated for blood draw

The term "implied consent" tends to get tossed around rather easily. However, Washington police officers treat the implied consent law with veracious sincerity, even at the possible physical detriment of a driver. A man now facing a felony DUI charge may be an example of just how far implied consent can go.

It started with an accident between an SUV and a motorcycle that tragically ended in the motorcyclist's death. The driver of the SUV told authorities that he hadn't been able to see the motorcycle. During this conversation, police believed that they smelled alcohol on the man, even though he did not report drinking anything at the time. A subsequent Breathalyzer test resulted in a blood-alcohol content above the legal limit -- .145 percent. 

Drunk driving case puts woman on home arrest

One woman is bound to her home following an arrest for allegedly driving under the influence. At a court appearance, she pleaded not guilty, and her grandfather later spoke up on her behalf. As the ordeal of her drunk driving case may only be starting, she may already be considering various aspects of her defense.

Shortly before her arrest, Washington police apparently spotted her vehicle headed the wrong way down the highway. They also claim that they witnessed her speed through a red light. When an officer attempted to initiate a traffic stop, she reportedly drove off.

More officers on the road could mean more drunk driving charges

With the holiday season in full swing, some people may already be exchanging gifts, going to and from parties and putting the finishing touches on their decorations. Despite this jolly time of year, the Washington Law enforcement doesn't seem to be celebrating, and in fact are putting more officers out on the watch for possible instances of drunk driving. The increased patrols will end on Jan. 1, 2015.

Many local police departments are teaming with both the Washington State Patrol as well as the state's Liquor Control Board in order to put extra officers on the road. The extra effort appears to be a part of the Zero Target Program, which aims to completely eradicate deaths caused by serious traffic accidents. As not all of the deaths or injuries caused by car wrecks are the result of intoxicated drivers, this may be an unattainable goal.

Suspected DUI driver arrested after failure to yield

Facing a DUI charge in Washington may lead to some level of anxiety for the accused individual. Losing one's driver's privileges at the arrest already impacts a person's life, and considering the penalties that may follow in the event of a conviction will only serve to underscore the dire situation. However, drivers who have been accused -- or are suspected -- of DUI may want to consider retaining the services of an experienced DUI defense attorney.

The Washington State Patrol reported arresting a suspected drunk driver who recently crashed into another vehicle after failing to yield when turning. The collision apparently caused the other car to roll over. The driver of the other vehicle was transported to the hospital with injuries that were not reported to be life-threatening. The alleged intoxicated driver suffered no injuries and was arrested. Charges are pending, and a warrant for a blood sample was issued.

No reasonable suspicion? Police can't stop for drunk driving

Before a police officer can switch on his or her cruiser lights and pull a driver over to the side of the road, he or she must actually have a reason to do so. Some Washington drivers may have seen those flashing lights in their rear view mirrors and thought to themselves, "What did I even do?" While these stops may feel more like a hassle than a serious violation of rights, an unwarranted stop could mean that some drunk driving charges aren't valid or legal.

DUI checkpoints are a notable exemption for police officers to pull drivers over without a reason, but that situation is typically the only one in which they may do so. Otherwise, the officer must actually witness an action that makes him or her suspect that something may be amiss. Police may not necessarily be on the lookout for drunk drivers but may also be watching for drivers who might be speeding or acting negligently behind the wheel. 

Can an open container citation affect my DUI?

There are varying citations and offenses that may accompany a drunk driving charge, some of which might not even stem from the driver. Like most states, Washington has an open container law that applies to both drivers and passengers. Those who have been charged with a DUI can also be cited for having an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, which can significantly impact the potential consequences that they face.

What actually constitutes an open container is important to address. A cup, bottle or other container of alcohol doesn't actually have to have its cap or top physically removed at the time of a traffic stop. If the container has a seal that has been broken or has a lid that can easily be opened and closed, it is seen as an open container.

Washington researchers developing marijuana Breathalyzer test

Breathalyzers are far from a new idea, although researchers in Washington are trying to revolutionize the technology. Instead of being used to detect the blood alcohol concentration in a driver suspected of driving under the influence, a new Breathalyzer test would determine whether a driver had marijuana in his or her system. As mentioned on this blog in the past, determining if a driver is behind the wheel while high is no easy task.

Breathalyzer technology has been around for over two decades. While state officers did recently update to new Breathalyzer machines, which we discussed on Nov. 6, 2014 ("Washington drivers to see new Breathalyzer test soon"), there is really not much else that a police officer can do for a marijuana DUI other than to get a sample of a driver's blood. Those results can take an extended period of time to come back, potentially leaving those suspected of driving under the influence in emotional turmoil and unsure of what his or her future may hold. 

DUI for marijuana more common, but results may be unclear

Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana back in 2012, and since then, DUI charges for drug related offenses have been on the rise. The number of marijuana DUI charges in the first six months of 2014 was nearly as much as those made in all of 2013. Despite the increase, authorities have noted that marijuana drunk driving offenses still only account for about 4 percent of the arrests for intoxicated driving. 

One professional pointed out that marijuana DUIs didn't even exist when he started his career about two decades ago. However, police believe that both alcohol and drug use while behind the wheel can cause the nearly the same effect. A driver under the influence of either substance can experience a slowed reaction time and may be less aware of his or her surroundings. 

Arrested for DUI? An ignition interlock device may be possible

One of the most devastating aspects of a DUI arrest can be the loss of driving privileges. Those who have been arrested for DUI in Washington may rely heavily on a driver's license to get them to and from work, to drop off children at school or even simply to purchase basic needs at the grocery store. If driving privileges are not reinstated during a revocation hearing, some drivers may still have the opportunity to get back behind the wheel before a license suspension is up.

Although some drivers may choose to wait for the outcome of a license revocation hearing, those who have been arrested and are facing DUI charges can apply for an Ignition Interlock Driver's License at any point in time following his or her arrest. However, before a driver can actually apply, he or she must first have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle and any other vehicle that he or she may drive. Proof that it was installed will be sent directly to licensing authorities, and those seeking the license must provide certain financial documents.

Facing a felony DUI charge? We have the experience to help

Understandably, being arrested for a DUI can be a frightening and overwhelming ordeal. Dealing with license suspensions, possible hearings for driving privileges and other legalities can begin to wreak havoc on an individual's life. Those facing a felony DUI charge may have even more on their mind than those who face a misdemeanor charge.

Even for a first time DUI offense in Washington, penalties can be steep should a conviction be obtained. Offenders may face up to a year in jail on top of a hefty $1,000 fine, as well as a mandatory ignition interlock device. Those who registered a blood alcohol concentration higher than .15 percent may also have to serve a year behind bars, and the fine can skyrocket up to $5,000. A second or third DUI conviction can result in even longer sentences, higher fines.

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