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  1. #1
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    May 2012
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    Default Defenses to Drunk Driving Charges in Washington State

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Washington.
    I was pulled over and arrested for DUI a couple of weeks ago. It was about 3 in the morning and I was driving home on the freeway. The freeway is 5 lanes wide. That point is important because I was driving in the far lane next adjacent to the carpool lane (4 lanes from the right side of the road). According to the officer, he was on the far side of the road helping an impaired vehicle and "saw me driving by at a high rate of speed" (with his radar eyes, I assume).
    He paced me for a 1/2 mile and then pulled me over going 82mph in a 60mph zone.
    The rest of the narrative is what I assume to be typical. I was co-operative, took the FST which consisted of the eye check and walk-and-turn, and a PB where I blew a .083.

    The "weird/off" things I see are probable cause for stop since the officer was in the far lane when I drove by yet oddly felt that I was speeding? How long is a proper pace? I was thinking at least a mile? The narrative has me going Northbound, but I was going Southbound. How will that affect his filing? I told the officer that I had been smoking up until the time that I was pulled over, yet there was no 15 minute wait period before the PB. At the station, there was no mouth check, although he marked that he did do one before the test. There is a camera in that station, is that something that could help me if I obtained the video?

    I'm not sure what questions to ask completely but I am attaching a copy of the narrative and probably cause statement.
    Any advice you all have would be GREATLY appreciated!
    Thanks in advance.




  2. #2
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    Jan 2012
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    Tacoma, WA
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    Default Re: Defenses to Drunk Driving Charges in Washington State

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    The freeway is 5 lanes wide. That point is important because I was driving in the far lane next adjacent to the carpool lane (4 lanes from the right side of the road). According to the officer, he was on the far side of the road helping an impaired vehicle and "saw me driving by at a high rate of speed" (with his radar eyes, I assume).
    There is no need for "radar eyes." Most any experienced traffic cop can correctly estimate a vehicle's speed within about 5 MPH. It aint hard. Hell, I have no doubt that you, yourself, could stand on the side of the road and say, "That one looks like it's speeding," and be right just about every time.

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    He paced me for a 1/2 mile and then pulled me over going 82mph in a 60mph zone.
    Ok, so he didn't even base the stop on his visual estimation. His visual estimation drew his attention and he more accurately determined your speed by pacing you. So, no problems with the stop.

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    The "weird/off" things I see are probable cause for stop since the officer was in the far lane when I drove by yet oddly felt that I was speeding?
    What about that seems "weird/off?" You passed by with 3 traffic lanes separating you. That's about 45 feet. Are you seriously suggesting that it would be unusual for him to clearly see a car passing by 45 feet away??? If he was sitting on the side of the road running radar, his initial estimation of your speed would likely occur 1/8th of a mile or more away. Can you stop at a stop sign, see a car approaching from a block away, and accurately estimate it's speed to determine if it is safe to cross the intersection? Since you were more that 20 MPH over the speed limit, it wouldn't be hard at all to asses that you were "driving at a high rate of speed."

    And, BTW, the officer does not need probable cause for the stop. The standard is reasonable suspicion. Even his visual estimation, without the added surety of the pace, was good enough for that.

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    How long is a proper pace? I was thinking at least a mile?
    A pace has to be only long enough for the officer to match the patrol vehicle speed to your speed, then look down at his speedometer. All he/she has to determine is your speed at that moment. There is no need for the officer to allow you to continue speeding for a predetermined distance before stopping you.

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    The narrative has me going Northbound, but I was going Southbound. How will that affect his filing?
    It won't. It is a minor clerical error that has no bearing on your violation.

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    I told the officer that I had been smoking up until the time that I was pulled over, yet there was no 15 minute wait period before the PB.
    There is no requirement for a 15 minute wait period before the PBT. That requirement is only for the BAC machine back at the station. Even if there was, how long was it from the time of the stop, thru your conversation with the officer and the performance of the FST, before you submitted the breath sample? I'm guessing pretty close to 15 minutes? 15 minutes that you were in the officer's presence and he could see that you had not put anything into your mouth?

    Quote Quoting snot275
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    At the station, there was no mouth check, although he marked that he did do one before the test. There is a camera in that station, is that something that could help me if I obtained the video?
    That is the first thing that you have mentioned that has any hope of helping your case. The purpose of the mouth check is to assure that you haven't put something in your mouth that could artificially raise the reading of your BAC. Contrary to popular urban myth, there is nothing that you can put in your mouth, eat, drink, smoke, chew, etc. that will artificially lower the BAC reading. However, if you put something in your mouth that leaves a residue of alcohol, it will raise the BAC reading...but will dissipate in mere minutes. If the officer truly neglected to check your mouth (and the video shows that), then your attorney might be able to successfully challenge the BAC reading and have it excluded.

    However, that does not equate to an automatic win for you. The officer's observations of your impairment (including the FST) will still be admissible.
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