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Articles Posted in DUI

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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Criminal defendants are commonly prosecuted in the court that has jurisdiction over the area where the crime allegedly occurred. If the state fails to identify the proper court to prosecute charges against a defendant, the defendant can move to have the case dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. In some cases, however, it may not be clear which court may properly exercise jurisdiction over a matter.

In Washington v. Taylor, a Washington Court of Appeals recently clarified that a city’s adoption of the DUI statute did not grant the city sole jurisdiction for prosecuting any violations of the statute. Rather, the court held the District Court for the county where the violation occurred properly had jurisdiction over the matter. If you are charged with a DUI, it is important to retain a knowledgeable Washington DUI defense attorney to help you protect your rights.

Defendant’s DUI Trial

Allegedly, the defendant was stopped for suspicion of DUI in Spokane. He failed field sobriety tests and was charged with a DUI. The defendant was tried before a jury in Spokane County District Court and was subsequently found guilty. He appealed, arguing the Spokane County District Court lacked jurisdiction over his case. Specifically, he noted that when Spokane enacted its Municipal Code it adopted several state statutes, including the DUI statute. The defendant alleged the adoption of the DUI statute granted the Spokane Municipal Court with sole jurisdiction of all DUIs that occurred within the confines of the city. The court rejected the defendant’s argument, after which he sought discretionary review.

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If you are accused of a DUI, whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense depends on whether you have previously been convicted of vehicular assault under Washington law. As the Washington Court of Appeals explained in Washington v. Allen, however, not all vehicular assaults are treated equally in terms of evaluating subsequent charges. Rather, only certain vehicular assault convictions serve as a basis for enhanced charges. If you are charged with a DUI, it is essential to your defense to retain an experienced Washington DUI defense attorney to analyze the circumstances regarding your arrest and what evidence the state may attempt to introduce against you.

Facts of the Case

Purportedly, the defendant in Allen was charged with a felony DUI, due to a prior conviction of vehicular assault under the influence. The trial was bifurcated per the defendant’s request. The first issue submitted to the jury was whether the defendant was guilty of DUI, which the jury determined he was. The second issue submitted to the jury was whether the defendant’s prior conviction for vehicular assault provided sufficient grounds to convict the defendant of a felony offense. On the second issue, the state introduced records from the defendant’s prior case as well as testimony from the arresting officer in the defendant’s prior case as to the defendant’s behavior at the time of his prior arrest. Based on the evidence presented, the jury found that the defendant was previously convicted of vehicular assault while under the influence of alcohol. The defendant subsequently appealed the jury’s finding regarding his prior conviction.

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Contact DUI attorneys Smith and White to discuss an alternative to jail time for a DUI charge.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, Pierce County offers an alternative to jail time. Immediately contact your attorney to see if you qualify for serving time in a detox facility versus the Pierce County Jail. Proper representation is crucial in DUI and DWI cases, a service DUI attorneys Smith and White provide.

What are some of the benefits?


Contrary to popular belief, in Washington a police officer cannot simply pull you over based on a “hunch”; there has to be a viable cause, or what is referred to as “reasonable suspicion” for the stop. Be it a minor traffic violation such as running a red light or perhaps an even lesser infraction like a defunct headlight, the officer in question cannot initiate a traffic stop based strictly on the fact the he/she thinks you may have been drinking. That said, assuming you are pulled over as a result of a valid suspicion, being knowledgeable about your rights at that moment and knowing precisely how to act, speak and behave is critical for any future DUI defense.

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