What happens when you are pulled over for driving under the influence? what if you didn’t go to jail, and you aren’t sure if you were even arrested? How do you know if you will be charged and when? Continue reading
In December 2014, the Washington State Supreme Court held that the HGN field sobriety test, which can indicate physical signs of alcohol consumption, cannot by itself establish impairment. On August 28, 2011, Washington State Patrol Trooper Stone observed Ryan Quaale driving his truck 56 mph in a 25mph zone on a residential street. Continue reading
Horizontal Nystagmus is one of three common field sobriety tests currently administered by law enforcement officers across Washington State. Nystagmus is an involuntary rapid movement of the eyeball, which may he horizontal, vertical, or rotatory. An inability of the eyes to maintain visual fixation as they are turned from side to side (in other words, jerking or bouncing) is known as horizontal gaze nystagmus, or HGN. Some investigators believe alcohol intoxication increases the frequency and amplitude of HGN and causes HGN to occur at a smaller angle of deviation from the forward direction.
In administering the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, an officer will look for the three following clues in each eye: (1) lack of smooth pursuit, (2) distinct nystagmus at maximum deviation, and (3) onset of nystagmus prior to 45 degrees. Continue reading
In State v. Baity, the Washington Supreme Court found the basis for HGN testing, that intoxicated people will exhibit nystagmus, to be generally accepted under Frye. Baity also addressed the admissibility of the 12-step DRE examination, of which HGN was one step, employed by police officers to detect behavior associated with certain drugs and held that it constituted novel scientific evidence. The Court also placed clear limitations on officer testimony based upon this scientific testing.
Michael Baity and Edward Arnestad were each charged in separate prosecutions for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI). Continue reading
For decades, Washington State law enforcement agencies have administered certain physical tests to individuals suspected of intoxication. Nowadays, almost everyone who has consumed alcohol, or driven a car is aware of the Standard Field Sobriety Test’s, otherwise known as FST’s. Perhaps the most widely and best known test being, Walk and Turn, Heel-Toe test. The real question is though just how reliable are standard field sobriety tests?
Attorney Mark Blair is committed to providing Blair & Kim, PLLC’s clients with the best possible legal representation. To achieve this, he regularly attends continuing legal education courses and legal seminars that expand his skills in the areas of DUI law and criminal defense. Although he has already earned a proven record of success defending clients charged for driving under the influence, Attorney Blair chose to familiarize himself with Washington’s newest breath test device – the DRAEGER 9510
In May, Mark attended a seminar conducted by the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice that focused entirely on the state’s latest breath test machine. The seminar covered all aspects of the device, which law enforcement agencies in Seattle and the entire state will be using to test the blood alcohol content (BAC) of motorists suspected of drunk driving.
The seminar program consisted of an intensive course that trained attendees on the entire operation of the device, including basics of infrared spectroscopy and electrochemical analysis. The seminar also featured discussions comparing old equipment to the new machine, the various physiological aspects that affect breath alcohol monitoring, chemical interferants, and mouth alcohol.
Seattle DUI Attorney Mark Blair – one of Blair & Kim, PLLC’s founding attorneys – has dedicated his professional career to protecting the rights, freedoms, and futures of clients facing criminal charges. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Blair understands how the “other side” thinks – an attribute that often proves beneficial for our firm’s clients. In an effort to gain a further understanding of the tactics used by law enforcement officers who administer DUI stops and tests, Attorney Blair recently completed the DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing Student Course.
The three-day DUI course – which is conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) is the same course officers must complete in order to arrest drivers for DUI and administer Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
By earning his Certificate of Training, Attorney Blair was able to gain a precise understanding of the procedures officers must adhere to when administering tests to DUI suspects. With this knowledge, he is better equipped to identify mistakes made by law enforcement officers, which can be used to fight charges against his clients.
Seattle Criminal Defense Lawyer Mark Blair – co-founder of Blair & Kim – was recently successful in representing one of our firm’s clients who was charged with driving under the influence (DUI). Although the case presented some challenges, particularly because the client refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, Attorney Blair was able to suppress crucial evidence and substantially reduce our client’s charges.
The case in question involved our client’s DUI arrest, during which he refused to submit to a breath test. In the state of Washington, drivers who refuse a breath test may be subject to automatic license suspensions, and evidence of the refusal may be used as evidence against them in court. Given the circumstances surrounding our client’s arrest, however, Attorney Blair pursued a motion to suppress evidence of the breath test refusal.
By bolstering his motion to suppress with clear evidence and support from relevant case law, Attorney Blair was able to establish that using our client’s refusal to submit to a breath test as evidence would be an unconstitutional and unlawful curtailment of his Fourth Amendment Rights. Attorney Blair’s motion focused on establishing that a breath test is a search for constitutional purposes, and that because the breath test was warrantless, it could not be used against our client in court. Ultimately, the court granted the motion to suppress, and our clients charges were reduced from DUI to negligent driving in the first degree.
Last November, pot was legalized for recreational use in Washington. The passage of this legislation, Washington Initiative 502, created many questions for users in Washington such as: How old do I have to be to use marijuana? How much am I allowed to have in my possession? Can I grow marijuana? Can I sell marijuana to others? What happens if I commit a violent crime or a crime against property while under the influence of marijuana? With confusion surrounding the Initiative, you may have been charged with violating Washington law. If you have been charged with a pot-related offense, call Blair & Kim, PLLC to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney.
A month later, in December 2012, Washington developed DUI limits for pot use. This too led to questions such as: Can I smoke pot and drive? How much can I smoke before I drive? Is there a “DUI limit” for THC blood concentration? What is a “pot DUI” or a “marijuana DUI”?
To see how the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is responding to the passage of marijuana in the state, check out an article from National Public Radio’s Program All Things Considered: http://www.npr.org/2013/11/06/243466218/there-may-be-a-green-light-for-pot-but-not-for-driving-high.
When you are accused of driving under the influence of alcohol, a conviction can mean you lose your ability to drive due to a license suspension or revocation. Depending on the situation, the length of time for which you are unable to drive can vary. In order to regain your license, you may have the option of having an Ignition Interlock Driver License. This means you will be able to drive, but only with an ignition interlock device installed in your car. It will require you to breathe into it, at which point it will assess the level of alcohol that is on your breath in order to start. If alcohol is found on your breath then the car won’t start. It may also require rolling tests, where it requires you to breathe into the device even after you have been driving. Not everyone is eligible to file, and in order to seek this option the following circumstances must be true of your situation.
- You are a resident of the state
- Your license is not expired
- You are accused of:
- Vehicular Homicide that involved alcohol or drugs
- Reckless Driving
- Vehicular Assault with the use of alcohol or drugs
- DUI or Physical Control
- The suspension or revocation does not include a minor in possession or Habitual Traffic Offender.
In order to apply for the program you will have to have the device installed in your vehicle and the company that does the installation will need to let the Washington State Department of Licensing know. You will need proof of financial responsibility and this may be done through a Certificate of Insurance. A Restricted Driver License Application will need to be filled out and filed. The application form can be given to the office or mailed in and it will need to include a fee. The application and details of the case will be assessed in order to make the decision. For those who are approved, they will need to reapply each year to keep the ability to drive. For individuals who have their application denied, it is possible to reapply in a six month period.
Having the Ignition Interlock Driver License doesn’t just mean that your car needs to have the device installed. If there are other cars that you will be using, then those will need the device as well. Fees for the device include the installation cost, maintenance or repairs, application fees, and a monthly fee for the device. While there are certain setbacks with the device, having it can be extremely beneficial. Not having the ability to drive is something you may not realize as being so damaging until you are in the situation yourself. Talk with a Seattle criminal defense lawyer from Blair & Kim, PLLC to find out what may be done in your situation.