Are Washington State’s DUI laws tough enough?

Washington DUI Laws, Should they be tougher?

A little over a week ago all over the news it was reported that a man with five prior Washington State DUI arrests crashed into a family killing two people and critically injurying a mother and a newborn.  This has raised the question, are Washington State DUI laws tough enough?In Washington State being convicted of a DUI means losing your license, mandatory jail

time, stiff fines and classes. The DUI laws in Washington are considered on a national scale pretty darn tough.  I am very sad to hear about any unnecessary fatality and clearly in last week’s accident, the injuries and fatalities were not necessary.  Could of it been prevented?

If Washington State DUI laws were tougher  would they have prevented the accident? I know some people would disagree with using the word “accident,” but I don’t believe the man set out to hurt anyone. I am not condoning his actions by any means, but people need to recognize that there is a problem. The problem is likely alcoholism.

Over 18 million Americans are classified as alcohol dependent or having alcoholism, Alcoholism is considered a medical condition. Most everyone knows someone whose life is affected by this disease.

According to the National Institute of on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA): Alcoholism, the more serious of the disorders, is a disease that includes symptoms such as:

Craving—A strong need, or urge, to drink.

Loss of control—Not being able to stop drinking once drinking has begun.

Physical dependence—Withdrawal symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, shakiness, and anxiety after stopping drinking.

Tolerance—the need to drink greater amounts of alcohol to feel the same effect.

Many courts in Washington State have attempted to address this problem my making pretrial SCRAM bracelets or Ignition Interlock Devices mandatory condition of release. However, this is just a bandage to the real problem: Alcoholism.

What makes this issue so tough is that according to a GALLUP poll about 67% of American’s report that they drink alcohol. Many of those people drink responsibility and also many of those people will eventually receive a DUI. As a Washington DUI attorney, I see most people charged with a Washington State DUI are everyday hard working people. They didn’t get stopped for driving reckless, but instead because of some small traffic infraction. Convicted or not, being arrested, losing their license and being arrested has scared them enough that they will never drinking and get behind the wheel again.

My point is that making Washington State laws tougher than they already are will not prevent horrible accidents or alcoholism. More money and energy should be put into finding these people with the problem early  and helping them.  I don’t have an easy solution.

I have noticed though, prosecutors and judges are pressured into being tougher on first time offenders. It means more than ever people who have been accused of a first time DUI need to seek a qualified Washington DUI attorney.  Your rights are important and need to be protected.

 

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Washington State DUI: Additional Blood Test

In Washington State if arrested for DUI you have the right to an Additional Blood Test

Once arrested for a Washington DUI and prior to submitting to a breath test at the station the DUI arrest process requires: the officer to inform the person of his or her right to refuse the breath or blood test, and of his or her right to have additional tests administered by any qualified person of his or her choosing …Rev. Code Wash. (ARCW) § 46.20.308

Once you have submitted to a breath test and make the request for an additional test, the officer cannot obstruct your ability to obtain that test.

Defendant was stopped and arrested for driving while under the influence of alcohol. Upon arriving at the station, he was advised of his rights under Wash. Rev. Code § 46.20.308(1), including the right to take additional tests at his own expense after a breathalyzer test was administered. The breathalyzer indicated intoxication, and defendant requested additional tests. The arresting officer responded by stating that defendant would be transported to a hospital for the test. Defendant was then placed in a patrol car and was taken to jail instead of a hospital. The court found that defendant had been denied an opportunity to obtain additional tests. The court opined that defendant had done everything a reasonable person could do under the circumstances to implement his right to additional testing. The court held that, while law enforcement authorities had no duty to volunteer to arrange for testing, they could not thwart an accused’s attempts to make such arrangements. Blaine v. Suess, 93 Wn.2d 722, 612 P.2d 789, 1980 Wash. LEXIS 1317 (Wash. 1980)

The lower Court convicted the defendant, the Washington Court of Appeals then affirmed that conviction. Here the Supreme Court of Washington overturned the conviction and dismissed the DUI charge.

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Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) In Washington State

Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence)

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence” means: (a) Physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, between family or household members; (b) sexual assault of one family or household member by another; or (c) stalking as defined in RCW 9A.46.110 of one family or household member by another family or household member. RCW 26.50.010(1)

Family or household members” means spouses, domestic partners, former spouses, former domestic partners, persons who have a child in common regardless of whether they have been married or have lived together at any time, adult persons related by blood or marriage, adult persons who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past, persons sixteen years of age or older who are presently residing together or who have resided together in the past and who have or have had a dating relationship, persons sixteen years of age or older with whom a person sixteen years of age or older has or has had a dating relationship, and persons who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship, including stepparents and stepchildren and grandparents and grandchildren. RCW 26.50.010(2)

(3) “Dating relationship” means a social relationship of a romantic nature. Factors that the court may consider in making this determination include: (a) The length of time the relationship has existed; (b) the nature of the relationship; and (c) the frequency of interaction between the parties. RCW 26.50.010(3)

 Why did the judge order me not to contact my spouse?

Washington State Domestic violence laws are essentially set up to protect the “victim” or complaining witness. The judge is authorized by statue to enter a no-contact order, mandate the defendant to appear for arraignment the day after arrest, prohibit the possession of firearms and basically set any other condition deemed necessary to protect the complaining witness.

What is the penalty if found guilty for Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) in Washington?

Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence) is a Gross Misdemeanor: meaning the maximum penalties are one-year of jail and a $5,000 dollar fine.

What other consequences are caused by a conviction of Assault in the 4th Degree (Domestic Violence)

A guilty plea or a conviction can have several consequences besides or including jail and a fine:

  • For non-citizens a conviction can lead to deportation or harm your chances of naturalization
  • The prohibition of possessing firearms
  • Probation
  • No contact orders
  • Treatment
  • Restitution

How can I avoid a Washington Domestic Violence conviction?

  • Convince the government to dismiss or win at trial
  • Stipulated Order of Continuance – Defendant and prosecution agree to certain terms of probation and if accepted by the Court and the terms and conditions are complied with prior to the expiration of probation, the case may be dismissed.

What should I do if I get arrested for Domestic Violence Charge?

  • Did not try to contact the complaining witness. No: Text messages, emails, phone call, letters or even having a friend contact them. Those all can be considered violations of the no-contact order
  • Do not return to the scene. If you must, have a police officer or sheriff escort you.
  • Do not make statements to the police or prosecution
  • Do contact to a lawyer ASAP
  • Do take pictures of any injuries you may have suffered.
  • Do take detailed notes of what happened that night.

What should I expect at a Domestic Violence Arraignment?

This is your first court appearance and basically starts the process. You will either be brought before the judge or if you have been released or bailed out your will show up in court at the designated time. You will be asked to enter a plea of Guilty or Not Guilty. If you have a lawyer he or she will do that for you. The judge likely will impose a no-contact order. If your lawyer is with you, it is possible he can stop this from occurring. The Court will consider your release and/or the conditions of release. The Court next will schedule a pretrial date. It is important to take note that a defendant must be present for the arraignment in a domestic violence case.

Please do not histate to contact me if you have any questions regarding Demestic Violence, DUI or criminal defense. (425) 429-1729 or at jrome@josephromelaw.com

 

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Opening Statement – The Story of the Case

The Opening  Statement (The Story of the Case)

“We have something to sell, all right, because every successful presentation grows out of the skill of selling, but it isn’t a used car. It’s justice, it’s the right thing.” – Gerry Spence

One of the most important parts of the trial is the opening statement. Often overlooked and often under appreciated the opening statement is where many jury trials are won or lost. It is the first time the Jury is going to really hear the story of your client. Right out of the gate the Jury will hear two stories, one by you and one by your opposition. How does the Jury determine which story to believe? The story they believe will l be the one from the most credible source.

Credibility is defined in Webster’s Dictionary as “The quality or power of inspiring belief.”  So, how do we as attorneys inspire belief?

Through Honesty and story telling

“The opening statement must always be a true statement … (if) the jurors fine out that we have been untrustworthy, the case will be lost at that moment.”  -Gerry Spence

The point is that credibility comes from trust. The bad facts of the case cannot be ignored. If there are bad facts that will come out that are harmful to your case, put them out there. If the jury will hear about it, let them hear about it from you.

The story telling begins with setting for the jury. You would have spent several hours discovery the story of your case, now it is time to share the story with your jury.  The hero of the story is ordinary, like you and me. He is called to action or an adventure due to some problem.  The hero is forced into a new world and learns from mentors and demons. Eventually the hero learns from himself by reaching deep inside and finds strength and love. The hero brings that love and strength back home through great danger and provides the solution.

There are different many techniques you may use to tell your story. The story maybe told in first person where you take on the roll of your client or another character in the story.

Opening tips learned at the Trial Lawyer’s College

1. Find the trust relationship

2. Explore, develop and express the trust relationship

3. Find the plan, motive or course of the betrayal

4. Show the Betrayal; make it relate to the jury

5. Incite action to avenge the betrayal

6. Separate the person from the behavior

7. Talk to specific jurors, don’t scanning

8. Plant feet, only walk and move with a purpose

9. Never use the world client Courtroom.

 

Opening statement is one the most important components of the jury trial. It is the duty of a trial lawyer to get away from the “and the evidence will show” method and attempt to really connect with the jurors. The only way is to practice methods and learn from more experience trial lawyers. A great opportunity is available in March at the WA-2013 Washington Regional Seminar: Opening Statements at Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, Leavenworth WA. http://www.triallawyerscollege.com/Courses.aspx

For more information please contact me at (425) 429-1729 or through my website.

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New Year Resolution: Be the best trial lawyer I can be. Thank you TLC

On December 31, 2010 while sipping on a Mai Tai and working on a trial preparation on a beach in Maui, I decided my New Year’s resolution would consist of two things: One, become the best trial lawyer I can be and two, move my practice back home to the Seattle area from Maui.

Well, part two was not easy, but has been achieved and part one is still pending. However, In October 2011 I made a substantial step in achieving my goal of becoming the best trial lawyer I could be, by graduating from the 3 week Trial Lawyer’s College in Dubois, Wyoming. My life has been forever changed…

Six reasons why I recommend becoming involved with the Trial Lawyer’s College:

1. Meeting similar minded attorneys: I am a relatively young attorney. At the time I was going about my business and fighting the State every chance I could get. I felt very alone with this struggle and I felt many other attorneys lacked my passion to defend people facing criminal charges. My TLC graduating class had around 50 graduates. I can proudly say that I respect, like, enjoy every single one of those people. I can also depend on them when I need help. I could not say that about any other group or situation I have ever been in. They are my colleagues, my mentors, my students, and friends, in law and in life.

2. Learning TLC trial techniques: If there is a part of a jury trial that scares you, TLC methods can teach you to turn that fear into an opportunity to connect with the jury. TLC gives you a chance to practice and face what you are afraid of. I came out of the course with more confidence than I have ever felt. If you are at all like me, and have trouble being yourself in front of a jury, TLC can help. TLC does not try to mold you into a TV attorney or Gerry Spence. TLC will help you become the best trial attorney you can.

3. Takes you outside your comfort zone: You need to “get out of your head.” You will learn to stop being a stuffy attorney, but instead a person. This can involve, painting pictures, singing songs on top of a table in front of the group. It sounds cheesy, but it works. Once you realize you won’t be rejected you can trust the group, then you can open up and be you. This is true in regards to a jury, if you can’t trust the jury not to reject you, how can they trust you?

4. Discovering the story: one of the most important parts of the TLC method is learning to discover the story. This is done by several different techniques; one is through the art of psychodrama. Honestly the psychodrama group was one of the most intense things I have ever been a part of. It is right up there with the births of my two girls. It’s an amazing experience where you can evolve as a person and an attorney.

5. The teachers: Especially for a younger attorney it is an amazing experience to be instructed by some of the best attorneys in the country. Not only are they great teachers, they can be great mentors. I am happy that I involved myself with TLC when I did, but I wish I could have experienced it right out of law school.

6. The continuing opportunity to learn: I have not even come close to achieving my first goal, but I will not give up. In 2013, my goal is the same, be the best trial lawyer I can be. I will do that by continuing to practice TLC methods. I will attend the Leavenworth, WA regional seminar on March 21, 2013. Hopefully, I can attend the TLC graduate course and other regional events. The great part is that most states including Washington have a local group meeting every so often. Ours recently started up again and is being held the third Tuesday of each month.

This has been a short summary about a TLC experience. For more information please email or call me at anytime. Honestly, I was scared to death when I arrived at the ranch, but it ended up being one of the greatest things I have ever done to better myself and my practice. How often can you say that?

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Saturday December 8th 2012, look out Snoqualmie the DUI patrol is coming…

Snoqualmie Washington is the home of one of the top Washington Casino (http://snocasino.com/). However, watch your cocktail consumption this weekend because Washington State Patrol and local Police will be after you like a small fluffy kitten after string or maybe more appropriate, a shark after blood. The WSP are stepping up their DUI game in the Snoqualmie and I-90 area this weekend.

Don’t forget, I know some of you are excited about smoking the “grass,” but please remember, it is not legal to drive hi!

If for some reason you get arrested for DUI please give me a call the next day (425) 429-1729. If you would like more information about DUIs or about me, please visit our website: www.josephrome.com

 

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Frolicking in the autumn mist in a land called the Evergreen State

Marijuana Legalization: The Latest

The Evergreen State just got a whole new meaning… If you are anything like me, when you heard marijuana is going to be legal you imagined yourself skipping down the street with a blunt in your hand and thumbing your nose at the local COP, while listening to Ice Cube. Well, unfortunately, you could be facing a civil fine if you do that (oh no!)

Legally, not until December 6, 2012 can one possess or consume marijuana without breaking a law. Marijuana will only be legal to those people who are over 21, much like liquor. If you are over 21 you will be able to legally possess 1 oz. of useable marijuana, 16 oz. of marijuana infused products and 72 oz. of marijuana-infused product in liquid form (like weed-wine: http://goodandbaked.com/recipes/weed-wine/)

Ladies and gentlemen with a green thumb, you cannot legally grow at your home unless you are licensed and/or authorized.

People with pending possession cases, good news! Today 175 misdemeanor marijuana cases were dismissed in King County due to initiative 502.

Note: The federal government still considers marijuana illegal, so be smart and don’t smoke in the post office or at national parks (also a fire hazard).

Now the bad news… DUIs…. “I drive better high,” right? NO! Not according the State. A new per se marijuana law will be put into action. Anyone driving or in physical control of a vehicle with a THC concentration of 5 ng/ml of blood will be guilty of DUI.

The per se legal limit will be more dangerous for chronic users. I will be writing more about this in days to come. However, in the meantime if you have any questions please contact me.  

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What to do if stopped for Washington DUI

Stopped for DUI on Halloween, What to do?

Yes, your slutty kitty cat costume is cute and almost as cool as the shirtless caveman douche. However, being brought before a judge in your awesome costume on November 1st, is a real bummer. According to the King County Website:  Halloween is a particularly deadly night due to the high number of impaired drivers on the roads. In 2009, nearly half (48 percent) of all national highway fatalities on Halloween night involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher. Over the last three years, 581 people were arrested across King and Pierce counties for DUI over Halloween weekend. Local police and WSP will be out in force tonight. BE CAREFUL!

So, how to keep the slutty kitty cat from spending the night behind bars because of a DUI? DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE! Call a cab, or a sober driver.

What if the kitty or caveman gets stopped for DUI?

  • Be polite;
  • Have your license, insurance and registration ready to show the officer
  • Don’t lie to the officer, but don’t incriminate yourself. You can always request a lawyer, or say you been advised by your lawyer not to answer the question.
  • Do not agree to take the “road side test.” They are voluntary, just say, “No thank you.”
  • Do not take the roadside breath test, again it is voluntary, just say, “No thank you.”
  • Once arrested, request an attorney.
  • You should take the breath test at the Station.

Now, remember these are short and simple answers to a very complex situation. If you are stopped for a Washington DUI on Halloween, remember to contact an attorney immediately after being released. If you are arrested for a DUI or have any questions about this subject, please don’t hesitate to contact me: (425) 429-1729.

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Self-defense in bear shooting?

“Hey boo boo let’s go get some picnic baskets”

That was the last thing the 450 pound bear said after being shot by a Snoqualmie man in September… The bear was reported going through the man’s garbage before it was shot. The shooting occurred in a popular Snoqualmie Ridge residential area. Even though the man has a right to “bear” arms, authorities’ say it is possible that he may be charged with the misdemeanor shooting a firearm inside the city limits and many other criminal charges.

According to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Black Bears are big game animals. A property owner, the owner’s immediate family, owner’s documented employees, or tenants of real property may kill one big game animal on the property if the animals are in the physical act of attacking livestock or pets. So, it is ok to kill Yogi if he is physically attacking livestock or your cat.

What about Self Defense? RCW 77.36.030(1) says: Subject to limitations and conditions established by the commission, the owner, the owner’s immediate family member, the owner’s documented employee, or a tenant of real property may trap, consistent with RCW 77.15.194, or kill wildlife that is threatening human safety or causing property damage on that property, without the licenses required under RCW 77.32.010 or authorization from the director under RCW 77.12.240.

Owner of real property may kill wildlife that is threatening human safety or damaging property??? Is a 450 pound black bear threatening? Is garbage property? Seems arguments can be made… According to WDFW Bears usually avoid people, but when they do come into close proximity of each other, the bear’s strength and surprising speed make it potentially dangerous. Can you argue self-defense when there is just potential danger? Maybe…

If you shoot a bear call a lawyer ASAP

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Personal injury auto accidents in Seattle Rain

Does Seattle’s Rainy Climate Contribute to Auto Accidents?

According to the Department of Transportation precipitation increases the risk of crashing. Common sense, right? NHTSA data reports that between 1995 and 2008 on average, there are over 6,301,000 vehicle crashes each year. 1,511,000 are weather related (24%). Weather-related is defined as: rain, sleet, snow, and/or fog or on slick pavement. Weather-related, could also be defined as an average Seattle driving day (Author opinion). Sadly, on average 7,130 people are killed and over 629,000 are injured in weather-related crashes each year.Also reported by NHTSA is that the vast majority of most weather-related crashes happen on wet pavement and during rainfall.

So, taking into consideration the extensive NHTSA research it would be fair to assume that Seattle, a city that ranks 6th in the nation in rainy days a year (National Climate Data Center; Average 149 rainy days a year) would be on the top of the America’s Deadliest Highway List. Well, No. According to US News May 2010 report, Washington doesn’t appear on the list until I-5 shows up at #94. Surprising?

Either way, as the winter months approach, it is important to drive safely and be cautions of others. There is a saying in Hawaii, “Slow down, this ain’t the mainland.” Maybe Washington State could take their advice and slow down a bit on the main land too. (Note: Hawaii comes in #24 on US News top 100 of the America’s Deadliest Highway List).

In the unfortunate event that you or someone you care is injured by someone else in an auto accident, please contact an attorney as soon as you can.

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