Displaying items by tag: DUI

Several times a year, we see law enforcement officers pull over a vehicle and the only justification given is that the middle brake light is out. However, not all vehicles have a middle brake light and it is not necessary under the law. Even if you have one, it does not need to be functional.

Can You Be Pulled Over If Your Middle Brake Light Is Out?

 

We believe the answer is no.  We base this opinion on the controlling statute, RCW 46.37.050. 

 

(1) After January 1, 1964, every motor vehicle, trailer, cargo extension, semitrailer, and pole trailer, and any other vehicle which is being drawn at the end of a combination of vehicles, shall be equipped with at least two tail lamps mounted on the rear, which, when lighted as required in RCW 46.37.020, shall emit a red light plainly visible from a distance of one thousand feet to the rear, except that passenger cars manufactured or assembled prior to January 1, 1939, shall have at least one tail lamp. On a combination of vehicles only the tail lamps on the rearmost vehicle need actually be seen from the distance specified. On vehicles equipped with more than one tail lamp, the lamps shall be mounted on the same level and as widely spaced laterally as practicable.

(2) Every tail lamp upon every vehicle shall be located at a height of not more than seventy-two inches nor less than fifteen inches.

(3) Either a tail lamp or a separate lamp shall be so constructed and placed as to illuminate with a white light the rear registration plate and render it clearly legible from a distance of fifty feet to the rear. Any tail lamp or tail lamps, together with any separate lamp or lamps for illuminating the rear registration plate, shall be so wired as to be lighted whenever the head lamps or auxiliary driving lamps are lighted. 

The Statute Does Not Require Three Brake Lights!

 

Police like to interpret (or make up) laws that fit their needs. Don't fall prey to a sloppy interpretation of a straight forward statute. If you have a middle brake light, and it is out, who cares! It is not required anyway. Don't fall for the false narrative that this is some violation. 

Is This Stop Unlawful? Yes.

 

If you were pulled over for a middle brake light and subsequently arrested for DUI, there is a good chance we can prove the stop is unlawful. This may allow for a challenge to probable cause and your underlying charge of DUI being dismissed. 

Will A Dismissal Help Me With The Department Of Licensing? 

 

Additionally, where a case is dismissed due to constitutional challenge, your DOL hearing result (assuming you were suspended) can be thrown out as well. This is an additional step that must be taken upon prevailing on the criminal case.

If you have a Washington State DUI and you find yourself in this situation, give out office a call right away. We can be reached at:

 

(360) 792-1000

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

In DUI cases, the Court will often impose an Ignition Interlock requirement as a pretrial condition of release. In some situations, the imposition of that condition is discretionary, in other situations, the imposition is mandatory. This page addresses the situations in which it is mandatory.  

Mandatory Requirement For Installation / Use Of An Ignition Interlock Device

 

If an individual has a prior DUI conviction from any state (assuming the laws are comparable), the Court must order that the defendant install an ignition interlock effectively immediately. So the only way to be truly prepared for your arraignment is to have read and reviewed this form in advance.  Be advised that the Court doesn't allow for a window to time to drive home. Effectively immediately is truly effectively immediately.  

Form - Declaration To Not Operate Any Motor Vehicle Without Ignition Interlock

 

If a person falls into this scenario (where the IID will be required at arraignment) it is our preference to go through this document prior to the arraignment. To access the document, please press CLICK HERE, immediately below. 

 

CLICK HERE

 

 If you have any questions about the form, please call our office at (360) 792-1000. 

 

 

 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

The "Statute of Limitations" is a safeguard that prevents the State or any prosecuting authority from charging a criminal case outside of a certain period of time. The Statute of Limitations precludes the State from bringing charges against an individual outside a time period that the legislature has deemed to be appropriate. 

Statute of Limitations in WA for a DUI is two years

 

RCW 9A.04.080 (1) Prosecutions for criminal offenses shall not be commenced after the periods prescribed in this section.

(j) No gross misdemeanor may be prosecuted more than two years after its commission. 

A DUI is a gross misdemeanor, therefore the Statute of Limitations is two years. The case can not be filed more than two years after it is alleged to have occurred. 

Can my DUI be dismissed if outside the Statute of Limitations?

 

Absolutely! We always check on the Statute of Limitations when we review a DUI case. This is especially important when a blood sample was taken and the Washington State Crime Lab is involved. We have seen the Lab take up to 14 months to return a result to the law enforcement agency. So many cases actually are charged right up to the Statute of limitations, and some over. If the case if charged beyond two years, case dismissed! 

If you have a statute of limitations question about a DUI, or any Washington criminal case, please give our office a call. We have have offices in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Gig Harbor for your convenience. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

An arrest for a DUI and dealing with the criminal charge is daunting enough. If you are lucky enough to have been informed about the co-occurring civil proceeding, your already high stress level will go through the roof. When we inform people about the civil proceedings, on top of the criminal prosecution, their heads figuratively explode. Most ask:

If I’m already being prosecuted, and the result of the criminal case will dictate what happens to my driver’s license, why is DOL also going after my license?

That is a great question. It’s one of the only questions where we do not have a satisfactory answer. The best we can surmise is “if one level of governmental oversight is good, two must be better.” Obviously this is a tongue in cheek answer. That is because there truly is no good answer – Washington State just likes more government than less. A wise, now retired Kitsap County District Court Judge, when posed with difficult questions, used to opine “It is what it is.” That is the most accurate statement when trying to rationalize the necessity for DOL's involvement in DUI cases.

Understanding that the DOL’s case against a defendant occurs simultaneously with the government’s criminal prosecution, what can be done about it?


The Four Legal Issues At A DOL Hearing


The are four legal issues that a DOL Hearings Examiner will take into consideration at a DOL hearing. When we participate in a DOL Hearing on behalf of a client, we try to challenge at least one, if not all, of the issues.


1. Did the law enforcement officer have reasonable grounds to believe the petitioner had been driving or in physical control of a motor vehicle within this state while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs;


2. Was the petitioner lawfully placed under arrest;


3. Was the petitioner advised of the ICWs (Blood case: Whether the petitioner’s blood was lawfully drawn, i.e. pursuant to search warrant or consent);


4. Was the breath/blood testing valid according to the statute and protocols established by the state toxicologist and showed a result of alcohol concentration of .08 (.02 for minor) or more or .50 or more for THC concentration.

Alternatively - If the subject refused, was the refusal valid under the statute and case law?


How To Challenge The Four Legal Issues


Have competent counsel help you throughout this process. Many people have public defenders appointed on their cases. Understand that public defenders represent people in criminal matters, not civil matters. While the DOL hearing seems like a logical extension of the criminal case, it is not. It is civil in nature, so a public defender will not help you. 

Make sure to submit your request for the DOL hearing within 7 days from the date of arrest. If your license is from out of state, this request can not be done online, it must be made through the mail.

At the hearing, there are many considerations that your private attorney should address. Is the case at hand a refusal? Was there an accident? Were multiple people in the car? Did law enforcement see the driver behind the wheel? Should the defendant be available to testify? Is the BAC result admissible? Is the "chain of custody" good on a blood sample? This list could go on for pages and pages. Usually there is a valid challenge to at least one of the four issues if your attorney knows where to look. 

Witt Law Group is a DUI Defense and Personal Injury law firm based in Washington State. We have offices in Bremerton, Poulsbo and Gig Harbor for your convenience. If you have a questions about an upcoming DOL hearing, or your DUI case in general, give our office a call. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

 

If you are seeking a drug and alcohol evaluation because your lawyer thinks it’s a good idea or you have been ordered to do one, it is important to know a few things.

 

#1

 

First, Prosecutors and Judges do not want you to “shop around” for a good evaluation. If you have been ordered to get one following a plea or a guilty verdict, you better choose wisely the first time. This means do your research with reviews and referrals. Your lawyer may have a strong opinion about where you go. 

 

Unfortunately, there is an inherent conflict at most of the chemical dependency treatment providers because they are both evaluators and treatment providers. By this, we mean that if you are found to have a “problem” with drugs or alcohol, the treatment that is suggested can be completed and is billed by the same company that does your evaluation. If you think that gives them a reason to find you have a drug or alcohol problem…well, it might. Evaluators should be professional and keep their financial incentives separate from their judgment but some locations have a reputation for doing the opposite. So do your homework in advance. If there are a lot of complaints about unfair or exaggerated evaluations, take that into consideration.

 

Additionally, if you haven’t been ordered to do an evaluation and are simply having one done in preparation for your case, you can choose to go to more than one location. However, when possible, simply choose the best place you can based on research and stick with the one evaluation. That evaluation should be sent to your lawyer ONLY.

 

#2

 

Second, you will be answering written questions and oral questions. Be prepared. Don’t show up uninterested or “bothered” by the evaluation. That is usually seen as lacking awareness of your problem. If you’ve been arrested for an alcohol-related offense, you, by definition, have a problem. The issue the evaluator is trying to resolve is to what extent you have a problem and whether you will continue to have that problem. If you don’t have a problem, participate fully so they can figure that out.

 

Furthermore, do not minimize things that should not be minimized. Even if your criminal charge is a one time occurrence, don’t minimize the fact that you got arrested, perhaps hurt someone or yourself, or could have endangered others. Basically, don’t try to “outsmart” the evaluator by choosing the “right” answer. There really are no perfect answers. The best thing you can do is be respectful, responsive, and take responsibility for your mistakes. Making a terrible mistake on one occasion does not mean that you need treatment. If you don’t know that you made a mistake, it might indicate that you do need treatment. So, don’t try to play games.

 

#3

 

Third, you will be taking a UA at some point during your evaluation. Do not show up with any substance, including alcohol, in your system! This would seem like a no brainer but it happens all the time. If you can’t show up sober to an evaluation, you have a problem. Similarly, do not try to “cheat” the UA. These are highly sensitive tests and it WILL pick your THC, alcohol, or any other substance. It will also pick up your diluted sample. So, drinking a gallon of water before your UA will only mean that your test is labeled deceptive and counted as a positive. Not a great way to start the evaluation process.

 

If you have questions about what to expect, where to go, or any other questions before your evaluation, contact your lawyer as soon as possible. If you think you will test positive for THC because you used two weeks ago, you might want to delay your evaluation. These are issues you can discuss with your criminal defense lawyer. For some folks, a positive THC test will not matter and for others it could make a big difference on the outcome of your case. Every case is unique and the outcomes vary wildly depending on every detail. Do not take legal advice from blogs or from friends. Get advice from a lawyer who can go over your particular facts and give experienced advice.

 

If you would like to know more about chemical dependency assessments, CLICK HERE.

 

If you haven’t hired a lawyer yet, Witt Law Group offers free consultations. If you have a criminal case in Kitsap or Pierce County, give our office a call. 360-792-1000. We answer evenings and weekends so don’t hesitate to get peace of mind.

 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
December 12, 2020

Can I Beat My DUI?

Often, law firm ads will give defendants an impression that “beating a DUI” is a likely outcome. While it would be impressive to think that hiring just the right lawyer will get your case dismissed, that is not how criminal defense works. If you fall for it, you may have been suckered out of a lot of money for a hollow promise or gimmicky ad.

 

Simply put, if you are seeing the “get your DUI dismissed 95% of the time” ads, there are not a few top lawyers who get all the dismissals and 99% who are just terrible at their job and can only plead you guilty. While there are certainly more experienced defense lawyers, the outcome of your DUI greatly depends on your lawyer’s strategy, experience, willingness to educate the client as well as the motivation of the client to take proactive measures. This is where the evaluation and other actions can work to your favor. CLICK HERE to learn more evaluations.

 

The truth is that fewer than 2% of DUIs go to trial and outright dismissals occur less frequently than that. So, you have a 98% chance of NOT “beating” the DUI. Every experienced and successful defense lawyer will certainly review discovery for legal challenges but, the truth is, law enforcement makes DUI arrests for a living and they’re pretty good at it.

 

So why would I hire a lawyer if I can’t get my DUI dismissed?

 

Your attorney at Witt Law Group will use his or her history as a former prosecutor and years of defense experience to find every legal challenges possible to try for that dismissal or to create a solid trial case. However, if that does not look promising, you will want a lawyer who knows the options and realties in the jurisdiction where you were arrested. In the case of a DUI, local is always better. If an out of town lawyer does not about the PDA options, do not expect the prosecutor to enlighten them. Our lawyers know the culture of Kitsap as well as the municipal courts of Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Gig Harbor and the fact that we can get a resolution that works within your goals—even if it isn’t in the form of a straight dismissal.

 

For some clients, success can be getting a really tough DUI into some kind of pretrial diversion agreement. Another client might simply want to keep a security clearance and avoid jail time. Make sure you convey to your attorney what success means to you. Since you have about a 98% chance of NOT getting a dismissal or winning at trial, it is important to set your priorities with your attorney.

 

If you are unsure about your odds in your case, the only way to know what can happen is to talk with a local attorney where you were charged. A local experienced criminal defense attorney will know how the prosecutors in that area handle a DUI charge, a refusal, or a high blow. The details make a difference and so does the jurisdiction. If you were charged in Kitsap District, you can expect a very different outcome than if you were charged in Mason County. For further discussion of your Kitsap or Pierce County case, give our office a call for a free consultation. 360-792-1000.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

 

First, an evaluation is extremely helpful in DUI cases. Most private defense attorneys will want this done and completed early because it helps with negotiation. A skilled negotiator is equally, if not more, important as trial experience when it comes to DUI cases. Unfortunately, clients are frequently misinformed about negotiation vs. trial due to law firm advertisements.

 

We see the negative impact of gimmicky advertising all the time. Due to misinformation, we spend a great deal of time and significant effort educating new clients on the realities of a DUI charge in Washington. The problems can be even more significant when the client is from another state and is unaware of the unique rules in Washington—including the fact we are an implied consent state.

 

So What Does The Eval Do?

 

A drug and alcohol evaluation can be extremely helpful because it can be a tool that the prosecutor uses to make a favorable decision in your case. When your defense attorney can establish legal issues with your arrest and also establish that you are not a threat to the community, via no dependency issues, it improves your odds of a good outcome.

 

In a nutshell, a positive evaluation can help negotiations run much more smoothly. There are a lot more details to this process but, suffice it to say, taking the proactive step to get an evaluation before your first pretrial can make a significant difference in assisting your attorney get the end game you want. It might be a dismissal one year later, after avoiding any further criminal violations, or it might be some other agreement. Basically, if you get an evaluation at a location that will give you a fair shake, your evaluation can be a positive tool in your defense.

 

Where Do I Make The Appointment?

 

Always ask our attorneys where you should go for an evaluation. Not all evaluators are equally qualified, meet the court standards, and some have more history of financial incentive (assigning lots of treatment that their company gets paid to provide). There are many factors to consider before you pay for an evaluation.

 

For More Information About Evaluations, CLICK HERE

 

If you have any further questions about signing up for an evaluation or how it might help in your specific case, contact one of our lawyers. Every case is unique so do not take the above information as legal advice. Do not take your friend’s advice. Do not substitute general blog advice. Do not delay getting advice. Call early in your case and contact a trusted experienced criminal defense lawyer in the area where you were criminally charged.

 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

Being charged with a DUI in Washington is a scary ordeal, especially if you don't know how the case may resolve. This blog post is intended to provide some guidance for those new to the criminal justice process. A DUI is one of the few crimes charged at the misdemeanor / gross misdemeanor level that has "sentencing guidelines." In other words, you can find where you are on a grid and see what your sentencing range will be. The variables on the grid are (1) number of priors, and (2) the level of the blow (or refusal). The following is an except from what is commonly known as the DUI Grid. It is used in all Washington DUI cases where a person has been convicted of DUI. 

SENTENCING GRID FOR 1ST OFFENSE

 

DUI Grid 1st Offense     DUI Grid 1st Offense refusal

 

Mandatory Jail

As you can see, the amount of jail depends upon a person's BAC, or if they refused the BAC test. A blow that is under a .15 has a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 1 day. If the blow is over .15, or a refusal, then the mandatory minimum is 2 days in jail. 

Mandatory Fines

Fines also increase if a person's blow is above .15, or if they refused the rest. If the blow is under .15, the fines are $990.50, if over .15, or a breath test refusal, the fines increases to a minimum of $1,245.50. 

Licensing Ramifications

If you blow, the Department of Licensing will typically suspend your driver's license for 90 days. It a person blows over a .15, the suspension is typically 1 year. If the BAC test is offered and refused, then the suspension is typically 2 years. Keep in mind there are ways to challenge the suspension. If you would like to challenge the DOL's license suspension, click HERE.

Mandatory Conditions of DUI Probation

Once an individual has been convicted of a DUI, certain conditions come into play.  The individual must not (1) drive without a valid license, (2) drive without liability insurance which is typically high risk or SR-22 insurance, (3) drive with an alcohol concentration over .08, or a THC concentration of over 5 ng/ml, (4) refuse to submit to a breath test when reasonably requested, (5) dive without a functioning ignition interlock device as required by DOL. 

For every violation of any one of these conditions, the Court must sanction the individual by a minimum of 30 days of confinement! That is a very harsh sanction, especially for a first time offender. Additionally, the Court will order that DOL extend the individuals license suspension for 30 extra days. 

There Are Better Ways To Resolve Than A Plea Of Guilty!

The purpose of this blog is to explain the penalties for a DUI when a person is found Guilty. However, we strive in all cases to avoid having our clients plead guilty. To read about our defense strategies and how we try to resolve cases to avoid the guilty finding, click HERE. Also, you can find a tremendous amount of DUI information in our BLOG. We would be glad to answer any questions about a Washington DUI. If you have any questions, please give our office a call. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

DUI investigations are somewhat unique in that an officer is trying to find probable cause for your arrest with your help. And, even though the officer is doing an active investigation with your help, you are not actually in custody. For that reason, there is no need to read Miranda Warnings until the officer feels like the evidence collected (including your statements) sufficiently warrant the arrest.

 

At the point Miranda is read to you, the case is essentially ready to hand over to the Prosecutor. Usually, the officer will still want to collect a breathalyzer or blood sample but most people will do that voluntarily because Washington is an implied consent state. This means, if you don’t submit to the breathalyzer, you are automatically suspended for what is termed a “refusal.” This is a mandatory suspension by DOL regardless of the outcome of your criminal case.

  

What should I know to avoid creating problems for myself during a DUI stop?

 

While a DUI investigation is tricky and many people make incriminating statements without intending to do so, citizens can be aware of certain aspects of a DUI investigation to protect themselves.

 

1.  Remain Silent. While you can’t be completely silent, you do not need to answer “extra” questions. You should hand over your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance but you should not make “small talk” or think that your friendliness will get you out of an investigation. Every statement that you make will be included in the police narrative that is included in our discovery. Even the most innocuous statements will be used against you in the affirmative or used to prevent you from asserting a defense. CLICK HERE to learn more about how your statements can be used against you. 


2.  Keep your license, registration, and proof of insurance in an easy to reach location. If you have to get out of the car to get your purse and retrieve the license, the officer is likely to make notes (not in your favor) about your body mechanics, movement, anxious or “fumbling” behavior. Even on cases where our clients had no alcohol, the report will always state that the officer “smelled an odor of intoxicants” or that you slurred your speech while asking to retrieve your purse in the back seat. Whenever possible, make your initial stop as uneventful as possible. Simply hand over the required items and do not make a comment.


3.  Don’t answer unnecessary questions. If you are asked about where you came from, where you are headed, or whether you are on medication, you are not required to answer those questions. You can simply ask if you are under investigation and, if so, you would like to remain silent for the duration of the stop. This requires the officer to build a case against you without your help! This does not mean you will avoid being arrested but it makes it more likely you won’t be convicted.


4.  Don’t fall for fake promises! Often, officers will say things like, “If you’re cooperative, you won’t get into trouble” or “I know you aren’t impaired but I just have to ask a few questions.” This induces the driver to start talking again and make incriminating statements. You are not allowed to lie to law enforcement without a legal consequence but an officer can lie to you. Lying is considered an investigation technique. Just remain silent regardless of what is “promised” to you. Do not suggest that you live a few blocks away or someone can come pick you up—those statements can be used to suggest guilt that you know you are impaired. Just keep quiet and wait to find out if you are going to actually be arrested.


5.  If you are arrested, do not be aggressive or argumentative. The moment of being arrested comes as quite a shock for most people. It is the first time you have every been in trouble with law enforcement and you may have the urge to act out in shock. Do not act out! Again, remain silent and physically cooperative. Every statement that you make will be included in the police narrative.


6.  Do not refuse the breathalyzer if you would like to be able to drive. As stated before, Washington is an implied consent state and you are automatically suspended if you refuse the breathalyzer. As a side note, if the officer mentions that you can have counsel to discuss the issue and dials the public defender, you better make sure the person is familiar with the implied consent laws in Washington. Many “on call” public defenders are new law school graduates who attended schools in other states. While they should know all of the laws in the State of Washington, most lawyers learn through experience. In this case, mistakenly telling you that it doesn’t matter whether you “blow” (which is true in many states) will have very bad consequences for you and that inaccurate advice will not be considered by the prosecutor. It is also important to understand that you do not have much time to think about the breathalyzer test. If you seem to be hesitating about taking the breathalyzer (even briefly), the officer can terminate the process and just write it down as a refusal. CLICK HERE to learn more about the Implied Consent statute. 


7.  If you are in custody and brought to court for your Arraignment, do not attempt to plead guilty. In most courts, a judge will not allow you to plead guilty at Arraignment but don’t even think about it. Some people want to “explain their situation” and ask the court for mercy because they are immediately pleading guilty. This will not happen. Prosecutors and Judges handle thousands of DUIs a year and are desensitized to any excuses. There will be no mercy. A prosecutor’s “success” is typically determined by statistics surrounding convictions and they will only appreciate the fact that you made it easy to add to their “win” column.


8.  If you are booked into jail and released, you must return to the courthouse for your hearing. Do not miss court for any reason! If you miss your court date, you will likely face additional criminal charges and will make it nearly impossible to negotiate your DUI charge in a favorable way.


9.  Find experienced counsel. This cannot be overstated. You may have an amazing Family Law lawyer but she likely has no business handling your DUI case. Attorneys don’t technically “specialize” but they certainly have their strengths. The more you handle one type of case, the better you are. If you can find a criminal defense attorney who is a former prosecutor, has taken 100+ cases to trial before a jury, and understands the local rules and practices of where you are charged, that should be a good start. Be careful about lawyers who practice outside of the county where you are charged. Some are fine but others make it quite obvious that they don’t know what they are doing. We often see big firms out of Seattle or Tacoma send inexperienced lawyers to Kitsap County because the more well-respected attorneys don’t want to travel outside of their regular practice area. Unfortunately, the inexperienced “newbie” doesn’t know how to prepare the forms nor understand the local procedures. This is not a good sign to the prosecutor and does not bode well for your case.


10.  Send in your request for a DOL hearing. If you fail to submit your request by the deadline, you will be automatically suspended!


11.  Do not compare your case with anyone else’s case. A DUI case is so fact specific that it is impossible to compare the process or the result. Even in the same county, courthouse, and with identical blood alcohol levels, defendants will end up with different results. The prosecutor assigned to your case makes a difference. Your criminal history makes a difference. Whether you were argumentative makes a difference. Whether you remained in custody or were booked and released makes a difference. The way the officer wrote the report makes a difference. Whether you made any statements (even when you thought they made you look better) makes a difference. Whether you performed field sobriety tests makes a difference. Whether there is a breathalyzer or blood result makes a difference. There are so many aggravating or mitigating factors that it is pointless to compare your case to someone else’s situation. You will become more frustrated and anxious by listening to people who are not criminal defense lawyers and who are not reading your particular discovery packet. Save yourself the headache and keep communications regarding your case solely between you and your attorney.


12.  Finally, be completely honest with your lawyer. Do not omit important “bad” facts. Being arrested can be embarrassing and it can also bring up fears about past criminal history. For that reason, some clients will try to hide bad facts or fail to mention that they had a prior DUI in another state. Your attorney must know all of the bad facts! Even if your past criminal history wasn’t discussed at Arraignment and you think your past DUI won’t come up, you are wrong. A thorough criminal history will eventually be run and any arrests or convictions will be available for the prosecutor to see. If your attorney presents your defense as a “first time mistake” and then, in court, learns that you have past history, you can forget about any deal from a prosecutor or any jury believing your defense. Always be truthful and forthcoming with your attorney. Often, with enough notice, bad facts can be minimized by an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

 

Take Your Criminal Charge Seriously

 

A DUI charge is a very serious situation that can have lasting impacts on your personal and professional life. If you were diagnosed with cancer, you wouldn’t leave it to chance that things would work out. You wouldn’t delay in getting help. You would seek out the best and most experienced help to get you through that crisis. The same should be true for a legal challenge. Don’t leave your future to chance and don’t delay.

 

 CLICK HERE to learn more about the charge of DUI

 

Being charged with DUI is not a hopeless situation. Be proactive. Contact a lawyer right away to discuss your unique facts. An experienced criminal defense attorney can do a lot to mitigate the damage to your life and get you successfully through this crisis. You can call or office day or night at (360) 792-1000. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
July 03, 2020

Can You Beat A DUI?

 

Many clients want to know if we think there is any chance that their case will be dismissed. Often, the answer that a lawyer gives them will be a determining factor in hiring that lawyer. Consequently, many firms will advertise with ads that say “We win 95% of the time!” or some other click-bait type slogan. It is critical that consumers understand what those claims mean.

 

First, there were approximately 30,000 arrests for DUI in 2019. According to Washington Courts data, DUI charges were dismissed by the Court or Prosecution’s Motion on 3,645 occasions. That is a bit misleading unless you are a defense lawyer. As you can see from the image, 2,855 of those dismissals were on Prosecution’s Motion under “other.” 

 DUI Chart

The category “other” encompasses a myriad of options. It can mean that the Prosecution realized that the blood result won’t be returned before speedy trial runs. Consequently, the Prosecutor will “dismiss” the charges but file them again once once blood results are available. It can mean that a defendant successfully completed a 5 year Deferred Prosecution and the Prosecutor is now dismissing the charge. It can also mean that the defendant entered into a Pretrial Diversion Agreement that did not include a lesser charge but was a straight dismissal after “being good” for a period of time. The bottomline is that, while it might appear that nearly 10% of DUI cases are dismissed, that would be an inaccurate view of the data.

 

So, How Do Attorneys Claim To “Win” 97% Of The Time?

 

The key is determining the definition of “win” by the lawyer. For some, it is getting a Not Guilty verdict when the case goes to trial. However, depending on the state and county, about 2-10% of DUI cases go to trial. If you do the math, even if your potential lawyer had 10% of cases dismissed and another 10% of cases receive defense verdicts at trial, you still don’t get 97% success. Clearly, there is a lot of gray area in the definition of success when it comes to DUI defense.

 

What Should I Consider When Looking At “Success” For My DUI?

 

At Witt Law Group, our definition of success is dictated by the client. Obviously, we want to make any criminal charge disappear for our clients. That is always our first intention. We fight aggressively to expose every legal challenge possible and seek to suppress any evidence that should be inadmissible. However, we are also extremely skilled negotiators who will focus on our clients’ most pressing needs and fears. If you have been arrested for DUI, most people have a lot to lose—including freedom.

 

Despite those fears, we will never fudge the numbers. Statistics can be manipulated but, in the end, if a client doesn’t feel heard and aggressively represented, it isn’t a win. Every case and every client is unique. When the prosecution’s case is very strong, the client may simply want to mitigate damage to their lives and career by entering into a diversion agreement. Alternatively, some clients feel very strongly that they want to go forward with a trial and put their unique set of facts before a jury. For a person with a CDL who drives for a living, the jury trial could be worth the gamble. For clients who are in the medical or educational profession, their professional licenses are at stake and a trial may not be worth the risk. They might want a strong negotiator to reduce the charge or have the charge dismissed after a period of “good” time. Each client’s needs dictate how we strategize a “win.”

 

We have a highly successful strategy for finding any and all legal challenges to your arrest. There are many layers to this process and the complexity of options often depends on the availability of evidence (i.e. lapel and dash cam footage, witnesses, legality of the stop, etc.) as well as factors such as criminal history. Each case is thoroughly analyzed for extensive legal issues and facts that support your defense. While only a small percentage of our cases must go to trial, all of our cases are prepped for trial. Whether in negotiation or in front of the jury, we always seek a win for our clients.

 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
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