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Charles H. Williams,
Attorney and Counselor
at Law, P.S.
707 South Snoqualmie
Suite 4A
Seattle, WA 98108

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Washington State judge throws out DUI charges after police error

Facing criminal charges can seriously tarnish a Washington State resident's reputation. For this reason, it's imperative for residents to know their civil rights as well as both the flaws and the proper procedure for administering tests. Understanding this gives residents an advantage in clearing their name in the event that they are faced with erroneous drunken driving charges.

This may seem to be the case in Wenatchee County, just 148 miles west of Seattle, Washington, where a district court judge threw out driving under the influence charges after citing that the police officer failed to follow proper procedure in administering a breath test. Court reports said that the police officer asked the driver to blow into two different breathalyzers for a total of seven times. The officer then recorded the last two test measurements: 0.159 percent and 0.161 percent. Both results were obviously way above the 0.08 blood alcohol content limit in Washington State.

The judge contends that the breath test results were tarnished because of improper procedure by the police officer. In administering breathalyzers, 15-minute intervals are required between each test. Failure to abide by designated procedures may render the test results invalid and inadmissible in court. The case stemmed from an incident that occurred last January when the driver was stopped by police after he was allegedly driving at night without any visible headlights. The driver was also subsequently given field sobriety tests, which he allegedly failed.

Breathalyzers and field sobriety tests make up most of the analyzing tools police officers use to determine if motorists are violating any drunken driving laws. There is also sometimes the need to draw blood, which most people find invasive. Regardless of the test used, human error and device flaws can still be present. These potential flaws may result in an incorrect charge for an unsuspecting motorist.

The accused person, if charged, may face fines, license suspension and revocation and possibly jail time. However, sometimes the greater concern is the undue damage to the person's reputation. The defendant should exercise their rights and take every step necessary to obtain a strong and decisive defense.

Source: Seattle Times, "Wenatchee DUI results thrown out by officer error," May 29, 2013

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