Friday, March 30, 2012

WSP gets clever to nab speeders and aggressive drivers

The Washington State Patrol launched a pilot program today to crack down on speeders and aggressive drivers using new and improved strategies.  This is modeled after the Target Zero DUI task force which also employs the Washington State Patrol in an effort to crack down on DUI offenses in Washington State.

This new task force for speeders in going to be focused on certain areas that have been known to have increased speeding infractions and other known problems.  This will be based on prior offenses that is kept in a database.

In my opinion this will be yet another way to get around pre textual stops for DUI related investigations.  WSP is not stupid, and they know the best way to arrest those accused of DUI is for minor traffic infractions.  The problem with that is it can be unlawful to stop someone for a minor infraction with the intent to conduct a criminal investigation without any reasonable and articulable facts of criminal activity.

Often times in a DUI cases that happens when somebody gets pulled over for allegedly committing an infraction.  The officer smells an odor of alcohol, and immediately asks the driver to exit the vehicle.

To read the article click here.  Remember if you have been arrested for DUI and you feel you were unlawfully targeted, then it is of the utmost importance to contact an experienced DUI Attorney to ensure your constitutional rights are protected.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Marijuana legalization impact on DUI law in Washington State still unclear

I recently read an article from the Seattle Weekly that discusses the impact Marijuana legalization would have on DUI laws in Washington State if I-502 is passed.  As a Seattle DUI Attorney this is something I have been following and quite interested in.  The gist of the article discussed if Marijuana was legalization what would the legal limit be, and how it would be enforced as a DUI.

I-502 will be on the ballot this November in Washington State.  In addition to legalizing Marijuana it would also set a limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood for drivers over 21, and zero tolerance for minors is proposed. This 5 ng/ml figure is supposed to be similar to the .08 standard currently in place for alcohol related DUI offenses.

Currently in Washington State if someone is arrested for DUI and Marijuana is believed to be the substance that has impaired the driver there is no specific amount of Marijuana in the system, like with alcohol and a .08.  However there are certain levels where the Prosecution can call in an expert and have them testify about how a person might be affected at that level.

Other states with "per se" Marijuana DUI laws are discussed in the article as well.  Its interesting that Nevada Marijuana DUI arrests rose, will Ohio Marijuana DUI arrests decreased when a per se limit was imposed.  From Seattle DUI Lawyer perspective these are interesting statistics and I guess that just goes to show how uncertain all of this information is when it comes to Marijuana.

If you're interested in reading the article.  You can view it here.

Friday, March 2, 2012

When in doubt listen to your client on their DUI case

This week I had a jury trial in Seattle on a DUI case.  After 2 hours of deliberation the jury found my client NOT GUILTY.  Throughout my career I have litigated almost 125 jury trials, which not many Seattle DUI Attorneys out there than can say.   But one thing I have learned from all those trials is to listen to your client and trust your gut.

This particular case I had was a pretty good case for us.  My client performed reasonably well on the field sobriety tests, his driving wasnt bad, and he didnt provide a breath test.  But the interesting thing about this case was my client turned down an incredible deal from the Prosecution.  A deal that would not have resulted in any jail, license suspension, ignition interlock requirements, SR 22 insurance, probation, and only a nominal fee.  He would not have had a DUI conviction on his record and he potentially would have been allowed to ask a Judge to vacate the charge off his record after 5 years.  

My goal in every DUI case I take is to try and get the charge dismissed, but if that cant happen then to try and get this exact same deal my client turned down.  Needless to say I thought he should have taken the deal, and I even told to strongly consider it.  But when he told me that he didnt think he was guilty of anything, and his trusted me at trial.  Well I was sold at that point, and I did everything I possibly could not to let him down.  

Of course it was an incredible risk to go to trial.  As I stated before juries are a fickle group.  Even though you get to ask them questions, and you get to pick some of the jurors to hear the case, and you get to have some control over who will ultimately judge your client.  It really is just a crap shoot.  There certainly have been times when I have gone to trial expecting a certain result and the exact opposite has happened.  Any any experienced trial attorney will tell you the same thing.  So you never want to expect or bank on a certain result when a case goes to trial.  Especially in criminal cases that are emotionally charged, like DUIs.

But in the end my client was right to believe in his case, and I feel honored that he had enough faith in me and my abilities as a DUI trial attorney to risk it all.  I was extremely nervous to try this case considering all that was at risk.  Plus the fact that my client turned down a great deal added to the pressure.  He was expecting a certain result, and he expected me to come through for him.  

When we got word that a verdict was in I remember I started to feel the butterflies in my stomach.  In fact I cant remember the last time I ever felt the combination of nerves and excitement at the same time.  Probably on my wedding day.  When the jury read the verdict it seemed like everything was in slow motion.  But when I heard the words NOT GUILTY a flood of emotion came over me.  I have never cried at a verdict, but I was pretty darn close in this case.  I remember my client looking at me, putting forth his had and telling me thank you.  And I have to say knowing I changed his life, and helped him in his time of need made me feel pretty good.  At that moment Im glad he chose to proceed that way, and now he has no criminal conviction on his record and he can move on with his life.  Just a great week for the firm.

On a side note.  When the Jury was walking into the courtroom prior to reading the verdict, several of them were smiling and laughing with the bailiff.  I remember thinking to myself these people are either completely cold about what they are going to do to my client, or they are going to walk him and they feel good about it.  Turns it was the later of the two.