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DUI Evidence in Washington State Courts. DUI evidence suppressed by Washington State DUI attorney.

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DUI Evidence: Before the Stop

There are strict guidelines that a law enforcement agent must follow when stopping a driver on suspicion of DUI. Even before you are pulled over, the officer must have probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed. During the stop, the officer must collect DUI evidence before a drunk-driving arrest can be made.

So before an officer pulls you over, he or she will observe your vehicles for “clues” of impaired driving. These clues typically include: 

  • Driving on or over lane markings (center or right)
  • Driving slower than the speed limit
  • Failing to signal lane changes or turns
  • Turning with a wide radius
  • Following too closely
  • Slow response to traffic signals

A COMPETENT WASHINGTON STATE DUI ATTORNEY CAN HELP YOU SUPPRESS THE DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343 TO REVIEW YOUR CASE

DUI Evidence: During a Stop

During a DUI stop, the officer will look for clues in behavior and appearance to determine whether the driver is intoxicated.

These signs include: 

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Slurred speech
  • Smell of alcohol
  • Stumbling or staggering when getting out of the vehicle
  • Argumentative behavior

Most drivers are not aware that they do not have to answer any questions or make a statement to the officer if pulled over on suspicion of drunk-driving. In fact, I recommend that you exercise your constitutional right to remain silence. Any incriminating statements made may be used against you later in court.

If stopped, you should only give the officer your name, ID, and insurance card. You should politely decline to answer any other questions before speaking to an attorney.

As an experienced Washington State DUI attorney, I always look to challenge the lawfulness of the stop. If probable cause for the stop is questionable, the case may be dismissed or the charge reduced through negotiation.

A COMPETENT WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAWYER CAN HELP YOU SUPPRESS DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: Field Sobriety Tests

Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are also used as a way to collect DUI evidence against you. Keep in mind that these tests are voluntary and you are not legally required to take them. In fact, I would advise you to politely decline to take the field sobriety tests.

There are only three FSTs recognized by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as valid standardized tests.  Because these tests are standardized, they must be administered by the officer in the manner prescribed by NHTSA in order to be valid.  These FSTs are:

  • Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus
  • Walk and Turn
  • One Leg Stand

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAWYER ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus

This is where an officer asks you to follow a stimulus (such as a tip of a pen or his finger) with your eyes. Here, the officer is looking for is the jerking of the eyeball; jerking of the eyeball at rest or while following the stimulus.

The good news is that intoxication is not the only cause of Nystagmus. Things such as head injuries, rotation of the body, temperature differences from one ear to the other, a foreign fluid in the blood, objects moving into and out of sight, traffic driving by, strobe lights, tired eyes, brain tumors, brain damage, and inner ear disorders, to name a few, also cause Nystagmus.

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI ATTORNEY ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: The Walk and Turn

This is where an officer asks you to take nine heel-to-toe steps in a straight imaginary line, turn around, then back. He will have you count each step out loud, keep your hands at your sides, keep your eyes watching your feet, and turn correctly.  Of course the officer is likely to give you these instruction in a brief and general manner. And if you do more than ONE of any of the following, you have “failed” the test:

  • Cannot keep balance during instruction phase
  • Start the test too early
  • Step “off” the imaginary (or real) line
  • Miss touching heel to toe on any step
  • Stop walking during the test
  • Use your arms to balance
  • Raise your arms from your sides by more than six inches
  • Make an incorrect number of steps
  • Make an “improper” turn

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAWYER ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: One Leg Stand

As in the Walk and Turn, with the One Leg Stand field sobriety test, you receive quick instructions with no chance to practice first.  Here, the officer will ask you to raise one leg six inches from the ground, keeping both legs straight with your raised foot parallel to the ground, keeping your arms at your sides while counting, “one thousand and one, one thousand and two” and so forth until the officer tells you to stop.  If you do more than ONE of the following, you have “failed” the test: 

  • Sway while balancing
  • Raise your arms
  • Put your foot down
  • Hop

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAWYER ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: Help of a Skillful Attorney

If the officer improperly administered your tests, or if they were not done voluntarily, I will cross-examine the officer. An officer’s sloppy lack of attention to proper procedures and failure to conduct the tests in the required manner can seriously undermine the officer’s credibility and could lead to an acquittal, dismissal or a reduced charge.

Even if the officer properly administered these tests and told you that they were voluntary, physical conditions that affect your brain, eyes or parts of your body that involve standing or walking may negatively affect your performance on these tests, whether you have consumed alcohol or not.

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI ATTORNEY ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) in Washington State

Typically, the PBT is given to drivers just prior to the arrest. The PBT is a voluntary test and results are not admissible at trial. The officers administer the PBT in order to establish probable cause for your arrest. Keep in mind, that if the officer did not have probable cause for your arrest, your case is likely to get dismissed.

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAWYER ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: Evidentiary Breath Test in Washington State

I recommend that you not refuse the BAC test because the penalties for a refusal are stiffer than if you had taken the test and failed. Under the Washington laws, the implied consent law presumes your consent to taking the breath test.  If you refuse the test, your license will be revoked for at least one year if you do not prevail at the administrative licensing hearing and for at least two years if you do not prevail in court. Generally, this test is done at the police station.

If you decide to take the test and your BAC results are 0.08 or more (0.02 for those under 21 years of age and 0.04 for commercial drivers), your license will be suspended for at least 90 days if you do not prevail at the licensing hearing and in court.

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI ATTORNEY ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

DUI Evidence: The Importance of Hiring an Knowledgeable Attorney

The officer must perform this test according to a number of standards required by law. Therefore, it is crucial to have an attorney who knows what issues to look for in order to suppress the BAC results. First, the officer administering the test must be certified to operate the BAC machine. Second, before administering the test, the officer must check your mouth to ensure it contains no foreign substances.  After checking your mouth, the officer must observe you for fifteen minutes to ensure that you did not put anything in your mouth or vomit.

There are a number of other standards that the officer must follow under the laws in order for the test results to be valid. For example, the officer must also give you the Miranda Warnings (we have all seen it on TV, “you have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will…”); if there is an invalid “blow,” the officer must repeat the mouth check and conduct an additional 15-minute wait period. In addition, the longer and/or harder you blow into the machine, the higher your BAC results will be. There are many other issues when it comes to BAC machines and I know what to look for in order to get your BAC results suppressed so that the prosecutor cannot use them against you at trial.

DUI arrests usually occur at night or in early morning and for many drivers it is their first arrest. Therefore, because your arrest occurred under tremendous stress and while you were not in the right state of mind, you will forget details that may seem insignificant to you but may be extremely important to your defense. Therefore, you should call me as soon as possible so I could get your version of the incident while it is still fresh in your mind.

SPEAK TO A WASHINGTON STATE DUI LAWYER ABOUT SUPPRESSING DUI EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU. CALL US AT (206) 771-4343

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DUI Evidence: Helpful Links

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

NHTSA is a federal agency established to achieve standard of highway safety through initiatives targeted against drunk driving.