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DOL Decision-No Refusal of Breath Test

Posted Wednesday, March 14, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Great outcome this week in an administrative hearing with the Department of Licensing based on an alleged “refusal” to take a breath test after my client’s arrest.

In this case, the arresting officer claimed my client “refused” to provide a breath sample when, after several attempts, she was unable to provide enough air into the machine because she was crying so much, causing her to hyperventilate. The officer believed that she was playing games and purposely trying not to provide sufficient air.

However, I argued that the officer also wrote that client had previously agreed to provide a breath sample for testing and never directly said she would not do so. In other words, she never expressed “a positive unwillingness to comply with the officer’s request for a breath sample.” Furthermore, I pointed out that client was clearly having problems providing enough air into the machine because she was hyperventilating and not able to take a good breath.

The Hearing Examiner agreed with our factual argument and supporting case law, ruling that this attempt was not a deliberate “refusal” but rather due to my client being unable to provide a sufficient amount of air into the breath machine.

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When (or if) Should I Speak with the Police if Suspected of a Crime?

Posted Monday, March 12, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

As a criminal defense attorney, I am asked frequently about when or if a person should speak with police and under if so, under what circumstances.

In answering these questions, here are some points to consider before speaking with the police:

First, the police are not required to be truthful or honest when speaking with or questioning anyone. Also, they are not required to tell the person they are questioning whether or not they are a suspect, or whether or not they are under investigation for a crime.

If you talk to the police and admit wrongdoing, that does not necessarily mean that you will not be charged with a crime, or that you’ll receive a better plea deal or lesser penalty. Beware that your words can always be used against you.You are not required to talk to the police, and the fact that you decline to talk to the police cannot be later used against you in a criminal trial– provided that you’ve properly invoked your right to remain silent.

If you decline to talk to the police, it’s no longer enough to literally be silent. Pursuant the U.S. Supreme Court in the 2010 case of Berghuis v. Thompkins, you must affirmatively indicate that you are invoking the right to remain silent (e.g. “I’m invoking my right to remain silent).

The best practice is to never talk to the police without an attorney or lawyer present. In addition to telling the police that you are invoking your right to silence, it’s also important that you ask them whether you are being detained or you are free to go. If you are free to go, do not speak with the police further and leave the area. Lastly, it’s very important that you tell them you are not consenting to any searches, and that you wish to speak with an attorney immediately. In an effort to get around statutory and constitutional rights, some police officers will attempt to suggest that any invocation of rights will make things worse for you. Do not be intimidated, do not be bullied, and do not be fooled. If you are detained– even if you are arrested– protect your legal interests by not giving up your rights. Maintain your composure, and contact our office at the earliest opportunity.

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Driving Under the Influence-Even a Small Amout of Alcohol can Trigger an Arrest

Posted Thursday, March 8, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Any motorist pulled over, found to have alcohol in their system and subsequently placed under arrest for DUI can feel as if their worst nightmare has come true. People accused of driving under the influence can experience an extreme amount of stress about how these charges will affect their lives and jobs. After all, drunk driving has an incredibly harsh stigma and some are concerned they will never restore their good reputation. Furthermore, there are penalties such as license suspension and potential jail time.

It’s important to recognize that each DUI case is unique. Sometimes, it can come down to specific case details that can impact a positive outcome. If you are facing DUI charges for the first time or have already been accused of this offense in the past and have found yourself in this position again, it is essential to carefully go over various options that may be available.

Whether you were barely over the legal limit and had forgotten that alcohol was in your system or you were seriously impaired, your future may be impacted by these charges in a number of ways and you should waste no time in exploring your options.

Please review our website for more information or call us directly at 206-729-3477.

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Seattle Traffic Tickets-What You Need to Know

Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most people who travel downtown Seattle, whether in a vehicle, on foot, or bike have probably noticed the numerous new signs and added lanes for travel, sometimes causing some momentary confusion.

This year, workers will upgrade Third Avenue so commuters can board buses at all doors. They’ll adjust signal timing on Second and Fourth Avenues to give buses a jump start on cars. They’ll convert Seattle’s isolated trolley lines into a real system by joining them with a new line along First Avenue past the Pike Place Market. And they have already started work on a protected bike lane for Seventh Avenue.

Some of these projects could actually increase congestion through downtown this year. But here’s the good news: In the long run, they’re designed to help move more people through downtown by capitalizing on the growing popularity of transit in Seattle. And they’re intended to help us avoid an even bigger mess in 2019.

But it also creates unfamiliar situations for drivers who come across new traffic signs limiting access to certain hours or designating a “bike only” lane adjacent to car lanes, etc. More and more drivers are being ticketed in Seattle in part due to the new traffic regulations.

If you receive a traffic ticket in Seattle, you need to check the “Contested Hearing” box on the ticket and mail it into Seattle Municipal Court within 15 days. Seattle Municipal Court has a slightly different system in dealing with infractions. The Court will immediately schedule a “Pre-Hearing Conference” with a magistrate instead of a judge. This Pre-Hearing Conference is only for the purpose of mitigating your ticket and not contesting it, and therefore should be waived. Instead, a Contested Hearing is the only procedure to keep the ticket off your record.

If you receive a ticket, call my office at 206-729-3477 and let’s discuss your options. We will fight it and can keep it off your record, saving you from high insurance rates.

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Field Sobriety Tests-What Should I do?

Posted Monday, February 19, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most people know what roadside “Field Sobriety Tests” are and many visualize a person teetering on one leg along a highway as a police officer watches intently, looking for any and all clues to use against them. These roadside exercises are used by law enforcement to gather clues of impairment but at the same time it’s just as easy for a sober driver to fail these tests as an impaired driver. Given this reality, submitting to them might be a mistake.

What Are Field Sobriety Tests?

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are nationally recognized tests designed to help law enforcement officers identify drivers suspected of driving under the influence. You are NOT required to perform them in Washington.

In theory, these tests are designed for sober drivers to easily pass and for impaired drivers to clearly fail. As we’ll see, however, this is not always the case for a variety of reasons, such as nervousness, cold temperatures, distraction from oncoming traffic, or naturally poor balance. .
Throughout each of the tests, law enforcement officers will be looking for slip ups, or clues, indicating impairment. If you display enough of these “clues” and you will be placed under arrest. Unfortunately, the line between passing and failing these tests are completely subjective and open to the interpretation of a suspicious officer.

HORIZONTAL GAZE NYSTAGMUS TEST

The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test is used to identify a nystagmus, or involuntary twitch in your eye, as an officer moves a stimulus (such as a pen or finger) across your face.

All eyes will have a nystagmus when the eye is at an angle greater than 45 degrees. Those with alcohol in their system, however, can have it happen before 45 degrees.

While the HGN test is the most scientific of all of the FSTs, it is still open to interpretation and highly subjective. While alcohol is shown to cause nystagmus, it’s not the only cause and this makes the reliability of the test shaky at best.

THE WALK AND TURN TEST

The walk and turn test is a divided attention field sobriety test. It is used to determine whether a suspect can complete tasks with divided attention.

During the test, an officer will instruct you to walk nine steps heel to toe in a straight line. Once you reach nine steps, you’ll then have to turn on one foot and head back the other direction. The police officer will be taking note if you…

Are able to maintain balance while listening to the officer’s instructionsStart before the officer has completed instructions Stop to regain balance while walking in the lineAre maintaining heel to toe walking throughoutAre using your arms to maintain balance Maintain balance while turning half way through Take the correct number of steps

If you display any of these, it will be taken as a “clue” you are under the influence.

THE ONE LEG TEST

Like the walk and turn test, the One Leg Stand is designed to test if you’re able to complete tasks with divided attention.

Standing with one foot approximately 6 inches off the ground and your foot pointed, you must keep perfect balance while counting to 30. Your arms are to remain at your side and you must be looking down the entire time. The officer will be on the lookout for if you…

Put your foot down before the test is complete Sway over the course of the 30 secondsHop while attempting to maintain balance Use your arms to help maintain balanceAgain, any of these will be taken as a “clue.”

Why Might You Fail a Field Sobriety Test?

It’s important to remember that field sobriety tests are designed to make you look impaired– whether you are or not. One reason is you are asked to walk and stand in certain ways that are both abnormal and unfamiliar to people. For example, most people don’t walk on a straight line touching heel to toe on a regular basis or attempt to balance on one leg for 30 seconds.

The fact of the matter is any police officer who pulls you over and is attempting to get you to take a field sobriety test is suspicious you are drunk. They are going to do whatever they can to conform these suspicions. Field sobriety tests are a way for them to do that.

Remember, field sobriety tests are not objective tests. All three tests take into consideration the subjectivity of the police officer in how they thought you performed.

Should You Submit to a Field Sobriety Test?

Unlike refusal of a BAC test, which will automatically net you a 1 year license-suspension , there is virtually no consequences for failing to submit to a field sobriety test and I normally advise people not to take these tests. Police officers know you don’t need to take the test, but will try to get you to submit to one anyways.

Were You Charged with a DUI?

Were you charged with a DUII? Contact me today at (206) 729-3477 to learn your options. Your consultation is always free and confidential.

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