Criminal defense lawyers in Tacoma, WA represent defendants charged with all different manners of crimes, from low-level misdemeanors to serious felonies. Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the most common offenses in any state, with nearly 1.5 million people arrested for a DUI each year. That’s about 4,000 DUI arrests every day, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
As of March 31, 2016, harsher penalties are in store for many repeat drunk driving offenders in the Evergreen State. Washington Governor, Jay Inslee, recently signed a new felony DUI bill that doubles the maximum penalties for felony-level drunk driving convictions.
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Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is a very serious traffic violation These charges can have long-lasting effects on drivers who are convicted. Here at The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, our Tacoma, Washington, DUI attorneys often see DUI charges involving drivers who are under the age of 21. With these charges being so serious, we want to take a moment to look at some important statistics behind underage drunk driving, along with some tips about what to do if you (or your son or daughter) is pulled over under the suspicion of a DUI.
The Facts Behind Underage DUIs
Drunk driving laws and subsequent penalties for a DUI conviction are strict because these crashes can have drastic consequences—and also because Americans drive under the influence more often than most people realize.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA);
- 63% of Americans will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives, even if this accident is caused by another driver or vehicle.
- More than 29 million people have admitted to driving under the influence at least once in the past year.
- Nearly one-third (29%) of convicted drunk drivers have already been convicted of a DUI prior.
- The average person convicted of drunk driving is a first-time offender—but he or she drives under the influence around 80 times—on average—before being caught.
Underage drunk driving is even more serious because drivers are technically breaking two laws: first, consuming alcohol under the age of 21, and second, driving while intoxicated. In the state of Washington, it is also common for underage drivers to be pulled over for driving under the influence of illegal drugs. According to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board;
- Compared to drivers over the age of 21, drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are twice as likely to die in a car accident when they drive while intoxicated.
- Teenagers who begin drinking alcohol around age 15 are four times as likely to develop an alcohol dependence, compared to individuals who wait until turning 21 to begin drinking alcohol.
- According to 2007 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), underage drunk driving in the state of Washington cost residents $1.4 billion in that one year alone.
So what’s the next step?
It is important for parents to be the first line of defense in these situations. It is important to talk to your son or daughter about the dangers of drunk driving and the appropriate steps to take following a drunk driving accident.
As with all DUI cases, it is important for teens to remember these points if they are pulled over for drunk driving:
- Respecting the law and respecting law enforcement officials is essential. Although drivers are not legally required to implicate themselves when a police officer asks whether they’ve been drinking alcohol, drivers always need to show respect and save any arguments for later.
- Implied consent laws mean that drivers are required to complete a drug or alcohol test if they are pulled over under the suspicion of DUI (and if the police officer requests it). Drivers can choose which type of chemical test they prefer, but the consequences of refusing to perform a test will be much more severe.
- Never assume that driving after drinking alcohol will be okay, even if you’re going somewhere “just down the road” or if you’ve “only had a couple drinks and don’t feel drunk.” It is always better for teens—and adults—to call a trustworthy friend or relative to pick them up. It is important to emphasize this when talking with your children.
It is crucial for parents and teens to understand that mistakes happen and that the consequences don’t have to last forever. At The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, our team of compassionate and experienced DUI attorneys understand this. We’re committed to making the roads of Washington as safe as possible. Contact us today if you or your child has been pulled over for a DUI offense. We want to help.
Two major DUI crashes occurred in Tacoma this past February, resulting in two fatalities. Here’s a quick look at what happened:
Puyallup, Feb. 8
On Monday, Feb. 8, a 46-year-old man was driving home from work when a drunk driver hit his vehicle, according to KIRO 7 News. The driver, a 24-year-old woman, reportedly ran a red light at the Puyallup intersection of South Meridian and Pioneer. It was approximately 11:22 p.m. when her pickup truck T-boned a Honda civic and dragged it 80 feet, killing the man inside.
According to reports, the woman “seemed incoherent at the scene and did poorly in a field sobriety test.” Puyallup police officers reported smelling alcohol on her breath and stated that her speech was slurred. She admitted to the authorities that she had been drinking earlier that night, and that shebut thought she had hit a parked car.
She was booked on suspicion of vehicular homicide and her bail was set at $35,000. According to KIRO 7 News, her BAC level could not be confirmed at the time of her booking and therefore it was unknown if she was legally drunk while driving. However, her actions that night suggest she probably was. Police on the scene reported that she “only pretended to blow during two breathalyzer tests” after the crash and her BAC levels had to be tested in a blood draw test.
On the day of her booking, the situation took an interesting when the deceased man’s 16-year-old daughter used the opportunity to make a passionate plea against those who drive under the influence. She talked with reporters and photographers at the Puyallup Police Department just two days after her father was killed in the accident.
The teen expressed her grief, saying that her father will not be able to see her graduate from high school. She also asked others who consider drinking and driving to “stop and realize that you might change a life forever.”
Tacoma, Feb. 27
Another fatal DUI incident occurred at the end of the month in Tacoma, which killed one and injured three others. According to KOMO News, a 25-year-old Tacoma man was driving northbound at Interstate 5 and milepost 136 when he lost control of his vehicle. Authorities have stated that his speed and driving under the influence caused the man to lose control. There were three male passengers in the vehicle with him, ages 19, 25, and 26.
The 19-year-old passenger died in the accident, which occurred around 12:30 a.m., while the three other men were rushed to the local hospital for treatment. Charges are expected to follow.
Our legal team extends our deepest condolences to the friends and family members of those who have died from drunk driving crashes, and we urge all Tacoma residents to be mindful of your actions when alcohol is involved. If you’ve been in a DUI-related accident in Tacoma, please do not hesitate to contact The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden for legal assistance.
Drunk and reckless driving is something that many movies and TV shows highlight for dramatic and/or comedic effect. Although these on-screen situations are certainly entertaining, they aren’t always the most accurate portrayal of what happens when an individual operates a vehicle under the influence or drives recklessly.
That being said, there are some important lessons to be learned from these movie and TV show clips. Let’s take a quick look at some of the most memorable scenes from the big screen that involve drunk driving or reckless driving:
1. The Mighty Ducks
This was a 90s Disney classic that every Millennial (and their parents) are probably familiar with. The scene portrayed in The Mighty Ducks, where team coach Gordon Bombay is pulled over under the suspicion of drunk driving, is less flashy than most Hollywood portrayals of drunk driving. This scene is actually a good way to start off our list. It shows that anyone can make a mistake and be charged with DUI.
2. House of Cards
In the popular Netflix show House of Cards, the famous politician Peter Russo is pulled over for drunk driving. As many drivers do try to do, this character explained that he is too famous to be arrested for drunk driving—that perhaps a deal can be worked out instead. This is another rare case of a DUI arrest portrayed fairly accurately in a TV show.
3. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas provides an interesting perspective for driving under the influence of an illicit substance other than alcohol. Raoul Duke, the main character played by actor Johnny Depp, is clearly unfit to drive and his cognitive abilities are just as incapacitated as a drunk driver’s abilities (if not more so). In reality, this car chase scene probably wouldn’t happen. Technology has advanced so much that law enforcement officials can work together to locate and track drivers remotely and quickly.
4. The Wolf of Wall Street
The Wolf of Wall Street provides another dramatic portrayal of driving under the influence of illicit substances. In real life, it’s not likely that a driver this incapacitated would be able to keep his or her vehicle running for as long as Leonardo DiCaprio’s character did. If nothing else, a real-life driver would be facing many painful injuries after causing that much property and vehicular damage.
5. Groundhog Day
Getting out of this incident from Groundhog Day certainly wouldn’t be easy in real life. Even a small amount of property damage can mandate a hefty fine. Making casual jokes with the police officer who pulls you over is also not advisable. As this scene showed, it usually still leads to an arrest.
6. Easy Money
The famous quote in this clip from the movie Easy Money—“I drive better when I’m drunk”—is unfortunately not as humorous when drivers use this logic to get behind the wheel after drinking. Research from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that the average drunk driver will drive while intoxicated around 80 times before being caught, and 63% of the American population will be involved in a DUI-related accident (like the one narrowly avoided in Easy Money). Legislation called “open container laws” also prohibits passengers from consuming alcohol in a moving motor vehicle.
7. The Longest Yard
This scene from The Longest Yard is a very good example of several things not to do when you are pulled over for reckless driving—and when police officers suspect that you are intoxicated. From insulting the police officers to showing evidence of his beverage, the main character played by Adam Sandler would be looking at a hefty fine and a long time in jail.
8. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
Driving in a straight line in between two 18-wheelers and getting out without so much as a scratch? Unlike this scene from the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, it is not likely to happen. Reckless driving—even when alcohol isn’t involved—is still considered a serious offense.
When Kristen Wiig’s character is pulled over under the suspicion of DUI, the police officer asks her to perform a quick sobriety test: walking in a straight line. In real life, a police officer would more likely ask a driver to take a breathalyzer test instead. Walking in a straight line isn’t exactly the best test of sobriety, especially when you’re wearing heels. Her character manages to get out of a traffic ticket by appealing to the officer’s emotions, but in reality a driver would still walk away with a ticket for reckless driving.
But Outside of Hollywood…
Although drunk driving may be entertaining on the big screen, it is something that isn’t quite so humorous when you’re involved in drunk driving incident in real life. Even though more than 29 million Americans drive drunk every single year, around 4,000 are arrested every single day.
At The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden, we understand that the average DUI in Tacoma, Washington, is much more serious than the average DUI in Hollywood. If you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, contact our experienced legal team today.
Although the state of Washington has legalized recreational marijuana usage, the City of Tacoma has placed a temporary hold on new retail operations associated with marijuana use.
Specifically, it prohibits new retail marijuana stores from opening up while the moratorium is active, but the nine state-licensed marijuana retail stores already operating in Tacoma will be allowed to keep their doors open throughout this period. This temporary moratorium could last as long as six months, but might only last four or five months if Tacoma city officials are able to revise marijuana-related regulations.
The Tacoma City Council unanimously passed this decision on January 12th. Now, the Tacoma Planning Commission will seek to devise new rules for the maximum number of marijuana-related storefronts there. The issue of medical and recreational marijuana legislation has been present in Tacoma ever since the state legalized the drug for recreational use, but this official pause is the first time that city officials have made an effort to revise older regulations in order to comply with newer state regulations. Up until now, marijuana usage has been a sort of gray area for Tacoma residents and regulations haven’t been strictly enforced.
One thing that most people don’t realize about both DUI attorneys and traffic ticket attorneys is that their legal practices strongly rely on reviews that past clients leave online. These reviews could be on Google+, Facebook, Yelp, Avvo, or other sites as well.
It’s understandable, however, that some individuals involved in a sensitive legal case don’t necessarily want their names tied to their reviews. There’s certainly enough personal information floating around the Internet without having to worry about a potential employer, business partner, or mother-in-law discovering that you were involved in a drunk driving incident. According to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), around 112,000 drivers receive speeding tickets and 4,000 drivers are arrested for DUI charges every single day. Still, there are just some things that are best kept quiet, and the experienced DUI attorneys at The Law Offices of Barbara A. Bowden understand that.
Marijuana breathalyzers could be coming to Washington sometime this year, according to researchers at Washington State University. The breathalyzers would be a welcome tool for police, as recognizing individuals who are driving high can be a challenge.
If you want to avoid getting pulled over you should consider avoiding these 5 common ways that will often result in a traffic stop. If you do get pulled over for doing one of these things (or something else), it is important to speak with an experience attorney immediately.