Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Huge Win for DUI Defendants

Typically when a prosecutor intends to present a forensic or toxicology report, they must subpoena the person who actually did the work that produced the report.  However,  in DUI cases, prosecutors have successfully been allowed to admit the report without the supporting testimony.  DUI defense attorneys challenged this approach arguing that admitting the test without the actual testimony of the person who prepared the results violates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights under the Confrontation Clause.

On June 23rd the United States Supreme Court ruled that those accused in all criminal prosecutions have the right to be confronted by adverse witnesses, including lab technicians who analyze blood samples for DUI prosecution.  Bullcoming v. New Mexico,131 S.Ct. 587 (2010).

In a 5-4 decision, the Court reversed a ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court that accepted the trial testimony of a different forensic analyst who neither tested the accused's blood sample or prepared the report of the resulting blood alcohol level. In the opinion of the Court, this procedure denied the accused the opportunity to cross-examine the actual analyst involved in the testing and certification.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Proper Passanger Etiquette on a DUI stop

Yesterday morning a 45-year-old Seattle woman gave Kitsap County sheriff's deputies and Bainbridge Island police officers an earful early Tuesday after her boyfriend was arrested for DUI.  According to the Kitsap Sun, at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, the officers pulled over the driver of a van because they recognized him and knew his driver's license was suspended. The stop led to the man's arrest for DUI. Officers soon discovered that a woman was in the back of the vehicle when she "screaming at the top of her lungs" and kicking her legs in the air.  Not wearing pants or shoes and believed to be highly intoxicated, the woman "continued this screaming of vulgar insults non stop," officers said.
The woman was seated on a curb but soon began running for the patrol car in which her boyfriend was seated. Officers took her to the ground and placed her under arrest. Deputies had to use leg restraints on the ride to jail, in which she continued her tirade using "colorful terms" and made threats. She had also urinated on at least two officers before being booked into jail on suspicion of obstructing a law enforcement officer, the documents said.

While most of us know that urinating on officers will get you no where, it does raise the question, how should one behave if they are a passenger that is getting pulled over? Officers will likely request passengers to provide identification but passengers are free to refuse to provide identification however, this can lead to additional problems. If the police officer has reasonable suspicion that there may be drugs, weapons or other contraband in the vehicle, the passenger may also be arrested and detained. Passengers who choose to provide identification willingly to an arresting officer will likely have their names run in the system for warrants or outstanding tickets. 

The best thing for a passenger to do is keep quiet and at the soonest possible time ask the officer if they are free to leave.  If the passenger is unfortunate enough to have an independent  reason to be arrested they at least are afforded the same rights to challenge the basis of the stop as the driver is afforded.  So, things might turn out okay for our Ms. Urinating Seattle woman because the basis of the stops seems suspect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Going out this weekend in Tacoma? So are the cops!

 Cops will be going out in Tacoma this weekend as a part of a DUI emphasis.

posted By Stacey Mulick on June 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm Bookmark and Share Share this
Pierce County law enforcement officers and commanders will be visiting bars throughout Tacoma this weekend as part of a new effort to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
They'll go to bars where impaired drivers report they'd been drinking right before their arrests.
"There's no enforcement action," said Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman. "We are just hoping to change some behaviors."
The first weekend for the Home Safe Bar program marks the beginning a month-long public awareness program near the most frequent sites of the county's fatal drunken driving car crashes, the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force.
Here's how the Home Safe Bar program will work. Extra law enforcement officers will be out Saturday night, patrolling for drunken drivers.
When they make arrests, the officers will ask the drivers where  they'd been drinking. If the driver had been at a bar in Pierce County, other law enforcement officers and commanders will then visit the bar, Cheesman said.
The commanders will talk with the management at the bar about the enforcement effort, ask them to abide by the state's alcohol laws and provide them information from the Liquor Control Board. They'll also help the customers find designated drivers or call taxis.
"It's pretty low key," Cheesman said.
Frank Blair, a Tacoma father whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in a drunken driving crash in Everett, will be with law enforcement officers and visiting the bars.

Read more: http://blog.thenewstribune.com/crime/2011/06/01/cops-will-visit-tacoma-area-bars-this-weekend-as-part-of-dui-emphasis/#ixzz1O5h2plSw


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

DUI drivers in Washington may have special plates

DUI drivers in Washington may have special plates

The Associated Press • Published February 14, 2011
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Washington drivers with a record of drunken driving
could be required to have special license plates designated with the
letter Z.

Legislation introduced by Rep. Norma Smith of Clinton would require
that drivers pay an additional $100 for the Z-plate, which would be
good for three years. The drivers would be allowed to drive only a
vehicle with a Z-designated plate.

The Z would appear as the last symbol at the end of any sequence of
license plate letters and numbers.

Motorcycle riders with a drunken-driving offense also would be
required to have a Z-license, but the special charge would be only


Washington Lawmakers propose harsher DUI penalties.

 By MOLLY ROSBACH | Associated Press • Published February 14, 2011

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Law enforcement officials and families of drunken
driving victims rallied on Monday in support of several bills
proposing stricter penalties for DUI convictions, asking lawmakers to
hold offenders responsible for their actions.

Friends and family members of people killed by drunken drivers say the
potential costs to the justice system could not be more important than
the safety of other drivers, and that lawmakers need to hold offenders

"You have not done enough to protect victims in this state," said
Erica Benge, whose friends were killed by a drunken driver last year.
"We need to get these people off the road."

But opponents to the bills argue that laws targeting DUI offenders
need to focus on prevention and treatment, instead of more
cost-incurring jail time, which many smaller jurisdictions cannot

Lawmakers in the House Judiciary committee heard testimony on a slew
of bills that address a range of DUI-related issues, including longer
sentences for first-time offenders and the required installation of
ignition interlock devices for convicted negligent or reckless

A bill presented by Rep. Orcutt, R-Kalama, would raise the seriousness
level of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault and enact longer
sentences accordingly. Vehicular homicide would be equated to
first-degree manslaughter. In most cases of vehicular assault and
homicide affected by the change, the bill would more than double the
sentence length imposed under current law.

The bill also proposes that sentences be served consecutively, not concurrently.

Orcutt reminded listeners of a case last summer when a couple was
killed by a drunken driver while on their motorcycles. The offender
received less than four years for causing the deaths of two people, he

"The sentences did not fit the crime," he said.

Rep. Steve Kirby, D-Tacoma, proposed a bill to impose harsher
sentences on first-time DUI offenders. For offenders with a
blood-alcohol level of 0.15 or lower, the minimum would increase from
one day to three days, and for those over a 0.15 level, the minimum
would increase from two days to one week. Offenders would pay the cost
of incarceration.

Patricia Fulton of the Washington Defenders Association argued that
most offenders will not be able to pay for their incarceration, and
those costs will fall upon the city or county to pay.

"We think the cost is too burdensome," Fulton said. "Current law as it
stands is appropriate."

If someone is going to be impacted by a short period of jail time, she
said, they will be impacted by the current one- or two-day minimum; if
they're not, then an increase to three days or a week still isn't
going to solve the problem.

Other bills presented at Monday's hearing proposed including prior
offenses when determining if an offender's DUI should count as a
felony, and requiring that persons convicted of reckless or negligent
driving be required to install ignition interlock devices to ensure
they cannot drive while impaired.

Lawmakers also touched on the establishment of DUI specialty courts,
where nonviolent offenders would go through substance abuse therapy.

The DUI bills are HB 1113, HB 1167, HB 1556, HB 1789 and HB 1646.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Horwath Law launches new DUI website

Horwath Law is happy to announce the release of our new DUI website.  For information on the DUI criminal process in Tacoma and Pierce County Washington please visit http://www.horwathtacomadui.com