April 2014

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New DUI Legislation

Effective September 28, 2013 there will be some changes to the current Washington DUI laws.

Lawmakers are taking a tougher approach on repeat offenders with the new requirement that any driver arrested for DUI or physical control be booked into jail and held until released by a judge if the officer has knowledge of a prior offense within ten years. If released, the judge must also order the installation of an ignition interlock device and the device must be maintained unless the case is dismissed or there is a not guilty finding.

Another significant change was that additional mandatory jail time will be imposed for impaired drivers who had a child passenger under the age of 16. For a driver with no history, this additional mandatory jail is 24 hours. For a driver with prior history, the additional mandatory jail is five to ten days.

Drivers accused of driving the wrong way on a muli-lane highway with a speed limit of 45mph or greater will also be affected by the law change because judges must now consider such wrong way driving at the time of sentencing as an aggravating factor for sentencing.

One positive change came as a reaction to the recent United States Supreme Court decision of Missouri v. McNeely, lawmakers decided to eliminate references to blood tests in Washington’s implied consent law. While an officer may still request consent to a blood test or obtain one with a warrant or without a warrant under certain circumstances, a driver who refuses to consent to a blood test does so without penalty under the implied consent law.

Clients will also be pleased to learn that after September 28, 2013 their license will not be punched at the time of arrest or upon conviction.

Lawmakers seem to still be working out the recent kinks in the marijuana legislation. RCW 46.61.5249 now includes exhibiting the effects of recently consumed marijuana to the crime of negligent driving in the first degree. Additionally a violation of the “per se” THC level requires a 30 day sentence.

Stopped for a DUI? Here’s what to do!

A DUI will cost you a lot of money.  In Washington, a DUI is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 fine.  If convicted, a person suffers consequences such as, driver’s license suspension, commercial driver’s license suspension or revocation, fines and fees, probation, and possibly jail.  People ask our skilled team of attorneys all the time what to do if they are pulled over after having consumed alcohol and here are the answers! 

            First, do not be suspicious!  The officer is paying attention to your every move, so throwing a bottle in the backseat, or placing a cup under the seat is going to draw attention to your level of intoxication.  The officer will approach your vehicle via the driver or the passenger side of the vehicle, and rolling your window down is appropriate.  The officer should advise you of the reason for the stop and ask for your license, registration, and insurance.  The officer is paying attention to your speech and movements, so he will be looking to see if you have slurred or slowed speech, or if your movements are fumbled and deliberate.  The officer will also look at your eyes to see if you appear to be intoxicated.  At this point, the officer will likely begin questioning you about your activities that evening and your answers could be incriminating. 

            Second, always ask for a lawyer!  If the officer asks you where you’ve been that evening or how much alcohol you’ve had to drink, always ask for a lawyer!  Everyone has a right to counsel, especially those being investigated and accused of crimes such as, driving under the influence.  It is very important to talk to anyone representing the State (officers or prosecutors) through your lawyers.  If you feel uncomfortable answering a question, ask for a lawyer!  The officer has a duty to provide you with the opportunity to talk to a lawyer and should cease asking you questions once you have asked for a lawyer. 

            Third, refuse the voluntary field sobriety tests!  The officer may then ask you to perform voluntary field sobriety tests.  These tests are voluntary, so you do not have to perform them.  You can say no.  These tests are used to build a case against you and will be admissible in court.  You will not pass the field sobriety tests, so even if you are confident in your ability to pass them, do not attempt the field sobriety tests.  Officers will sometimes tell you that they just want to check to make sure you’re okay to drive.  Do not fall for it – you will fail the tests and you will likely be arrested.  If you refuse the field sobriety tests, you may still be arrested for driving under the influence, but the State will have less evidence to prosecute. 

            Fourth, refuse the preliminary breath test!  The officer may then ask you for a preliminary breath sample.  This is also voluntary.  You can say no.  Again, the officer is only trying to build a case against you.  If you are confident you will blow under a .08 you should still refuse the preliminary breath test.  You can be arrested for driving under the influence even if your breath alcohol content is under .08.  If you say no to the breath test, you may still be arrested for driving under the influence. The preliminary breath test does not replace the breath test at the station.

            Fifth, minimize the evidence against you!  If you are arrested for driving under the influence, ask for an attorney immediately.  Even if it is 4 a.m., you can speak with an attorney.  There is likely a public defender on call and if you have asked for an attorney, the officer has a duty to put you in touch with one once you get to the station.  No further questioning should occur once you have requested an attorney, but you must cooperate with the officer.  The attorney will likely tell you to cease answering any questions and to blow into the BAC machine when asked to do so by the officer.

            Sixth, cooperate with the officer!  The officer has complete discretion whether to book you into jail or release you to a sober driver.  If you are cooperative and police the better your chances are to sleep in your own bed that night. 

            Seventh, submit to the breath test at the station!  In Washington, if you drive you have consented to provide a breath or blood sample if you are arrested for driving under the influence.  If you refuse to submit to this test it can result in a one year license suspension from the Department of Licensing.  In criminal court, your refusal is considered evidence that you are guilty of driving under the influence.  It is much easier to suppress BAC evidence than to suppress a refusal of the BAC, so always remember to take the test at the station. 

            Being stopped for a DUI can be very traumatic.  This article is meant to help minimize your consequences once you are stopped, but contacting an attorney who specializes in DUIs should be your top priority.  Our office specializes in DUIs and we are always available to help guide you through the process.

New WA Domestic Violence Case Threatens Defendant's Rights

If you’ve ever been involved in a domestic dispute with a loved one, you know how time consuming, costly, and painful it can be.  On May 1, 2012, the Washington Appellate Court held in State v. Dobbs,that evidence showing a defendant engaged in persistent and increasing acts of violence against a complaining witness, the doctrine of forfeiture by wrongdoing applies.
What does this mean?  When forfeiture by wrongdoing applies, the defendant waives any hearsay objections.  
How does this impact your domestic violence case? Even when the complaining witness or victim is unavailable to testify at trial, statements made by that witness or victim can be used against the defendant if the forfeiture by wrongdoing doctrine applies.  
Generally, out of court statements made by a witness or victim cannot be used to prove the truth of the matter asserted unless the witness or victim testifies to the truth of their statements.  Meaning that the complaining witness had to be present in court to testify rather than a police officer getting to testify to what they were told by the witness.  This new case creates a risk that officers can testify to what the victim said rather than requiring the victim to be present.  The jury would then loose the ability to judge the honesty of the witness theirseleves and instead they would be forced to rely on the officer's statements.
If you’ve been accused of assault or domestic violence it is imperative that you contact washington criminal defense attorney.  Our team will advocate for your rights, and defend you vigorously against any assault or domestic violence charge. 

License suspended as a result of a DUI? Need to drive? Get an Ignition Interlock Driver’s License!

An Ignition Interlock Driver’s License allows you to drive a vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device while your regular license is suspended.  An ignition interlock device does not allow the vehicle to be started if it detects alcohol in your system. 

To be eligible for an Ignition Interlock License you must have been arrested or convicted of driving under the influence, physical control involving drugs or alcohol, vehicular assault involving drugs or alcohol, or vehicle homicide involving drugs or alcohol.  Additionally, your last driver’s license has to have been issued by Washington State or you must be active duty military currently stationed in Washington State.  You must also have a Washington State address.  Last, your suspension must not include minor in possession, reckless driving, or habitual traffic offender. 

Do you drive a work vehicle?  Don’t worry!  The ignition interlock requirement can be waived if your employer signs the appropriate waiver and declaration. 

Always be careful when applying for an ignition interlock license because it can waive your right to contest your license suspension.  Contact experienced DUI Attorney, Angela Horwath, so we can help you navigate the Ignition Interlock License process. 

King County DUI Attorney avoids criminal conviction for her client

Clients always want to know if it possible to avoid a criminal conviction after being arrested for DUI, in other words, “can I get this DUI dismissed?”  The reality is, most of the time the answer is no.   So I thought it would be nice to share with you one of the case that I resolved this week where we were able to accomplish just that.   
Back in August an individual who had been arrested for DUI the previous night contacted me.   She was very upset because a criminal conviction would likely lead to loss of employment for her.  So we immediately contacted the prosecutor and provided a basis for them to charge her with Negligent Driving rather than the much more serious charge of DUI.   He agreement meant that ½ of the battle had already been won because no matter what happened we could avoid a license suspension and had much more flexibility in negotiating the case.  After a few more months of negotiation we came to an agreement to have the criminal charge of Negligent Driving in the 1st degree amended to the traffic infraction of Negligent Driving in the 2nd degree.  While it was a roundabout way of getting the DUI “dismissed” the end result was favorable to my client because she ultimately avoided having a criminal conviction. While this result is not typical, it was a combination of my client’s immediate action contacting me, the facts alleged, and some creative negotiation strategies that led to the dismissal.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for DUI it is imperative that you contact a skilled King County DUI Attorney as soon as possible.

253 Drivers Arrested for DUI Over New Year’s Holiday Weekend

Yesterday WSP released information that 253 people were arrested by Washington State Patrol Troopers for suspicion of of being impaired by drugs or alcohol over the New Year’s holiday weekend.  The number of people arrested throughout Washington state for DUI by troopers over the holiday weekend decreased compared to the 286 people who were arrested for DUI in 2010. Of the 253 people arrested in 2011, 32 were involved in DUI collisions.
State Patrol Chief John R. Bastise had this to say about the numbers: “It is always the hope that the New Year starts with people driving safe and sober but, I am proud that our troopers our out ensuring impaired drivers are taken off the roads.”

If you or someone you know was arrested for DUI and would like to speak with a Tacoma DUI Attorney please call 253.906.0706 for a free consultation.  The attorneys at Horwath Law are knowledgeable and offer a free consultation.

Horwath Law Has a New Location!

Horwath Law is pleased to announce that we are moving to a new location!  Construction is underway and our newly renovated office will be complete on December 15th (see a few pictures of the renovation process below).  We will remain open throughout the move. 

Please visit us at 1115 Tacoma Ave South in downtown Tacoma.  Our new office will allow easy access from I5 and I705.  We are also a short walk to the Downtown Tacoma Courthouse

Enforcing the Laws, but Not Above the Laws

Over the last month several Washington State police officer have been arrested for criminal charges.    We though it wouldn't be a bad idea to see all those arrested in one place.  On November 15, 2011, Yakima County Prosecutor, Jim Hagarty, was arrested for driving under the influence after a collision in Selah.  Hagarty was elected to head up the Yakima County Prosecutor’s Office in 2008 and his arrest has raised some accountability questions among officials.  Hagarty rear-ended another vehicle in the Union Gap area and upon arrival the officers immediately recognized him.  Hagarty performed the preliminary breath test and his blood-alcohol concentration was 0.13 and his performance on the voluntary field sobriety tests suggested he was intoxicated.  He was then placed under arrest and taken to the Union Gap police station.  The breathalyzer machine was not working properly, so the officers transported Hagarty to the Yakima County jail to use its breathalyzer machine.  In route, Hagarty was allowed to call his wife and his attorney, a local, well known criminal defense attorney.  His attorney instructed the officers to seize from asking Hagarty any further questions.  At Yakima County jail Hagarty’s blood alcohol concentration was .109.  The police report indicates Hagarty was cooperative, but slightly intoxicated.  Hagarty released a statement apologizing for his actions: “I sincerely regret this unfortunate incident, and am thankful that no one was injured.  I regret the lack of appropriate judgment made by me in this situation.”  He also stated he is “ready to accept responsibility and the consequences of my actions.”  Hagarty was not booked into jail, but was released to the custody of his attorney.  

On October 27, 2011, a Seattle narcotics detective was arrested for driving under the influence after rear ending a car causing a four car collision in Mukilteo.  The detective was driving an unmarked police car and may have been on duty as he routinely conducts undercover surveillance during his off hours.  Showing signs of being “very intoxicated” the detective was asked to perform a preliminary breath test, which he refused.  He also refused the breath test at the police station.  In the car, officers found at least six empty or nearly empty bottles of peppermint schnapps and vodka.  The police car was impounded and the detective was booked and released.  This is the detective’s second DUI and after defending his first DUI, he served one day in jail, paid a fine, and completed an alcohol education class.  

On October 25, 2011, a Yakima police officer accused of driving under the influence plead guilty to a lesser charge of first degree negligent driving.  The officer was sentenced to 90 days in jail, with 60 days suspended and 30 days to be served on electronic home monitoring.  First degree negligent driving is a common reduction when the defendant has no criminal history and when the defense attorney points out legal issues with the case.  The officer is expected to receive a month’s suspension from the Yakima Police Department.  

On October 17, 2011, a Seattle Police Sergeant was arrested for fourth degree assault after he was seen dragging his girlfriend by her collar and hair in a Leavenworth parking lot.  Chelan County sheriff’s deputies witnessed the incident and arrested the Sergeant, who identified himself as a police officer.  The Sergeant is a 28-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department and was assigned to the domestic violence unit at the time.  Following the incident, the Sergeant was arrested and booked into Chelan County Regional Justice Center where he posted $10,000 bond.  He has been charged with fourth degree assault and a no contact order with the victim was issued after his arrest.  

Hopefully these "mishaps" will give the officers arrested as well as their fellow officers a little more perspective.  No one is perfect and everyone has the right to be treated fairly.  

Recognized by Newsweek Magazine

On November 21, 2011, our own, Angela Horwath, will be recognized by Newsweek Magazine for her hard work and dedication to the criminal defense community.  Newsweek selected eight leaders across the nation to showcase in the magazine and Horwath is thrilled to receive the honor and recognition, "It's very exciting - I am honored."  Horwath dedicates her practice to seeking justice for those accused of driving under the influence, assault, robbery, kidnapping.  Growing up in Spokane, Horwath says a lot of things she learned as a young adult have carried over into her work as a criminal defense attorney.  

Horwath says, “I learned early on that inherently good people can make bad decisions, that questioning authority and providing a vigorous defense can lead to a just result for someone accused of a crime.”  Horwath has never veered away from taking the unpopular side of an argument and has spent her entire career representing defendants accused of crimes ranging from murder to petty theft.  It comes as no surprise that Horwath would be recognized by Newsweek for her zealous advocacy for criminal defendants as she is viewed by her peers as being one of the best, young attorneys in the criminal defense community.  Attorney Scott Lawrence had this to say about Attorney Horwath, "I had the pleasure of working for the same criminal defense firm as Ms. Horwath several years back. She is very organized and works hard for her clients. Ms. Horwath was a great resource to all of the attorneys in the office because of her weatlh of knowledge. I strongly endorse this attorney.

Horwath is committed to fighting the good fight and enforcing the Constitution for anyone accused of a crime

Halloween DUI Emphasis Patrols in King County

The Washington State Patrol will be implementing DUI emphasis patrols throughout King County over Halloween weekend.  Beginning on Friday, October 28th and continuing through the early morning hours of Sunday, October 30th, additional DUI patrols will be present throughout all of King County.  Kent, Washington, will also see additional emphasis patrol starting Saturday, October 29th at 8:00 p.m. through Sunday morning at 4:00 a.m. 

WSP has not forgotten those of you Hawk fans; Seattle will have a DUI emphasis patrol in the downtown area during the Seattle Seahawk game on Sunday, October 30th.

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