Displaying items by tag: DUI

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

Any private criminal defense lawyer will cost, at a minimum, a couple thousand dollars for a first time DUI defense. In Kitsap County, 95% of experienced local attorneys will typically charge $2500 for most misdemeanor offenses, including DUI. If you have multiple charges or extensive criminal history, the cost can vary. For example, if you are facing a felony charge, the cost is more likely to be near $5000 or even $10,000, depending on the seriousness of the offense.

 

If you are going to hire a private defense attorney for DUI defense, do not get too fixated on price—unless that has to be the determining factor for you. If you are hiring a criminal defense lawyer who has been a former prosecutor, has gone to trial at least 50 times before a jury, has practiced more than 10 years in the county where you have been charged, it is likely that you have weeded out quite a few lesser experienced attorneys. That’s a good place to start.

 

How Do I Find The Best Defense Attorney For Me?

 

Next, consider reviews and referral sources. You should focus on organic reviews (people who had to take the extra time to go to a site like AVVO or a Google Business site to leave their personal experience) as well as personal and professional referrals. Generally, these are the most trustworthy. If you are in the military or work at the shipyard, you will often hear our firm recommended because we understand the challenges with security clearances and dealing with your Command. If you have an unusual circumstance, such as managing security clearances, this is another factor you might consider in your choice of lawyer. Therefore, asking friends or colleagues for legal referrals might be a serious consideration if employment is a meaningful issue.

 

Often, you will see firms that put out extensive ads on Google. You will see their listing at or near the top of the page in a Google search and the word “Ad” (often in bold) will appear. It is normal for law firms to advertise but, where you see the same firm appear at the top for every search, it will typically mean that the firm is spending tens of thousands of dollars in ads per month. If a firm has a good reputation and does well with word of mouth referrals (often by other legal professionals), spending that kind of money on advertising is not necessary. Additionally, this type of advertising expense is past along in terms of much higher legal fees to new clients. You may even find quotes as high as $5000 or $7500 for DUI defense!

 

If you are being asked to pay $7500 for DUI defense, it is not going toward your defense—it is going to someone’s advertising budget. Kitsap County people are hard working and should not be asked to pay the fees of large Tacoma and Seattle firms. We respect that incomes in Kitsap County are not those of Seattle but it will never impact how hard we work for you. We get stellar results without outlandish legal fees.

 

Should I Rush To Hire An Attorney?

 

Yes and no. Criminal charges have some issues that can be time sensitive and you need to have qualified representation to help you. In the case of DUI, you have a very short window to request a DOL hearing to avoid license suspension. However, that does not mean you should feel pressured on the phone. You should always be able to speak with an attorney and have a free consultation. Additionally, the firm should be able to tell you who will actually represent you. This means that a “managing partner” should not sell you on the firm and then pass your case along to an inexperienced new lawyer. You should feel comfortable to ask that kind of question.

 

If you have a legal issue in Kitsap County, we are always here to help. We have been in the area for decades and our family for multiple generations. Our reputation matters and we strive to maintain that stellar reputation. If your legal issue is outside of Kitsap County, we would be happy to take your call and assist in finding you an experienced colleague. Feel free to call anytime. We are here for you 7 days a week.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

If you suddenly realize that you have had too much to drink, can you pull over on the road without facing criminal charges?

 

Technically, you have committed the crime of DUI (assuming you are over the legal limit or “affected by” under the statute) but, if no one saw you and there is no evidence to prove this charge, a DUI charge is not likely. Regardless, you should always stop driving if you are impaired. The challenge can be understanding how to safely pull over and avoid a criminal charge.

 

ACCORDING TO THE STATUTE, WHAT AMOUNTS TO “PHYSICAL CONTROL”

 

When you pull over into a parking lot or the side of the road, you are in physical control of the vehicle. This means you can be charged with a crime. The statute that applies is:

 

RCW 46.61.504

Physical control of vehicle under the influence.

(1) A person is guilty of being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has actual physical control of a vehicle within this state:

(a) And the person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of the vehicle, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or

(b) The person has, within two hours after being in actual physical control of a vehicle, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or

(c) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or

(d) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

(2) The fact that a person charged with a violation of this section is or has been entitled to use a drug under the laws of this state does not constitute a defense against any charge of violating this section. No person may be convicted under this section and it is an affirmative defense to any action pursuant to RCW 46.20.308 to suspend, revoke, or deny the privilege to drive if, prior to being pursued by a law enforcement officer, the person has moved the vehicle safely off the roadway.

(3)

(a) It is an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (1)(a) of this section which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of alcohol after the time of being in actual physical control of the vehicle and before the administration of an analysis of the person's breath or blood to cause the defendant's alcohol concentration to be 0.08 or more within two hours after being in such control. The court shall not admit evidence of this defense unless the defendant notifies the prosecution prior to the omnibus or pretrial hearing in the case of the defendant's intent to assert the affirmative defense.

(b) It is an affirmative defense to a violation of subsection (1)(b) of this section, which the defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence, that the defendant consumed a sufficient quantity of marijuana after the time of being in actual physical control of the vehicle and before the administration of an analysis of the person's blood to cause the defendant's THC concentration to be 5.00 or more within two hours after being in control of the vehicle. The court shall not admit evidence of this defense unless the defendant notifies the prosecution prior to the omnibus or pretrial hearing in the case of the defendant's intent to assert the affirmative defense.

(4)

(a) Analyses of blood or breath samples obtained more than two hours after the alleged being in actual physical control of a vehicle may be used as evidence that within two hours of the alleged being in such control, a person had an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more in violation of subsection (1)(a) of this section, and in any case in which the analysis shows an alcohol concentration above 0.00 may be used as evidence that a person was under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug in violation of subsection (1)(c) or (d) of this section.

(b) Analyses of blood samples obtained more than two hours after the alleged being in actual physical control of a vehicle may be used as evidence that within two hours of the alleged being in control of the vehicle, a person had a THC concentration of 5.00 or more in violation of subsection (1)(b) of this section, and in any case in which the analysis shows a THC concentration above 0.00 may be used as evidence that a person was under the influence of or affected by marijuana in violation of subsection (1)(c) or (d) of this section.

(5) Except as provided in subsection (6) of this section, a violation of this section is a gross misdemeanor.

(6) It is a class C felony punishable under chapter 9.94A RCW, or chapter 13.40 RCW if the person is a juvenile, if:

(a) The person has three or more prior offenses within ten years as defined in RCW 46.61.5055; or

(b) The person has ever previously been convicted of:

(i) Vehicular homicide while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, RCW 46.61.520(1)(a);

(ii) Vehicular assault while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, RCW 46.61.522(1)(b);

(iii) An out-of-state offense comparable to the offense specified in (b)(i) or (ii) of this subsection; or

(iv) A violation of this subsection (6) or RCW 46.61.502(6).

 

As you can see, there are still many ways to be charged with Physical Control even though you have pulled off of the roadway. Additionally, while a substance may be legal or legally proscribed, it may still be illegal for you to consume it and drive. Furthermore, while Physical Control is different than being charged with DUI, the punishments are the same and creates very serious consequences for those convicted of the crime. 

WHAT CAN I DO TO AVOID BEING CONVICTED OF PHYSICAL CONTROL

 

Therefore, if you want to avoid a Physical Control charge, here are some pointers:

 

•  Do not have your car on.
•  Do not have the keys in the ignition (even if the car is off).
•  Do not be near any ingress or egress onto any road. In other words, park as far away from normal traffic flow as you can.
•  If you are going to sleep, do not be in the driver’s seat.
•  When it gets cold, do not be tempted to turn on the car for heat.
•  Do not put the keys into the ignition to listen to the radio (refer back to #1!)
•  To draw less attention to you, park perfectly straight into a stall (if a parking lot).
•  Do not park where customers would have to drive or walk past your vehicle to enter a business.
•  Do not assume a few hours of rest will put you below the legal limit. If you are impaired and do not want to sleep 8 hours, contact an Uber or friend to come pick you up.
•  Even though you are no longer driving, do not consume any additional alcohol while sitting in your car.
•  Make a mental note of when you pulled off the road.

 

DO I HAVE ANY AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSES?

 

If you have been charged with Physical Control, you must assert an affirmative defense of “safely off the roadway.” This means that you must assert you were no longer on a roadway. Pulling onto a shoulder or even a side street will not work. It must be an area far away from a roadway such as a parking lot or a rest stop. Additionally, it would be best to have proof of when you pulled over. You could text a friend that you pulled over to a parking lot or screenshot the time when pulled over to your location. Get out of the driver’s seat and make sure your keys are not in the ignition or such that you could “touch start” your vehicle. It must be absolutely clear that you can not exert ANY control over your vehicle.

 

WHAT WILL A PROSECUTOR BE LOOKING FOR?

 

To summarize, the 2 biggest factors that help you successfully assert your affirmative defense are:

 

•  Showing that you did not and could not assert control over the vehicle is critical. You did not have keys in the ignition and you did not have convenient access to the keys. Additionally, you were not in the driver’s seat.


•  You should be located in a secluded parking lot or rest area, which is as far away from the entrance to the road as possible. If it appears that you could easily return to the roadway (even if you are resting in the passenger’s seat when confronted), you will not meet the standard of “safely off the roadway.”

 

If you are confronted by an officer regarding your attempt to pull off the roadway and she suggests that you “just pulled over”, make sure to request that the officer touch the hood of the car. Having the officer verify that your engine is cool is helpful to asserting your defense.

 

WE ARE ALWAYS HERE TO HELP IN YOUR DEFENSE

 

Please share this information with friends. It is never acceptable to drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs and, if you suddenly feel impacted by a substance, it is critical that you pull safely off of the roadway. This blog is intended to be informational and not legal advice. However, since the charge of Physical Control requires that you assert an affirmative defense, it is important to understand the necessary steps a citizen must make to claim a defense. It is important for tearing down the prosecutor’s case against you as well as being able to put forth a strong defense.

 

If you have any questions regarding a Physical Control charge, a DUI, or any other criminal defense question, our team is here to help. We offer free consultations 7 days a week. 360.792.1000

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

If you were arrested for a crime involving drugs or alcohol, your attorney may request that you seek a drug or alcohol assessment that could be used for the purpose of negotiation. Additionally, there are circumstances in which the Court may require you to have an evaluation. A conviction for the following crimes may trigger a mandatory evaluation:

 

•  DUI/DWI—Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs

•  MIP—Minor in possession

•  Public intoxication

•  Disorderly conduct

•  Conviction for possession of drugs

•  Physical control

•  And, by discretion, any case where the crime involved drugs or alcohol

 

What You Will Need For Your Evaluation

 

Before you attend your evaluation, you will need to make sure that you or your attorney have provided the treatment agency with certain required documents. Those documents are: (1) the criminal complaint, (2) the arrest report with police narrative, (3) your criminal history, and (4) your driving abstract, which is usually provided in discovery but you may need to get it from the Department of Licensing.

You May Be Drug Tested 

 

In nearly all cases, the evaluation will include a urinalysis to detect the presence of drugs or alcohol in your system at the time of the evaluation. If this will be a problem, you may want to discuss this with your attorney prior to making your appointment. Depending on your location, it may take a week to a month to get an appointment for the evaluation so consider this if you have strict timelines. Additionally, the report may not be ready and provided to your attorney or probation for another week or two. Be sure to ask your attorney who should receive a copy of the final report. You may want to see the recommendations before a copy is provided to the Court or Probation.

 The Interview

 

The entire interview with questionnaires and UA should take approximately 90 minutes. A summary of your answers, the UA result, and the court documents will all be referenced in the final report. It will also include a determination as to whether you have a problem with drugs or alcohol and the recommendations that are appropriate. These recommendations may range from an 8 hour ADIS class (Alcohol Drug Information School) to something as intense as in-patient treatment for an extended period of time. Other common requirements that may be ordered by the Court or recommendations by the evaluator are: AA meetings, substance abuse education classes, counseling, group support sessions, and random drug or alcohol testing.

 Questions?

 

If you have any other questions or concerns about an upcoming drug and alcohol assessment, it is important to talk with your lawyer. If the Court ordered you to have an evaluation, there are strict guidelines as to who can administer this evaluation. Not all agencies are approved by the Court and you don't want to waste your money. So, when in doubt, seek the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Witt Law Group, we offer free consultations 24/7 and can handle almost all matters over the phone, email, or zoom.

 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

Getting An Ignition Interlock License While Department Of Licensing Is Physically Closed


Clients are running into a unique hurdle that we never anticipated before the coronavirus. Prior to closures of nonessential offices, we always directed clients to walk into a DOL office and apply in person for the Ignition Interlock License, or IIL. Now numerous clients need the IIL, but DOL offices are closed. Is there are solution? Yes, you can apply through the mail.


Applying For An IIL Through The Mail


Eligibility Requirements (on top of having an arrest / conviction for DUI or similar offense):


•  You must have an unexpired WA drivers license or valid out of state license

•  You must have an ignition interlock installed on your vehicle. The installer will send        proof of installation to DOL. The main interlock installers ARE open

•  You must obtain SR-22 insurance, or high-risk auto insurance

•  You must fill out and mail in the Restricted Driver’s License Application, below


pdfApplication


The Application is simple and asks very basic questions. Once complete, mail the Application to:

 

Restricted Licensing
Department of Licensing
PO Box 3907
Seattle, WA 98124-3907

 

The fee to submit the application is $100. If you do not submit the fee, your application will not be processed.


Once The Application Is Approved

 

The Department of Licensing will mail you your Ignition Interlock License. A temporary IIL will come in the mail quickly, and the permanent IIL will arrive shortly thereafter.


What If I Drive A Work Vehicle?


If you are required to drive with an Ignition Interlock license, you may be able to drive a work vehicle without the device. The requirements are strict, but it may be possible. If you have a question about that, see:


Employer Exemption To The IIL

Questions About IIL?


These are unprecedented times. DOL is suspending licenses, but not opening DOL offices to help people address the suspension. Hopefully this helps the individuals that are caught in limbo. If you have any questions that are beyond what is addressed in this article, don’t make assumptions and call our office.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
December 22, 2019

Designated Drivers Beware

 

Are you planning to attend holiday parties as the designated driver? Good for you! Just remember that there is some risk in taking on that role if you also use marijuana.

 

Many recreational users of marijuana don’t understand that THC levels remain high enough to be cited for DUI days after their last use. The levels of THC will certainly depend on how often you use, how active you are, how long you have regularly used marijuana as well as other physiological factors. However, it is very important that you understand there is always a risk for prosecution. Even smoking the day before you are pulled over can pose a risk of being charged with a crime—we have seen it.

 

Additionally, don’t think that “just one drink” will keep you free from prosecution. We have represented people arrested by law enforcement for DUI with blows as low as .03 and the State did not drop the DUI charge. This year alone, we have represented more than a dozen clients charged with DUI with blood alcohol at or below .06 under the “affected by” prong of the statute. The State prosecutes these charges just as aggressively as an .08 or above. While the DOL jurisdiction for suspending your license occurs when you blow an .08 or above, the prosecuting attorney will still seek criminal remedies that impact your driving and cost you in terms of fines, restitution, emergency response restitution to the law enforcement agency, and legal fees.

 

The moral of the story—if you use marijuana, you should consider using Uber for your designated driver. Also, the “one drink” plan is not a risk-free plan. The safest plan in terms of avoiding a criminal charge and getting home safely is to stay off the road if you use any marijuana or plan to indulge in alcoholic beverages.

 

Have a safe and crime-free holiday season! We want the Christmas tree to be the only twinkling lights you see.

 

If an issue does arise, do not hesitate to contact our office. While we handle auto accidents all over the State of Washington, we primarily handle criminal matters in Kitsap County and Pierce County as well as all cities in between. We have office in Bremerton, Poulsbo, and Gig Harbor for your convenience and offer free consultations. Over the holidays, we will have the office phone forwarded to our cell phones so do not delay in seeking legal advice if you or a friend need help.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
November 19, 2019

DUI and Corpus Delicti

In Latin, Corpus Delicti means “body of the crime.” It is a procedural safeguard that we have in our legal system that basically means that a person may not be convicted of a crime unless it is first proven that a crime has actually occurred. In other words, the State needs to demonstrate that something bad happened as a result of a violation of the law, and that the defendant was the one who violated it. There are two elements of Corpus Delicti in every offense: (1) a wrong has occurred, and (2) the wrong is the result of a specific person’s criminal act.

Historical Context

“Body of the crime,” as one can imagine, has to do with a murder charge. The idea is that, without a body, there is no proof that a crime has been committed. People can suspect that a murder was committed, but without a body, it is difficult to prove element 1 above – that a wrong has occurred. How does the State prove that the missing person is not just on an unannounced vacation to the Bahamas?

What About a Confession?

The Corpus rule receives the most discussion and debate when a person confesses to a crime that has been committed. A person’s confession as to the commission of a crime is not sufficient evidence to convict a person of a crime unless there is independent evidence that the crime being investigated was committed by the confessing individual.

The Corpus Delicti Rule is a Safeguard

The rule is meant to prevent the prosecution of mentally unstable people who admit to crimes for attention or notoriety. And it is also in place to reduce the use of interrogation tactics that tend to strong-arm confessions.

Do you remember the convicted pedophile who confessed to the 1996 murder of child JonBenet Ramsey? The Boulder Police Department did not find his DNA matched and it appears the confession was not perceived as trustworthy. This does not mean other law enforcement agencies would do the same thing or put so much emphasis on DNA. It is possible that a Prosecutor would try to charge the person based solely on the confession. While it seems far-fetched that people confess to crimes they did not commit, it does happen. The Corpus Delicti rule is one safeguard in protecting the veracity of the criminal justice process and keeping truly innocent (and perhaps mentally ill) people from being convicted for a crime they did not commit while allowing the actual perpetrator to go free.

What Does This Mean For A DUI Charge?

Assume two or more people are driving in a car. For one reason or another, the driver accidentally drives into a ditch. A passer-by sees the accident, and calls 911. At the same time, all of the occupants get out of the car and walk up to the road. When the police arrive, no one is left in the car. The policeman asks, “who was driving the car?” – to which Joe Suspect raises his hand and says he was the driver. Mr. Suspect is arrested. Throughout the investigation it is determined that he was under the influence of alcohol. Mr. Suspect is then prosecuted for DUI.

So How Does The Corpus Rule Work?

Continuing on with the same example from above, Ms. Defense Attorney realizes that Mr. Suspect is being prosecuted based solely on his confession. There is no independent evidence that Mr. Suspect was the driver of the car. There were multiple people in the car, and it could have been any one of them. Ms. Defense Attorney files a Corpus Motion and the case is dismissed.

What Officers Can, But Often Forget, To Do

In more cases than not, law enforcement officers stop investigating who the driver was once they obtain a confession. What officers can, but neglect to do, is: (1) check who is the registered owner of the car, (2) check who’s pockets the keys are in, (3) check for seat belt marks on people’s shoulders (this can indicate who was the passenger versus who was the driver), (4) check the seat position of the driver (is the person confessing very tall, yet the driver’s seat is adjusted for a short person?) and (5) ask other individuals who were witness to the accident to corroborate the events.

These small efforts can shut down a Corpus defense, but law enforcement typically does not make this final investigative effort. They believe once there is a confession, the case is closed. That is incorrect and law enforcement’s lack of diligence can be used to great advantage by a suspect accused of DUI.

This is a complicated area and you will need an experienced DUI attorney to help you. If you are accused of DUI or any other criminal offense, do not hesitate to give our office a call. We have offices in Gig Harbor, Bremerton and Poulsbo for your convenience. If you found this blog interesting, CLICK HERE to read more on similar topics. 

Published in Witt Law Group Blog

If you are facing a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Physical Control charge in the State of Washington, you may be eligible to enter a rigorous but rewarding treatment plan commonly known as a Deferred Prosecution. A successful Deferred Prosecution ends with the current charge(s) being dismissed, but not everyone is eligible to enter a Deferred Prosecution. The three major factors that determine whether or not a person may be allowed into a Deferred Prosecution are (1) you can not have done a previous Deferred Prosecution, (2) you have to believe that, without such treatment, you have a high likelihood to reoffend, and (3) you must be diagnosed as alcohol or drug dependent.

Benefits of a Deferred Prosecution


•The case is dismissed.


•There is no jail time.


•More often than not, even initially reluctant people at the end of the Deferred Prosecution report that is was a very positive experience.

Downside to a Deferred Prosecution

• You are only eligible to enter the program once in your life. If you mess it up, even at the beginning, that was your only shot.


•You are waiving substantial rights upon entry of a Deferred. If you fail, it is much easier for the State (or City) to convict you. If the Court deems that you are out of compliance, the Judge simply reads the Officer’s narrative of the events – no trial is held.


•In entering a Deferred, you have created a legal record that you are alcohol and/or drug dependent.


•The entrant bears the cost of the Deferred Prosecution program (some insurance companies will pay for the treatment).


•Even if successful, the Deferred Prosecution will be counted as a “prior offense” if an individual gets charged with a subsequent DUI.


•The entrant will only be allowed to drive a motor vehicle with a functioning Ignition Interlock device.

RCW 10.05.010 Eligibility


(1) In a court of limited jurisdiction a person charged with a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor may petition the court to be considered for a deferred prosecution program. The petition shall be filed with the court at least seven days before the date set for trial but, upon a written motion and affidavit establishing good cause for the delay and failure to comply with this section, the court may waive this requirement subject to the defendant's reimbursement to the court of the witness fees and expenses due for subpoenaed witnesses who have appeared on the date set for trial.


(2) A person charged with a traffic infraction, misdemeanor, or gross misdemeanor under Title 46 RCW shall not be eligible for a deferred prosecution program unless the court makes specific findings pursuant to RCW 10.05.020 or section 18 of this act. Such person shall not be eligible for a deferred prosecution program more than once; and cannot receive a deferred prosecution under both RCW 10.05.020 and section 18 of this act. Separate offenses committed more than seven days apart may not be consolidated in a single program.


(3) A person charged with a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor under chapter 9A.42 RCW shall not be eligible for a deferred prosecution program unless the court makes specific findings pursuant to RCW 10.05.020 Such person shall not be eligible for a deferred prosecution program more than once.

RCW 10.05.140 Conditions of Granting


As a condition of granting a deferred prosecution petition, the court shall order that the petitioner shall not operate a motor vehicle upon the public highways without a valid operator's license and proof of liability insurance. The amount of liability insurance shall be established by the court at not less than that established by RCW 46.29.490. As a condition of granting a deferred prosecution petition on any alcohol-dependency based case, the court shall also order the installation of an ignition interlock. To help ensure continued sobriety and reduce the likelihood of reoffense, the court may order reasonable conditions during the period of the deferred prosecution including, but not limited to, attendance at self-help recovery support groups for alcoholism or drugs, complete abstinence from alcohol and all nonprescribed mind-altering drugs, periodic urinalysis or breath analysis, and maintaining law-abiding behavior. The court may terminate the deferred prosecution program upon violation of the deferred prosecution order.

RCW 10.05.150 Program requirements (Per Statute)

 A deferred prosecution program for alcoholism shall be for a two-year period and shall include, but not be limited to, the following requirements:


(1) Total abstinence from alcohol and all other nonprescribed mind-altering drugs;


(2) Participation in an intensive inpatient or intensive outpatient program in a state-approved substance use disorder treatment program;


(3) Participation in a minimum of two meetings per week of an alcoholism self-help recovery support group, as determined by the assessing agency, for the duration of the treatment program;


(4) Participation in an alcoholism self-help recovery support group, as determined by the assessing agency, from the date of court approval of the plan to entry into intensive treatment;


(5) Not less than weekly approved outpatient counseling, group or individual, for a minimum of six months following the intensive phase of treatment;


(6) Not less than monthly outpatient contact, group or individual, for the remainder of the two-year deferred prosecution period;


(7) The decision to include the use of prescribed drugs, including disulfiram, as a condition of treatment shall be reserved to the treating facility and the petitioner's physician;


(8) All treatment within the purview of this section shall occur within or be approved by a state-approved substance use disorder treatment program;


(9) Signature of the petitioner agreeing to the terms and conditions of the treatment program.

Program Requirements (Per Treatment Providers)


The Washington State Treatment providers have a more succinct way of explaining the requirements. They break the two year period into three phases:


• Phase 1: Intensive outpatient treatment consisting of a minimum of seventy-two hours of treatment in a maximum of twelve weeks.


• Phase 2: Not less than weekly outpatient counseling, group or individual, for a minimum of six months following the intensive phase of treatment.


• Phase 3: Not less than monthly outpatient contact, group or individual, for the remainder of the two-year deferred prosecution period.


Once a person completes the two year treatment portion, they graduate into the three year non-supervised portion. During the three year period, the person’s obligation is simply to remain crime free and continue to abstain from the use of alcohol or non-prescribed drugs.

Sample Forms For Treatment Providers

Attached please find (1) a template for the Deferred Prosecution Treatment Program, and (2) the Committment to Provide Treatment, which the agency providing the treatment is required to sign. 

 pdfSample Deferred Prosecution Treatment Plan

 pdfSamle Commitment To Provide Treatment


Witt Law Group is a Kitsap County based DUI Defense law firm. If you have a question that pertains to a DUI in Kitsap County or any of the cities therein, please do not hesitate to call one of our top rated Kitap DUI lawyers.

Published in Witt Law Group Blog
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