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.

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“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…]

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.

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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.

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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…]

Washington DUI Myths: Debunked

dui mythsCriminal 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.

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Washington Governor Signs Harsher Felony DUI Laws

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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Underage DUIs

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.

underage 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.

DUIs in Tacoma

Two major DUI crashes occurred in Tacoma this past February, resulting in two fatalities. Here’s a quick look at what happened:

duiPuyallup, 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.