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Bremerton Criminal Law Blog

Should you be answering questions in a DUI stop?

If you are like most people here in Port Orchard, seeing a police car behind you with lights and sirens causes a certain amount of anxiety in you. Even if you don't think you did anything wrong, you may start second guessing yourself, especially if you had a drink or two before driving.

When the officer approaches your vehicle, he or she may begin asking you questions. Other than basic identification information, you don't have to answer. Frankly, it's not your job to provide an officer with probable cause to arrest you. You do not have to be under arrest or read your Miranda rights before taking advantage of your right to remain silent.

The rules for DUI are different for those under 21

Perhaps your son or daughter went to a friend's house to hang out. What you didn't know is that he or she had a beer or two while there. When your child left that location to come home, a police officer initiated a traffic stop. While talking to your underage driver, the officer suspected that your child had been drinking.

By the time you heard about the incident, the officer already took your child into custody on suspicion of drunk driving. You've probably heard that the blood alcohol concentration level for Washington state is .08, but for those under the age of 21, that doesn't apply.

Don't be afraid to spend the extra money on ride home

Some friends invited you to the local hang-out for a drink or two, either after work or over the weekend. Like many Port Orchard residents, you may live on a budget but know that you need to cut loose and spend some time with your friends. You only plan to spend a certain amount of money in order not to blow your budget.

After a while, however, it becomes apparent that you probably shouldn't drive home. Even so, you don't want to spend the extra money on a cab or Uber, so you decide that you can make it home on your own. Just hours later, you are wishing that you had splurged on that ride.

What type of domestic abuse have you been accused of?

You may feel like your life had been on track for some time, and you may have envisioned many dreams for yourself and your family. However, all of those positive thoughts may have come crashing down after you found yourself accused of domestic abuse. At first, you may have been taken aback by the claims and felt assured that there was no real case against you. Unfortunately, the situation may have become all too real when authorities brought formal charges.

As with any type of criminal accusation, it is important for you to understand the exact charges for domestic violence you face. Different types of domestic abuse exist, and by understanding exactly of what you stand accused, you may have a greater chance of creating and presenting a meaningful defense.

If a cop asks you to walk the line, do you have to comply?

Seeing red and blue patrol car lights flashing in your rear view mirror might not be your idea of a nice way to end an evening out with friends. It happens. A key to mitigating your circumstances may lie in your ability to remain calm and follow all instructions the officer gives you when he or she approaches your vehicle.

However, if said instructions include a request to step out of your car and take a field sobriety test, what should you do? As for the getting out of your car part, you must comply. The rest of it is optional though. That's right. You are under no legal obligation to take a field sobriety test. Beyond such information, it is still a good idea to familiarize yourself with these tests and to know your rights, so you can make informed decisions.

Prescription drugs: High risks for addiction and legal problems

At some point in your life, a doctor may have written you a prescription, advising you to take a particular drug to help treat a certain health condition. Perhaps you suffer from a chronic illness that causes constant pain and discomfort. If so, then you may be familiar with drugs like Oxycodone.

The problem is that a doctor's recommendation doesn't guarantee that you will not have any adverse effects from taking prescription medication. In fact, even though doctors typically prescribe some drugs to help with certain conditions, every person's body and the way a body reacts to drugs is unique; therefore, a drug that works well for one person may have adverse effects on another.

Are you facing domestic violence allegations?

The state of Washington, just like every other state, does not take domestic violence lightly. If you are facing domestic violence allegations, you will go to jail -- even if only temporarily -- if the officer responding to the complaint has probable cause to arrest you.

If you're facing a domestic violence charge, you may have a lot of questions, such as: What constitutes domestic violence? What are the potential penalties associated with a DV conviction? Is there any way to fight a DV charge?

Was there valid reason to stop your car before a DUI charge?

Many elements can play important parts in your case if a police officer arrested you on suspicion of DUI. While your first instincts may be to look forward and determine what a conviction could do to your future, it may also prove wise to look back at the traffic stop that led to your arrest.

Every detail of your traffic stop and subsequent arrest could have an impact on your case, especially your defense. If a police officer or other authority involved in your case makes a mistake anywhere from making the arrest to handling evidence, that error could affect whether the evidence is admissible. One important aspect to consider when reviewing your case is to determine whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to stop your car.

Miranda rights violation: Did it happen to you?

Winding down your driver's-side car window with a uniformed police officer standing on the other side of it can be an extremely stressful experience. If the officer asks if you realize how fast you were traveling, what should you say? If he or she asks you to step out of your vehicle, does it mean you're going to jail? There is really no way to predict what the ultimate outcome of such situations might be. It may wind up hinging on the officer's word against yours. 

However, whether you're driving in Washington or some other state, certain traffic laws or criminal laws might vary, but other regulations are the same, such as the fact that a police officer who intends to question you under custody must inform you of your Miranda rights. It's critical that you understand these issues and know where to seek support if a problem arises.  

Do you know what you agreed to when you got your license?

As a licensed driver in the state of Washington, you're obligated to adhere to all traffic and safety regulations set forth throughout the state. All states have traffic laws, but not every state's traffic laws are the same. This is an important fact, especially if you plan to drive in various states. Some laws vary quite a bit between states, such as those pertaining to drunk driving.

When you obtained a license to operate a motor vehicle in Washington, you consented to certain things that could impact your future should a police officer ever suspect you of driving under the influence of alcohol and ask you to take a Breathalyzer test following your arrest. Are you aware of the implied consent laws in this state? It's something you definitely want to know more about if you're faced with deciding whether or not to take a Breathalyzer or other chemical test.

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