Monday, January 26, 2015

New Bill Would Make 4th Offense DUI a Felony

Washington state lawmakers are revisiting an idea to make a driver's fourth drunken-driving conviction within 10 years a felony.

Under current Washington law, a felony DUI charge applies only if a driver already has been convicted of DUI four times in the previous decade. That's the highest threshold among the 45 states that have laws to make repeat DUI offenders felons, said the bill's author, Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

Padden first proposed the idea last year but said that bill failed because of concerns over the expense of imprisoning more drunken drivers for felony convictions. He said Wednesday he believes this year's bill has a better chance because a handful of Senate Democrats have signed on as co-sponsors. The measure also has support from Padden's Republican colleagues.

He said several victims of car crashes caused by repeat DUI offenders are scheduled to speak at a public hearing Thursday. Senate Bill 5105 will be before the Senate Law and Justice Committee, of which Padden is the chairman.

Capitol lawmakers have contemplated lowering Washington's threshold for felony DUI from the fifth offense to the fourth offense since 2013, upon the recommendation of a work group created by Gov. Jay Inslee to toughen impaired-driving laws after a series of fatal wrecks.

Padden said he hopes the cost obstacle can be overcome this year to bring Washington's DUI law closer to those in neighboring states. Both Oregon and Idaho have laws to make a driver's third DUI within a decade a felony.


If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bill Would Toss Past Marijuana Convictions

Lawmakers on Friday considered whether adults will be able to have misdemeanor convictions for marijuana possession thrown out if they were over 21 at the time of the offense.

The House's Public Safety Committee began weighing a bill by Democratic legislators that would allow misdemeanor convictions for possessing 40 grams or less of marijuana to be set aside and dismissed. If it passes, the process to clear records would be different from the way other misdemeanors are expunged. Unlike those cases, a marijuana offender wouldn't have to wait three years after completing the sentence to get the conviction wiped off the record.

The bill would erase past criminal convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana. Voters passed Initiative 502 in 2012, which legalized the sale and recreational use of pot in Washington state.

"The voters spoke," Thurston County public defender Alex Frix told the panel Friday. "It is patently unfair to continue to punish people with the stain of a conviction for possessing a now-legal substance, period."

The committee had no questions for Frix, who was the only speaker on the bill. An identical bill introduced in 2013 never made it to the House floor for a vote.

At the same hearing, another bill by Democratic legislators to lessen the penalty for possession of small amounts of all drugs and make possession charges misdemeanors also received some discussion, but even one of that bill's sponsors took a pessimistic view of its chances.

"We probably won't get it through this year," said Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo. "You know, we're planting the seeds."

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Washington and Colorado Share Legal Weed Lessons

Don't worry about a federal lawsuit. But do worry about tax rates. Those are among the many lessons Colorado and Washington have to share from the front lines of America's marijuana experiment.

LESSON ONE: DON'T BE TIMID

Public officials in the pioneering marijuana states were flat-footed when voters made pot legal.

At first waiting for a possible federal lawsuit, then trying to figure out how to monitor and tax a product that had never been fully regulated anywhere in the world, the states spent many months coming up with rules for how the drug should be grown, sold and consumed.

The delays were understandable. But they led to one of the biggest disappointments of the marijuana markets - lower-than-hoped tax collections.

LESSON TWO: DON'T GET TOO EXCITED, EITHER

Both Colorado and Washington have seen tax collections fall below some rosy projections. The effective tax rates are about 44 percent in Washington and 29 percent in Colorado, with plenty of asterisks and local variances.

The states assumed that pot users would pay a steep premium to stop using drug dealers and have clean, safe stores in which to buy their weed. But the tax rates have led to a continuing black market, undercutting the top argument for legalizing in the first place.

Months of delays for permitting and licensing meant that potential pot taxes went uncollected. And limited marijuana supply in both states has further driven up the price of legal weed.

LESSON THREE: THINK OUTSIDE THE BONG

Pot users these days aren't using the drug the same way hippies in the 1960s did. But Colorado and Washington weren't entirely prepared to deal with popular new forms of edible and concentrated weed.

It took more than 18 months for Washington to begin sales of edible pot.

Colorado had regulations for edible pot already in place from the medical market - but it stumbled, too, when the edibles proved a lot more popular than officials expected and many first-timers weren't sure how much to eat.

Colorado has had to go back after the fact to tighten rules on edible pot packaging and dosing.

LESSON FOUR: THINK ABOUT THE KIDS

It's an obvious consequence of legalization - wider availability for adults means easier access for kids.

School districts in both Colorado and Washington have reported more kids showing up at school with weed. There have been more kids treated at emergency room for marijuana ingestions, too.

Marijuana exposure isn't fatal, but the experience so far in both states underscores the need for states to have plans for talking with minors about pot.

LESSON FIVE: THE THIN GREEN LINE

Law enforcement has a big role in reducing potential public safety effects of legalization.

States that legalize pot need a plan in place for how officers determine whether drivers are impaired by marijuana. After legalization, simply sniffing pot in a car or seeing a joint on the seat isn't enough to haul someone to jail.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Marijuana Use Increased

Colorado emerged as the state with the second-highest percentage of regular marijuana users as it began legalizing the drug, according to a new national study.

The Denver Post reports the study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health found about 1 out of 8 Colorado residents older than 12 had used marijuana in the past month. Only Rhode Island topped Colorado in the percentage of residents who reported using pot as often, according to the study.

The study averaged state-specific data over two-year periods. It found that, for the 2011-2012 period, 10.4 percent of Colorado residents 12 and older said they had used pot in the month before being surveyed. That number jumped to 12.7 percent in the 2012-2013 data. That means about 530,000 people in Colorado use marijuana at least once a month, according to the results.

Nationally, about 7.4 percent of people 12 and older reported monthly marijuana use. That's an increase of about 4 percent.

In Washington state, which also legalized marijuana use and limited possession for adults, monthly pot use rose about 20 percent to 12.3 percent of people 12 and older.

The survey is among the first to quantify pot use in Colorado since late 2012, when voters approved legal pot use and possession for those over 21. But the survey did not analyze data from 2014, when recreational marijuana shops opened, which means it is not a good indication of the effect of commercial sales on marijuana use.

"I don't think this tells us about the long-term impacts of legalization," said University of California, Los Angeles, professor Mark Kleiman, who studies marijuana policy. The number of medical marijuana patients in Colorado rose over the same time period, so the results are not surprising, Kleiman said.

He told The Post that researchers will have a better idea about pot use in the first state to legalize recreational sales of the drug once they can focus on data showing how many people use pot daily.

"The fraction of people who are monthly users who are in fact daily users has gone way, way up," he said.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

Monday, December 22, 2014

Puyallup Jail Allowed to Film Inmates Using Bathroom


The City of Puyallup did not violate anyone's right to privacy when jail staff filmed inmates in various states of undress, according to a Thursday US District Court verdict.

Last year 12 people -- mostly women -- argued their constitutional right to privacy was violated when jailhouse video captured them undressing or using the bathroom.
 
The videos were all recorded inside the Puyallup Jail. Each of the 12 was arrested on misdemeanor DUI charges, and all of them were captured on camera inside one of two holding cells.  The video recorded them either urinating or changing into jail house clothing.

Since the lawsuit was filed last year, there has been a significant change in jail policy. Puyallup Jail stopped recording video in those holding cells, citing too many public disclosure requests for the videos.

Puyallup police say while they no longer record and store video inside the holding cells, cameras are still being used to record video in other areas of the jail.


Eleven women and one man say what they thought were private moments, were not. On Thursday a jury disagreed, saying the city was within its rights to film the inmates.



If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Federal Judge Rules in Favor of Cowlitz Indian Tribe

A federal judge has sided with the Cowlitz Indian tribe in its long fight to establish a reservation and build a casino along Interstate 5 in southwest Washington.

U.S. District Judge Barbara J. Rothstein in Washington, D.C., on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by plaintiffs who had challenged a federal government decision to put into trust for the tribe about 152 acres west of La Center in Clark County and to allow gambling on that land, the Columbian reported.

The tribe of southwest Washington, which has about 3,500 members but no land of its own, plans to develop the property into tribal offices, housing, a tribal center as well as a massive casino-resort complex with a roughly 134,000-square-foot casino.

Plaintiffs who challenged the federal government's decisions questioned the Cowlitz tribe's historical ties to the area west of Interstate 5, the newspaper reported.

The tribal offices are 24 miles north of the site, and plaintiffs argued that the Cowlitz tribe just wanted their reservation to be an easy 16-mile drive from Portland to attract casino customers in that area.

The plaintiffs include the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon, which owns and operates a casino that would compete with any future casino built on the land.

Others who sued include Clark County and the city of Vancouver, property owners and card room businesses. The plaintiffs include a group called Citizens Against Reservation Shopping, which includes The Columbian's publisher, Scott Campbell.

They argued that the federal government violated the law in issuing its decision to put the land into trust and to allow gambling on that land.

The Grand Ronde tribe on Friday said it needs to analyze the judge's opinion but it disagrees.

Officials with Vancouver and Clark County said Friday that they needed more time to review the judge's opinion before deciding whether to appeal.

The federal government recognized the Cowlitz tribe in 2000. That ruling was challenged and affirmed in 2002, and the tribe applied to take the land into trust.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs issued a decision in 2010 that was challenged. A federal judge told the agency to rescind that 2010 decision and issue a new one, which was also challenged.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

State Patrol Upgrades DUI Breath-Test Machines


The Washington State Patrol is replacing its old breath-test machines with sleek, fast, new $9,500 devices that are used to test drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
The State Patrol will be placing 83 of the new Dräger Alcotest 9510 machines in police and sheriff’s stations, jails and State Patrol divisions in northeast and southeast Washington before enough are available to use statewide.The machines will be used to test drivers arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Like the old devices, the new one measures alcohol in the lungs by analyzing exhaled breath.
“It’s a measure in the breath-alcohol concentration and if it’s at or above 0.08 it can be used as evidence of DUI,” said State Patrol Lt. Rob Sharpe, who heads the agency’s Impaired Driving Section.
Sharpe said they have purchased the breath-test “instruments” at $9,500 each, and need to purchase 200 more to replace the old DataMasters devices.

Sharpe said that after learning about five years ago that manufacture of the DataMaster machines was coming to an end, the State Patrol launched a search for a suitable replacement.
He said they looked at four different machines before deciding on the Dräger Alcotest 9510.

According to the Dräger website, the machine is only used by law enforcement.
Brian Shaffer, bid and tender manager for Dräger, said in an email that law-enforcement agencies in New York, Connecticut, California and Washington, D.C., are using the Alcotest 9510. Demonstrating the Alcotest machine inside the State Patrol’s South Seattle office, Sterkel swiped his breath-test operator card on the machine’s card reader to begin the testing process. Then he swiped a test state driver’s license on the card reader to download the driver’s information.

On the touch-screen readout, Sterkel was asked where the suspect had been drinking, whether the driver had put anything in his or her mouth after being arrested, what crime the person was suspected of and whether the driver was involved in a DUI-related crash.

Then a prompt indicated it was time for the subject to blow into a hose attached to the machine. The screen lit up and gave instructions on when to blow and whether the sample was successfully captured.
In a matter of minutes Sterkel’s breath test came back clear of alcohol.

While the new machine allows law enforcement to send real-time data over the Internet, Sharpe said the State Patrol will not begin using this feature until security protocols are established on sending the information.

The State Patrol says the new machines utilize a dry gas standard instead of a liquid solution to verify that the instrument is working properly. For years, liquid solutions have had to be mixed locally by scientists, monitored for temperature, and checked regularly by technicians.

The Dräger’s dry gas contains a known concentration of alcohol, allowing the instrument to verify that a suspect’s breath alcohol is being measured accurately and reliably, the State Patrol said.
Sterkel, who works in the State Patrol’s Yakima office, is one of the first troopers in the state to be trained on the new machine.

Only troopers, sheriff’s deputies and police officers certified in the Alcotest will be allowed to use the machines.

Until the state replaces all of the DataMasters, law enforcement will continue using the old technology to test suspected drunken drivers, Sharpe said.

The State Patrol has come under heat in the past for using the DataMaster machines, as well for as their DUI protocols.

In 2008, three King County District Court judges issued a blistering 29-page ruling, saying that the lab engaged in “fraudulent and scientifically unacceptable” practices that have compromised breath-test readings used to prosecute suspected drunken drivers.

The judges found that a “multiplicity of errors,” including how breath-test results were analyzed and verified at the lab, affected thousands of cases in recent years.

Specifically, the judges criticized the work of the former state toxicologist and the former lab manager. The allegations included errors to the way the breath-test machines were calibrated.

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI, immediately contact a Seattle DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce those penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their DUI charge. So it should go without saying that someone cited for DUI should hire a qualified Seattle DUI lawyer as soon as possible. Driving Under the Influence charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with DUI in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI lawyer.