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Language Issue Helps Saves Client's License

Posted Friday, September 22, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A great outcome last week on a DUI case. My client was arrested for Driving Under the Influence but declined to take a breath test at the station, and therefore faced a year-long license suspension. However, English is a second language of my client and she clearly did not understand all the warnings read to her about a potential license suspension and didn’t even realize she was refusing the breath test.

At the hearing, we challenged the “refusal” of the breath test by arguing that although the officer used an interpreter to read her the “Implied Consent Warnings,” the officer could not have known for sure whether the interpreter was actually reading these warnings because the officer doesn’t speak Vietnamese. An officer is required to read these Implied Consent Warnings to anyone prior to asking them to provide a breath sample. But in this case, the State was unable to prove what warnings were actually read to my client because of the language barrier.

Great decision and a great win!

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Five Years Crime Free for Firearms Restoration-But When Does that Time Apply?

Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

A person with a criminal conviction can petition the Superior Court to restore firearm rights but one of the conditions is five crime-free years. But when do these five years without a new conviction actually apply?

This was the question posed to the State Supreme Court-Division One recently by Edgar Dennis III. Mr. Dennis lost his right to possess a firearm but then had no criminal convictions for 16 years. But in 2014, he was convicted of a misdemeanor. Two years later, he petitioned for restoration of his firearm rights, but the court denied the request, citing his 2014 conviction. He appealed and argued the statute is ambiguous. Mr. Dennis said the law actually means that any consecutive five year period without a criminal conviction is sufficient, even if he had one or more misdemeanor convictions within five years of filing the petition.

The Court declined this argument and held that the legislature’s intent was to require at least five consecutive conviction-free years immediately preceding a petition for restoration of gun rights. So the misdemeanor conviction two years makes him ineligible.

State v. Edgar Dennis III Division One-DIVISION ONE

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Physical Control? A DUI without the Driving

Posted Tuesday, September 12, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Picture this scenario…You have been out with friends one night and enjoyed a couple of alcoholic beverages. You start to drive home but along the way it hits you that you have consumed a bit too much alcohol and probably shouldn’t be driving. So you do the right thing and pull over to the side of the road with the intention of sleeping for an hour or two. But after a police officer contacts you, you are placed under arrest for…Physical Control.

Specifically, a “Physical Control” charge is defined by RCW 46.61.504 as being in actual “physical control of a motor vehicle with a breath alcohol concentration of .08, a marijuana amount of 5 nanograms, simply under the influence or any combination.

Many clients ask me why it can be illegal to sit in your car while under the influence but not actually driving. The key here and what really makes this a crime is the “control” you have over your vehicle at that moment. In other words, if you are able to place your car in drive and exert actual control at any time and take off, this is considered a crime.

However, the law allows someone to take this specific action, i.e. pull over to the side of the road and not drive, as a defense to the crime of Physical Control. But the key here is literally “the key.” You need to remove your key from the ignition and place it somewhere not very accessible, such as in your glove box or the backseat. Otherwise, with your key in the ignition, you could find yourself in “physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence.

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What About Grooming or Coffee While Driving?

Posted Tuesday, September 5, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Our state is the latest to implement tougher distracted driving laws to the displeasure of many. Our new law, which took effect July 23, 2017, prohibits drivers from using almost any handheld device, including not just phones but also tablets, laptops, e-readers, and gaming gadgets. In other words, it creates an infraction for reading, writing, or viewing messages, pictures, and data on a handheld device—even while stopped at a red light or a stop sign, or when mired in stop-and-go traffic. The new law makes all these violations a primary offense, meaning police can use them as the sole reason to pull drivers over.

Wait…can I still drink my coffee?

But many have contacted my office asking about other distracting behaviors; namely, grooming and eating or drinking beverages while driving. The new law does in fact make grooming, eating or drinking while driving as a “secondary offense” , meaning drivers grooming themselves or enjoying coffee cannot be stopped unless they commit a separate primary offense, such as speeding or failing to signal.

If you are stopped and ticketed for any of these offenses, call my office at 206-729-3477 or visit my website at

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Being ARrested? Ten Things NOT to Do

Posted Friday, September 1, 2017 by Andrew Charles Huff

Nobody plans on being arrested, but you may be arrested for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The basic rule is to simply listen to the officer and do as your told, “Put Your Hands Behind Your Back” and do NOT do any of these Ten Things:

  1. Don’t Talk.Do not say a word to the officer. You have a right to remain silent – take advantage of it. I cannot stress to you the importance of this rule. Do not talk! Do not attempt to convince the officer of your innocence. Most times, when people speak to officers they say something that makes their situation far worse.

  2. Don’t Run.If you run, not only could there be additional charges, but if the case goes to trial, then the prosecutor can argue that “guilty people run, innocent people don’t”. Also, police become highly suspicious that someone running has a weapon and may be quick to draw their weapon.

  3. Never Resist Arrest.Perhaps the most important thing not to do is touch the police officer at all! Follow what the officer says. Fight your case, not the officer. You will lose a fight against an officer. Many people attempt to bump the officer or swat an officers hands away. This often becomes over-reported by the officer and the swatting becomes hitting which falls under the assault statutes and now a minor misdemeanor arrest becomes a FELONY.

  4. Don’t Believe the Police.It is perfectly legal for the police to tell you false statements to get you to make an admission. In fact they are trained to lie to you to get the confession. It is called the Reid Technique where you lie about having witnesses or video tape or fingerprints or DNA. The police frequently separate two friends and tell one the other one “ratted” him/her out (i.e., told on you). Because of the lie, the other friend now rats the first friend out. Police and detectives also state that “it will be easier” to talk now…But It will only be easier for the police to prove their case.

  5. No Searching.Do not allow the police to search anywhere! If the police officer asks, they do not have the right to search and must have your consent. If you are asked make sure you proclaim to any witnesses that “You (the police) do not have consent to search.” If they perform the search anyway, that evidence may be thrown out later. Also, if you consent to a search, the officers may find something that you had no idea you or someone else had placed there.

  6. Don’t Look At Places Where You Don’t Want Police to Search.Police are trained to watch you and react to you. They know that you are nervous and scared and many people look to the areas that they don’t want the police to search. Do not react to the search and do not answer any questions.

  7. Do Not Talk Smack to the Police.I don’t care if you have been wrongly arrested and the true culprit is standing in front of you. Don’t talk smack. Police have a lot of discretion in the upcoming charges brought and how it all develops in the system. Police can add charges, change a misdemeanor to a felony, and will even talk to the prosecutor that is ultimately prosecuting you.

  8. If Police Come to Your Home, Do not Let Them In and Do Not Step Outside Your HomeIf the police show up at your door wanting to speak with you, make it clear they do not have permission to enter your home by stating: “No you may not come in”, or “I am comfortable talking right here”, or “You need a search warrant to enter my home.” If they return, your attorney can arrange for you to turn yourself in should that be necessary and you will spend no time in jail between the hearings.

  9. If You Are Outside Your Home and Arrested, Do Not Accept an Offer to Go Back In Your Home for Anything.The officer may say to you, how about you go inside and change, freshen up, talk to your wife, husband, get a jacket, or provide you with any other reason. The police will graciously escort you in and then tear your home apart searching through it. Also, do not let them secure your car. Your car is fine.

  10. Don’t say a word.Its’ incredible how many people feel that they can convince the officer, the booking officer or a detective that they are not guilty. YOUR CASE IS NOT DECIDED BY THESE PEOPLE. They have no effect on guilty or not guilty. Wait to speak to your lawyer. The courts and juries in particular give enormous weight to “confessions” during this stage. A suspect is almost NEVER released after being arrested.

If you’re looking for professionally aggressive representation, contact The Law Office of Andrew C. Huff today.

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