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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Olympia Car Accidents/Personal Injury/Criminal Defense Blog

Not guilty plea entered by Tiger Woods

Washington golfers may be interested to learn that Tiger Woods' attorney signed a not guilty plea for his DUI charge after Woods did not attend his arraignment. The 41-year-old golfer was taken into custody on the morning of May 29 after it was suspected that he was driving under the influence.

On that date, police officers found Woods asleep behind the wheel of his vehicle, which was still running. The car was sitting partially in the right lane and in the bike lane about 15 miles from his Florida home. The vehicle had two flat tires and minor damage to the rims in addition to fresh damage to the side and rear bumper. When questioned, Woods had slurred speech and appeared to not know where he was. He said that he took several prescription medications after having back surgery in April.

Aggressive enforcement for event leads to 19 DUIs

The Washington State Patrol assigned additional troopers to highways in the Tri-Cities area during the Water Follies weekend of boat races for the HAPO Columbia Cup. Troopers reported arresting 18 people for DUI during the weekend, which represented two more DUI arrests than the previous year.

According to the state patrol, the Water Follies weekend generates more drunk driving arrests in the area than New Year's Eve or the Fourth of July. The past New Year's weekend produced seven DUI arrests, and the Independence Day weekend resulted in the same number of arrested drunk drivers.

Future may bring marijuana breathalyzers to Washington

Scientists with the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been working on the problem of finding an easy way to detect when a driver is under the influence of marijuana. A legitimate roadside breathalyzer test that could determine if a person is driving while intoxicated by THC, the main chemical in marijuana, would be useful to police officers.

While a new breathalyzer test for marijuana has not yet been created, authors of a recent NIST study are the first to discover the vapor pressure of THC. This knowledge could be a necessary building block for constructing a valid roadside breathalyzer. Vapor pressure provides information about the behavior of a chemical when it moves from a liquid state to a vapor state. This is the process that occurs in the human body when THC is ingested.

Studies show drug-positive driving on the rise

Washington motorists may be interested to learn that the number of drivers who were found to be under the influence of marijuana has increased while the number of drivers who drove while under the influence of alcohol has decreased. According to a study, the percentage of drivers under the influence of alcohol decreased 77 percent from 1973 to 2014. The number of drivers who tested positive for marijuana increased by 50 percent.

The findings were the results of studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Commission. The results regarding the number of drug-positive drivers in the 2013-2014 study was particularly worrying as almost 9 percent of daytime drivers and 13 percent of nighttime drivers had THC, the psychedelic component of marijuana, in their system. Even more worrying, it was found that 22 percent of daytime drivers and 23 percent of nighttime drivers had drugs in their system.

Basic rules about when police can search people or property

Residents of Washington possess a legal right to a reasonable level of privacy, which applies to searches by law enforcement. In situations where no expectation of privacy exists, police may conduct searches without a warrant. For example, a stolen weapon in plain view on the hood of a car could be taken by police. This action would not be considered a search.

To enter private areas, police generally need to obtain a search warrant. Law enforcement could obtain a warrant by explaining to a judge that a search will very likely produce evidence of a crime, which is known as probable cause.

Alcohol education programs are alternatives in DUI cases

In Washington and across the United States, mandatory alcohol education and treatment programs are used in some deferred prosecution agreements for people accused of driving under the influence. These programs are used to substitute for some harsher penalties, especially for first-time offenders.

Completing alcohol education and therapy can lead to restoration of driving privileges and often can be used to deal with DUI charges without creating a criminal record. Without use of these programs, people convicted of DUI offenses will often face license suspensions, fines and sometimes jail time.

Man accused of stealing car and DUI

A Washington man was accused of stealing a car and crashing through two security gates after falling asleep behind the wheel on June 22. Authorities were able to take the man into custody after he attempted to flee on foot.

At about 6:30 a.m., police officers found a man passed out behind the wheel of a running vehicle. The vehicle was parked up against the employee parking lot of the Bremerton Police Department and was blocking the alleyway. Officers were able to wake the man up. He immediately hit the gas pedal and crashed through an electronic security gate, causing him to enter the police station parking lot. He rammed through a second electronic security gate, causing serious property damage and damage to the vehicle.

Former NFL player pleads guilty to DUI

Washington football fans may be interested to learn that, on June 19, it was reported that a former linebacker for the New York Giants pleaded guilty to DUI. The charge stemmed from a drunk driving incident in September 2016 when 57-year-old Lawrence Taylor struck a motor home and sideswiped a police car in Florida.

Authorities with the Florida Highway Patrol said that the former linebacker was driving a Bentley on the highway in Palm Beach County at about 5:20 p.m. when he struck a motor home. He then sideswiped a police car, taking off the vehicle's mirror. There were no injuries reported. Taylor was taken to Palm Beach County jail where he admitted that he may have had "too much" to drink.

Alternatives to jail time

People in Washington who are convicted of an offense may not necessarily have to go to jail. There are a number of alternative sentences that they might receive instead. For example, a person might get a suspended sentence. The suspended sentence may or may not have a condition, such as requiring the completion of a substance abuse program. Probation is similar to a suspended sentence but usually places restrictions on a person's freedom.

A person might be required to pay something either as a fine or restitution. The former is paid to the state while restitution is paid to the victim of the offense. For example, a person who vandalizes a building might be required to pay restitution to the owner of that building. Another alternative to a sentence or to paying fines is community service.

Common causes of pedestrian accidents

The temperatures are heating up, which means more people are taking to the sidewalks and roadways. If you are among them, it is important to recognize what this influx of foot and road traffic might mean for your safety. Many drivers taking to the streets during the summertime are students with limited driving experience, and this and other factors enhance your risk of injury as a pedestrian.

According to the Traffic Safety Store, more than 70,000 pedestrians suffer injury caused by vehicles each year, and about 4,000 of those pedestrians lose their lives. To reduce your chances of this type of an accident, know that many pedestrian accidents result from: