New lower Drunk Driving limit proposed for Washington State DUI laws.

NTSB Recommends All States Adopt .05 BAC Limit

Driving While Under the Influence” (DUI) to become “Driving After Consuming Alcohol” (DACA)?

On May 14, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states lower the per se BAC limit for DUI to .05 from its current level at .08. his change would have a substantial impact on our State and would likely criminalize the responsible driving behavior of many currently law abiding citizens. In order to understand the proposed change, you need to know how the current law works.

Sullivan Law FirmUnder current Washington DUI laws, there are two ways for a prosecutor to convict an adult for Driving While Under the Influence (DUI). The first way is for the prosecutor to prove to a jury of six people that the citizen was driving and within two hours after had a BAC of .08 or higher. This is called the “per se prong” because the prosecutor does not have to prove that the citizen was impaired but instead only that the BAC was .08 or higher.

The second way is for the prosecutor to prove that the citizen was driving while under the influence or affected by intoxicating liquor as shown by all of the evidence. This is called the “affected by prong” because the prosecutor has to actually prove that the citizen was impaired. The affected by prong is used when the person’s BAC is under .08, the person refused the breath or blood test, or a good defense attorney suppressed the breath test.

Washington has a zero tolerance limit for citizens under 21 when it comes to DUI. A minor can be convicted for “Minor Driving After Consuming Alcohol” for driving with a BAC of .02 or higher. It is clear that the NTSB would like Washington to move ever closer to zero tolerance for adult drivers. With the proposed new limit, you could be convicted for the very serious crime of DUI when you are not under the influence or affected by intoxicating liquor. You may not be impaired in anyway and totally safe on the road but, because your BAC was .05 or higher, find yourself convicted of DUI. Or, you may be under .05, but find yourself wrongfully arrested.

Increased Wrongful Arrests
Here’s how it might work: Let’s say you are on the golf course with a few of your friends. Let’s say you have always been responsible when it comes to alcohol and know that you can have a few beers over the course of the game and be perfectly fine to drive. You watch your drinks carefully and prepare to leave feeling absolutely no effects of alcohol.

Now let’s say that you have gotten a few speeding tickets in the past because you tend to drive 5 to 10 MPH over the speed limit and today you have some bad luck. A Washington State Patrol trooper pulls you over, not for driving over the road, but because you were going 7 MPH over the speed limit. As soon as you roll down the window, the Trooper smells a slight odor of intoxicants and asks “have you had anything to drink today?” Now, you haven’t been properly advised that your answer to that question should be “I am exercising my right to remain silent” so you make the mistake of saying “yes.”

In order for an officer to arrest a person for a crime, a police officer has to have probable cause to believe that the person is guilty of a crime. Under the current law for adults, there has to be evidence of something more than just an odor of alcohol and an admission of drinking. For example, the officer may offer field sobriety tests which the person fails. However, for minors, this is all the officer needs to arrest for DUI because of zero tolerance.

Under the proposed .05 BAC limit, some judges will likely reduce the standard for probable cause to something much closer to the current zero tolerance minor limit. That means merely having a slight odor of alcohol on your breath and admitting to having something to drink may be enough for you to be arrested and go to jail right then. Even if you are not subsequently charged with DUI, you will still suffer the humiliation of being handcuffed, maybe in front of friends and family, and being transported to jail. You will also have your vehicle impounded and have to pay around $500 to retrieve it.

Increased Convictions for Responsible Driving
Hopefully you remember to ask to speak to an attorney before you take the breath test which is your right. Regardless, let’s say you take the breath test and the two samples are .052 and .053. Now the officer may well book you into jail because you blew over the legal limit. Remember, you may not have felt any effects of the alcohol but the new .05 limit just got you a night in the Snohomish County jail.

The prosecutor would then be freed from having to prove you were affected by alcohol, which you weren’t, because of the new .05 limit. The prosecutor would just have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the test was accurate. Now, a good defense attorney will try to challenge the accuracy of the test, but our jobs are made that much more difficult when the prosecutor does not have to prove impairment.

If this new law is adopted in Washington, we will do everything in our power to defend people wrongfully accused for driving “under the influence” when the name has lost its meaning. In fact, under the new standard, they should change the name of the crime to: “driving after consuming alcohol.”

Washington Lawmakers reach new deal on DUI Laws Video

Law Office of Brian M. Sullivan, PLLC LogoThe Law Office of Brian M. Sullivan has offices in EverettLynnwood, and Kirkland, Washington with practice areas focussing on DUI Defense, Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Law. Each case is unique, so contact us today for a free consultation. You can connect with Brian M. Sullivan on Google +.

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Not Guilty Verdcit in DUI Case – DUI Defense Lawyer Brian Sullivan Ends Year With Accquital

DUI Lawyer Brian Sullivan

A King County jury acquitted V.G. in December 2012 after a jury trial for Drunk Driving (Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor and/or Drugs, RCW 46.61.502). V.G. was represented by Attorney Brian M. Sullivan.

Mr. Sullivan’s client had been arrested almost a year earlier. He was initially stopped for “bad driving” – that is, he failed to signal while changing lanes to get onto an on-ramp and he briefly crossed and touched and the fog line. He admitted to drinking a glass of wine. He agreed to do field sobriety tests. The Trooper said he failed them. He refused the portable breath test in the field. He was arrested. At the station he blew one and a half times the legal limit.

DUI Attorney Brian M. Sullivan was retained and fought the case tooth and nail from start to finish. Mr. Sullivan, his associate Jason Lantz, and their team of DUI investigators and Breath Test Expert Witnesses did a thorough case review and investigation. Pretrial motions were filed and argued. As a result, the jury never heard about the Breath Test that was administered. The BAC result was suppressed based in the problems with its accuracy and reliability raised in the firm’s exclusion and suppression motions.

Mr. Sullivan also suppressed key evidence in the DUI allegation: the refusal to take a portable breath alcohol test before arrest. After reviewing our motions, the prosecutor conceded and didn’t offer the refusal as evidence.

We had gutted the State’s case against my client. Plea bargains were offered. “This is a good deal, Neg 1 or trial” the government prosecutor told us. But V.G. and I both felt strongly about the case. We went to trial.

In trial, Mr. Sullivan was able to demonstrate to the jury that the tests were not administered fairly, that they were improperly scored, and that while an officer with years of experience couldn’t smell alcohol, the young Trooper, who arrived later, supposedly could. Mr. Sullivan used the State’s first responding officer – a highly trained DUI enforcement officer – against them. Mr. Sullivan was able to get him to point out to the jury some of the many issues regarding the fairness and accuracy of the testing. The State’s DUI case was cracked as Mr. Sullivan was able to, time and again, demonstrate numerous inaccuracies / discrepancies between the police dash cam video, the police reports, and the testimony.

The end result was that our client left the courtroom that day free from the charges leveled against him. Not Guilty.

Law Office of Brian M. Sullivan, PLLC LogoThe Law Office of Brian M. Sullivan has offices in Everett, Lynnwood, and Kirkland, Washington with practice areas focussing on DUI Defense, Criminal Defense and Personal Injury Law. Each case is unique, so contact us today for a free consultation.

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Lynnwood, WA – DUI & Personal Injury Lawyer – OFFICE GRAND OPENING – Law Office of Brian M. Sullivan & Associates

7411 196th St SW, Lynnwood, WA 98036 – The Law Office of Brian M. Sullivan and Associates, is expanding.

This month, our 3rd office location is opening, right near the Edmonds and Lynnwood city line.  Initially, hours will be by appointment only.  But with the high demand our office has in Lynnwood Municipal, South District Court, and Edmonds Municipal Court, we expect to be open standard business hours within a few months.  Our flagship Everett office and Kirkland office both remain open M-F 8:30-5:30.

Attorney Brian Sullivan practices primarily in the DUI Defense and Personal Injury areas throughout NW Washington State.

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St. Patricks Day Weeknd – DUI Patrols are out there.

With the merriment of St. Patrick’s Day comes the unfortunate fact that many folks choose to drink and drive. Accidents, sometimes fatal occur. In response, the WSP and other police agencies usually step up their patrols.

Accidents and Injuries on the weekend of 3/17 each year has prompted the following actions:


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DOL Timing in Washington State – Kirkland DUI Lawyer Brian Sullivan

When a police officer arrests you for Driving While Under the Influence (DUI), he or she is supposed to submit a report to the Department of Licensing (DOL) within 72 hours. This is true for Kirkland Municipal Court DUI charges and those for the surrounding areas in Washington State.

This initiates a process with the DOL to suspend or revoke your license for a period of time based on your record and your breath test or refusal. Unlike in the court where you are innocent until proven guilty, under Washington Implied Consent Law, you are essentially guilty until proven innocent with the DOL.

When a citizen is released by the police after a DUI investigation, he or she should be given a hearing request form. This form must be postmarked to the DOL within 20 calendar days after your arrest or your suspension or revocation will be automatic.

At the Law Office of Brian Sullivan, our DOL hearing rate is above the state average because we fight hard to cancel suspensions and revocations.

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Kirkland DUI Charges and Alcohol / Drug Assessments

Being charged with a DUI in Kirkland Municipal Court, or any King County court for that matter, can seem like an overwhelming experience. At the Law Office of Brian Sullivan, we will fight to get you the best possible result. Along the way, there will be some tasks you need to complete to put us in the best possible bargaining position with City of Kirkland prosecutors.

Two important tasks we will ask you to complete include obatining an alcohol assessment and a attending a sessions of the DUI Victim Impact Panel. We will refer you to agencies in King and Snohomish Counties that will treat you with respect and will give an assessment that does not exceed what is necessary. You can trust that we will carry the burden of your Kirkland DUI case and will help you take it step at a time.

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Snohomish County DUI Arrests on the Rise

The Snohomish County DUI and Target Zero Traffic Safety Task Force is arresting more Everertt, Monroe, Lynnwood, and Marysville drivers suspected of being impaired.

While enforcing safety on the roads is important, such teams may also be overzealous in their prosecution of citizens who aren’t impaired.

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How accurate is the breath test?

The question, asked at a crucial time in DUI trial in Snohomish County by Attorney Brian Sullivan, expounded on the point the State had sought to obscure. The machine they alleged was so certainly accurate had a much larger margin of error – aka: confidence interval – then they were prepared to answer about. Was it plus or minus 6%? 10%? 25% or more?

Critical in any allegation of DUI is the allegation of BAC. But how accurate is the State’s evidence? Can it be flawed – both up and down? All experts seem to agree it can be. The key to success then in an over .08 breath test case then is explaining this critical fact to the jury.

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