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  1. DUI Consequences for CDL Holders

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    Washington already prosecutes driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in a harsh manner, but for people with a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the consequences can be even more severe. Since their jobs involve following the rules of the road and operating their vehicles in a safe manner, CDL holders can face harsher license revocation and law enforcement officers hold them to a lower standard for blood alcohol tests than other drivers.

    If you are a CDL holder who is facing charges for a driving under the influence, hiring a DUI lawyer can help you navigate through these administrative and criminal penalties.

    What is Considered a DUI?

    In the state of Washington, the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs are stricter than the thresholds for personal vehicles. For a non-commercial driver, his or her BAC has to be .08% or higher to receive a DUI charge. For commercial drivers, the BAC threshold is .04% or higher.

    If they suspect you of DUI, police officers will pull you over and ask you to submit to a chemical test to determine your BAC. Refusing to take this test will result in driver’s license revocation for up to four years and harsher criminal penalties, depending on your number of previous offenses.

    Criminal Penalties for DUIs in Washington State

    Criminal penalties for driving under the influence in Washington vary based on the number of previous offenses you have on your record, your BAC at the time of arrest, and whether or not the DUI resulted in property damage, injury, or death.

    • A first-offense DUI conviction will result in a fine between $350 and $5,000 and between 1 to 364 days in jail — with at least one mandatory day in jail. Instead of this one day, you could serve 15 days on house arrest or 90 days in a 24/7 sobriety program.
    • A second-offense DUI conviction will lead to a fine between $500 to $5,000 and 30 to 364 days in jail. In lieu of jail, you could also serve four days in prison and 120 days on the mandatory sobriety program or 180 days on house arrest.
    • Third and subsequent-offense DUI convictions can lead to jail sentences between 90 to 364 days, as well as a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. You may also need to participate in six months of a 24/7 sobriety program.

    How Can a DUI Impact Your CDL?

    In addition to criminal penalties, drivers convicted of DUI face administrative sanctions and consequences as well. For commercial drivers, a DUI conviction can seriously harm your ability to continue to perform your job.

    For a first-offense DUI, the state will revoke your CDL for up to 1 year, or 3 years if you transport hazardous materials. For a second-offense DUI, the state will revoke your CDL for life. If a BAC test shows that you have any measurable amount of alcohol in your system below .04%, the police will ban you from driving for 24 hours. If your company finds out that you received a DUI or that the police issued you a driving ban, you can face serious consequences or even lose your job.

    Why You Need a Lawyer for Your DUI Case

    Since commercial drivers are responsible for the safe transport of goods and materials across the country, the state prosecutes and punishes CDL holders severely for DUI. If you are facing these charges, you need an attorney on your side who can help reduce your charges and advocate for your story.

    Your attorney can connect with the resources necessary to help collect evidence and build your case, as well as guide you through the criminal and administrative penalty processes. He or she can also help you prepare for important court dates and advocate for your needs during negotiations, hearings, and trials.

    If you have not yet contacted an attorney to assist you with your DUI case, it is in your best interest to schedule a consultation as soon as you can. Having an attorney on your side can provide significant benefits that a public defender or self-representation cannot match. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you can see reduced jail sentences, lower fines, and a lower risk of license revocation by investing in a DUI defense attorney.

  2. What is the Difference Between Theft, Burglary, and Robbery

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    Theft, burglary, and robbery are three terms that we often use interchangeably, but under Washington state law, they are three distinct types of crimes. In simple terms, theft involves taking someone’s property without his or her permission, while burglary and robbery often involve serious, violent actions, such as breaking and entering and using a deadly weapon.

    Knowing the difference between these three types of crimes can help you understand and identify the penalties associated with each, as well as adequately defend yourself if a police officer arrests you on one of these charges.

    What Is Theft?

    Theft is a crime that involves one person taking another person’s property without his or her permission and with the intent to deprive the victim of his or her property. In Washington, theft can be either a gross misdemeanor or a felony, and different degrees receive different consequences.

    • Third-degree theft, also known as petty theft, is a gross misdemeanor crime. To count as petty theft, the value of the alleged stolen goods must be less than $750. Penalties for third-degree theft can include fines up to $5,000 and/or up-to 1 year in jail.
    • Second-degree theft is a Class C felony. Under this charge, the value of the stolen goods must be between $750 and $5,000 in value or be a card, access code, or another number that gives the alleged thief access to goods or funds. This crime is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine up to $10,000.
    • First-degree theft is a Class B felony and one of the highest theft charges you can receive. The value of the stolen goods must be $5,000 or higher or the alleged thief must have directly stolen the property from the victim directly. Penalties for first-degree theft can include up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $20,000.

    What Is Burglary?

    Theft and burglary can happen at the same time, but they are two separate crimes. Burglary focuses more on entering and remaining on properties unlawfully with the intent to commit a crime. This crime can include theft, as well as kidnapping, assault, arson, and more. Washington law recognizes several types of burglary charges.

    • Residential burglary is a Class B felony and involves entering and unlawfully remaining in a home or other dwelling with the intent to commit a crime. Penalties can include up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 maximum fine.
    • Second-degree burglary is a Class B felony and involves committing an act of burglary in a place other than a vehicle or a dwelling. Penalties for this crime can include a maximum $20,000 fine and up to 10 years in prison.
    • First-degree burglary is a Class A felony and involves committing an act of burglary with a deadly weapon or the burglary results in assault. Penalties can include up to life in prison and a $50,000 maximum fine.

    What Is Robbery?

    Robbery charges are very similar to theft charges, but these crimes involve taking personal property from someone’s person unlawfully or using violence, force, or the threat of violence to take the property. Washington recognizes two types of robbery charges.

    • First-degree robbery is a Class A felony and involves committing the crime against a financial institution or while using a deadly weapon, pretending to use a weapon, or inflicting injury. Penalties include up to a $50,000 fine and/or a maximum life sentence.
    • Second-degree robbery includes all instances of a robbery that do not amount to first-degree charges and is a Class B felony. Penalties include up to 10 years in prison and/or a maximum $20,000 fine.

    If you are facing charges for robbery, burglary, or theft, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney in Tacoma as soon as possible. While you may want to use a court-appointed defender or represent yourself in the criminal trial, hiring your own attorney can provide you with several benefits that the other two options cannot.

    Your attorney can provide you with resources to assist with building your defense, understand the intricacy of your charges and the court processes associated with each one, and help you identify the strategies and collect the evidence necessary to build a compelling argument in your favor. Contact a lawyer near you to discuss your legal options following an arrest.

  3. Petty Theft in Washington State

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    Theft is a crime where one person takes someone else’s property without his or her permission, with the intent to deprive that person of the property. Many people wonder about the difference between the categories of theft in Washington law, including the penalties and thresholds associated with each charge. While all types of thefts are crimes in Washington state, there are varying levels of severity for each case, and law enforcement officers will assign charges based on the circumstances.

    Different Types of Theft Charges in Washington

    Washington recognizes three degrees of theft charges, each with its own criteria and consequences. If law enforcement officers arrest you on suspicion of theft in Washington, they will charge you with one of the following three crimes.

    • Third-degree theft, also known as petty theft, occurs when the alleged stolen property does not exceed $750 in value. If the prosecutors convict you of this charge, you can receive up to $5,000 in fines, up to one year in jail, or both. Third-degree petty theft is a gross misdemeanor crime.
    • Second-degree theft occurs when the alleged stolen property is more than $750 in value and less than $5,000 in value. This excludes firearms and motor vehicles, which the state charges as separate crimes. Second-degree thefts also include stolen access devices, which can include credit cards, account numbers, and other codes to obtain access to goods and funds. Penalties for this crime include up to 5 years in prison, a fine up to $10,000, or both. Second-degree theft is a Class C felony.
    • First-degree theft is the most serious theft charge, prosecuted as a Class B felony. If the alleged stolen property is more than $5,000 in value or you allegedly took the property from the victim directly, excluding firearms and motor vehicles, the police will charge you with this crime. Penalties for first-degree theft in Washington include up to 10 years in prison, a fine up to $20,000, or both.

    What Happens After a Theft Arrest in Washington?

    The moments after a theft arrest can be overwhelming and confusing. You may want to defend yourself as quickly and as honestly as possible — but doing so could lead to consequences later on in your case. As soon as the arrest occurs, exercise your right to remain silent, comply with the police, and repeatedly ask for your attorney.

    After an arrest, law enforcement officers may hold you at the station for questioning, fingerprinting, and other documentation processes. The police may release you with or without bail, but they typically cannot hold you for more than 24 hours. After release, you will have to attend an arraignment where the judge will read you your charges and ask you to enter into a plea of guilty or not guilty. Your lawyer will advise you on the best course of action to take.

    After the arraignment, the court will either require you to post bail in order to leave, eliminate your ability to post bail and send you back to jail if you are a flight risk, or allow you to leave without assigning bail. Your attorney will begin to work with you to determine your best legal options and strategize your next steps. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may enter into negotiations with the prosecution, discuss plea bargains, or begin collecting evidence for your defense ahead of the trial. If you have not hired a criminal defense attorney for your theft case in Washington, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible. It may be tempting to enter the criminal process without an attorney or while using a court-appointed defender — but hiring your own can provide significant benefits for your case. Contact your lawyer immediately after your arrest to discuss your legal options.

  4. What Is a Rape Kit?

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    Sexual assault is a severe crime that the state of Washington takes very seriously. Victims of sexual violence often seek assistance at hospitals or medical centers following the assault, and receive an examination known as a rape kit. Rape kits collect certain pieces of evidence from victims’ bodies, including potential DNA evidence, so that they can use the results to prosecute the perpetrator of the assault.

    The Basics of Sexual Assault Forensic Exams

    After an act of sexual assault, several pieces of evidence may remain on the victim’s body. Like other crime scenes, investigators can collect DNA evidence from a person to determine who committed the crime and to build a case against the perpetrator. Experts encourage victims of sexual assault to visit a hospital to receive a sexual assault forensic exam, also known as a rape kit, so that law enforcement officers can begin their investigation.

    A trained medical or forensic professional usually performs a sexual assault forensic exam, collecting evidence from various areas of the victim’s body, clothes, and other pieces of evidence he or she brings to the hospital. The investigator will usually be a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) or a Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner (SAFE).

    An exam can include any of the following components.

    • Immediate treatment of any injuries that the victim is suffering from
    • Questions about the victim’s medical and sexual history to ensure that evidence collection is as thorough and accurate as possible
    • A head-to-toe examination where the investigator may take swabs of the mouth and genitals, as well as take samples of blood, urine, and hair
    • The taking of samples of any other pieces of evidence that the investigator finds, such as clothing scraps, stray hairs, and debris
    • Follow-up care for any injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, or potential pregnancies

    Storing Evidence After a Rape Kit

    Once the examiner finishes a sexual assault forensic exam, the victim can choose to submit the evidence to the police or to keep the evidence stored at the hospital. Sexual assault is a very underreported sex crime, so many victims do choose to keep the kit at the hospital until they decide whether or not they want to launch criminal charges against their perpetrators.

    Different states and jurisdictions store rape kits for varying amounts of time. A new Washington state law requires that law enforcement officers test and process these exams within 45 days of the exam. In addition, law enforcement must inform victims of the forensic analysis of their exams and before they destroy a kit.

    Washington Rape and Sexual Assault Laws

    Sexual assault is a serious crime in the state of Washington and carries serious penalties along with it. Any act of sexual intercourse or contact can be an act of sexual assault, and Washington requires consent to be free and informed. A perpetrator cannot coerce, force, or trick a victim into giving consent. In addition, certain people cannot give consent, such as someone who is underage, who has a mental or physical disability that precludes them from giving free and informed consent, or someone who is incapacitated by alcohol or drugs.

    Sexual assault charges can range in severity.

    • First-degree and second-degree rape involve forcible sexual intercourse, but first-degree rape may also involve weapons, kidnapping, breaking and entering, or serious physical injuries. First-degree rape and second-degree rape charges are both Class A felonies. Penalties for this crime can include up to life in prison and fines up to $50,000.
    • Third-degree rape charges are Class B felonies, and involve forcible sexual intercourse that does not constitute second or first-degree rape. Penalties can include up to 5 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
    • Indecent liberty charges are also Class A felonies punishable by life in prison and up to $50,000 in fines. This crime involves any forcible sexual contact without the consent of the victim.

    Many people suffer from instances of sexual assault every single year, but not all accusations of sexual violence are valid. If someone wrongfully accuses you of committing sexual assault, you could face consequences to your freedom, reputation, and well-being. In these situations, you need a crime defense attorney to help you advocate for your side of the story.

    Hiring your own defense lawyer can provide you with a number of benefits for your case, including open communication, familiarity of Washington sexual assault law, and access to resources such as expert witnesses and crime labs. Contact a defense attorney as soon as possible following your arrest to determine your pathway towards the best possible outcome.

  5. The Difference Between Trespass and Criminal Trespass

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    Laws in Washington state protect landowners from unwanted visitors by imposing criminal penalties for trespassing. If you are on someone else’s land without permission, law enforcement officers can easily arrest you and charge you with this crime — and depending on the circumstances, you may receive higher penalties if your trespassing was criminal. There are several factors that can upgrade a trespassing charge to criminal trespassing.

    Trespassing versus Criminal Trespassing

    Regular trespassing, also known as civil trespass, occurs when you are entering or accessing someone else’s property without his or her permission. However, you may not be aware that you are on someone else’s land at the time of the incident — this knowledge is crucial to defining the difference between trespass and criminal trespass.

    If you know that you do not have permission to be on the property that you are on, ignore clear no trespassing signs, and continue to remain or enter the property regardless, you are committing an act of criminal trespass. Wandering onto someone’s property from your own and not realizing that you entered someone else’s land would be an act of civil trespass. Climbing over a fence with a “No Trespassing” sign posted onto it would be an act of criminal trespass.

    Washington’s Criminal Trespassing Laws

    It is important to obtain permission before entering someone else’s building or property, and failure to do so can lead to serious consequences. In the state of Washington, criminal trespass is a crime that can result in jail time and high fines.

    There are two main types of criminal trespassing charges.

    • Criminal trespassing in the second degree occurs when you knowingly enter or stay unlawfully on someone’s property in a way that does not constitute a first-degree criminal trespassing charge. This crime is a misdemeanor, and you may receive up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine as punishment.
    • Criminal trespassing in the first degree occurs when you knowingly enter or stay unlawfully in a building. This crime is a gross misdemeanor, which is a more serious charge than a misdemeanor. You could face up to 364 days in prison and a fine up to $5,000 if a court convicts you of this crime.

    Why You Need an Attorney for Criminal Trespassing Charges

    If you are facing charges for criminal trespass in Washington, it is important to take the necessary steps to advocate for your side of the story and to protect your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Follow these steps immediately after your arrest to avoid additional charges and to seek the assistance you need.

    • Do not resist arrest, run away, or fight against the police officers who are arresting you. This could lead to additional charges and penalties, and the prosecution may use this behavior as evidence that you knew that you were committing a crime. Instead, comply with the officers’ orders and go quietly to the police station.
    • The officers will read you your rights after your arrest, and one of the most important is the right to remain silent. Do not argue your case or speak to any officers or investigators until after your attorney is present. Ask to call your attorney, and do not stop asking for your attorney until after they allow you to call him or her.
    • Finally, contact your lawyer. It may feel tempting to stay with the public defender assigned to your case or to forgo legal representation entirely. Hiring your own criminal defense lawyer can provide you with a number of benefits that a public defender or self-representation cannot. Your attorney will have access to the resources necessary to build your case, along with a strong knowledge of the Washington criminal justice system and the strategies necessary to build a compelling case in your favor.

    Are you facing charges for trespassing or criminal trespassing in the state of Washington? You need an attorney on your side to represent your case and advocate towards the best possible outcome. Contact us today to discuss your case and strategize your next steps.

  6. Appeals in Criminal Cases

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    The criminal justice system is meant to judge cases fairly and to assign the correct penalties to the correct circumstances. However, this system does not always result in fair or correct outcomes — leading to people receiving disproportionate sentences, or serving time for crimes they did not commit. In these situations, with the help of a defense attorney, you can appeal the decision that the judge and jury made regarding your Washington criminal case.

    What Happens When You Appeal a Case?

    In the criminal justice system, an appeal refers to the overturning of a guilty decision or the reassessing of penalties after the judge and jury already issued a verdict in a case. The defendant in the case will request that the federal Court of Appeals or the United States Supreme Court re-review the facts of his or her case and issue another decision. In many cases, the decision of an appeal is final.

    As a defendant in a criminal case, you only have a limited number of times you can apply to appeal your case. In addition, the United States Constitution protects you from an appeal by the prosecution. According to the 5th Amendment and the double jeopardy clause, the court cannot try you for the same crime twice — preventing the prosecution from appealing your case if the judge finds you not guilty.

    How Does the Appeal Process Work?

    Usually in an appeal, your criminal defense attorney will raise a concern regarding how the district court handled your case. Your lawyer will argue that one of the legal grounds for appeal occurred in your case: legal error, juror misconduct, or ineffective assistance of counsel. If the application for appeal is successful, the case will move to the Court of Appeals.

    During the appeal, the appellate court will examine the records of your original trial and determine whether or not the concerns that your lawyer raised occurred in your case. Your attorney will either submit a written brief or make an oral argument before a panel of judges regarding the case, and the prosecution will do the same. In the oral argument process, each side has 15 minutes to present their case and the panel will deliberate afterwards.

    What Happens If You Win a Criminal Appeal?

    It can be very difficult to win a criminal appeal — the Court of Appeals upholds the original decisions made in the vast majority of cases brought to their attention. It is not impossible to win an appeal — but winning an appeal does not mean that your case automatically changes to a not guilty verdict. In most cases, you will have to re-enter the trial process.

    When the Court of Appeals decides to overturn the decision that your original court made, they will remand your case. After remanding, your case may enter one of the following pathways.

    • You will enter a new criminal trial on the same charges.
    • The prosecution and your attorney will meet with you and discuss options for a plea deal.
    • The Court of Appeals will require you to enter a new sentencing hearing and receive updated penalties.
    • In very rare circumstances, the state may release you from prison after an appeal.

    Most appeal decisions are final, and it can be very difficult to bring your case for a second appeal if the first is not successful. However, hiring an attorney with a strong knowledge of criminal law in Washington, as well as experience arguing cases in front of the Court of Appeals, can help you build a strong and compelling case for the reassessment of your verdict.

    If you decide that you want to appeal your case, you will need a defense attorney on your side to guide you through the process. Hiring a lawyer for your criminal case can provide you with a number of benefits, including knowledge of the complex appeals process, direct consultation on the facts of your case and your chances of a successful appeal, and the training and knowledge necessary to build a compelling defense on your behalf.

    Contact our criminal defense attorneys as soon as you can to discuss your case and to begin the first steps toward an appeal.

  7. Washington State Marijuana Laws

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    Many state legislatures have enacted statutes legalizing recreational marijuana use, and the state of Washington is among them. While adults over the age of 21 can legally purchase and consume cannabis, marijuana still comes with some limits regarding its use, sale, and production. If you break one of Washington’s marijuana laws, you could face significant consequences, including jail time, fines, and mandatory community service or probation.

    Marijuana Purchase and Sale Laws in Washington

    Washington, along with Colorado, was one of the first states to legalize marijuana in the country. Adults 21 years and older can purchase marijuana for recreational use with a valid I.D. in the state. However, consumers can only purchase up to 1 ounce of dried cannabis flower at a time for recreational use, and up to 24 ounces at a time for medical marijuana patients. Recreational users cannot grow their own cannabis plants, and medical users can grow up to 15 plants. 

    There is no criminal penalty for the possession and use of marijuana in the amount of 1 ounce or less. Possession of more than 1 ounce up to 40 grams can result in a misdemeanor charge and up to 90 days in prison. Possession of more than 40 grams can result in a felony charge and up to 5 years in prison. In addition, public consumption of marijuana can result in a $100 fine.

    The Washington State Liquor Control Board oversees all cannabis sales, and all cannabis storefronts must adhere to the following restrictions and guidelines.

    • Marijuana dispensaries must not be within 1,000 feet of an elementary school, library, childcare center, or public park.
    • The only storefronts allowed to sell marijuana must sell cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia only. Existing retailers cannot add marijuana to their inventory.
    • Marijuana retailers must only sell to legal customers and honor the purchasing restrictions.

    The illegal sale and manufacturing of marijuana is still a crime in Washington state. If the state catches you selling cannabis illegally, you can be subject to the following consequences.

    • The illegal sale of less than 40 grams can lead to up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. Subsequent offenses can double these penalties.
    • If the marijuana sale led to the consumer’s death, the seller can receive a class B felony charge, up to 10 years in prison, and up to $20,000 in fines.

    What Happens If You Get Pulled Over with Marijuana in Your Vehicle?

    Although recreational cannabis use is legal in Washington, driving with this substance and driving under the influence of this substance is still a serious crime. Washington drivers must follow strict guidelines if they have cannabis in their vehicles.

    First, the driver must store the marijuana in a sealed container. Next, the driver must store that container in the trunk, a glove compartment, or another place that is inaccessible while driving. Third, the driver cannot use the substance while driving — doing so can lead to additional driving under the influence charges.

    If a police officer finds improperly-stored marijuana in a vehicle, the driver may face penalties such as jail time, fines, and mandatory community service or other education programs. DUI charges can lead to even more serious penalties.

    What to Do After a Marijuana-Related Arrest

    After a marijuana-related arrest, it is important to remain calm and comply with law enforcement. Do not resist arrest or try to defend yourself. Remain silent and do not speak to any investigators or officers until your attorney is present.

    If you are facing charges for a marijuana-related crime in Washington, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. It may feel tempting to enter the criminal justice system without a lawyer or use a public defender — but hiring your own attorney can provide numerous benefits for your case, including access to resources and open, honest, and direct communication. If you have not done so already, contact your lawyer as soon as you can following your arrest.

  8. Ignition Interlock Laws in Washington

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    Washington state treats driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol as a serious crime. When a police officer arrests you and asks you to take a chemical test to determine your level of intoxication, a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher, or a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher, can lead to a DUI arrest and subsequent charges.

    Depending on the number of previous offenses and your level of intoxication, Washington will impose a number of penalties for a DUI. You may face jail time, significant fines, license suspension or revocation, and mandatory participation in a sobriety program. In addition, all people charged with DUI in Washington must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles.

    What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

    An ignition interlock device is a small tool that connects to your car. You blow into it at one end to measure the amount of alcohol that is currently in your breath, the same way that a breathalyzer test measures your BAC. If you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system, the device will not allow you to start your car. You must blow into the ignition interlock device every time you get into your vehicle.

    The purpose of this device is to prevent you from driving under the influence, restricting you from operating your vehicle if you have a certain amount of alcohol in your system. It can help reduce the amount of repeat offenses, helping keep you and other drivers, passengers, and pedestrians safe on Washington roads.

    Ignition Interlock Requirements After a DUI

    In Washington state, all people who receive a DUI conviction must install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. Unlike other states, which might require these devices for more severe offenses, all drivers with a DUI receive this penalty, regardless of their BAC or number of past offenses.

    The length of time you will have to keep this device on your vehicle will vary from case to case. The average timeframes are one year for a first offense, five years for a second offense, and ten years for third and subsequent offenses.

    After a DUI, all vehicles that you drive must have an ignition interlock device installed, with the exception of work vehicles. As long as your employer signs a declaration waiver and you only drive the vehicle during work hours, the state will not install this device.

    However, if you have a commercial driver’s license, you do not qualify for the declaration waiver and the state will install an ignition interlock device on your work vehicle. You may also have to obtain a specialized ignition interlock driver’s license to allow you to keep your position and operate your work vehicle.

    What to Do After a DUI Arrest in Washington State

    The moments after a DUI arrest can be disorienting and scary, especially if this is your first offense. However, it is important to remain calm, comply with the police officers, and follow these tips to aim for the best possible outcome.

    • If the police officer asks you to take a breathalyzer or THC concentration test, it is important to comply with his or her orders. Refusing this test can lead to additional penalties or an increase in existing penalties. If the officer asks you to take a chemical test, take the test.
    • When the officer places you under arrest, he or she will read you your rights. All of these rights are important, but one of the most crucial ones is your right to remain silent. Anything you say could lead to additional penalties against you or decrease your chances of obtaining the best possible outcome. Do not speak to the officers, plead your case, or say anything that could lead to additional charges. Do not speak to any investigators at the police station without an attorney present.
    • Another important right you have is your right to an attorney. As soon as you are able to, contact your lawyer and ask him or her to meet you at the station. Do not speak to any investigators or officers until your lawyer is present. If the officers continue to interrogate you without allowing you to contact your lawyer, repeatedly ask for your attorney and state that you will not answer any questions until he or she is present.

    If you have not done so already, contact a DUI attorney to assist you with your case. Your lawyer can provide a number of benefits while you are navigating the criminal justice system, such as connecting you with resources to build your case and helping you prepare for trial. Before you speak to any police officer or investigator, contact your defense lawyer to discuss your legal options.

  9. What Is the Difference Between Physical Control and DUI?

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    In Washington state, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime. These substances can impair a person’s motor skills, judgement, and ability to react to dangerous situations while on the road. As a result, the state can impose severe penalties with DUI convictions, including jail time, fines, and license suspension.

    However, you can receive a criminal DUI charge for being in a car while intoxicated, even if you are not driving the vehicle. This is because of physical control laws, which state that drivers cannot be in control of a vehicle while under the influence – even if it is not moving.

    What Does Physical Control Mean?

    Under Washington law, you can receive the same penalties for being in physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated as you do for driving a vehicle while intoxicated. If you are under the influence, inside of a vehicle, and could begin driving at any point, you could receive a physical control charge, even if you do not intend to begin driving. You could be in the driver’s seat, the passenger seat, or the backseat.

    There are many situations where police officers could charge you with being in physical control of a vehicle, including the following.

    • You are a passenger in the car, and you assume control by moving to the driver’s seat or touching the steering wheel.
    • You are sitting in your vehicle with your keys in the ignition.
    • Your car broke down or ran out of gas, and you are sitting in it in the side of the road.
    • You decide to sleep in your car overnight.
    • You decide to enter your vehicle to sober up after a night out.

    BAC Thresholds for DUI and Physical Control

    To determine if you are under the influence, police officers will administer a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test. If your BAC meets or exceeds the thresholds that the law sets, you could receive a physical control or DUI charge. If you refuse to take a BAC test, you could receive additional charges.

    You must be under the influence of alcohol, drugs, marijuana, or a combination of any of these substances for police to charge you with DUI or physical control.

    Police use the following BAC thresholds to charge you with a DUI.

    • You have a BAC of .08% or higher.
    • You have a THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, concentration of 5.00 or higher.

    They use the following BAC thresholds to charge you with physical control.

    • You have a BAC of .08% or higher within 2 hours of being in physical control of your vehicle.
    • You have a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher within 2 hours of being in physical control.

    Penalties for Physical Control versus DUI

    In the state of Washington, physical control is a gross misdemeanor charge. You will receive the same criminal and administrative penalties for physical control as you would for a DUI, including jail time, fines, driver’s license suspensions, probation, and more. The specific penalties you will receive depends on the circumstances of your case.

    DUI penalties in Washington include the following.

    • A first-offense DUI is punishable by a fine between $350 and $5,000, up to 364 days in jail, and various administrative penalties such as a 90-day driver’s license suspension and the installation of an ignition interlock device.
    • Second-offense DUIs involve fines between $500 to $5,000 and between 30 to 364 days in jail. You may also receive a two-year suspension and an ignition interlock device.
    • Third-offense DUIs are punishable by jail sentences between 90 to 364 days, six months in a sobriety program, and a fine between $1,000 and $5,000. They also involve a three-year license revocation and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

    These penalties may increase if you have a BAC of .15% or higher or refuse to take a breathalyzer test.

    If you are facing criminal charges for a DUI or physical control in Washington state, hiring a criminal defense attorney can help you work towards the best possible outcome. Your lawyer can guide you through the process, prepare you for court dates, and build a compelling defense in your favor. Before you speak to any police officers or investigations, contact an attorney to discuss your legal options.

  10. What Are the Most Common Types of Identity Theft?

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    In today’s day and age, it can seem like our personal data is at constantly risk of theft. From high-profile security breaches to online scams, we could fall victim to identity theft at any moment. To understand these risks and to protect yourself against these crimes, it is important to be aware of the most common types of identity theft.

    #1: Social Media Identity Theft

    Many of us have social media accounts across multiple platforms, and often share very personal information about ourselves on them, including photographs, locations, and family information. Social media identity theft occurs when someone either hacks into your account and impersonates you, or duplicates your account.

    Social media identity theft can be incredibly harmful. For example, the hacker could ruin your reputation by sending inappropriate or harmful messages to others, posting inappropriate content, or engaging in hateful activities online. The hacker could also uncover your passwords and use them to access other private accounts on other sites. To avoid this theft, keep your passwords secure and refrain from sharing too much personal information on these sites.

    #2: Tax Identity Theft

    When you fall victim to tax identity theft, someone uses your social security number to either get a job or to file a tax return using your information. Sometimes, the thief can attempt to collect your tax return – and you may be unaware that this occurs until the IRS notifies you of a previously-filed tax return. To avoid this theft, file your taxes early, shred old tax documents, and ask for direct deposits for your refunds.

    #3: Credit Card Identity Theft

    Credit card identity theft is one of the more well-known types of identity theft. It involves someone else using your information to open bank accounts, take out loans, or get new credit cards in your name.

    This can wreak havoc on your financial health, ruining your credit and impacting your ability to take out mortgages or open new financial accounts. To avoid falling victim to credit card identity theft, review your credit reports regularly and use a financial service to freeze your credit as soon as you notice unusual activity.

    #4: Social Security Number Identity Theft

    Social security number identity theft is another well-known form of this crime, and a common one as well. Your social security number can unlock a number of financial pathways for identity thieves, and ties into many other forms of identity theft. They can use your social security number to sign up for government benefits, open financial accounts, and steal your tax refunds.

    You can prevent this crime from happening by keeping this number safe. Keep your social security card in a secure location at home and do not carry it in your wallet. Never share your social security number unless it is necessary, and shred all documents that display the number.

    #5: Banking Identity Theft

    This type of identity theft involves your bank account, and can lead to significant financial crisis. Typically, banking identity theft occurs when a thief steals your credit and debit cards or your bank account information, allowing him or her to access and withdraw your funds. It can occur as a result of a data breach, unsecure internet connection, or even special devices called skimmers which could collect your card information at an ATM.

    To prevent this crime from happening to you, make sure to keep your bank account information safe. Monitor your transaction history regularly to look for any unusual transactions and shred any documents that contain your card information. Avoid using unsecured internet networks and protect your computer with antivirus software, firewalls, and strong passwords.

    Identity theft is a crime across the United States, and the penalties for committing it can be severe. If you are facing charges for identity theft in Washington state, it is important to contact a Tacoma criminal defense attorney who can represent you in the courtroom and at the negotiating table. If you have not done so already, contact a defense lawyer as soon as possible following your arrest.