Seattle DUI due to “Drug Dumping?”

A Washington State DUI arrest almost always involves alcohol. Although the legal consequences of a DUI in Seattle and elsewhere in Washington State are fully discussed elsewhere on our blog and within our firm website, recent research has revealed a medical risk that may occur when “time release” medicine is taken and alcohol is present in the stomach at some point during the “time release” phase. Science Daily reported on September 29, 2009, about a review of existing studies by author Hans Lennin in the September-October issue of ACS’ Molecular Pharmaceutics. The author draws the conclusion that alcohol in the stomach may, in some cases, cause “dose dumping,” where the medicine is released immediately, rather than over time. The conclusions and recommendations in the article are preliminary but the author calls for appropriate testing of time release drugs to determine whether “dose dumping” may occur in the presence of alcohol.

The implication for a Seattle DUI (or a DUI elsewhere in Washington State) is that an individual might take, for instance, a time-release pain medication that if properly dosed, would not impair driving. If that same individual had consumed a non-impairing amount of alcohol before taking the time release drug, and the alcohol caused the medication to “dose dump,” the individual might unwittingly become very impaired by the drug and find himself or herself charged with DUI due to alcohol, drugs, or both. The possibility of “dose dumping” is yet another reason to strictly heed all instructions regarding the use of prescribed drugs, including warnings about not consuming alcohol while taking the drug. This is the safest way to avoid a Seattle DUI arrest.

Our law firm has vast experience defending DUI charges throughout Washington State and in the Seattle metropolitan area. We are very experienced Washington drug DUI attorneys, so please contact us for a free consultation about your arrest.


Will A DUI Mean I Cannot Be A Nurse?

Registered Nurse DUIIn 2006 the legislature directed the Department of Health (DOH) to adopt rules about mandatory reporting of health care practitioners who commit unprofessional conduct, or unable to practice safely. Part of this new regulatory scheme is the requirement to self-report even if there has been no criminal conviction as the new rules require disclosure of pending actions triggered by an arrest. A DUI arrest falls into this rule of disclosure.

The DOH adopted these rules on March 31, 2008 and they cover all practitioners that are regulated under the umbrella of the department secretary, a board, or a commission. Nurses fall under this criteria and the rules can be found in WAC 246-16. Subsequently, in 2008 the WAC was amended the section pertaining to Mandatory Reporting of conduct and it is this change that requires the disclosure of charges and arrests.

While I encourage all inquires to be directed directly to Washington State Department of Health, 30 Israel RD SE, Olympia WA, 98501-7860, or call 360-236-4700, there is some information that can help a nurse rest a little easier. Any active nurse, or student nurse enrolled in a program dedicated to achieving nursing licensing, should know that a single DUI conviction is not a bar to licensing. Upon my consulting with the Nursing department licensing specialist the department has a somewhat humanistic approach to licensing and recognizes that one mistake in the form of a criminal charge or conviction for DUI does not accurately reflect the applicant, nor does it define their ability to practice health care. While they appreciate the fact that many DUI charges ultimately result in lesser charges, the applicant MUST disclose the original DUI charge as well as the ultimate result stemming from the charge. Any period probation, also does not bar an applicant. The disclosure of charge and final result is necessary to assess the applicants honesty, which is a criteria for licensing, so omitting the original charge and only disclosing the end result will do more harm than good.

While a single DUI charge is unlikely to have a detrimental licensing consequences, multiple charges will almost certainly bar licensing but the time between the charges is a factor worthy of much consideration. The closer the two charges are in time, the more likely the licensing department is to find that that applicant likely is a substance (alcohol) abuser, or perhaps dependent and given the fact that nurses judgment must be sound, as well as their access to potent medications, a practicing nurse, or potential nurse applicant will need to demonstrate that they do pose no danger. Obviously, someone who abuses, or is dependent upon addictive substances will have more difficulty overcoming this hurdle than someone who has only been arrested 1 time in their life.

Consequently, a single DUI conviction, or conviction for a lesser charge is unlikely to act a bar to either the admission to the Nursing field, nor is it likely to terminate an active nurse. However, since every case is different, readers are encouraged to use the address and phone number given above as well as visit the Nursing Commission


Barred From Canada For DUI

Having a DUI charge pending, or a DUI reduction, or conviction on your record will get you banned from visiting Canada, where drunken driving is treated as the most serious type of offense (Indictable Offence ).  This is the equivalent to a felony, and you’ll have to wait at least five years from the date probation terminated, and then complete lengthy paperwork to be considered rehabilitated and admissible to the Country.

There is no guess work about it, if the immigration officer in the at Canada Customs becomes aware of your prior DUI, pending DUI, or DUI reduced to something else, you will almost certainly be turned away and told not to return until the matter is resolved not only in your home state but with Canada Immigration. With the upcoming Olympics fast approaching and the games worldwide attention drawing more than 250,000 visitors to the Province, some wonder if the strict policy is worth it. In the meantime, if you are planning on attending the games in person and you have a criminal conviction for DUI, or even a pending charge now, even if it is resolved before the games you will likely be inadmissible.

These types of immigration consequences are what are called “collateral” consequences. Being aware of them before it is too late, and dealing with a DUI charge with an eye towards minimizing these types of issues is what a highly trained DUI lawyer can offer. At Fox Bowman Duarte, we have such lawyers who are often called upon to teach other lawyers how to competently deal with these issues.  We also maintain important contacts to Canadian immigration lawyers who will be necessary in many cases to close the case on Canadian admission stemming from a DUI charge.  If you are someone you know is facing a DUI charge, or recently resolved a DUI charge and seeking a visit to Canada for business or the upcoming games it is important to seek legal counsel trained to deal with these unique and complex issues.


Seattle DUI – Why is a DUI trooper at my door?

As discussed in a previous blog, in 2009 the Washington State Patrol instituted a pilot “Ignition Interlock Compliance Program.” As part of that program, Washington State Patrol troopers are knocking on the doors of drivers who, after a Washington State DUI arrest or conviction, are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their personal vehicles. The vast majority of drivers arrested for DUI have great anxiety about the prospect of damage to career and reputation that can be caused by public knowledge of the DUI arrest. For most folks, there is very little risk that they will be in the position of being arrested for DUI again after having once gone through the humiliating and frightening process. They just want to resolve the matter and quietly move on. “Quietly moving on” will now likely be interrupted by a personal visit to one’s residence by a uniformed Washington State Patrol officer in a marked police vehicle, in full view of the neighbors. Legal issues exist in this scenario: Is there legal authority for WSP to arrive on the doorstep demanding proof of compliance with the DUI ignition interlock laws? Is a citizen required to open his/her garage and let the officer in to examine the vehicle?  Below is the text of the law that established the WSP DUI pilot Ignition Interlock Compliance Program.

RCW 46.20.745

Ignition interlock device revolving account program — Pilot program. 

(1) The ignition interlock device revolving account program is created within the department to assist in covering the monetary costs of installing, removing, and leasing an ignition interlock device, and applicable licensing, for indigent persons who are required under *RCW 46.20.385 and 46.61.5055 to install an ignition interlock device in all vehicles owned or operated by the person. For purposes of this subsection, “indigent” has the same meaning as in RCW 10.101.010, as determined by the department.

     (2) A pilot program is created within the ignition interlock device revolving account program for the purpose of monitoring compliance by persons required to use ignition interlock devices and by ignition interlock companies and vendors.

     (3) The department, the state patrol, and the Washington traffic safety commission shall coordinate to establish a compliance pilot program that will target at least one county from eastern Washington and one county from western Washington, as determined by the department, state patrol, and Washington traffic safety commission.

     (4) At a minimum, the compliance pilot program shall:

     (a) Review the number of ignition interlock devices that are required to be installed in the targeted county and the number of ignition interlock devices actually installed;

     (b) Work to identify those persons who are not complying with ignition interlock requirements or are repeatedly violating ignition interlock requirements; and

     (c) Identify ways to track compliance and reduce noncompliance.

     (5) As part of monitoring compliance, the Washington traffic safety commission shall also track recidivism for violations of RCW 46.61.502 and 46.61.504 by persons required to have an ignition interlock driver’s license under *RCW 46.20.385.


Alcohol Detecting Ankle Bracelet gets Judicial approval in South Dakota DUI Case

A SCRAM device is an electronic ankle bracelet that is designed to detect whether a person has been drinking alcohol by measuring alcohol through the person’s skin. This is called a measurement of transdermal alcohol concentration. SCRAM is short for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring.  In Washington State, some judges require a person accused of DUI to wear a SCRAM bracelet pending trial of the DUI case. Use of the SCRAM device in DUI cases is controversial and the technology has not met with universal judicial acceptance. No appellate court has ruled upon the scientific acceptability of the SCRAM device in a case involving a Washington State DUI arrest, however, the device recently received judicial approval from the Supreme Court of the State of South Dakota in the DUI case of State v. Lemler, a DUI opinion filed on September 16, 2009. Although the South Dakota Supreme Court’s ruling binds that state, attorneys representing persons arrested for DUI in Washington State remain free to challenge whether the SCRAM device has met with enough “scientific acceptance” to warrant across the board approval of SCRAM use when appropriate in a DUI charge arising from a Washington State DUI arrest.

The attorneys at Fox Bowman Duarte are familiar with SCRAM technology and the issues raised by SCRAM arising from a Washington State DUI arrest.


Jon Fox Speaks at the Judicial DUI Forum

Jon Scott Fox and Fox Bowman Duarte partner Bill Bowman recently shared the podium for a presentation to judges at the 2009 Judicial DUI Forum in Lynnwood, Washington. The event is sponsored by the District and Municipal Court Judges Association and provides a forum for the discussion of current issues in DUI defense and prosecution. The presentation concerned field sobriety testing and the issues discussed included the proper administration of the tests, the position of the National Highway Traffic Administration regarding field tests, the weight to be given to field tests if admitted, and whether the evidential use of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test should be judicially limited. Mr. Fox and Mr. Bowman were the only representatives of the criminal defense DUI bar at this forum. Jon and Fox Bowman Duarte partner Diego Vargas will be speaking to local judges at the 2009 Judicial DUI Forum in Kennewick later this month.


Seattle DUI – what does quartz have to do with my breath test?

After a Seattle DUI arrest or an arrest for DUI anywhere in Washington state, the citizen who has been arrested for DUI will be asked to take a breath test.  As of the date of this blog, the DataMaster breath testing machine (in two variations) is the only device approved for DUI evidential use.  It operates by using infrared spectroscopy to analyze the breath of a DUI suspect.  One of the issues that exists when an electro-mechanical device is used to produce forensic evidence in a DUI case is whether the machine is properly calibrated.  The calibration process for the DUI breath test machine in our state involves running “simulator solutions” through the machine at various concentration levels and checking the electronics.  However, there is always a question about how the machine is operating in the field.  Therefore, as part of the calibration process, the DUI DataMaster takes a reading of a “quartz plate” that is designed to absorb a given amount of infrared light. Because the DataMaster ultimately produces an alcohol reading on a DUI suspect by comparing the intensity of infrared light in a breath chamber before and after an individual blows into it, the idea is that if the machine is consistently producing the same reading in the field on the quartz plate, it is accurate within a certain range of error. That’s what quartz has to do with a breath test.   The long and short of it is that despite many attempts to ensure the accuracy of infrared spectroscopy to produce evidential DUI breath test results, there remain a number of problems.  As with other areas of Washington State DUI law, the technical side of defending a Seattle DUI is quite complex and requires in-depth knowledge of the technology used by DUI squad police in making DUI arrests and by prosecutors in prosecuting DUI cases.


Seattle DUI – Refuse a Breath Test at your Peril

Our Implied Consent Law states that an individual under arrest for a misdemeanor DUI in Washington state has the “right” to refuse to submit to a breath test. Most citizens know this, and, on average, probably less than 20% of those arrested for DUI in Seattle or elsewhere in Washington State refuse to take the breath test. There are a number of reasons why an individual might refuse to submit to a breath test, however,  including the advice of counsel or a fear that the breath test machine is not accurate.  Those who refuse to breath test might be calculating that they will pay a price for refusing to provide evidence to the state (loss of license for at least one year) but that on the other hand, the prosecution will not have a sample of breath to use at trial.  The decision by the Washington State Supreme Court in the DUI case of City of Seattle v. St. John (No.  81992-1) was issued today and this case changes entirely the calculation regarding refusing to submit to a breath test.  In this case, the Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional or statutory authority preventing the police from obtaining a search warrant for the blood of a driver who has refused to breath test.  Once a search warrant has been obtained, the individual has no right to refuse to submit to the blood test.  Therefore, an individual who does refuse to submit to a breath test at the police station is partially correct in his calculation: the Department of Licensing will administratively revoke the license for at least one year.  However, the prosecution likely will not be deprived of any evidence because the police officer is perfectly entitled to obtain a search warrant for the blood of the individual under these circumstances, according to the Supreme Court’s opinion. This will leave the prosecution free at the DUI trial to argue that the individual showed “consciousness of guilt” by refusing to submit to the the breath test, and the results of the blood test will also be admitted into evidence and argued to the jury. Therefore, it is difficult to conceive of circumstances where an individual under arrest for a misdemeanor DUI would be better off refusing to submit to the breath test if the DUI police officer is going to obtain a sample of the blood via a search warrant in any event.

They are still remain a number of issues regarding the admissibility of a driver’s refusal to submit to a DUI breath test and also regarding the admissibility of any subsequent DUI blood test. Our firm has more combined experience defending Seattle DUI cases and cases throughout Washington State than any other DUI defense firm in Washington State.


Forced blood from DUI arrestee results in lawsuit.

WLWT-TV reports that a Lawrenceburg, Indiana man has filed a lawsuit against the police asserting that police forcibly drew blood and urine from his body during a drunk driving arrest. According to the report, a 53-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and although a breath test showed that he was under the legal limit, the arresting officer doubted the findings.  He then obtained a search warrant authorizing the forcible taking of blood. A catheter was inserted against the driver’s will while the driver was shackled to a gurney, according to the report.  The blood test later showed that the drivers blood alcohol level was not over Indiana’s legal limit.

Could this happen in a Washington state DUI arrest? The answer is yes.  The Seattle police DUI squad has already obtained search warrants authorizing the taking of a driver’s blood in cases where the DUI arrestee has refused to submit to a breath test.  Apparently, a DUI Municipal Court Judge is always available by telephone to consider such DUI blood warrants and a Seattle DUI police officer can thus obtain a telephonic warrant to take the blood of a driver arrested for DUI in Seattle even in the middle of the night.  The same statutory authority used by the Seattle DUI squad exists is available to other Washington state DUI police agencies who could choose to utilize this procedure but currently, the forcible taking of blood pursuant to a search for it has only been seen in the cases of persons arrested for DUI in Seattle who have refused to submit to a breath test.  The forcible taking of blood is at odds with Washington’s DUI Implied Consent Law, which grants the right to every Washington State DUI arrestee to refuse to submit to a breath test when arrested for a misdemeanor DUI charge. The statute does not inform the DUI arrestee that if he refuses to take a breath test, a search for it could be obtained that would authorize the forcible taking of blood.  The entire controversy is currently awaiting a decision by the Washington State Supreme Court.

The law firm Fox Bowman Duarte has a twenty-four hour line available to advise drivers who are facing critical decisions upon a DUI arrest.


No Driver’s License if alcoholic?

The State of Washington emphasizes alcohol treatment when necessary in connection with a Washington state or Seattle DUI arrest or conviction.  However, it is not well known that even in the absence of a DUI conviction or a DUI arrest, the DOL will not issue a license to an individual who has been classified as an alcoholic or an alcohol abuser. Here is the text from the relevant statute:

RCW 46.20.031

Ineligibility. 

The department shall not issue a driver’s license to a person:

     (1) Who is under the age of sixteen years;

     (2) Whose driving privilege has been withheld unless and until the department may authorize the driving privilege under RCW 46.20.311;

     (3) Who has been classified as an alcoholic, drug addict, alcohol abuser, or drug abuser by a program approved by the department of social and health services. The department may, however, issue a license if the person:

     (a) Has been granted a deferred prosecution under chapter 10.05 RCW; or

     (b) Is satisfactorily participating in or has successfully completed an alcohol or drug abuse treatment program approved by the department of social and health services and has established control of his or her alcohol or drug abuse problem;

As the law states, the DOL will issue a license to such a driver who is alcoholic or an alcohol abuser, however, if they are in compliance with a treatment program.The rationale is, of course, public safety. Licensing issues before or after a DUI arrest in Seattle or Washington State are very complex. In our firm, attorney Diana Lundin is our in house source for the latest information regarding DOL implications of a Seattle or Washington state DUI, as her practice is focused upon DOL issues.