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Client Passed Out BUT Not Impaired

Posted Friday, January 4, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

A great outcome in a DUI case that initially looked pretty challenging at first but resulted in a full dismissal. My client was found passed out in a drive through coffee line. The barista called police, who tried and were able to wake my client up. Suspecting impairment, officers asked my client if he had been drinking alcohol. Client answered “No” but was soon arrested for Driving Under the Influence.

I challenged the arrest on grounds that officers did not have reason to believe client was impaired. Here is why: Officers never once smelled alcohol during the entire encounter; client denied drinking any alcohol when questioned; no field sobriety tests were administered due to client’s condition. I argued that officer simply assumed he was impaired but he could have been suffering a medical emergency such as a stroke or heart attack. In other words, responding officers concluded he was impaired when in reality there was no reason to believe this was the case. The judge agreed with this argument and case dismissed.

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Traffic Tickets Can Be Beaten

Posted Friday, January 4, 2019 by Andrew Charles Huff

It’s a very common situation these days to become distracted while driving due in part to the multiple traffic signage, other vehicles around you, cell phone…Let’s face it…driving is a multi-functional task that requires your attention and focus. But sometimes mistakes are made and tickets are handed out.

Like any legal situation, retaining an attorney to fight your ticket will increase the likelihood of beating this ticket. This is important in part because most tickets will appear on your driving record if found committed and cause a raise in insurance rates. Too many traffic tickets can result in a license suspension. If you are under 18 years old and have an intermediate driver’s license, 2 tickets will lead to a license suspension. If you have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), certain tickets will cause you to lose your commercial driving privileges and potentially a job loss. In other words, traffic tickets can cause havoc on your job, finances and ability to drive.

There are many way to beat a ticket. For example, tickets must be filed with the court by the police officer within a specific period of time; jurisdiction must be shown; a foundation presented for all radar cases; proper procedure must be followed. There are literally countless issues I look for in order to beat your ticket.

If you are cited for an infraction, you do not need to appear in court. I will appear for you and also request the officer’s report and other evidence on your behalf. The court will schedule the court date and I will then appear for you.

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When is a dwelling a "dwelling" for burglary conviction?

Posted Thursday, December 13, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

To commit the crime of Residential Burglary, you must have burglarized a “dwelling.” So when is a “dwelling” truly a “dwelling?”

Mr. Nathan J. Hall argued to the Court of Appeals-Division II that the unoccupied house he broke into was not actually a “dwelling” for purposes of burglary. The house at issue had been standing empty for some time and others had broken windows and doors to gain entry. Mr. Hall pointed out that no one had lived at the house for over 15 months with no indication anyone was planning to move in soon.

The Appeals Court admitted that no prior cases had ever discussed in detail whether a building is a “dwelling” for purposes of this law. But the Court found no indication the house had been used for anything else but a dwelling and it was still partially furnished. Further, the previous owner left a number of her possessions in the home while it stood empty. Finally, the Court held that although the house stood empty, the prior owner never actually abandoned the house and had taken steps to keep others out.

Therefore, the Court found that although standing empty, the house was a “dwelling” for purposes of the burglary statute and upheld Mr. Hall’s conviction.

State of Washington v. Nathaniel J. Hall, No. 50543-6-II

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Wheels over the line when driving? You can be stopped for this

Posted Thursday, December 6, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Is it a traffic violation when the wheels of your car briefly cross over the travel lane one time? It is when cited for “Driving with Wheels Off Roadway” in violation of RCW 46.61.670, according to the Washington Court of Appeals-Division Three in a recent decision.

Ms Erica Alvarez was stopped by a Washington State Patrol trooper after her car wheels briefly traveled over the fog line and into an area not designated as a roadway. Even though this was a brief and minor incursion, the Court held that under the “Driving with Wheels Off Roadway” statute, this was sufficient to justify a traffic stop.

State of Washington v. Erica Magallon Alvarez, No. 34711-7-III

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Vacate Marijuana Conviction in Seattle? Not So Fast

Posted Sunday, November 4, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Recently the Seattle City Attorney and the Mayor announced that the City would vacate the conviction records for hundreds of misdemeanor marijuana convictions and has petitioned the Municipal Court directly to take this action. One reason is the recent legalization for persons over age 21 in our state. However, it’s important to note that not all misdemeanor marijuana convictions in Seattle Municipal Court will be vacated. This has led to some believing their records have been cleared but in reality they have not been.

Vacating a misdemeanor conviction is clearly laid out in RCW 9.96.060 and the Seattle City Attorney cannot change these rules. Any person who has a misdemeanor marijuana conviction in Seattle Municipal Court who does not qualify under the law cannot have their conviction vacated.

The eligibility requirements to vacate a prior conviction are listed in RCW 9.96.060. A person may not have the record of conviction vacated if any one of the following are present:

1) The person has a pending criminal charge in any court.2) Less than three years have passed since the person completed the terms of sentence, including payment of financial obligations.3) The person has been convicted of a new crime since the date of conviction.4) The person has vacated a prior conviction.5) The person is either currently subject to a DV protection order, no-contact order, anti-harassment order, or civil restraining order, or has been subject to such an order in the last five years.

Since marijuana became legal in our state, the Legislature has considered changes to the laws governing vacating convictions to allow all misdemeanor marijuana convictions. But these attempts have gone nowhere and we are currently stuck with the law described above. But the City Attorney’s actions should begin the needed dialogue for changes to occur.

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