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Common Washington DUI Questions

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Receiving a DUI in Washington is a daunting experience you won’t soon forget. A DUI conviction carries severe consequences that stay with you for the rest of your life. This criminal conviction can set you back when you are applying to jobs or even looking for housing. For a chance at having your charges dropped or reduced, you should speak with a seasoned Washington DUI attorney. At Murphy’s Law Offices, these are some of the most frequently asked questions on the subject of DUI.

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What Happens after a Washington DUI Arrest?

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Most Washington residents know that consequences for driving under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol are severe in this state, yet few people know the actual intake process you may face if you find yourself in these unpleasant circumstances. At the time of the stop, a police officer asks several questions and conducts sobriety tests to determine probable cause for an arrest. The majority of police officers follow a similar pattern when registering a new DUI suspect from the time of the arrest itself to the booking or release of the suspect. If you have already gone through this process, it may help to check that these steps all occurred in your case. Noting that officers did not comply with these guidelines may be helpful in your defense.

You are Read Miranda Rights

Immediately after an arrest is made, the arresting officer usually verbally advises the suspect of his or her immediate constitutional rights. A written advisement is provided back at the police station. The advisement notifies the suspect of his right to remain silent and to an attorney. If these rights were not relayed after the arrest is made, it could possibly result in the suppression of evidence against you.

Implied Consent Warnings

After notifying the arrested person of his Miranda rights, most officers review implied consent warnings. These warnings let the suspect know that the officer is going to request a breath or blood sample for BAC testing. While there is a right to refuse these tests, there are consequences to doing so because you agree to consent when you sign for your driver’s license. Police should also warn the DUI suspect of the consequences that can occur if the BAC comes up higher than the legal limit of 0.08. Police are required by law to issue these warnings at the time of a lawful arrest either orally or in writing.

Mouth Check

To administer a proper DUI breath test, police are required to check the DUI suspect’s mouth for foreign objects. The officer must then observe the suspect for 15 minutes to make sure he does not put anything into his mouth, belch, or vomit. If any of these happen, the suspect must wait another 15 minutes before taking the mandatory breath test. Vomiting, belching or having objects in your mouth tend to invalidate the breath sample being tested, leading to unreliable results. If the officer fails to complete this check or wait the required time, it can result in the suppression of the breath test results being used as evidence in court.

DUI Questionnaire

Most people arrested for DUI in Washington invoke their right to remain silent until an attorney is present. In cases where this does not occur, police offer a DUI questionnaire. Many of the questions are mundane, but are mixed in with specific questions used to try and trick the person into providing evidence of DUI. Most if not all competent DUI attorneys advise against answering these questions.

Breath or Blood Test

After each DUI arrest, a suspect is taken to the precinct to have their blood or breath tested for the presence of alcohol. These tests are supposedly more effective and reliable than the roadside breath test, which is why results are permitted in court as evidence. A DUI suspect who agrees to the breath test provides 2 samples to ensure accuracy, although the machines used may frequently be flawed and can provide unreliable results.

Release or Booking

After the officer’s investigation is complete, a decision is made whether to release the individual or book him into jail. If the person is released, he may call a cab to get home or the officer may drive him home. If the person is booked, into jail he may be forced to post bail or see a judge. Whether you are released or booked is usually up to the officer’s discretion.

Do not become entangled in the Washington State court system without a strong attorney on your side. Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. of Murphy’s Law Offices has extensive experience fighting DUI criminal charges throughout Washington, with offices in King and Pierce Counties. Call (253) 312-6122 for a confidential and free consultation.

What to Know about Medical Marijuana Use and Driving in Washington

medical-marijuana-bottle

Medical marijuana has proved helpful to treat a variety of conditions. From helping patients battling cancer experience fewer side effects from chemotherapy, to helping ease chronic pain and muscle spasms, patients throughout the country are receiving medicinal cannabis as a further option for treatment. Along with Alaska and Oregon, Washington State first passed laws permitting medical marijuana use in 1998. Today, medicinal and recreational marijuana are widely used in the Evergreen State. If you have a prescription for medical marijuana in Washington, you may be unaware of how your prescription relates to state driving laws.

Prescription Marijuana Use and Driving

There is no state in the US that permits drivers to be under the influence of a substance, whether it be alcohol, marijuana, hard drugs or prescription medications. Washington State police make no distinction between medicinal cannabis or recreational weed when they arrest drivers they suspect are under the influence. Whether you are using marijuana to treat an illness or for personal enjoyment, the drug has an effect on motor skills.

You should think about medical marijuana like any other prescription drug. Many medications come with a warning against operating a car or heavy machinery, and this can be applied to your prescription marijuana. In Washington, impairment is impairment regardless of the purpose.

Washington’s Marijuana Threshold

With that stated, it’s important to know about Washington’s strict DUI thresholds that were initiated along with the legalization of recreational weed. To help push hesitant voters toward the side of legalization, it is now illegal for an adult to contain 5 nanograms per milliliter of THC in his blood. This is considered a dangerously low threshold for patients of medical marijuana, who develop a high tolerance with repeated use.

Many patients using medical marijuana contain much higher levels of THC. Experts argue the threshold is unrealistic and harmful, because unlike alcohol, marijuana users develop a tolerance and function normally with varying levels of THC depending on their personal tolerance.

In the past, police officers would arrest DUI suspects whom they suspected were under the influence of pot based on observable behaviors but with this new law, all it takes is for a blood test to show that your blood contained 5 nanograms/ milliliter of THC to “prove” you were impaired. This presents a dangerous obstacle for medical marijuana users considering THC stays in your system even after you have just used it.

If you are facing DUI charges in Washington for using marijuana, an experienced medical marijuana DUI attorney may be able to have your charges dropped or reduced. Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. of Murphy’s Law Offices practices marijuana DUI litigation in Washington with a strong reputation among clients and peers. Call (253) 312-6122 for a complimentary and confidential consultation.

Common Ways of Having your Washington License Revoked

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There are many ways you can lose your driver’s license in Washington State. Several violations can lead to a license suspension or revocation, and they are not always related to driving. Washington has no set guidelines for when a license should be revoked or suspended; judges use their discretion to decide which action to take.

License Suspension vs. License Revocation in Washington

A license suspension in Washington is the temporary loss of driving privileges. After a certain period of time and upon completion of certain court requirements, you may have your suspension lifted. A license revocation is more serious than a suspension. It is the complete cancellation of driving privileges. This lasts for a specific amount of time, and once that period is over, assuming you meet all other requirements, you may be allowed to re-apply for a brand new Washington driver’s license.

How can my License Get Revoked?

Again, there are many situations for which a judge may decide that a license suspension is more appropriate than revocation, such as a first-time DUI. In general, the more serious the offense committed, the more probable your license will be revoked. License revocation is also standard after repeat offenses.

Most of the time, your license is suspended due to an offense related to driving. It is usually revoked after multiple convictions of the following:

  • DUI involving alcohol and/ or drugs
  • Reckless driving
  • Leaving the scene of an injury accident
  • Failing to respond to a traffic summons
  • Drag racing or participating in speed contests

Throughout the country there are several non-traffic related offenses that can lead to a license suspension or revocation after multiple convictions. The most common of these is the failure to pay child support. If you fail to pay child support, you may have your license suspended by the State of Washington; if you continuously fail to do so, you face revocation. In addition, your license is in jeopardy if you have committed the following offenses:

  • Failing to maintain state required auto insurance
  • Convictions of non-DUI related drug offenses
  • Failing to respond to a court summons
  • Minors committing non-DUI alcohol and/ or drug offenses
  • Using a false or altered license plate/ falsifying a license plate

A Washington driver’s license is your key to your driving privileges in the state; yet it can be extremely difficult to get around without one. If your license has been revoked, you may benefit from having a tough criminal defense attorney on your side fighting to reinstate your driving privileges. Attorney Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. tackles tough cases of DUI, reckless driving, and other serious offenses head-on with dedication and a strong reputation. Call Murphy’s Law Offices at (253) 312-6122 for a free confidential consultation.

Top 4 Reasons for a Suspended Driver’s License

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In America, driving is a privilege that most people rely upon to navigate daily life. There are about  214 million licensed drivers in the US, of which 5.4 million reside in Washington. While the majority of citizens use private vehicles for transportation, thousands of driving privileges are taken away daily. There are many reasons that a Washington State driver’s license can be suspended.

License Suspension or Revocation?

A suspended license is a temporary driving ban issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing. This differs from a license revocation, which is permanent. When a driver’s license is suspended, you have the option to try and reinstate your license after the designated suspension period has passed. If your license has been revoked, you are no longer allowed to legally drive in the state of Washington.

A license suspension can come about from a variety of circumstances, some which are not even directly related to driving.

DUI Arrests/Convictions

Anyone who is caught driving under the influence of drugs and/ or alcohol faces an automatic license suspension. The duration of the suspension depends on how many DUI arrests or convictions the suspect already has on record. Suspensions can come from Washington DOL and as a result of a criminal conviction. A first-time DUI arrest or conviction leads to a license suspension of at least 90 days.

Reckless Driving

A reckless driving conviction can happen on its own, but often it is also the result of reduced DUI charges. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime which leads to a license suspension of at least 30 days.

Failure to Appear in Court or Pay Court Fines

Failing to appear in court is a minor crime for which you can have your driving privileges taken away. Failing to pay court fines or traffic tickets can also affect your privilege. In fact, almost 300,000 Washington drivers were suspended in 2011 for simply failing to pay citations. This can start a cycle where the fees pile up and your license becomes more difficult to reclaim.

Too Many Moving Violations

Washington State has no official point system. With that said, a certain amount of moving violations per year can lead to licensing issues. If you receive 6 moving violations in a span of 12 months, you could face a license suspension of 60 days.

If you face license suspension in Washington for DUI or other crimes, you need a tough criminal defense attorney on your side. Daniel J. Murphy, Jr. of Murphy’s Law Offices works throughout Washington to defend the criminally accused. He can put together a strong legal defense and work to get your license back. Call (253) 312-6122 for a free consultation.


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