Seattle Traffic, DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney

Available 24/7 – (206) 729-3477
The Best in Traffic, DUI and Criminal Defense

The Seattle DUI and Criminal Defense Blog

Appeals Court: Backpack Must Be Actually “Possessed” To Be Searched

Posted Thursday, October 31, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Can police search a person’s backpack if actual “possession” was not established? Not so, says Washington’s Court of Appeals.

An interesting case involving young Ms Alexander sitting in a field with friends marked by a ‘No Trespass” sign. Police arrive to speak with them and notice a pink backpack sitting directly behind Ms Alexander, who said the pack was hers. Ms Alexander is eventually arrested after a warrant pops up on an unrelated matter. The arresting officer takes the backpack and searches it, finding a controlled substance.

Ms Alexander challenged the search of the backpack and argued that the warrantless search was not a “search incident to arrest,” which is an exception to the warrant requirement. The Appeals Court agreed and found that because there was no evidence that Ms Alexander was “holding, wearing, or carrying the backpack at any time during her contact with the arresting officer,” she did not have actual or exclusive possession of it. Therefore, the search of the backpack without a warrant was unlawful.

State of Washington v. Heather A. Alexander, Court of Appeals-Division 1, 77513-8-I

Permalink to this entry

Sorry Officer, You Can’t Sit There

Posted Wednesday, August 28, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Can a defendant get a fair trial if a corrections officer is allowed to stand next to the witness chair while defendant is testifying?

This was the issue following a guilty verdict by a jury of James Gorman-Lykken after the defendant testified but did so with a corrections officer standing next to him on the witness stand.

Mr. Gorman-Lykken argued that the trial court erred in allowing the corrections officer to be stationed next to the witness stand during his testimony as a security measure because it would violate his right to a fair trial.

In reviewing this case on appeal, the court found the presumption of innocence to be a basic component of a fair trial under our criminal justice system and in preserving this presumption of innocence, the defendant is “ ‘entitled to the physical indicia of innocence which includes the right of the defendant to be brought before the court with the appearance, dignity, and self-respect of a free and innocent person.’ ” Courts have previously recognized that certain courtroom security measures are inherently prejudicial. This includes shackling, handcuffing, or other physical restraints.

In this case, the appellate court found that the trial court abused its discretion in allowing the corrections officer to be stationed next to the testifying defendant without analyzing whether case-specific reasons supported the need for that security measure. Accordingly, the conviction of Mr. Gorman-Lykken was reversed.

State of Washington v. James Wrenne Gorman-Lykken, No. 51254-8-II

Permalink to this entry

How I Fight and Win Traffic Tickets

Posted Thursday, August 8, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

This question is one I’m asked by clients, friends, and colleagues who don’t practice traffic defense and my answer is always the same…a thousand different ways.

When I first review the discovery documents of any case, I look at the face of the ticket to ensure required information is present.

There are specific filing deadlines that have to be met by the court and prosecutor.

There are jurisdictional requirements for a court to hear a case. For example, Seattle Municipal Court could not hear a case cited in unincorporated King County.

A check of the alleged dates to see if everything is consistent, such as whether the violation date is the same as the date the ticket provided to the driver.

I examine what the officer’s qualifications and training in conducting traffic stops and operating a Speed Measuring Device (SMD).

The many foundational issues such as when the Speed Measuring Device (SMD) was calibrated and checked for accuracy by the citing officer and the results.

It is imperative to find as many issues as possible to show the court the prosecutor has not met their burden of proof. Remember, unlike a criminal case, the burden of proof is much less…a preponderance or “more likely than not” the state has met their burden.

Permalink to this entry

Boating Under the Influence-This is a Crime

Posted Thursday, August 1, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Summer time in Washington means more boats out on the water…and many times this includes enjoying an alcoholic beverage while on the waves. But like driving a car, if you are stopped for Boating Under the Influence you will face gross-misdemeanor charges same as a DUI. This means that you can face up to 364 days in jail and a $5,000 penalty. However, unlike a regular DUI, there is no driver’s license suspension and you have no obligation to take a breath test.

Here are important points about Boating Under the Influence:

A BUI conviction does not require carry mandatory jail time or fines

A BUI conviction does not carry a driver’s license suspension.

A Boating Under the Influence conviction does not have an ignition interlock requirement.

After an arrest for Boating Under the Influence arrest, a refusal of a breath or blood test at the police station can carry a civil fine between $1000 and $2,050.

Although Boating Under the Influence is different from a DUI charge, you should never take an arrest lightly because it is a criminal conviction that will appear on your record.

When you are out on your water craft, police must have probable cause to stop and conduct an investigation on your boat, including during the emphasis patrols that occur on Lake Washington, Lake Union, and Puget Sound around Seafair Weekend.

If you are stopped and arrested for Boating Under the Influence, call my office immediately and let’s discuss your case. I have handled many of these cases and all successfully. Just remember to always be safe out on the water.

Permalink to this entry

DUI and License Suspensions

Posted Friday, July 19, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

A charge of Driving Under the Influence or even a simple traffic ticket can potentially put your driver’s license at risk if you don’t take proper action. The Department of Licensing (DOL) process is confusing and complex with hard deadlines.

You can face a possible license suspension over the following actions:

  • Provide a breath alcohol level of .08 of higher
  • Refuse the provide a breath test when offered
  • Your blood draw that is above the legal limits for alcohol and/or THC
  • Fail to take any action on a traffic ticket you received

Different Types of License Actions

A person’s license can be suspended by either the Department of Licensing (administrative) or by the courts as a result of a criminal conviction. If you are arrested for Driving Under the Influence and you do not request a hearing with the Department of Licensing, your license will be suspended automatically and you lose your right to challenge the action. A letter from DOL will be mailed to your last known address that will tell you when your suspension starts and when it finishes. Always make sure to correct any address changes by going to:

You have a Right to Challenge a License Suspension with DOL

When you are arrested for DUI, you have a limited amount of time to request a formal hearing with DOL. The arresting officer should have given you a piece of paper that says, “Request for DUI Hearing”. If they did not, you can download this form from the Washington DOL website. You must complete your DOL DUI Hearing Request Form and mail it to the address on the form. This administrative hearing with DOL is a hearing that I handle for you as part of my representation. This is a telephone hearing that focuses on just four legal issues. The request for a hearing needs to be postmarked to DOL within seven days along with a fee of $375.

These issues can be very tricky and somewhat confusing since you are dealing with both a civil administrative hearing along with your criminal proceedings in court. Call my office anytime at 206-729-3477 to discuss your matter.

Permalink to this entry

47.6057080 -122.3302060