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What To Do and What Not To Do When Pulled Over by a Police Officer

Posted Friday, February 9, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

*Don’t Pull Over Until it is Safe*When you see those flashing lights behind you, don’t pull over until you have a safe place to do so with room to exit your vehicle if necessary. Areas NOT to pull over include: a highway or road with no shoulder; a windy road at night or high-traffic areas. While you do not want to continue driving for too long, you should hold off on pulling over until it is reasonably safe to do so. This is safer not only for you, but also for the police officer.

To let the officer you intend to pull over, I recommend putting on your blinker and driving slowly. This way they will know you aren’t trying to flee, and are simply trying to find a safe space to pull over.

*What Should I Do Once I’m Parked on the Side of the Road?*Stay calm. Just because you’ve been pulled over does not mean you are in trouble. Right off the bat, I recommend turning off your engine, and if it is dark out, turning on your dome light. As you see the officer approaching, roll down your window and place your hands on the wheel so the officer can see them as he or she approaches. Don’t start gathering papers or reaching for the glove box until they arrive and instruct you.

Once the officer has arrived, be sure you are moving deliberately and announcing any time you are reaching for something. You don’t want the officer to misinterpret any of your movements, turning a potentially small traffic stop into a catastrophic misunderstanding.

*Done Leave Your Car*Unless an officer explicitly tells you to get out of your car, do not leave your vehicle. Exiting your car may make the officer interpret your movements as aggressive, leading to an escalated situation that simply does not need to happen.

*Don’t Argue With or Be Rude To The Officer*Nobody wants to be issued a citation, particularly if you feel you’ve done nothing wrong. Often, the stress and frustration caused by being pulled over and questioned by a police officer will cause drivers to be rude or argumentative to an officer.Arguing with the officer, or disrespecting them in any way, could lead to them getting frustrated and escalating the situation. This could lead to increased fines, new charges, or even an unwarranted arrest.

Being respectful on the other hand, could lead to the officer being more understanding of your predicament and letting you off with a warning for minor offenses.

*If the Encounter Begins Escalating from a Traffic Stop to Something More (DUI INVESTIGATION) the Less You Say the Better.*Remember that everything you say to the officer during the traffic stop is admissible in court, so anything you say can and likely will be used against you when attempting to fight the ticket. But once it becomes clear the stop is more than just a traffic stop, beware of everything you say. Often police officers will try to coax you into a discussion or invite you to “prove” your innocence. Don’t do it.

*Don’t Submit to any Field Sobriety Tests*These roadside exercises are difficult for most people regardless of whether they have been drinking. There is no penalty for refusing them unlike the breath test and you should never submit to one, even if you are stone sober.

*Don’t Consent to a Search*In order for an officer to search your car without a warrant, they’ll need either probable cause or your consent.
Even if you know you’ve done nothing wrong or are hiding anything, I still recommend not consenting to a search of your vehicle or person. They could uncover something you don’t remember leaving in your car, and there is no real benefit from letting the officer conduct the search.

Refusing a search is your fourth amendment right, and you should not feel pressure to allow the officer to conduct the search if you are not comfortable.

*If the Officer has a Warrant*If the officer obtains a warrant, you must let them search your vehicle. Do not put up a fight. Make sure to ask to see the warrant first.

Keep in mind as well that anything the officer finds during the search, even if it has nothing to do with what the warrant is for, the “plain view” rule still applies. This means anything else incriminating found can still be used against you in court.

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Washington State’s new Breath Test Machines are Here!

Posted Thursday, February 8, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

In 2009, the Washington State Patrol began the process of replacing its aging fleet of breath test machines called the DataMaster with something new. Eventually, breath machines called the Draeger Alcotest 9510 were approved and purchased by the state. Although initially thought to be state-of-the-art, subsequent litigation has revealed some serious issues in how the machine’s software and how it manipulates the reported results.

This new machine’s software is an important component of breath testing evidence because it directs the physical operation of the breath testing instrument, analyzes the breath sample, and produces the BAC ticket with purported results. These results are then used by the prosecutor to prove a violation of the DUI laws.

The breath test evidence is much more than just the printed numbers. The breath test results are the expression of a set of complex processes involving the hardware and software of the instrument that produces the result and are available for review.

We believe that the Draeger sodtware has substantial flaws and the code produces artificially high results and extrapolates a higher result without the use of a standard to properly calibrate it. As defense counsel, we should have a right to the source code and this is what we are continuing to fight for.

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Court says Due Process Requires Evidentiary Hearings

Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

When a person pleads guilty to a crime but allegedly violates the terms of the agreement, is this person then entitled to an evidentiary hearing if they deny the violation?

Mr. Caleb Townsend pled guilty to two felony charges pursuant to a plea agreement. For his part, Mr. Townsend agreed to abide by all release conditions, including a requirement that he “commit no law violations” while awaiting sentencing.
However, prior to sentencing, the trial court found that he violated the terms of the plea agreement but without such a hearing. Although Mr. Townsend did not request an evidentiary hearing, he did protest his innocence.

The Appellate Court found that this evidentiary hearing right is rooted in the constitutional right to due process. As such, it cannot be waived by simply not requesting one. Therefore, the new violations were overturned and an evidentiary hearing was ordered.

WA State Court of Appeals, Division III, No. 34984-5-III State v. Townsend

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Is it a "roadway" or isn't it?

Posted Tuesday, February 6, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

So what is considered the actual “roadway” in our state? This was the question recently before our Court of Appeals when a driver was cited for crossing over onto a neutral area separating a highway onramp from an adjacent lane of travel.

The driver was traveling westbound on U.S. 97 from Route 2 in Chelan County when she crossed over a portion of the highway designated as a “neutral area.” A neutral area is a paved triangular space separating an entrance or exit ramp from an adjacent lane of travel. A Washington State Trooper observed her and conducted a traffic stop based on this observation.

The Court reviewed the meaning of the term “roadway” as used in state statute and case law. After much review, the Court ultimately found that this “neutral area” does not meet the definitions of a roadway according to Washington law. Therefore, because the driver drove in this area that was not considered a “roadway,” the stop was proper.

State of Washington v. Jena Brooks, Division III

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No Weight…No Case

Posted Monday, January 22, 2018 by Andrew Charles Huff

Great outcome today on a traffic matter in Snohomish County District Court. A commercial truck driver was cited for failing to obey a sign directing all vehicles over a certain weight to use the right lane at a specific point so vehicle information can be obtained by the state. However, this sign only applies to vehicles over a certain weight and the officer failed to indicate in his report how he determined this trucks weight. Without this evidence of how the vehicle weight was determined, case was dismissed.

Infraction 7Z1183740

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