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Vancouver WA DUI Law Blog

Researchers in Washington state working on marijuana breath test

Breath test technology and reliability is an important aspect of the criminal justice process for anyone accused of impaired driving. At Washington State University, research is currently underway to develop a marijuana breath test. Researchers are working to develop a breath test for marijuana that is similar to blood alcohol tests currently used by law enforcement authorities for alcohol. A chemistry professor at the university noted that certain current technologies used for drug detection purposes can be "repurposed" to test breath for THC. THC is the psychoactive component of marijuana. In Washington state, five nanograms of active THC per milliliter of blood is the legal limit for drivers.

According to researchers, the marijuana breath test that is being developed is not likely to provide the exact level of THC present in the driver's body; rather, the breath test that is being developed will inform officers that some level of active THC is present in the driver's body. Researchers believe this will help law enforcement authorities determine if a driver suspected of impaired driving should be arrested and will minimize so-called "false positives." Follow up tests would have to be conducted by police to be used as evidence in a court proceeding. Tests presumably include blood or urine tests such as those currently used to measure alcohol. The device is currently in the development phase and testing is expected to begin next year, first on human breath and then in the field.

Washington State Patrol now using new breathalyzer machines

Whether an accused individual has submitted to a Breathalyzer test or has refused to submit to a breathalyzer test, understanding how breathalyzer tests work, and what challenges they may be subject to, can be useful. The Washington State Patrol (WSP) recently unveiled new breathalyzer equipment. The machines have been described as the "next generation" in breath testing equipment. The Draeger Alcotest 9510 breath test instruments are being incorporated into authorities' current DUI enforcement program. Law enforcement authorities have been working to ensure the new equipment fits in with the current enforcement program. A law enforcement representative reports that the new machines are easier for officers to operate and are more accurate and reliable.

The new machines replace the National Patent Analytical Systems DataMaster. The DataMaster has been used since the 1980s and parts are no longer manufactured to repair it. According to law enforcement, both the new and older machines produced accurate results of the blood alcohol content of individuals suspected of DUI. The most significant difference between the two generations of machines is that the new machines employ a dry gas standard, opposed to a liquid solution, to verify the machine is functioning properly. According to authorities, when the new machines encounter a problem, they shut down and a technician is required to fix the problem.

Driving under the influence in Washington includes marijuana

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the state of Washington are serious. Currently, however, drivers who fail a breath test for driving under the influence of alcohol immediately lose their license while drivers who have failed a blood test for driving under the influence of marijuana do not automatically lose their licenses and are permitted to keep their license.

The Washington Traffic Safety Commission and the state Department of Licensing want the inequality between automatic license suspension for those driving under the influence of alcohol versus drugs resolved. The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Washington has led to a variety of changes in the laws in the state. Authorities want to language of the driving under the influence laws, which were revised for the legalization of marijuana, to allow for the license suspension for drivers whose blood was legally drawn and measured at over the legal limit for marijuana while operating a vehicle.

What are the potential consequences of breath test refusal?

In Washington state, drivers provide implied consent to chemical breath tests or blood tests to determine blood alcohol content level. By using the roadways, drivers provided consent to be tested if law enforcement believes that the driver is operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Because of the implied consent law in Washington, drivers may wonder what the consequences of refusing a breath test are.

It is important to understand that to require a breath test, the police officer must have probable cause to suspect that the driver was operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and in control of a vehicle. In some circumstances, such as if the driver is unconscious, the driver is suspected of being under the influence of drugs or a party has been harmed in a drunk driving accident, a blood test will be taken.

Understanding driver's license suspension in Washington in detail

The loss of a driver's license can present a significant disruption in most people's lives. It can affect their ability to travel to and from work and complete other daily tasks. For individuals accused of a DUI, the arrest alone can cause their driver's license to be suspended. Within 20 days of the arrest, the accused individual can request a hearing to contest the license suspension. To avoid license suspension, the hearing examiner must find in the accused individual's favor.

If no hearing is requested, or the hearing examiner finds against the accused individual, the individual's license will be suspended for a period of time ranging from 90 days to 2 years. This is obviously a significant amount of time to be without a driver's license and the length of suspension depends on the seriousness of the incident and the existence of any prior DUI offenses.

Washington's Zero Tolerance law and juvenile criminal defense

In Washington state if you are under 21 years of age, you are subject to what is known as the Zero Tolerance Law in Washington. Under the Zero Tolerance Law, individuals under 21 accused of driving under the influence with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) level of 0.02 to 0.07 can be subject to losing their license for 90 days. Additional DUI offenses with a BAC of 0.02 to 0.07 can result in the loss of a license until the individual turns 21.

For those over 21, the BAC level for a DUI is 0.08. Those under 21, and juveniles, can also be subject to other types of criminal accusations and charges related to alcohol. It is important to keep in mind that criminal charges and convictions can result in long-term consequences and serious penalties. Young people facing criminal charges are facing potential challenges to future education and employment opportunities.

Alleged drunk driver facing charges following Vancouver accident

Drunk driving charges are unquestionably serious, however, each accused individual is entitled to present a defense in response to criminal charges they are facing. A group of trick-or-treaters was recently hit in Vancouver. The vehicle that struck a woman, her 7-year old daughter, a 6-year old child and another 33-year old woman was allegedly driven by a 47-year old man. According to witnesses, the driver appeared under the influence of drugs or alcohol when his vehicle struck the group on the sidewalk. The man is expected to be charged with four counts of vehicular assault when he is ready to leave the hospital after being injured in the accident; authorities noted that the charges could change.

Criminal charges for drunk driving in Washington state are serious and can carry serious potential consequences. Depending on the circumstances, charges related to a drunk driving accident can range from DUI charges to vehicular assault charges. If the accused individual is convicted of whatever the charges they are facing, serious penalties can result. Criminal penalties can include fines and jail time and administrative penalties can include license suspension.

What are the consequences of breath test refusal in Washington?

Many people in Washington are aware that when pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, a breath test may be used to determine intoxication. This may cause some individuals to wonder what the consequences of refusing a breath test are. According to the laws in Washington, under the Revised Code of Washington, individuals operating a motor vehicle impliedly give consent to testing, under certain conditions, of the driver's breath to determine alcohol concentration, THC concentration or the presence of any drug on the driver's breath.

To require a breath test of the driver, the police officer must have reasonable grounds to believe that the individual is in control of a motor vehicle while also under the influence of alcohol or drugs. While drivers have the right to refuse a breath test, the police officer will advise the driver following a refusal that the individual's driver's license will be revoked for at least one year and that the driver's refusal to submit to a breath test may be used in any criminal proceedings against the driver related to the incident.

DUI charges follow Vancouver accident

Individuals who have not had prior contact with the criminal justice system may find themselves facing drunk driving charges at some point which is why knowledge of options available to respond to DUI charges can be critically important to an accused party.

According to authorities, DUI charges will follow a rollover accident in Vancouver. A woman is facing charges following the accident. Her vehicle allegedly went off the roadway and rolled over. She and her passenger were injured in the accident, however, both declined medical treatment. The vehicle was totaled. The woman will face DUI drug charges.

Washington man charged with DUI following police chase

The ability to drive is critical to functioning successfully for many people. A man police allege was driving with a revoked license allegedly also led them on a high-speed chase that began in one eastern Washington community and extended to another about an hour away. According to police, they received reports that the man was driving erratically and when they tried to pull him over, he led them on a high-speed chase through the eastern Washington city and onto the interstate. Spike strips were eventually used to stop the man during the chase which police reported reached speeds of 110 miles per hour. The 52-year old man, who has four previous DUI convictions according to authorities, was arrested and charged with felony DUI, felony eluding, reckless driving and driving with a revoked license.

License suspension or license revocation can place a significant burden on any individual faced with losing the right to drive. Those who are charged with a DUI face different penalties that are both criminal and administrative in nature. The loss of a driver's license occurs through the administrative process; just as a criminal defense strategy is important when responding to the potential criminal penalties an individual convicted of drunk driving may face, it is also important to have a strategy to confront potential administrative penalties such as a suspended license or license revocation.