Monday, December 15, 2014

What are the three standardized field sobriety tests administered in a DUI investigation

Have you ever wondered what the three standardized field sobriety tests are in a DUI investigation?  Well today is your lucky day.  DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba and answer this question and offer a basic overview in layman's terms of how they are administered and what the police officers look for during their DUI investigation.

The standardized field sobriety tests are a battery of three tests that have been standardized by the National Highway Safety Administration.  Back in the day this organization did a few studies based on these tests and determined they were the most reliable.  The reason the term "standardized" is used is because the purpose of these tests is to be administered the same way every time.  Meaning a DUI police officer administering this test in Seattle will be administering it the same way a DUI officer would be Florida.  

So what are the tests:

The first test administered is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  If you have ever seen this test in the movies or on the side of the road it is the "eye" test.  What the Officers are looking for his nystagmus.  Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eyeball as it moves side to side following an object.  It kind of looks like a marble rolling across sand paper.  It bounces.  The officers are trained to look for a total of 6 clues, 3 in each eye.  First they look to see whether the jerking occurs, secondly whether it occurs at the furthest the eye can look to the side, and lastly whether the jerking occurs prior to a 45 degree angle.  

The second test generally administered is the walk and turn test.  This test is exactly how it sounds.  The officers look for a total of eight clues during this test.  Whether the subject loses balance in the instruction position, starts too soon, misses heel to toe, stops walking, raises arms, steps offline, fails to take the 9 mandatory steps, and fails to make the correct turn between the first nine steps and the second nine steps.

The third test administered is call the one leg stand.  And like the walk and turn test this test is exactly how it sounds.  The Officer has the subject stand on one leg, keep their arms to the side, count out loud until they are told to stop, and stare at their raised foot which is 6 inches off the ground.  The things they look for are raising the arms, putting foot down, hopping, swaying side to side.  

So there you have it.  Those are the magical standardized field sobriety tests.  Please keep in mind this is simply a blog and not a manual or thesis.  I could probably write a few pages on each test, but thats not what I wanted to do.  

_
About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  He is rated a perfect 10 out of 10 by Avvo.com, and named one of the best Seattle DUI lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

3 reasons you should always request a DOL hearing following a DUI arrest

Often times I meet with potential clients and one of the first questions they ask is whether they should challenge the proposed license revocation that follows a DUI arrest.  Usually they say they spoke with another attorney or a friend and there is a small chance of prevailing.  Due to this they would rather save the money it costs to challenge the proposed revocation and just deal with it.  In my opinion that is incorrect thinking and here are 3 reasons why.

Additional collateral consequences you may not be aware of

Even if you don't drive and you take the bus everywhere.  Having a suspended license due to a DUI can still cause problems down the road.  Here are a few

  • SR22 insurance will be required for at least years
  • A reinstatement fee will need to be paid when eligible to get license reinstated
  • A driver may need to take both written and driving tests again
  • A driver could be deemed inadmissible to Canada
  • A driver may not be allowed to rent a vehicle for at least 5 years
  • Increase in regular insurance coverage
  • Much, much more

Interview police officers involved without prosecutor

One of the main reasons I always tell people to challenge the suspension following a DUI arrest is that is where I personally conduct a majority of my investigation for the DUI case.  Because the DOL hearing is like a mini trial you can subpoena witnesses to appear and question them under oath.  In most DOL hearings I subpoena at least the arresting officer.  The reason I do this is two fold.  First if they don't appear and they were properly served a subpoena 9 out of 10 times the suspension will get dismissed.  Secondly if they do appear I get a free deposition with all of the prosecutors witnesses without the prosecutor being there, and everything is recorded.

It's helpful with negotiation

Sometimes I have found the ruling from DOL to be helpful during the negotiation with the Prosecutor in an attempt to get the DUI reduced to a lesser charge.  Obviously if a driver prevails at the DOL hearing and the suspension gets dismissed based on some kind of legal issue that is great.  But even if the suspension gets upheld sometimes Prosecutors are receptive to the idea of reducing the DUI knowing full well that the driver is not getting off scott free and they will face a license suspension.  

Obviously challenging a license suspension is an uphill battle.  However I honestly believe there is more benefit to challenging the suspension and the benefit of it outweighs any cost or the nominal fee.

_
About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle, WA.  If you have been arrested for a DUI feel free to contact our law firm to set up a free consultation with a DUI Attorney.  You can also learn more about Leyba Defense PLLC from our website.  
 
 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

What degree is a license suspended after a DUI conviction

If a driver gets convicted of a DUI here in Washington State.  Then they face at least a 90 day drivers license suspension if it was a first offense DUI and they took the breath test.  Obviously the length of the license suspension can vary depending on the particular facts in the case including the breath test level, or whether they refused the test.  In Washington State there are essentially three different types of drivers license suspensions.

Like I stated above there are essentially three types or degrees of drivers license suspensions here in Washington State.  Here is some basic info on the different types
  • Driving while license suspended in the third degree.  This carries a max penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine.  If convicted of this offense there is no additional license suspension.  Typically people get this suspension for unpaid traffic tickets, failure to pay child support, etc.  More from financial stuff.
  • Driving while license suspended in the second degree.  This carries a max penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine.  If convicted of this offense there is an additional 1 year drivers license suspension.  Additionally it counts as a serious traffic offense that could result in a longer license suspension.  Typically people get this suspension for a DUI conviction, DOL administrative action, or a reckless driving conviction.  
  • Driving while license suspended in the first degree.  This carries a max penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine.  It also carries a mandatory jail sentence if convicted.  Additionally if a driver becomes suspended in the first degree their license license is at least 7 years.  To get to this level a driver needs to accumulate 3 or more serious traffic offenses in a period of 5 years.  These include any vehicular assault, vehicular homicide, reckless driving, DUI, or driving while license suspended in the 2nd degree.
Obviously there is more to these types of suspensions that I just wrote.  But these are the basics.  Anytime a person gets charged with either driving while license suspended second or first degree the goal should always try and get it reduced to a third degree charge.  That would be a best case scenario.

_
About the author:  Matthew Leyba is owner of Leyba Defense PLLC, a DUI law firm located in Seattle, WA.  He is currently rated a perfect 10 out of 10 by Avvo.com, and has been recognized as a rising star in the field of DUI defense by the Seattle Met Magazine.