Ryan Witt

Ryan Witt

July 06, 2019

Physical Control

In Washington State, the crime of Physical Control has essentially the same consequences as a DUI conviction. People often wonder what Physical Control is. People face Physical Control charges rather than DUI charges typically when an officer sees a person stopped, rather than actively driving. It has to do with a persons ability to exert control over their vehicle. Often cases can go either way when reviewed by the Prosecutor.

The Elements Are Not Defined

The Statute (RCW 46.61.504) does not exactly define the elements of Physical Control. Courts have been known to use the definition that the defendant “is in a position to physically regulate and determine movement of the vehicle.” The most common scenario is when a person decides to stop driving and either wait out their impairment or sleep it off. People will pull over to the side of the road or pull into a parking lot. Often, people go to sleep. Following an arrest based on these facts, Courts determine that people sleeping in their cars with the engine running are in physical control of the vehicle.

Affirmative Defense of “Safely Off The Roadway”

There is a Statutory Defense to Physical Control. If a defendant can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that they moved the vehicle safely off the roadway, that is a complete defense to the charge. The definition begs the question – what constitutes “safely off the roadway”? The definition is left to the trier of fact, meaning the jury. The legal community (meaning prosecutors and defense) typically believes that a safely off the roadway defense has merit when the defendant has moved the vehicle off of the roadway and it presents no present danger to the community. The defense can even be present when the engine is running. This is a broad idea of the defense and most fact patterns are different, but the defense is often available if the defense attorney knows what to look for. It can mean the difference between a conviction and a not guilty verdict.

To Learn More About Safely Off The Roadway CLICK HERE

Get The Best Possible Defense For Your Physical Control Case

At Witt Law Group, we have been practicing DUI and Physical Control defense for 15 years. We have handled hundreds, if not thousands, of these cases. We provide defense in Kitsap and Pierce Counties. We have offices in Gig Harbor, Bremerton and Poulsbo.

Speeding tickets are annoying. People often do not feel protected and served when a young Trooper in an unmarked car hands them a revenue generating ticket. Some people are inclined to not sign the ticket.

We have been asked several times over the years – “Is it unlawful to refuse to sign the ticket?”

RCW Dictates You Must Sign The Ticket

In Washington State, RCW 46.61.021(3) requires a person to “sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the notice of infraction and RCW 46.61.022 makes willful violation a misdemeanor. So, yes, it is a crime (misdemeanor) to refuse to acknowledge receipt. However, you are not required to promise to respond. Even if you do not agree with it, you need to sign the ticket. You can always challenge it later.

Best Practice - Respond And Fight It

The best practice would be to sign the ticket, and then let us defend you! At the Witt Law Group, Ryan Witt has been representing people with speeding tickets for over fifteen years. No case is too small. We acknowledge that for some, getting a speeding ticket is a big deal, and we treat your day in Court with the same dedication as we would give a felony. We handle infractions in Pierce and Kitsap Counties. Contact our Gig Harbor, Bremeton or Poulsbo office today and let us turn that ticket into a dismissal.

At the end of 2012 Washington voters approved Initiative 502 which legalized possession of marijuana by persons over 21. In the Washington Laws, there is a statute that “saves” sentences and or convictions that exist when the law changes (to the benefit of the defendant) after the fact. For example – if there was a hypothetical law against selling beans, and you were convicted of selling beans, and then the law changed to make the sale of beans legal, your bean selling conviction would still stand as a valid conviction. The issue with I-502 was that people were being sentenced for marijuana possession long after marijuana was legal. This was happening when individuals were on diversion style agreements that they entered when marijuana was illegal, and then they somehow failed on the diversion and were kicked off and sentenced – when marijuana was legal.

Effect of State v. Rose

The Washington Court of Appeals in State v. Rose corrected this issue. The basic facts were that in 2012, Rose was smoking marijuana while fishing on the Yakima River. A Fish & Wildlife officer busted him for the marijuana possession. In October of that year, Rose entered into a deferral. Two months later, in December of 2012, I-502 went into effect. In January 2013, the district court revoked Rose's deferral and found him guilty. At sentencing Rose moved to dismiss based on I-502's decriminalization. The district court denied his dismissal, citing RCW 10.01.040 – the “saving” clause previously mentioned.

This revocation issue made its way to the Washington Court of Appeals. December 17, 2015, the Court ruled on the Rose case, overturning the District and Superior Court’s convictions. It was held that the “savings” clause would no longer allow the conviction for possession of marijuana when someone is bumped off of an old possession of marijuana deferred prosecution. What that means is if a person entered into some type of diversion agreement while marijuana was illegal, if the diversion agreement is revoked it will not lead to a conviction.

Everyone knows about their right to remain silent—or at least, they should—which protects suspects from being forced to say things which may aid in the case against them.
However, few civilians realize that self-incrimination doesn’t always come in the form of the spoken word. Because, while the right to free speech is a sacred one in the United States, that’s not the same as the right to avoid consequences for all but admitting to a crime on Facebook or Twitter.

Self-Incrimination Through Social Media

Privacy is a huge concern for folks who engage with social media sites, but often, users don’t even need to be hacked to get in trouble—they post evidence that’s at least circumstantial (and in some cases, fairly damaging) all on their own. In the last year, several high-profile cases have been brought to trial thanks to popularity on Facebook. Two of the most viral include:

• A Florida man who was convicted of second degree murder after he posted grisly photos of his deceased wife on Facebook.
• A North Carolina woman who taped her dogs mouth shut and, after the post spread across Facebook, was arrested and convicted of animal abuse.
• Actress Vanessa Hudgens is currently under investigation after posting a selfie in Sedona, Arizona. The image, which has since been deleted, allegedly showed her initials, as well as those of her boyfriend, carved into a rock—which might be part of National Forest and thus, Federal property.

The list goes on and on. In the age of public sharing (and public shaming), defacement of property, animal abuse, and even DUIs have all become spectator sports—and often, even if a person deletes a post, once it’s gone viral, it can be hard to get back.

And while a good defense attorney can help fight claims based on just a photo or mention on social media, the fact is that once the evidence is out there, it’s hard to get back.

Be Careful What You Post!

The best thing for social media users to do is be careful about what they post—and think critically about whether or not they may be breaking any laws in their photos and updates. When in doubt, just don’t post the images; in these instances, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Even if you may have incriminated yourself, a knowledgeable, supportive attorney can help you navigate the complexities of a criminal charge and get your life back on track.

The expert criminal defense lawyers at the Witt Law Group defend the rights of individuals facing criminal charges in Kitsap County, including Bremerton, Port Orchard, Silverdale and beyond. We have offices in Poulsbo, Bremerton and Gig Harbor for your convenience.

Washington State Patrol, County Deputies and Local Police Agencies may patrol and pull over individuals when in unmarked cars.

Undercover cars may pull you over

This is contrary to what a lot of people believe in Counties such as Kitsap, Pierce, Mason and Jefferson.

Over the last year, we have heard this statement more than a dozen times. "He can't pull me over, he was in an unmarked car! You can get that ticket thrown out!" People hear that claim so often that they start to believe it is true. It is even portrayed as true in social media. The rumor's origins are from RCW 46.08.065 which does in part say that "[i]t is unlawful for any public officer having charge of any vehicle ... to operate the same ... unless and until there shall be displayed upon such automobile ...the name of such county, city, town ... together with the name of the department or office ... of which the said vehicle is used." I understand that this is tempting to bite on, especially in Counties like Kitsap and Pierce where unmarked cars are pulling everyone over.

Don’t bite on conspiracy theories

For the purpose of laying the conspiracy theories to rest - yes they can patrol and pull you over in unmarked cars. The Statute gives them specific authority.
As much as I would like this theory to be true, the theory is deflated by verbiage in sections (1) & (3). Buried in the long paragraph of section (1), it states that "[t]his section shall not apply to vehicles of a sheriff's office, local police department, or any vehicles used by local peace officers under public authority for special undercover or confidential investigative purposes." Section (3) also states that vehicles used by the Washington State Patrol are exempted for general undercover, confidential investigative purposes or traffic control purposes. For undercover use for traffic control purposes, there just must be approval by the WSP Chief.
Lastly, there is a provision in the WAC that allows for nearly all state agencies to obtain undercover and confidential license plates for their official vehicles.
While we love to hear a good defense theory, we just had to let the air out of this one. So the last thing you want to do is take the smug approach with the officer and ridicule him and yell about how you will expose the whole scam in Court! You will lose, and you will probably look like a jerk.

There are better ways for us to defend you on your ticket

While the "unmarked car" defense may be a losing theory, there are many actual ways to challenge and win if you are given an infraction. Ryan Witt of the Witt Law Group has been representing infraction clients for more than 15 years with a very high success rate. If you wish to hear what your real defenses are (and not just on-line conspiracy theories) give our offices a call. With offices in Poulsbo, Bremerton and Gig Harbor, we handle infractions in Kitsap County and all the municipalities therein. We look forward to assisting with your infraction defense!

Hello. My name is Becky. Will you be my friend? 

The Police look at the Facebook’s of people that they have some suspicion about. It is not random. It is when the Police believe that a suspect did something, but feel that they don’t have 100% proof. It is when they think they know who did something, but they are not 100% sure.

Facebook is an investigative tool.

Facebook is a phenomenal investigative tool. Maybe (for a hypothetical) you went to the Vance Creek Bridge (Trespassing) and the Deputies didn’t see you, but they did run your license plate. So you, as the owner of the car, are a suspect. True, anyone could be driving your car. You could have loaned it to any number of people. However, when you go home and upload photos onto your personal Facebook page, you have turned their suspicion into a conclusion.

We could come up with a million hypotheticals where law enforcement has a mere suspicion, and then with the help of you and your Facebook, they have a conclusion. The common and most damaging ingredient is you. But for you and your post, law enforcement would not be able to establish probable cause to take the case forward for arrest or charging.

Be smart with what you post or (gulp) decide to not post at all.

At the Witt Law Group we have dealt with many cases that have a social media component. Facebook and Instagram come up more and more frequently in law enforcement investigations. It is a simple tool that they use now in virtually all unsolved cases. Think before you post.

The Witt Law Group practices Criminal Defense in Pierce and Kitsap Counties.  We have offices in Poulsbo, Bremerton and Gig Harbor Washington. Ironically, we also have a Facebook page. 

Witt Law Group PS has an office in Poulsbo and handles misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor offenses, including DUI / DWI and other offenses such as theft or shoplifting. In the summer, Poulsbo Police write the occasional BUI, which we also handle. If you were cited for a traffic infraction, such as speeding, we can help with that as well. The attorneys at Witt Law Group have been defending these types of matters since 2004 with excellent results.

We can help you at the earliest stages of the process

We take calls from the roadside and can assist in the multitude of decisions that law enforcement will force an individual to make throughout the early stages of the investigative process. A large number of these decisions can have an impact on the strength of the City’s case. We will always answer whatever questions we can and we encourage individuals to give us a call at any time in the process.

Have you been charged with a crime in the City of Poulsbo?

The lawyers at Witt Law Group PS are there for our clients at each step of the process and we always try to have an open line of communication. Navigating a criminal charge is a stressful process and we want our clients to rest assured that their futures are in good hands. We answer the phones in the evenings and throughout the weekends. This is to ensure that we, and our clients, will be prepared to face the task ahead. Ryan Witt has been defending criminal cases such DUI / DWI in Western Washington for more than 14 years. Call our local Poulsbo office at (360) 773-8598 for a free consultation.

Our office is located at:

19793 Hamilton Court NE

Suite 101 B

Poulsbo WA 98370


We look forward to assisting you if you are in need of Poulsbo criminal defense. If you have any questions about our exceptional results or what our clients have to say about us, please refer to Ryan’s reviews on AVVO or our Google Business page.

If I am pulled over for speeding in a school zone, can I defer the ticket? Answer: Yes.

People often have the belief that if they are pulled over in a school zone for speeding or any other infraction, they can’t defer the infraction. That is not the case. Generally, you can only defer a ticket once every seven years. Specifically, you are only barred from deferring an infraction if (1) you have a CDL, or (2) if your infraction is for Negligent Driving in the Second Degree and you have a “vulnerable victim” in the car (like a very young child). Otherwise there are no restrictions. So a school zone ticket is not a bar to deferring a ticket. Here is the relevant statute:

RCW 46.63.070

(5)(a) Except as provided in (b), (c), and (d) of this subsection…. the court may defer findings … for up to one year and impose conditions upon the defendant the court deems appropriate. Upon deferring findings, the court may assess costs as the court deems appropriate for administrative processing. If at the end of the deferral period the defendant has met all conditions and has not been determined to have committed another traffic infraction, the court may dismiss the infraction.

(b) A person may not receive more than one deferral within a seven-year period for traffic infractions for moving violations and more than one deferral within a seven-year period for traffic infractions for nonmoving violations.

(c) A person who is the holder of a commercial driver's license or who was operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time of the violation may not receive a deferral under this section.

(d) A person who commits negligent driving in the second degree with a vulnerable user victim may not receive a deferral for this infraction under this section.

We Handle Infractions

At Witt Law Group PS, we handle infractions as well as criminal defense and personal injury cases. We take cases in Pierce and Kitsap Counties, and have offices in Poulsbo, Bremerton and Gig Harbor Washington for your convenience. We can answer your infraction calls in the evenings or on weekends. We fight to keep that speeding ticket off of your record!

Check fraud may seem like an uncommon occurrence, but the truth is, plenty of people are still stealing checks, forging checks, and trying to cash other people’s checks illegally. Often, these crimes aren’t committed out of malice, but rather, economic hardship.

If you’ve been accused of check fraud, it’s not the end of the world—there are lots of options, and crucial legal distinctions to be aware of. And if you aren't sure, it’s good to know why and how you may be accused.

Different Kinds of Check Fraud

Check fraud is a catch-all term referring to several kinds of criminal activity. It may include (but isn’t limited to) forgery, check kiting, counterfeiting or alteration, and even some forms of identity theft (i.e., when someone cashes a check that wasn’t made out to them).

Checks may be completely fabricated—simply printed off or copied—or they may be altered, both of which are illegal. Check washing, as it’s often called, is the process of removing signatures or designated amounts from checks in order to steal money.

Checks may also be cut without proper authorization; in the case of businesses, this usually means someone has gotten ahold of checks and is making them out without permission.

Avoiding Check Fraud

As a private citizen, it’s important to guard your checks and always check your bank statements. Additionally, taking protective steps—like only accepting checks during business hours to ensure that they’re legitimate, never endorsing checks before you’re ready to cash or deposit them, or using pens which make check-washing less viable—can help you keep your finances secure.

Sometimes, unsuspecting citizens find themselves in possession of fraudulent checks without realizing it, or may think that it’s ok to cash a check on behalf of a family member. For this reason, it’s important to know the laws around check cashing; if a relative or friend signs a check over to you, you may cash it. However, without their express permission, you may inadvertently find yourself committing fraud.

If you’ve been accused of fraud, the best thing to do is obtain experienced, professional legal counsel.

At the Witt Law Group, we believe that all persons are innocent until proven guilty, and that everyone deserves their day in court—no matter the charge. We handle criminal defense cases in Kitsap County and have offices in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Gig Harbor for your convenience.

After a DUI case is resolved, many times there is the requirement that a person only drive a vehicle equiped with an ignition interlock. There is one exception to this rule. If an employer signs a specific form called the Employer Exemption, then the restricted driver may operate work vehicles during work hours.

The Most Up To Date Form

The form must be the one created by the Washington State Department of Licensing, attached below. It needs to be signed by a supervisor with the authority to sign it and returned to D.O.L. While the ignition interlock restriction is in place, always keep a copy of this form on you while you are driving a work vehicle without the ignition interlock.

Please click below to access the Employer Exemption Form.