Barbara A. Bowden

Tacoma, WA DUI Attorney

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The Dräger DrugTest 5000: A portable marijuana “breathalyzer”

Police who suspect drivers to be under the influence of drugs have a new tool to confirm their suspicions. Rather than relying on highly subjective and easily challengeable officer observations and/or voluntary field sobriety tests to establish probable cause to arrest, officers can now ask a suspect to submit to a mouth swab and run the sample through a portable device that tests for the presence of active THC (which remains in the body for a few hours after ingestion – as opposed to inactive THC, which can stay in the body for weeks). The device also tests for six other drugs, such as cocaine and methamphetamine.

[Read more…]

Is it illegal to talk on my phone while driving?

texting and drivingYes, if you are holding it to your ear. Washington State Law[1] makes it a traffic infraction (which is a civil – not criminal – offense) for a person to “operate a moving motor vehicle while holding a wireless communications device to his or her ear.”

This includes phoning while stopped in gridlock, or at a traffic light – but not if you safely pull to the side of the road first.

The exception to the rule is if you are calling 9-1-1, or otherwise using your phone to prevent injury to a person or property.

It is not illegal to use your phone “hands-free” (i.e. using the speaker phone function, or a headset/earpiece) while driving. [Read more…]

Malos consejos de un Notario Público hacen que rechacen la aplicación de inmigración a una familia local

Click here to read this in English.

Es posible que los notarios públicos sean abogados con licencia en algunos lugares de América Latina, pero no lo son en los Estados Unidos. Ellos solo tienen la autoridad para actuar como testigos al firmar y verificar documentos importantes, no han sido capacitados ni tienen experiencia legal.

Una familia que desea permanecer en el anonimato, aprendió esta lección de la peor manera después de pagarle a Ismael Delgado (quien se anunciaba como notario) para que les ayudara a presentar una solicitud de inmigración. Esta aplicación fue negada, potencialmente anulando sus posibilidades de obtener una residencia. [Read more…]

Bad advice from “Notario Publico” results in denial of local family’s immigration application

Notarios Publicos may be licensed attorneys in Latin America, but Notaries Public are not attorneys in the United States. Notaries Public only have the authority to act as an independent witness in the signing and verification of important documents. They have no legal training or legal expertise.

One family (which understandably prefers to remain unidentified in these uncertain times) recently learned this fact the hard way, when they paid Ismael Delgado, who advertised himself as a “Notario Publico”, to help them submit an immigration application. Their application was denied – potentially jeopardizing their future efforts to successfully immigrate.

[Read more…]

“Dreamer” with DUI arrested by ICE in Portland

A man who was brought to the United States at the age of five, and who was given Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protected status in 2013, was arrested in the middle of the night by Federal agents and taken to the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington, where he awaits deportation proceedings.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) did not have a warrant, and were not given permission to enter the residence, but they kept on beating on the door until a family member eventually produced their suspect.

Francisco Rodriguez Dominguez was born in Michoacan, Mexico, but that has not been his home since he was a young boy. The longtime Portland resident who is active in his church and coordinates a food pantry program for the poor made one mistake: he picked up a DUI, which got him on ICE’s radar. [Read more…]

Chief Justice of the Washington State Supreme Court asks ICE to stop prowling courthouses

In a March 22 letter to the Secretary of Homeland Security, the Honorable Mary Fairhurst expressed her concern about the increased presence of Federal agents in and around local courthouses, stating that fear of apprehension by immigration authorities erodes immigrants’ trust in the judicial system, “impede[s] the fundamental mission of courts, which is to ensure due process and access to justice for everyone,” and undermines courts’ ability to function.

Not just criminal defendants, but also those who are witnesses to or victims of crimes, might understandably choose not to voluntarily attend judicial proceedings given the risk of being snatched up and placed in deportation proceedings. Even legal residents seeking protection orders, for example, might think that is too risky, given ICE’s disturbing tactic of sweeping up collateral bystanders they suspect “may” be subject to removal.[1] [Read more…]

DUI most common conviction targeted by recent ICE raids

84 people were taken into federal custody as a result of a 3 day operation in Washington, Oregon and Alaska this week.[1] 60 had criminal records; 24 did not. 19 arrestees had a DUI as their only, or their most serious, conviction – DUI was by far the most common conviction targeted.

According to a news release by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “This operation highlights our commitment to promoting public safety through the pursuit of targeted criminals residing in the U.S. illegally.”[2]

One of the arrestees does have a pending child rape charge, and prior convictions for assault and domestic violence. ICE made sure to spotlight him in the first line of its press release, and to mention that he was recently released from custody by local authorities despite a federal immigration “detainer” request. Although attorney general Jeff Sessions has characterized local jurisdictions’ refusals to comply with such requests a violation of federal law, a federal court in Oregon ruled in 2014 that it’s in fact unconstitutional to detain people without a warrant after they would have otherwise been released. ICE detainer requests are not warrants because they are not signed by a neutral magistrate who has found probable cause to arrest. Thus, restricting the liberty of anyone present in the United States (whether or not he or she has permission to be here) per such a detainer request would constitute an illegal seizure under the Fourth Amendment.

[Read more…]

Utah to lower DUI threshold from .08 to .05

Is the rest of the nation next?

Washington State PoliceCurrently, the “per se”[1] limit for alcohol impairment in every state is .08. However, that is about to change. The Utah legislature recently presented a bill for the governor’s signature lowering the legal limit to .05. The governor intends to sign it and the law is currently scheduled to kick in December 30, 2018 – just in time for a New Year’s Eve Emphasis patrol.

Driving while intoxicated is clearly dangerous, but would someone definitely be too impaired to safely drive with a BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) of .05? Depending on your size and body chemistry, you can be at .05 after just one drink.

Utah restauranteurs are particularly worried about this new law, since many folks like to enjoy a glass of wine with their meal. Could this mean that people will choose not to order the most profitable items on their menus? Does this mean Utah residents will eat out less often?

It is unclear what spurred the Utah legislature to make the change; there is no language in the bill regarding legislative intent. If they are relying on new scientific evidence no such evidence was cited.

[Read more…]

Lakewood Police to do DUI Blood Draws Themselves

If you refuse a breathalyzer in Lakewood, the cops are going to stick you with a needle. And they might stick you even if you agree to blow, because who knows? Maybe you also have THC or some other drug in your system.

When you are arrested for DUI, the police typically take you to the station and ask you to blow into a breathalyzer. You can refuse, but if you do, your license will be suspended[1] for at least a year[2] (rather the 90 days you will get if you blow over .08), and they can get a warrant to search your blood anyway.

These days it doesn’t take much to get a warrant. The police just call a judge, even after hours, tell the judge why they arrested you, and the judge authorizes a “qualified” person to take your blood. It’s all done telephonically / electronically; there is very little lag time. [Read more…]

What to do if you are pulled over for DUI

If defense attorneys had their way, officers would be required to give Miranda warnings immediately following the stop, rather than the arrest.

The investigating officer would be required to tell you, up front, that the purpose of their questions was to develop enough probable cause to arrest you, that you didn’t have to cooperate, and that, while you should be polite, you probably shouldn’t cooperate.

It’s totally ok to politely inquire whether the officer is asking you to do something or ordering you to do it. You must obey orders, but you don’t have to comply with requests. Many officers use tone, expression, and/or other tricks of intimidation to make you feel like it’s in your best interest to cooperate; don’t be coerced to give up more than you have to!

Assume that you are going to be arrested, and that nothing you do or say will change that. In fact, anything you do or say will be twisted to sound way worse, and just make the prosecutor’s job easier – and your attorney’s job more difficult.

In an ideal world (from a defense perspective), a DUI stop would go something like this:

Officer: “Do you know why I stopped you? Wait- you don’t have to answer that question. In fact, answering that question is probably a bad idea, because I will use whatever you say to prove that the stop was valid in case your attorney tries to challenge the stop later. If you say yes, you do know why I stopped you, I will consider this an admission of guilt – at least as to a traffic infraction. Your attorney would almost certainly tell you to say: ‘no, I don’t know why you stopped me.’ But go ahead and tell me anything you want to. But, remember: you don’t have to, it’s totally up to you.” [Read more…]