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Why Fight a Traffic Ticket? Here is Why….

Posted Monday, July 8, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

When you are driving down the highway and suddenly see those lights flash in your rearview mirror, most of us feel the blood rushing to our face and nerves tied in knots. And if given a ticket, it’s critical to handle it properly or else you could face higher insurance rates and potentially a license suspension. But many people do not know how to fight a ticket, or feel the cost of hiring an attorney is not worth it. Unfortunately, many folks opt to pay the fine and move on.

When you pay your ticket, you agree that you were in violation of the law and accept all the consequences. Traffic tickets are reported to the Washington DOL when paid and end up on your driver’s record. This can cause your insurance rates to go up at renewal time or for too many tickets a non-renewal decision by your insurer.

But can traffic tickets affect your ability to find a job in Washington?

In Washington state, DOL maintains a record for every driver with an active driver’s license. Your driving record is also a record of every interaction you have had as a driver including law enforcement, your personal information, car collisions you’ve been involved in, the status of your driver’s license and any suspensions or disqualifications on your record.

Traffic tickets can and will cause a rise in the premiums you pay for car insurance. A single ticket can cause many to see a rise in their premiums, even if you have a good record. In Washington, a traffic ticket remains on your record for 3 years for insurance purposes. This means those rate increases will be around for a while.

How Traffic Tickets Effect Your Driving Record

Every time a change is made to your driving record, this is essentially a recording that remains with you and includes all “committed” findings and fine payments. When you pay any fines, you are pleading guilty to the violation you were cited for. Moving violations are recorded and appear on your driving record, which can then be seen by any law enforcement officials, insurance agencies and anyone conducting a background check. For many good drivers, just one traffic violation is often enough to raise rates or lose any “good driver” discount.

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Jail Sentence? There are Options

Posted Friday, July 5, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Convictions for Driving Under the Influence carry mandatory jail time in Washington State and there is always the possibility that you will be ordered to serve jail or some alternative to jail for any criminal conviction. Here are some other “jail alternatives” available and used by most courts:

WORK RELEASE

Work release is an alternative to jail that allows you to go to work at your job during the day then return to the corrections facility at night. This requires screening by your local corrections facility to participate in the program and a fee will be assessed for use of the facility. Both King County and Snohomish Counties require a certain minimum sentence before you become eligible for the work release program.

ELECTRONIC HOME MONITORING

Electronic home monitoring (EHM) allows you to serve your jail commitment in your home. EHM allows you to go to work and any treatment programs, but you must be in your home at all other times. The cost for this service varies but can be between $15-$25 per day. EHM is set up and monitored by the county, city jail or private company, depending upon where you are serving your EHM commitment.

COMMUNITY SERVICE

Community service is an excellent way to both meet any court obligations and also serve the community. Most courts allow someone to find a non-profit agency at which to volunteer. After completing these hours, you need to provide proof on the organization’s letterhead.

DIFFERENT JAILS

Many judges will allow you to serve your sentence at another jail facility at your own expense upon your request. Many of these facilities are much better than the county jail and only house misdemeanor offenders. Some jails such as the Issaquah facility charge a per-day fee to serve time there but it’s usually worth it over the county jails.

I have found most courts receptive to requests to serve any jail time through an alternative or simply at a different jail facility because it both saves the city and county money and allows judges to tailor punishments to the individual. It’s important to ask at sentencing for these various alternatives to jail.

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“Deadliest Catch” Case Dismissed

Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

A great outcome for my client Captain Sig Hansen of the show “Deadliest Catch” as a judge dismissed a case of assault in Seattle Municipal Court today. Under the terms of an agreement we drafted last year, Sig completed specific conditions for the court including performing community service hours. The end was result was a full and complete dismissal of his case.

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Recall of Blood Vials Could Effect DUI Cases

Posted Tuesday, June 25, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Testing blood for alcohol or drugs in Washington state requires use of pre-packaged blood testing kits manufactured and provided to police agencies throughout the state. However, the manufacturer of these blood testing kits just issued a recall for defective vials delivered between August of 2018 and current day. The reason for this recall is the company delivered hundreds of vials that did not contain the preservative necessary to prevent alcohol fermentation, a required component for proper blood testing. What this means is the results of some blood tests could be inaccurate.

Law enforcement routinely use these vials, which come packed in a box for police to carry around in the trunk of their cars until needed, for testing of alcohol or drugs in a person’s blood. This is considered a more direct manner of testing for alcohol then with a breath test machine, which tests for substances in blood by way of the breath.

There have been hundreds of vials used to draw blood from individuals arrested and tried on suspicion of Driving Under the Influence with many cases resulting in a conviction. Others have had their license suspended based on these results.
Because of potentially bad evidence due to faulty vials, many of these cases should be overturned and any blood test results should not be allowed as evidence in the future.Prosecutors have the option of trying DUI cases without blood test results. Under Washington law, a person could be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence if the amount of alcohol in their system impairs their ability to drive safely, regardless of their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level. Other evidence can also be found in a person’s behavior, appearance and Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) at the time of the stop.

Call me directly to discuss your DUI case and we will discuss your options, which might include throwing out any tainted blood draw evidence.

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Stopped for a DUI? This is What to Expect

Posted Wednesday, June 19, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Many cases for Driving Under the Influence begins with a regular traffic stop but ends up as a full blown DUI investigation. When this happens, police officers normally request a person perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests to determine whether they will make an arrest or not. When this situation occurs, it is important to understand your rights and the consequences of performing or refusing these roadside agility tests. These standardized roadside tests normally consist of the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), the Walk and Turn test and finally the One Leg Stand. These physical tests are normally followed by a request for a portable breath test (PBT).

The Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFST’s) is one tool that law enforcement will use to determine whether or not they believe you are impaired by alcohol or drugs.

The first test is normally the “Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus,” which tests eye muscles twitching while they move back and forth. This can be used as evidence of consumption and at times impairment.

The “Walk and Turn” is another field test that challenges a person’s agility, balance and ability to remember and follow multiple directions.

The third test is the “One Leg Stand”, which also tests agility, balance and ability to follow multiple directions.

These roadside tests are voluntary and you have the right not to perform them. Be aware that police score these tests quite differently than most would expect and they are hard to pass. For this reason, I normally advise people to politely decline these physical tests, especially if you have any leg, knee or back injuries. Some people will have issues performing these tests due to clothing or improper shoes. These factors can cause false positive results on these roadside tests.

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