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Articles Posted in DUI

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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A famous song from the 1960s, borrowing from Jewish and Christian scriptures, states that there is a “time to every purpose under heaven.” Encounters with police can be like that. Which is to say, when interacting with the police, there is a time to be very forthcoming, and there is a time to refrain from speaking. Suffice it to say, whatever the specifics of your situation may be, the first thing you say when you encounter a law enforcement officer should probably not be, “I did it.” One man from southwestern Washington made that mistake in his case, a case in which the Washington Court of Appeals upheld his conviction.

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If you smoke it is more than likely that you know it would be beneficial to not do so. You know about cancer, emphysema, heart problems, respiratory problems, and the list goes. The media has all but bombarded us with this information plus the surgeon general has a warning on every pack. You know it costs anywhere between five and ten dollars a pack. Some of you are even wondering, “Where did you find the five dollar ones?” So you know quitting would save you an awful lot of money. Plus, there are the concerns about smell, the less and less convenient places to go, and quite often family and friend concerns that you get the privilege of listening to over and over and over again. Yet many people continue forward with this very risky habit. Why? Well there are actually a lot of answers but this example was primarily used to show that there is a practice that has people asking the same question.

Everybody knows that if you drink you should not drive. The reasons are even of greater magnitude. You are a danger to yourself and others. The number of car crashes caused by drunk driving is way above that of any other cause. The same is true of fatal car crashes. People know this for the same reason they know the health risks of smoking – the media sends out the message at least daily. Plus, you are risking a DUI arrest. In Washington, that has jail time, hefty fines and many other penalties. Yet many people choose to engage in this risky behavior. This begs the same question – WHY? The answers are multiple. Continue reading

Are you having a crisis moment? The worst scenario happened. You drove. You got taken to the station. You were given a BAC test. Then you tested over the Washington legal limit of .08. Now you probably do not feel like fighting. What you are very seriously thinking about is pulling your hair a little, maybe biting your nails or crying for a little, worrying a lot but eventually throwing in the towel, pleading guilty just to get it over with and hoping for a merciful judge.

You did blow an over the legal limit number. So it seems like they have all the science and the law on their side. So the reaction listed above is an understandable one and one that many people have mistakenly also made both before and after you. Since you are examining a defense attorney website it can be assumed for now that you have left your options open. That is good because there are defense options available. Continue reading

Washington has been in the foreground of marijuana legalization. It was one of the first states to legalize its medical use and then its recreational use. As you walk through the cities of our state it can be noticed that it has definitely become socially acceptable. Due to this legalization and social acceptance arrests involving marijuana have understandably declined. Although it’s technically illegal you can see people smoking it openly and the police do not seem to regularly enforce this illegality. Plus now there are shops that sell marijuana. It would probably be an exaggeration to say there is a marijuana store on every block but it sometimes does feel that way. As long as you have the proper license you will not get arrested for marijuana selling. As long as you buy from an authorized dealer you will not get arrested simply for buying or using.

But there is one marijuana related arrest that is actually on the rise. Because marijuana does cause impairment it is still illegal to use it and drive and you can be arrested for DUI. The legal limit for marijuana is five nanograms of active THC in the blood within two hours of driving and the penalties for a marijuana involved DUI are the same as if the DUI involved alcohol. These arrests, unlike the others, are increasing. In fact they have almost doubled. Continue reading

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