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Privacy Rights and Car Rental Agreements-U.S. Supreme Court Hands Down a Win for Privacy

Posted Monday, May 14, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that some who rents a car does not automatically have diminished privacy rights if their name isn’t on the rental agreement.

The unanimous opinion is a victory for privacy rights advocates who were concerned that police could find reasons to stop rental car drivers for minor infractions knowing that they could engage in searches without the driver’s consent.

The case dates back to 2014, when Terrence Byrd was stopped by police for a minor traffic infraction. Police noticed that he appeared nervous, and when they asked him for the rental agreement for the car, his name was not listed as a permissive driver.The officers said they did not need to consent to a search of his car, because his name was not listed on the rental agreement and as an unauthorized driver he had no reasonable expectation of privacy. Police ended up finding drugs in his trunk.

Byrd’s lawyer moved to suppress the evidence against him, arguing the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable search and seizure. He noted that Byrd had the permission of his girlfriend, whose name was on the agreement, to rent the car.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “the mere fact that a driver is not listed on the rental agreement will not defeat his or her otherwise reasonable expectation of privacy.”

This decision closes an important gap in Fourth Amendment issues by clarifying that a driver of a rental car who is not on the rental agreement does not automatically lose the protections other drivers would have during a traffic stop.

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Some Commonly Asked Questions about Traffic Tickets

Posted Friday, May 11, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

How long does a ticket stay on your record in Washington?

Traffic tickets stay on your record for 3 years for insurance purposes and cannot be removed. This is called your 3–year driving abstract. This information is available to the court for 7 years or longer and cannot be removed

How often can you defer a speeding ticket in Washington?

If a driver has no new violations for a one-year period, then the traffic ticket is dismissed. You will not pay a fine, but the court will charge administrative fees. Washington law allows you to defer one moving violation (e.g. speeding ticket) and one non-moving violation (e.g. no seatbelt) every seven years.

Washington Driving Record Violation System

When you commit traffic violations, the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) will record them on your driving record. If you violate too many traffic laws, the WA DOL may flag you as a problem driver and serve you a variety of penalties. Too many traffic violations may result in:

Driver’s license suspensions, revocations, or cancellations.WA Department of Licensing (DOL) and/or court fees.Reinstatement fees.Driver improvement/defensive driving course completion requirements.Restrictions on your driving privileges.Higher car insurance rates.

Can I keep your ticket off your record?

Yes, chances are very high that I can keep your ticket off your record, either with a straight dismissal or an amendment to a non-moving violation that won’t appear on your driving record, such as a parking infraction or Inattention.

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You’ve Been Arrested for a DUI-Now What?

Posted Friday, May 11, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Many folks charged with Driving Under the Influence or DUI have confided in me that they absolutely did not feel impaired while they were diving home and cannot understand why they might have provided a breath test over the legal limit after being arrested.

If you have been arrested for DUI, you’re most likely feeling completely overwhelmed. No matter if this is your first or fifth time, you will probably be dealing with a wide range of emotions and questions. Not of least of these is probably: What happens now?

In addition to contacting a good lawyer who can represent and help guide you through the process, there are a few other things to keep in mind when arrested for a DUI. If this is a repeat offense, it is likely that penalties and criminal charges will be more severe than if it was your first.

Here is some of the most important information to keep in mind when dealing with a Driving Under the Influence charge. If you provide an alcohol content of .08% or more—even if you are not later convicted—you will face some administrative penalties. These could include at minimum 90-day license suspension. If you refuse to take a breath test, you could face a minimum license suspension of one year.

Unlike other criminal charges, a DUI carries mandatory fees.

After your arrest, you will receive a court summons in the mail or in person upon our release following your initial arrest. You are required to attend your court date.

Whether you end up with a DUI conviction or a reduced plea, you potentially face consequences such as license suspension; costs and fees; possible jail time or community service; alcohol evaluation and classes including a Victim’s Impact Panel

You don’t have to go through this process alone. I have years of experience representing people facing Driving Under the Influence charges. Call me at 206-729-3477 to set up an appointment today.

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Draeger Breath Machine a "Flawed Device," Says Report

Posted Friday, May 11, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

The State of Washington, like most other states uses a breath test machine to determine whether a person has exceeded the legal blood-alcohol limit of .08 within two hours of driving. For years, the state used what is called the DataMaster Breath Machine.

However, approximately ten years ago Washington state requested bids to replace its aging breath machines, and the only bidder was Draeger, a German medical technology maker. Draeger was then awarded the contract to sell its flagship device, the Alcotest 9510, across the state.

But many of us on the defense side believe this device is faulty. And a preliminary report drafted by two experts have found flaws capable of producing incorrect breath test results. This has led to the current challenge that we are mounting against what appears to be a flawed machine that can affect the results and call into question its accuracy.

The Alcotest 9510 uses two sensors to measure alcohol content in a breath sample: An infrared beam that measures how much light goes through the breath, and a fuel cell that measures the electrical current of the sample. The results should be about the same and within a small margin of error – usually within a thousandth of a decimal point. If the results are too far apart, the test will be rejected.

However, the report found that under some conditions the breath machine can return an inflated reading – a result that could also push a person over the legal limit. One reason is the apparent lack of adjustment made by the machine of a person’s breath temperature. Breath temperature can fluctuate throughout the day, but can also wildly change the results of an alcohol breath test. Without correction, a single digit over a normal breath temperature of 34 degrees centigrade can inflate the results by six percent – enough to push a person over the limit.

The quadratic formula set by the Washington State Patrol should correct the breath temperature to prevent false results. The quadratic formula corrects warmer breath downward but the code doesn’t explain how the corrections are made and the corrections “may be insufficient” if the formula is faulty.

More commentary to follow on the Draeger Alcotest 9510.

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Boating Season is Here!

Posted Wednesday, May 9, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

This means that while out on the water, you are subject to the Boating Under the Influence laws if you drink and operate a maritime vessel.

Boating Under the Influence or BUI’s are gross-misdemeanors, which means you face between 0-364 days in jail and up to a $5000 penalty. Unlike a DUI, there is no driver’s license suspension for a BUI. Also, unlike a DUI, you have no obligation to take a breath test.

I have been successful over the years of keeping a criminal BUI charge off client’s records by obtaining a dismissal or at least a reduction to negligent Boating , a civil infraction.

BUI is Considered a “Prior Offense” for a Later DUI Conviction

Under RCW 46.61.5055, anyone with BUI or reckless boating conviction on their record that is later convicted of a DUI will have the BUI treated as a prior offense. While most people never think that they will later be accused or convicted of DUI, this can have very real consequences. Making a BUI a “prior” can dramatically increase penalties for someone later convicted of DUI, vehicular assault or vehicular homicide.

All Motorized Vessels Apply

The law pertains to all “vessels” that operate on the water. Vessel is a very broad term and includes:

“Every description of watercraft on the water, other than a seaplane, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water. However, it does not include inner tubes, air mattresses, sailboards, and small rafts or flotation devices or toys customarily used by swimmers.”

What Does the Law Say?

If a vessel is lawfully stopped and the operator (driver) has a breath or blood content of .08 or greater, THC concentration of 5.00 or higher, or is under the influence of intoxicants or marijuana, then that person can be accused of a gross misdemeanor. RCW 79A.60.040.

A gross misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by up to 364 days in jail and up to a $5000 fine. RCW 79A.60.020.

The refusal to take a breath or blood test is not admissible into evidence at a later trial. However, the refusal to take a breath or blood test does constitute a “class 1 civil infraction” under RCW 7.80.120, with the “default” and maximum penalty being $1,000.

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