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Football player accepts plea deal in DUI case

Washington residents may know who Jeremy Lane is because he plays for the Seattle Seahawks football team. At about 2:21 a.m. he was pulled over while going eastbound on Interstate 90. The traffic stop occurred because an officer had clocked his vehicle at 80 miles per hour and because it was having trouble keeping its lane. When the trooper made contact with the vehicle, he noticed an odor of marijuana coming from the car.

A test revealed that he had 7.6 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood, which is higher than the five nanograms allowed by state law. Although his blood alcohol level was at .02 percent, the officer decided to take him into custody, and Lane reportedly told the trooper that he was high after being taken into custody. He said that he was heading home at the time of the traffic stop because to check on his home after an alarm went off.

Lane was originally charged with DUI, but he eventually entered a guilty plea on a reckless driving charge on March 26. As a result of the plea, he will have to serve 20 hours of community service or spend two days on a work crew. In exchange, his original sentence of 364 days in jail was suspended. Lane’s attorney said that he would opt for two days on the work crew.

In DUI cases, plea deals may allow individuals to avoid jail time in favor of community service. An attorney may use the fact that a driver has shown remorse for his or her actions as leverage to get a deal. However, a driver still has the option of taking a case to trial even if a deal is offered, and an attorney may represent that person in court.

About plea bargaining for DUIs

Washington residents who have been charged with driving under the influence have the option of going to trial or accepting a plea bargain. In some cases, taking a plea bargain may be the best course; however, they should speak with their attorney before making a decision.

With a plea deal, a defendant will agree to submit a guilty plea, typically to a charge that is less severe than what they could go to trial for. DUI defendants who plead guilty usually agree to terms that include undergoing an alcohol diversion program or participating in some form of community service.

There are multiple factors that have to be considered before deciding whether a plea bargain should be accepted. How convincing the evidence is against the defendant, the severity of the crime and the chances that the defendant may receive a guilty verdict at a trial all impact the decision. In the criminal court system, plea bargains are encouraged and are viewed as an effective tool for dealing with overburdened criminal court schedules and overly crowded jails.

Defendants who are facing criminal charges may find that the plea bargaining allows them the opportunity to receive a lighter sentence for a less serious charge. It also provides the chance for them to not accrue an excessive number of offenses on their criminal record. For defendants who have hired private legal representation, a plea bargain helps them avoid the costly expenses that come with a long trial.

A criminal law attorney may evaluate the factors of a case for clients who have been charged with offenses related to drunk driving and recommend a legal strategy for addressing the charges. The attorney may advise the clients if any offered plea deal should be considered over opting to challenge the criminal charges in a trial.

Steve Wilkos granted entrance to diversionary program for DUI

Washington residents may have heard that Steve Wilkos, a talk show host and former security professional for “The Jerry Springer Show”, flipped his vehicle in January while he was driving drunk in Connecticut. At that time, Wilkos initially claimed that he had been reaching for his glasses when he lost control of his car. However, it was later revealed that he had been driving while he was intoxicated.

Wilkos may be able to avoid having the drunk driving conviction on his record. On April 23, sources report that Wilkos was accepted into a diversion program by the court. If he is able to complete the diversion program successfully, the drunk driving accident will not be on his record.

Wilkos has reportedly attended rehabilitation to address his problems with alcohol. He stated that the drunk driving incident resulted from a lapse in judgment. Under the terms of the diversionary program, Wilkos will have to complete a 15-week alcohol education program. He will also have to participate in a panel that is comprised of drunk driving accident victims. In the accident, his vehicle hit several objects along the side of the road before flipping and landing on its side.

Drunk driving convictions can result in serious penalties. People may face time in jail, large fines and court costs. They may also have to attend mandatory alcohol education and counseling. People may temporarily lose their driving privileges or be forced to install ignition interlock devices. Having a drunk driving conviction may also prevent people from traveling to certain countries. An experienced DUI attorney may be able to help clients to secure alternative sentences or favorable pleas to reduced charges.

Alleged drunk driver hides in poop bin of Washington dog breeder

Two 911 calls alerted police in Parkland to a man driving erratically, running red lights and striking multiple vehicles in the Brookdale area. A deputy located the vehicle in a 20-acre field on 52nd Avenue East. The man living there had used his tractor to keep the car that had smashed through his gate from moving again. The deputy reported that he smelled an overpowering odor of feces as he approached the car and saw feces smeared on the driver’s door.

Inside the vehicle, he found an unconscious man covered in feces. The owner of the property informed the deputy that he was a dog breeder and that the driver had jumped into the bin where he placed dog poop. After confronting the intruder, the dog breeder said that the man returned to his vehicle and passed out.

Once the deputy succeeded in waking the driver, the man admitted that he had consumed multiple shots of tequila. His unsanitary condition prompted the deputy to forgo the administration of a field sobriety test. Law enforcement requested assistance from the fire department so that the driver could be placed in a hazardous materials suit for transport to the jail. Authorities held the 25-year-old man on suspicion of driving under the influence.

After a drunk driving arrest, a person may learn how to defend against the criminal charges by consulting an attorney. Legal guidance might help a person choose to enter a plea or develop a defense strategy, especially if the incident was a first offense or a sobriety test appears to be inaccurate.

Source: Komo News, “That stinks: Suspected drunken driver tries to hide from cops in bin full of dog poop,” April 11, 2018 .

Disputing Breathalyzer results

In Washington and every state in the country, a driver is presumed to be legally intoxicated if his or her blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher. However, a police officer cannot just assume that a person is intoxicated prior to charging a driver with DUI. The officer must have proof that this is the case, and evidence can be collected using a Breathalyzer machine.

Generally speaking, the results from a Breathalyzer test can be admitted in court assuming that the machine provides an accurate result. These machines must be tested and calibrated on a regular basis to ensure that they accurately measure an individual’s BAC. Furthermore, the person who uses the machine has to be able to use it properly. This could mean that an officer must be certified to use a Breathalyzer prior to testing a driver.

Those who are subject to a test may be able to argue that they ate or smoked prior to the test, which could skew the results. It might also be possible to argue that the machine wasn’t tested at regular intervals in accordance with state law. If it can be shown that the results aren’t accurate because of errors made by the official administering the test, the results of the test could be thrown out.

If a driver is convicted for DUI, it could result in a loss of driving privileges as well as a fine or jail time. By disputing the results of a Breathalyzer test, it may be possible to obtain a favorable outcome in a drunk driving case. An attorney may be able to negotiate a plea deal or have charges dropped entirely.

Vili Faulaau charged with drunk driving after accident

On Feb. 2, Vili Faulaau was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving following a car accident in Washington. The 34-year-old is the husband of former elementary school teacher Mary Kay Letourneau, who was convicted of sexually assaulting him when he was one of her students.

According to authorities, Faulaau drove his Mercury Mountaineer SUV through a red light at 1st Avenue and South 156th Street in Burien and then struck two other vehicles just before 12 a.m. The officer who responded to the crash said that Faulaau appeared dazed, had bloodshot eyes, slurred his speech and smelled like alcohol. The officer further claimed that Faulaau confessed to drinking at an area bar.

Faulaau reportedly agreed to perform a series of sobriety tests, but Letourneau pulled up in another vehicle and demanded that he stop the tests and exercise his right to remain silent. At that point, he declined to finish the field sobriety tests or submit to a breath test. He was transported to the Burien police station, booked and released. In the late 1990s, Faulaau and Letourneau made worldwide headlines when she pleaded guilty to having sex with him when he was 12 years old. They were married after she served a seven-year prison sentence. In 2016, they legally separated.

By partnering with a lawyer, an individual charged with drunk driving may be able to have their charges reduced or dismissed. An attorney could review the evidence and work to build a solid defense based on the circumstances of the case. One possible defense strategy could involve disputing the accuracy of any field sobriety or blood alcohol tests that were performed. This could get the case thrown out of court. Another strategy could be to negotiate a plea deal that lowers the charges.

Probation allows DUI offenders to avoid jail

Washington residents who are convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can face a range of penalties. While those with several prior DUI convictions may face felony drunk driving charges, first-time offenders are generally treated more leniently. In these situations, judges forgo custodial sentences in favor of community service, probation and substance abuse counseling. Many DUI offenders must also have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

Individuals who are placed on probation will generally be required to report to their probation officer on a weekly, biweekly or monthly basis. Drunk driving offenders are usually expected to refrain from drinking or taking drugs while on probation, and judges may impose additional conditions based on the facts of the case. Probation offers offenders the opportunity to avoid incarceration, but it can be terminated quickly if offenders do not follow the rules.

DUI offenders who are on probation should understand that probation officers also work in the field and make home visits. During such visits, officers may check to ensure that the information provided by offenders, such as their living and working arrangements, are true. They may also ask for a breath sample to check for alcohol consumption. Probation is often ordered for a year or longer to reduce the chances of recidivism, but it may be cut short when offenders do what is asked of them.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may support measures that are designed to rehabilitate offenders rather than punish them. Furthermore, they could urge prosecutors to consider alternatives to incarceration in misdemeanor drunk driving cases. Attorneys may add weight to these arguments by pointing out mitigating factors such as a previously unblemished record, gainful employment and sincere remorse.

License suspensions after a DUI charge or conviction

Washington motorists who are taken into custody for a DUI could be subject to a drivers license suspension. However, an individual may ask for a hearing within 20 days of the incident. If the hearing examiner upholds the appeal, the driver will keep his or her license. If the appeal is denied, the license suspension will last from 90 days to two years, and it will start 60 days after a person is taken into custody.

It is worth noting that a person who is convicted of DUI in court could still be subject to a license suspension. A suspension will last anywhere from 90 days to four years, and the length will be based on the driver’s prior record as well as the severity of the crime. Drivers will receive credit for any time that their license was suspended after being taken into custody.

If a driver’s motor vehicle license is suspended for a DUI conviction, the penalty will start 45 days after the Department of Licensing (DOL) receives notice of the conviction. A driver may ask the DOL to ensure that the court has provided it with accurate information. However, there is no way to ask that the conviction or suspension be reduced or overturned.

driver’s license suspension is just one of many penalties a driver could receive after a DUI conviction. Other punishments include fines, community service and jail time. However, an attorney may be able to review a case and help create a defense. For instance, an attorney might argue that a client was not over the legal blood alcohol limit when charged. Other defenses could include casting doubt on physical evidence or witness testimony.

Lab backlog delays DUI cases

There is a significant backlog of DUI cases in Washington due to thousands of requests for blood tests for drivers accused of using drugs before driving. In 2017, the state toxicology lab, run by the Washington State Patrol, handled 15,945 cases. This figure signifies an increase of 9 percent over 2016. The number of such cases has grown by 45 percent in the previous five years.

The laboratory tests blood samples taken in DUI cases as well as handle the testing following autopsies as requested by medical examiners and coroners. While the number of cases has risen dramatically, the number of employees at the facility has not. This means that cases are delayed as testing time increases. In 2017, the median time to receive results from the lab was 45 days, and it was only 20 days in 2016.

While the lab is seeing more death investigations, the largest number of samples leading to the backlog at the lab is generally attributed to an increasing number of DUI blood tests following the legalization of marijuana in the state. Breathalyzer tests used to detect the presence of alcohol cannot be used to test for marijuana or other drugs. The number of DUI cases related to drunk driving in Washington has fallen in the past several years, but more cases have been attributed to driving under the influence of marijuana or other drugs.

If someone is convicted of drunk driving or other DUI charges in Washington, he or she can face severe penalties, which can include costly fines and even jail time. A criminal defense attorney can help people who have been arrested for DUI challenge the evidence presented by the police and present a strong defense before and during the trial.

Man arrested for DUI after hitting 2 cars

On March 2, a Washington man was taken into custody on suspicion of drunk driving. The incident took place at approximately 12:23 a.m. in Parkland.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department received a report of a hit-and-run accident outside the Parkland Manor Apartments. Witnesses said that a man had smashed his car into a parked vehicle and then drove off. After allegedly driving down the wrong side of 106 Street, he headed down Sales Road, where he crashed into a second vehicle.

Once the defendant was apprehended, he allegedly admitted to deputies that he was drunk. He also offered one of the deputies money, but he was turned down. Two blood alcohol tests indicated that he had a blood alcohol content level of .255 and .262, respectively. The legal limit in Washington is .08. He was taken to a local hospital for observation and later booked into the county jail. He has been charged with driving under the influence, hit-and-run of an unattended vehicle, hit-and-run of an attended vehicle and driving with a suspended license.

DUI and DWI charges can lead to harsh consequences in Washington. If convicted, typical penalties for drunk driving often include heavy fines, incarceration and the loss of driving privileges. However, many defendants avoid such outcomes by retaining the services of a criminal defense attorney. In some situations, an attorney may be able to dispute the results of any blood alcohol or field sobriety tests a defendant submitted to. In other circumstances, an attorney may argue that the authorities did not have the requisite reasonable suspicion to conduct the traffic stop.

Source: Puyallup Patch, “‘I’m Drunk’ Driver Tells Pierce County Deputies After Crash“, Hoa Quach, March 5, 2018