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Is Stealing a Snowmobile Considered Auto Theft?

Posted Thursday, May 2, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

If a person steals a snowmobile, are they stealing a “motor vehicle” or just a lawn mower?

This was the issue before our state’s Division III Appellate Court. Stealing a motor vehicle in Washington is a class B felony. But is a snowmobile considered a “motor vehicle” for purposes of this statute?

In a prior decision, the Court ruled that a riding lawn mower was not a “motor vehicle” for purposes of this statute. In the case of State v. Barnes, the court held that a riding lawn mower was not a “motor vehicle” for purposes of the theft statute RCW 9A.56.065. A “Motor vehicle” was defined as “‘an automotive vehicle not operated on rails; especially one with rubber tires for use on highways.’”

Therefore, the Court held that because a snowmobile is not a car or other automobile, a snowmobile is not a motor vehicle for purposes of RCW 9A.56.065.

State of Washington v. Julia E. Tucker, No. 35530-6-III

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What are HOV Lanes?

Posted Wednesday, May 1, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Most know that HOV or high occupancy vehicle lanes are intended to help Washington drivers move through busy freeways. They are sections of roadways designated for carpools, transit vehicles, ride-shares, and motorcyclists. The goal of HOV lanes is to encourage drivers to reduce their solo trips by allowing users to zip past stalled freeway traffic while reducing the number of vehicles in backed up lanes.

HOV lanes generally fall into two categories

Standard HOV Lanes – Most standard HOV lanes are on the left, typically with diamond symbols painted on the pavement and a solid white line separating them from other lanes. The minimum amount of occupants can vary between 2+ or 3+ persons per vehicle, depending on the highway and time of day. Motorcycles may use all standard HOV lanes, as may law enforcement and emergency vehicles.

Express Toll Lanes and High-Occupancy Toll (HOT) Lanes

These special lanes give solo drivers the ability to pay for faster travel by purchasing a Good to Go! passes. Toll rates vary between 50 cents and $9 depending upon traffic flow conditions. Carpools, vanpools, buses, and motorcycles may use the lanes toll-free. Trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds aren’t allowed to use HOV lanes, although recreational vehicles of any weight may.

In Washington, violating an HOV rule is a traffic infraction under RCW 46.61.165. The courts treat these tickets like other moving violations, such as speeding or rolling through a stop sign or a speeding ticket.

What are the penalties of an HOV violation?

The current minimum fine for driving solo in a carpool lane in Washington is $136. An HOV violation is also a moving violation that will appear on your driving abstract if found committed and like all moving violations, it will remain on your driving record for three years.

If you have been cited for an HOV violation or any other traffic ticket, call me directly at 206-729-3477 and let’s discuss your matter.

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Consultations are Always Free-Here is What to Expect

Posted Friday, April 26, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

We always offer free consultation to everyone who calls. There are probably hundreds of questions running through your mind, and I know my website answers some of them. However, there is nothing better than a face to face conversation with someone who understands Washington’s criminal laws, the courts, prosecutors and judges. This comes from years of practice and experience.

When you call, you will speak with me directly. I will answer your immediate questions, then set a date and time to meet in my office and discuss your case directly for as long as is needed.

Can I find answers on my own?

You can use my website and other resources to find out information about your case but you can only learn a limited amount of information. While it is good to do your own research too, you should always sit down with an attorney to discuss your case.

Why should I call the Law Office of Andrew Charles Huff?

I limit my practice to defending those charged with Driving Under the Influence and other misdemeanor offenses along with traffic tickets. I decided to limit my practice to this specific area because I enjoy representing folks dealing with such situations and have extensive experience through years of practice.

If you have been charged with a crime or received a traffic ticket, please call me for a free consultation. Of course, I hope that leads to us working together. You will get straightforward answers to your questions and information you need about your case. Call me today at 206-729-3477 and let’s talk.

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Can you Obstruct police by refusing to answer the door?

Posted Thursday, April 18, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

Can a person commit the crime of “Obstruction” by refusing to open the door for officers when responding to a 911 call? This was the question before the Court on a case that started out as a call to police by neighbors and ended up with an arrest for not opening the door when officers arrived.

Mr. McLemore and his girlfriend were having an argument in their apartment that led to neighbors calling 911. When Shoreline police arrived, Mr. McLemore refused to open the door and shouted at police to go away. Fearing a crime being committed, police broke down the door but found no one hurt and no crime committed. However, police arrested McLemore for Obstruction of a law enforcement officer. The arrest appeared to be based on McLemore’s belligerent refusal to open his door.

On appeal, the Court reviewed whether Mr. McLemore committed Obstruction by not opening the door and yelling at officers. It should be pointed out that officers’ forced entry in McLemore’s home was lawful.

Mr. McLemore argued that he had no legal obligation to open the door to police, and even told his girlfriend to tell the officers she was okay. But the Court found that none of this is punishable “conduct” under the limited construction of the Obstruction statute. Further, the Court had a concern that the jury could have convicted on speech alone. Much of the evidence focused on what McLemore and the officers shouted at one another. There was no evidence presented that McLemore closed his door to prevent the officers’ entry or prevented his girlfriend from opening it. Therefore, the Court found that no crime was committed.

City of Shoreline v. McLemore, State Supreme Court 95707-0

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New Changes to DUI Laws

Posted Friday, April 12, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

It doesn’t take much for a DUI arrest to happen. Even the smallest amount of alcohol can cause an officer to arrest you. Driving Under the Influence can also involve prescription medications if they cause drowsiness or affect your ability to drive. An arrest can lead to serious criminal punishment and civil penalties with the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL). A DUI conviction will result in multiple legal penalties including jail, fines, license suspension, probation and a criminal record.
Even without a criminal conviction a person can still lose their driver’s license or privilege to drive by DOL.

You can be charged with Driving Under the Influence if your driving is affected by alcohol and/ or drugs or if you have a BAC level of:

.08 of alcohol or 5 nanograms of THC for all drivers

.02 if you’re younger than 21

.04 if you’re driving a commercial vehicle

In addition, the Department of Licensing can automatically suspend your driving privilege If you’re arrested for a DUI offense. Starting in 2019, it’s even more important that you contact an attorney immediately due to new changes the DOL has implemented that impact you and your driving privilege.

As of January 1, 2019, the following new laws can affect you:

  • You need to request a DUI hearing with the DOL within 7 days of your arrest

  • The application fee is still $375 unless you are indigent and requests a waiver.

  • The DOL hearing will be held within 30 days.

  • Your license will be suspended on the 30th day if you don’t request a hearing

  • The DOL will only give you 5-days’ notice of the hearing

  • Always make sure the DOL has your correct mailing address so that you receive notices.

Some cases involve a blood test and those cases may require that your request the hearing within 7 days of being notified by the DOL of your blood test results by mail.

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