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Articles Posted in DUI

People charged with DUI offenses are often tried shortly after their arrests. In some instances, however, a person may be able to defer his or her prosecution to take part in a treatment or rehabilitation program. People who successfully complete such programs are often able to have their DUI charges dismissed, but they must comply with the conditions imposed by the law, and if they do not, their deferred prosecution may be revoked. The revocation of deferred prosecution was the topic of a recent Washington opinion. If you are accused of committing a DUI offense, it is smart to speak to a Washington criminal defense lawyer to evaluate your possible options.

The Defendant’s Charges

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with DUI and reckless driving in May 2012. He petitioned the court for deferred prosecution in October 2013. The court granted his petition and entered an order approving a two-year treatment plan and deferring the prosecution of the matter for five years. The order also dictated that the defendant had to totally abstain from the use of alcohol or illicit drugs for the duration of the deferred prosecution and abide by the law.

Allegedly, in January 2018, the State moved to revoke the defendant’s deferred prosecution on the grounds that he was charged with hit and run, reckless endangerment, and DUI. The trial court entered an order granting the petition, but the defendant appealed, and the trial court’s ruling was ultimately reversed. The State then petitioned the court of appeals for discretionary review. Continue reading

Criminal defendants in Washington have the right to a trial by jury. They do not have the right to pick the jurors, however. Rather, jurors are randomly selected from people living in the county where the crime occurred. The prosecution and the defense both can question jurors for potential bias, though, and can make peremptory challenges to strike certain jurors that they feel may not be able to render an impartial decision. Peremptory challenges cannot be used for unethical or unjust purposes, however, like racial discrimination. In a recent opinion issued in a DUI case, a Washington court discussed the grounds for evaluating whether a peremptory challenge to a juror was improper. If you are charged with a DUI crime, you should confer with a seasoned Washington DUI defense attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your rights.

The Defendant’s Arrest and Trial

It is reported that the defendant was arrested and charged with felony DUI, felony physical control while under the influence, and reckless driving. The case proceeded to trial, and during the voir dire of the jury, the State used peremptory challenges to three jurors. The defense objected to the use of the challenges, but two of the jurors were excused regardless. The defendant was found guilty of the physical control charge and sentenced to fifteen months in prison. He then appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in allowing the State to remove two jurors because the strikes constituted racial discrimination, in violation of Washington law.

Racial Discrimination in the Selection of Jurors

Under GR 37, a Washington Rule, racial discrimination in the process of selecting a jury is prohibited, regardless of whether it arises out of an implicit bias or is the result of purposeful discrimination. GR 37 was adopted by the Washington Supreme Court to address the unjust exclusion of potential jurors due to an unconscious bias. It allows a party to object to the use of a peremptory challenge on the grounds that it demonstrates improper bias, after which the objecting party must articulate its reasons, and the court must evaluate whether the challenge is justified based on the totality of the circumstances. Continue reading

Under Washington law, a DUI offense that would ordinarily be prosecuted as a misdemeanor may be graded as a felony under certain circumstances. For example, if a DUI defendant has numerous prior qualifying convictions, it could constitute grounds for charging a DUI offense as a felony. Recently, a Washington court set forth an opinion explaining how prior offenses are scored in a case in which the defendant appealed his felony DUI conviction. If you are charged with driving while intoxicated, you could face significant penalties, and it is in your best interest to meet with a trusted Washington DUI defense attorney to determine your possible defenses.

The History of the Case

The defendant was charged with a DUI offense. Following a jury trial, he was found guilty of felony DUI due to the fact that the trial court determined he had three qualifying offenses within the ten years prior to his conviction. The defendant stipulated to his offender score but later appealed, arguing that the trial court improperly included a misdemeanor crime when calculating his offender score, which resulted in an improper score. The court ultimately agreed and remanded the matter for resentencing.

Calculating an Offender Score Under Washington Law

Under Washington law, a DUI is considered a felony if the defendant has three or more qualifying offenses within the ten years preceding the offense. To determine an offender score for a felony DUI offense, the court will assign one point to each felony offense as an adult and one point to each serious traffic offense other than offenses used solely for enhancement purposes. Continue reading

People are protected by both the State and Federal Constitutions against unreasonable search and seizures. What this means, in part, is that the police cannot stop a driver absent a warrant or a reasonable suspicion that the person is engaging in criminal behavior. Thus, if the police stop a motorist without cause and the person is subsequently charged with a DUI offense, there may be grounds to suppress the evidence gathered during the stop. What constitutes sufficient grounds to effectuate a traffic stop was the topic of a recent Washington opinion in which the defendant sought a reversal of his DUI conviction. If you are accused of driving under the influence, it is advisable to consult a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney to discuss your possible defenses.

The Defendant’s Arrest

Allegedly, a police officer was dispatched to investigate a hit and run accident involving a white SUV. When he arrived at the scene, he observed a sedan with significant damage to the driver’s side door parked on the shoulder of the highway. The driver of the sedan was lying unconscious on the side of the road, and a witness advised the officer that the white SUV struck the sedan and the driver and sped off.

It is reported that later that evening, a second officer observed the defendant driving a white SUV of the same make and model as the one involved in the accident and made a traffic stop. When he approached the vehicle, the officer observed that the defendant smelled of marijuana, his eyes were glazed over, and he was lethargic. The officer observed that the SUV had damage consistent with the earlier accident, and after questioning the defendant, arrested him for DUI. The defendant filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the stop, but his motion was denied. He was convicted, after which he appealed. Continue reading

Although all DUI charges should be taken seriously, felony DUI charges can result in significant penalties, including jail time. Most DUIs are charged as misdemeanors, but they can be elevated to felonies in certain cases. Recently, the Supreme Court of Washington clarified the essential elements for escalating a DUI charge from a misdemeanor to a felony in a case in which the defendant appealed his felony DUI conviction. If you reside in Washington and are currently charged with a felony DUI, it is important to speak with a seasoned attorney to discuss your options for seeking a favorable outcome.

The Defendant’s Driving History and Charges

Reportedly, the State charged the defendant with numerous driving-related offenses, including felony DUI. The DUI was charged as a felony due to the fact that the defendant had four prior offenses, as defined by Washington law, within ten years of his current arrest. The court bifurcated the trial so that the jury heard evidence of the defendant’s conduct on the date he was arrested prior to hearing evidence of his prior acts. Thus, the jury convicted the defendant of misdemeanor DUI, after which evidence of the defendant’s prior offenses was introduced. Specifically, the prosecution advised the jury that the defendant had previously been convicted for DUI, negligent driving, and two counts of reckless driving. The reckless and negligent driving offenses were originally charged as DUIs.

It is alleged that after the prosecution rested, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the felony DUI charge on the grounds that the prosecution failed to present adequate evidence that his convictions for reckless driving involved alcohol. The jury issued a verdict finding that the defendant had four prior offenses. The defendant was sentenced within the felony DUI range, after which he appealed, again arguing there was insufficient evidence that his prior reckless driving convictions involved alcohol. The court of appeals affirmed, after which the defendant petitioned the Supreme Court of Washington for review.

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When a person is arrested and charged with a DUI, it goes without saying that the person will not be able to drive his or her vehicle home. The issue of what the police are permitted to do with the vehicle following a defendant’s arrest, however, was recently presented to the Supreme Court of Washington. Specifically, the court addressed whether it was unconstitutional to impound a DUI suspect’s vehicle, in a case in which impoundment resulted in the discovery of evidence that led to additional charges for a DUI defendant. If you live in Washington and are faced with DUI charges, it is in your best interest to consult a capable Washington DUI defense attorney to discuss what you can do to protect your rights.

Facts Surrounding the Defendant’s Arrest

It is reported that the defendant was stopped by a police officer for exceeding the speed limit. When the officer spoke with the defendant, he smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath. The officer requested that the defendant submit to a field sobriety test, but the defendant declined. As such, the officer arrested the defendant on suspicion of DUI and impounded the defendant’s vehicle pursuant to RCW 46.55.360.

Allegedly, the officer searched the vehicle after it was impounded, during which he found drug paraphernalia. The defendant was subsequently charged with DUI and possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute. The defendant then moved to suppress the evidence found during the search of his vehicle, arguing that the search was unlawful. The trial court granted the motion concluding that RCW 46.55.360 was unconstitutional. The State then submitted a motion for direct review by the Supreme Court of Washington.

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In many cases in which a person is arrested due to suspicion of DUI, the arresting officer will ask the person to submit to a blood or breath test. If the person refuses to undergo chemical testing after he or she is arrested, evidence of the refusal can be submitted at trial to establish the defendant’s guilt. Notably, however, as recently explained by a Washington Court of Appeals, a defendant has a constitutional right to refuse to submit to a breath test prior to an arrest, and evidence of such refusal is not admissible at trial. If you are a resident of Washington and are charged with DUI, it is important to speak with a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney regarding your rights.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the defendant was stopped for driving five miles over the speed limit and for failing to use a turn signal before changing lanes. When the police officer approached the defendant’s vehicle, he did not observe any signs of intoxication. He ran the defendant’s registration and learned that there was a warrant for her arrest. He arrested the defendant on her outstanding warrant, and then noted an odor of alcohol on the defendant, and that the defendant’s eyes were slightly bloodshot and her eyelids were slightly droopy.

Reportedly, the officer transported the defendant to jail, where he asked her to submit to a preliminary breath test, a tool he uses to establish probable cause. The defendant refused to take the test or to undergo field sobriety testing. She was charged with DUI. Prior to trial, she filed a motion to preclude evidence of her refusal to submit to the preliminary breath test, which the court denied. Evidence of her refusal was introduced at trial, and the defendant was convicted. She appealed, arguing that evidence of her refusal was improperly admitted.

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Washington criminal defendants have numerous rights under the law, that aim to prevent unjust convictions. For example, the State must prove each element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, and if a defendant is convicted despite insufficient evidence to support a finding of guilt, his or her conviction may be reversed. A Washington court recently discussed what constitutes sufficient evidence in a case in which the defendant appealed his DUI conviction. If you live in Washington and are faced with DUI charges it is imperative to retain a trusted Washington DUI defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Facts Regarding the Defendant’s Arrest

Reportedly, the defendant was stopped by a police officer after he crossed the center line on a road. The officer observed that the defendant had bloodshot eyes and an odor of alcohol. The defendant admitted to consuming two drinks, after which the officer asked to the defendant to exit the vehicle and undergo field sobriety tests. The defendant agreed and underwent field sobriety tests that he performed poorly. He was subsequently arrested and transported to the sheriff’s office. When he arrived at the sheriff’s office, he refused to submit to a breath test. The officer then obtained a warrant for a blood test.

Allegedly, the defendant was transported to a nearby hospital where his blood was drawn, approximately three hours after his initial stop. The test revealed the defendant’s BAC to be .23. he was charged with felony DUI. A toxicologist testified at trial that typically a person’s BAC would begin to decrease an hour after his or her last drink. The jury found the defendant guilty of DUI and specifically found that he had a BAC of .15 or higher within two hours of driving. The defendant appealed, arguing in part that the State failed to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

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On August 10, beer lovers around the South Sound will descend on Tacoma’s annual Brew Five Three Beer and Music Festival located on South 9th and Broadway in downtown Tacoma. In an effort to keep the community safe The Law Offices of Smith & White, Tacoma’s expert DUI defense attorneys, will reimburse the cost of a taxi or ride-share from the festival for the first 50 people who submit their receipts (up to $20 compensation).

Ride Safe Program at Brew53

Photo: Smith & White partners James White and Derek Smith at the 2018 Brew53 event.

“Our number one goal at Smith & White is to keep our community safe, not only for those who are participating in this festival, but for others who are on the road,” says attorney James White, partner at Smith & White.

Under Washington law, the police must have reasonable suspicion to justify a traffic stop. If you are stopped without a valid reason, and subsequently charged with a crime due to evidence produced during the stop, you have grounds to suppress the evidence at trial.

If the evidence is nonetheless admitted and you are subsequently convicted, you may be able to have the conviction overturned, as illustrated in State v. Browna case recently ruled on by the Court of Appeals of Washington. If you are charged with a DUI, it is in your best interest to consult an experienced Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to formulate a plan for your defense.

Facts Regarding the Traffic Stop

It is alleged that a police officer observed the defendant turning left, and saw the tires of his vehicle briefly crossing the divider line. He continued to follow the defendant and observed the defendant turning on his left-hand indicator as he entered the lane, then shut off his indicator before turning. No other traffic was present at the time of the turn. The officer then stopped the defendant for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. The defendant was subsequently charged with a DUI. During the trial the defendant filed a motion to suppress any evidence produced during the stop, arguing the stop was not justified. The court denied the motion and the defendant was convicted of DUI. He then appealed.

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