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Spokane DUI Frequently Asked Questions

Spokane DUI Frequently Asked Questions

As you look around our Spokane DUI website, you will see quite a bit of material available to help you understand the DUI laws and what they mean.

We have provided as much information as possible to help you make an educated decision when it comes to being charged with a crime and needing the assistance of a criminal defense or DUI attorney. Sometimes, however, not all that information can be placed in a neat and tidy section of a web site. Enter the FAQ.

From information on the court process to the types of actions that will make you stick out like a sore thumb to law enforcement to the definitions of terms associated with the judicial system, you will find articles in this section to help you gain a better understanding of the legal process and your role in it.

Click on the item below you would like to know more about. If you have any questions not covered here or elsewhere on the site, give us a call or shoot us an email. Nicholas George is a compassionate Spokane DWI / Criminal Defense Attorney, as well as DWI / DUI attorney who genuinely cares about you and getting the best possible resolution to your case.

You are important. Without you, this firm would not exist. We sincerely want to help you prevail in the criminal justice system.


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Free Download: Five Myths About Drivers Charged With DUI/DWI

Free Download: Five Myths About Drivers Charged With DUI/DWI

Almost every attorney is at one time or another confronted with a client, friend, or family member charged with drunk driving. In the 1960s, driving under the influence of alcohol was considered a minor offense, leading to modest fines; in the 21st Century, it is considered the most serious misdemeanor offense.

Our free guide; 'The Five Myths of DUI', explains in detail the following myths:

Myth Number 1: Are Most People Accused Of This Crime Guilty?
Myth Number 2: Is Drunk Driving Is A Minor Offense?
Myth Number 3: Can Any Attorney Defend An Accused Drunk Driver?
Myth Number 4: Are DUI Cases Winnable?
Myth Number 5: DUI Cases Are Just Like Any Other Criminal Case

Download our free guide: The Five Myths of DUI, and get the answers to these questions and more.


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Canadian Travel With A DUI/DWI

Canadian Travel With A DUI/DWI

People often wish to travel to Canada for recreation or employment. However, with greater security and law enforcement at the border, a trip to Canada is becoming increasingly difficult for people with criminal charges. Canadian immigration law is as complicated as U.S. immigration law. Moreover, border officials have broad discretion about who can and cannot enter Canada. This discretion is granted both by Canadian law and by the fact that a person denied entry at the border may not have much recourse at that time.

Many convictions in the United States including DUI, Reckless Driving, and Negligent Driving 1, can render a person inadmissible to Canada. Inadmissibility is determined by comparing the elements of the crime in the U.S. with the elements of Canadian criminal offenses. For people who have traveled smoothly back and forth to Canada in the past, being refused entry at the border can catch them completely off guard, be frustrating, and feel embarrassing. It is important that lawyers advise clients of the potential issues and how to increase the chances that they will be granted entry into Canada.

These questions may be bothering you. Let's address them.

First, will border officials ask you about criminal charges and, if so, how should you respond? A Canadian immigration official told me at the Blaine Border Crossing that guards attempt to be as random as possible when choosing who to question about criminal charges and they do not question everyone. Therefore, you may sail through the border without a hitch. If you are not questioned, you should not volunteer any information about prior convictions or pending criminal charges.

If questioned by a border official about criminal matters, you should answer honestly. According to the immigration official I contacted, immigration officials have access to Washington State DOL records, FBI records, and criminal history data from all states. If a border official is asking about criminal history, he probably has it on a computer screen in front of him. It is much easier for you to overcome inadmissibility due to criminality than due to misrepresentation.

While you should answer honestly about criminal matters - you should not provide specific details about pending charges. If you admit sufficient information to a border official about a pending DUI case, you can be denied entry even though not convicted. If you have a pending DUI, a letter from your attorney with a basic summary of the procedural status of the case would be helpful. Generally, border officials do not deny entry to someone with a pending DUI. This is especially true for a person on a deferred prosecution because alcoholism, in and of itself, does not make someone inadmissible.

Second, how can you enter Canada if convicted of a inadmissible offense? There are four possible options: a temporary resident permit; a criminal rehabilitation; being deemed rehabilitated; and finally, an expungement of the inadmissible conviction.

There are two routes to obtaining a temporary resident permit. First, you can simply appear at the border and apply for one if denied entry due to a conviction. Border officials have discretion in granting such an application. The advantage of an application at the border is that, generally, less paperwork is required. Such a permit is generally for a single entry.

If a client wishes to obtain a multiple entry permit or wants assurance ahead of time that he or she will be allowed into Canada, he or she can apply for a temporary resident permit at a Canadian consulate in the United States.

If more than five years have passed since the completion of your sentence, you may apply for criminal rehabilitation. This process generally takes about a year - but will permanently resolve your admissibility to Canada dilemma. The paperwork required for a temporary resident permit or an application for criminal rehabilitation can be extensive and the assistance of an attorney experienced with Canadian immigration procedures is extremely helpful.

If more than ten years have passed since the completion of your sentence, you can be deemed rehabilitated at a port of entry to Canada. This is not a formal application process, but is assessed by immigration officials at the border and does not happen automatically after ten years. If you are eligible after ten years, but obtain another conviction later - you would now have two convictions and become inadmissible.

Finally, under some circumstances it may be easier to bring a motion to vacate and expunge a conviction in the U.S. to facilitate entry to Canada. A DUI conviction cannot be vacated. This procedure would only work for other criminal charges. Canadian officials will generally treat an expungement as the equivalent of no conviction. However, crimes must be assessed on an individual basis.


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Considerations For Choosing A Lawyer

Considerations For Choosing A Lawyer

Should You Choose A Lawyer Because The Lowest Fee Has Been Quoted To You?
Remember the old adage 'you get what you pay for'? This really holds true when hiring a lawyer. Generally, a low fee means that the lawyer will do the minimum to resolve your case. Most of the time, the result will not be a favorable as possible. So, please do not be penny wise and pound foolish. Working with a 'cheap lawyer' can very likely lead to more cash outlays to the government in the future. These outlays almost always exceed the cost of a 'reasonable' fee.

Can You Select A Lawyer Who Does Not Have Substantial Experience In DUI And/Or Criminal Law?
It is to your best advantage to request that the attorney provide you with information about his/her experience in DUI or Criminal Law. Representative case summaries and the approximate number of felonies and misdemeanors handled could provide you with valuable insight about the breadth and scope of an attorney's experience, skills and level of success.

What About Lawyers Who Make Guarantees?
No one can predict the outcome of any legal situation with any certainty. Any attorney who guarantees a specific outcome is actually violating the Attorney Rules of Professional Conduct. All an attorney is permitted to guarantee is 'best efforts'. There is no certainty in law in terms of probabilities. Do not let any attorney tell you otherwise. Instead, inquire about resolved results.

What About An Attorney Who Is Familiar With The Court You Are To Appear In And Its Idiosyncrasies?
An attorney who has regularly appeared in a particular court with the judges and prosecutors has a great 'read' on the situation and can often avoid roadblocks which in turn lead to the optimal path for a great result.

Should you Choose An Attorney Who Does Not Keep Up To Date With Developments For DUI And Criminal Defense?
If you needed an operation, you would not choose a surgeon who has only had a limited amount of education on the subject of surgeries. It is the same with an attorney. Continued education is paramount to mounting a judicial fight. When speaking with attorneys about your case, make sure you ask whether he or she attends continuing legal education seminars dealing with DUI or other Criminal law topics on a regular basis. Inquire as to whether an attorney has a solid library of books for DUI and other criminal defense matters. Do not shy away from this request. It is your life.

Do You Need An Attorney Who Has A Game Plan Approach And Is Proactive With It?
You want an attorney who can, and will, attack the law on a detail by detail basis; one who can detect deficiencies or discrepancies in the prosecution's case. You need an attorney who will find and exploit the loopholes in procedural and substantive laws so you won't have to. Nicholas George is an experienced criminal defense attorney who will use those mistakes to your advantage whether you are charged with a DUI, felony or misdemeanor.

Is There a Risk in Selecting An Attorney Whose Abilities Are Not Recognized By An Impartial Institution?
In an initial interview, ask the attorney about the professional organizations he or she is affiliated with and what 'membership' means. Furthermore, inquire whether the attorney has received any rating of competence. If so, ask the attorney to explain precisely what the 'rating' means. Do not shy away from requesting a self-appraisal from the attorney. Key concerns by you could be fleshed out. Always watch out for the sales talk and puffery.

Can You Trust a Lawyer Who Takes Every Type Of Case That Comes Through His Or Her Office Door?
During difficult economic times, attorneys far afield from practicing criminal or DUI law will take a DUI case, for example, with negligible training, experience and knowledge about this charge. These attorneys may misrepresent their ability and experience to acquire a fee from you. Please do not be led down the primrose path. Ask the attorney to demonstrate past experience with DUI cases; said attorneys should not be reluctant to show you relevant books, continuing legal education materials, prior case results and relevant accreditations. If the attorney is unable or unwilling to do so, it is highly probable that their competence is misrepresented to you. Do not use this attorney even if the fee is very low. Your welfare and liberty are at stake.

Are You Sure That the Lawyer You Select Will Commit To A Communicative Relationship In Which You Will Be Well Informed About The Status Of Your Case Regularly?
Before you sign a retainer agreement with an attorney, make sure that the attorney will provide some assurance that you shall be regularly apprised of the status of your case. Moreover, your phone calls must, under most circumstances, be answered or at least returned within 24 hours. If an emergency arises, your attorney should be available on a reasonable basis. You are going through an anxiety-laden time with criminal charges and deserve special, but not necessarily overwhelming, consideration from your attorney.


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Myth Number 1: Are Most People Accused Of This Crime Guilty?

This is perhaps the most troubling myth - one fostered by attorneys and the general public. In my opinion, an attorney who believes this should never represent a person accused of drunk driving. Such a mindset can eliminate objectivity and impede an effective defense.

Most attorneys have no idea how woefully inadequate breath test machines are as evidence-gathering devices. These machines are so unsophisticated that virtually no scientist would ever trust the results as a basis for scholarly research or scientific investigation. Yet attorneys and the general public assume that, since the state has approved the machine, its accuracy and reliability are not subject to challenge. There are many ways to rebut the evidence from breath alcohol machines if the attorney understands how the machines work, what causes them to malfunction, and that they are non-specific for alcohol.

The 'opinion' evidence gathered by police officers typically consists of field or roadside sobriety tests. These agility tests are supposed to indicate that the person suspected of drunk driving is actually impaired or in some way 'a less safe driver.' Scientific studies have shown that since field sobriety tests are not given uniformly, there is no scientific basis for assuming they are valid, and most officers either require the wrong tests or improperly instruct the suspect on how to perform the tests.

Any other 'observation' evidence from a police officer will generally be inconclusive and subject to several interpretations by experts or attorneys. For example, bloodshot eyes can be caused by contact lenses, allergies, or lack of sleep. The defense attorney should analyze the evidence that will likely be presented and take the time to investigate the medical background of clients and the environmental contaminants to which they have been exposed. Much alleged evidence of intoxication can be neutralized or eliminated from the state's presentation with findings from this investigation. The defense should leave no stone unturned.


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Myth Number 2: Is Drunk Driving Is A Minor Offense?

Once drunk driving convictions led to fines of $50 to $150, with no suspension of driving privileges and no penalties beyond going to court, paying the fine, and being chastised by the judge. Those days are long gone.

A client accused of drunk driving deserves to be represented zealously because an unjustified conviction will have repercussions lasting for the rest of the client's life. Not all the 'penalties' for these convictions are legal in nature. The stigma of a conviction can exact a severe psychological toll.

A substantial number of drivers whose licenses are suspended continue to drive. Typically, they do so to provide for themselves and their families, despite the possibility of being jailed for driving with a suspended license. A surprising number are never caught. Yet, they live in terror of being stopped at a license check or a roadside sobriety checkpoint. Those unjustly convicted should not have to live with this hardship.

The client doesn't know whether the state's case was validly made or based on an illegal stop. The client is not familiar with the many ways that breath machines may be inaccurate. That is why accused persons need attorneys in the first place-to investigate the case thoroughly and recommend the best alternative.


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Myth Number 3: Can Any Attorney Defend An Accused Drunk Driver?

If a friend or relative asked me for help on a matter involving asbestos litigation, my response would be to consult an expert in the field. I would try to send the client to the most skilled lawyer I could find who specializes in this area of practice.

When a prospective client walks into the average law office and asks for help on a drunk driving case, some attorneys will agree to represent that person even if they have never handled criminal matters. The attorney may advise the person to plead guilty and work out an arrangement with the court to keep his or her license with the least possible suspension time. The attorney may not adequately investigate the facts of the case or get copies of documents and other evidence that are readily available through discovery.

After a conviction, these clients soon learn what most drunk driving defense practitioners already know; the penalties are not only serious but, like the Energizer Bunny in the TV ads, they keep going and going and going. Consequences, like license suspension, fines, community service, probation, mandatory counseling or alcohol treatment, and possible incarceration (even for first offenders) are likely. These cases also carry a plethora of other consequences that will confront the convicted driver days, months, or even years after the conviction.

Consider these DUI consequences as prompting an increase in insurance costs. Moreover, many attorneys are unaware that most credit bureaus now include drunk driving convictions on credit reports. This not only will affect future credit, but it may also prevent convicted drivers from getting jobs where the prospective employer runs a credit check in processing job applications.


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Myth Number 4: Are DUI Cases Winnable?

This is the most common myth. Not only do members of general public believe this; so do many attorneys. Experienced drunk driving defense lawyers 'win' many cases for first time offenders when there is no evidence of a wreck or other obviously bad driving.

The term 'win' is in quotation marks here because winning may mean having the charge reduced to a different offense or otherwise obtaining a plea bargain that avoids a conviction. The formula for success is to investigate exhaustively; conduct pretrial discovery and motion practice aggressively when practical; use evidentiary maneuvers and procedural devices skillfully; or present a well-conceived, thoroughly choreographed trial with expert witnesses.


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Myth Number 5: DUI Cases Are Just Like Any Other Criminal Case

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Consider the typical prosecution where the State proposes to use physical evidence as part of its case-in-chief. For example, suppose John Doe is charged with murder, having allegedly shot Tom Jones. The prosecution will normally order ballistics tests, take blood spatter patterns and fingerprints, and collect other physical evidence. That evidence is always subject to independent analysis by the defense attorney representing the accused.

This is not true in drunk driving cases, where breath testing usually is not required to be 'preserved.' Video and audio tapes relating to a traffic stop, field sobriety tests and law enforcement informing a driver about constitutional rights are not required so they are rarely taken.

Manifestly unfair judicial decisions have been rendered in many other areas in an effort to stamp out drunk driving. A book could be written about these unfair and unconstitutionally premised state court decisions. Suffice it to say that the judicial system has erected difficult hurdles for practitioners who defend drunk-driving cases.

Lawyers must take these cases seriously. Either they must fully educate themselves on this subject so they can provide an effective defense, or they must refer these cases to lawyers with expertise in the field.


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Red Flags That Trigger a Traffic Stop That Could Lead To a DUI Arrest in Spokane

Red Flags That Trigger a Traffic Stop That Could Lead To a DUI Arrest in Spokane

The following behaviors are considered to be 'Red Flags' that will increase your chances of being pulled over for a DUI in Spokane:



• Driving with headlights off
• Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
• Driving slower than 10 miles per hour
• Turning abruptly or illegally
• Turning with wide radius
• Stopping inappropriately (other than in the lane of travel)
• A slow response to traffic signals
• Driving into or crossing traffic
• Straddling center or lane marker
• Erratic application of the brakes
• Driving with tires on center or lane marker
• Driving in the opposite lane
• Following too closely

• Stopping without cause in the lane of traffic
• Swerving; Weaving
• Almost striking object or vehicle (near miss)
• Appearing to be intoxicated (eye fixation, tightly gripping wheel, gesturing erratically, etc.)
• Broken headlight or tail light
• Rear License light out
• Broken windshield
• Missing rear view mirror
• Expired license tabs.


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Free Download: Five Myths About Drivers Charged With DUI/DWI
Free Download: Five Myths About Drivers Charged With DUI/DWI
Canadian Travel With A DUI/DWI
Canadian Travel With A DUI/DWI
Considerations For Choosing A Lawyer
Considerations For Choosing A Lawyer
Myth Number 1: Are Most People Accused Of This Crime Guilty?Myth Number 2: Is Drunk Driving Is A Minor Offense?Myth Number 3: Can Any Attorney Defend An Accused Drunk Driver?Myth Number 4: Are DUI Cases Winnable?Myth Number 5: DUI Cases Are Just Like Any Other Criminal Case
 

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Nicholas George - Spokane Criminal Attorney & DUI Attorney

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Nicholas George - Spokane Criminal Attorney & DUI Attorney

1312 N. Monroe, Suite 263, Spokane, WA 99201
(509) 474-1116
Toll Free: 844-747-9011
Fax: 509-315-4355

 

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