Category Archives: Boating Under the Influence

Didlake v. DOL: Fees for DOL Hearings Held Constitutional

Cost of a DUI

Here’s an interesting opinion on the ever-increasing financial costs of fighting DUI crimes and the Department of Licencing’s (DOL) automatic suspension of a DUI defendant’s driver’s license.

In Didlake v. Department of Licensing, the Court of Appeals held that Washington’s Implied Consent Statute, RCW 46.20.308, which requires drivers arrested for DUI to pay a $200-$375 statutory fee in order to have an administrative hearing on license suspension, does NOT violate due process because of the driving privilege is not a fundamental right and DOL waives the fee for indigent drivers.

In 2010 – 2011 police arrested James Didlake and other defendants for DUI. Washington’s Implied Consent Statute, RCW 46.20.308, requires that a driver arrested for Driving Under the Influence of an Intoxicant (DUI) pay a filing fee to obtain an administrative review hearing to prevent a driver’s license suspension or revocation. And as required by Washington’s implied consent law, the Department initiated license suspension proceedings against them. Each defendant paid a $200 fee for an administrative review hearing. After they prevailed at their hearings, the Department rescinded their license suspensions.

Didlake filed a class action lawsuit against the DOL, asking for injunctive and declaratory relief, plus a refund and damages. He alleged that the $200 statutory fee for an administrative hearing violates due process. Didlake filed a motion for class certification under CR 23. After filing its answer, the DOL filed a motion to dismiss Didlake’s lawsuit under CR 12(b)(6).

On April 5, 2013, the trial court granted the DOL’s motion to dismiss. Didlake asked the Washington Supreme Court for direct review. On March 5, 2014, the Supreme Court transferred the case to the Court of Appeals.

In rendering its decision, the Court of Appeals gave lots of background on the procedural aspects of challeging DOL license suspensions. The court reasoned that the implied consent law provides certain procedural protections to drivers. The DOL must give the driver written notice that it intends to suspend or revoke the driver’s license. The DOL must also notify the driver of the right to a hearing and specify the steps to obtain one. Within 20 days of this notice, the driver may request in writing a formal hearing before the DOL. As part of the request, the driver must pay a mandatory fee. The DOL may waive the fee, however, for drivers who are indigent.

At the hearing, the driver may have assistance of counsel, question witnesses, present evidence, and testify. The hearing officer determines if the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the driver was driving under the influence and if the driver refused to take a test or took a test that revealed a BAC of 0.08 or higher. After the hearing, the DOL “shall order that the suspension, revocation, or denial either be rescinded or sustained.”

Here, the Court reasoned that Washington courts have almost always have upheld the constitutionality of filing fees. Courts have consistently distinguished between fundamental interests and interests that are “solely monetary,” involving “economics and social welfare,” or even “important” or “substantial.” If the interest involved is fundamental, due process requires access for all. Here, the court reasoned, a fee waiver for indigent litigants accomplishes this mandate. If the interest is not fundamental, “a monetary prerequisite to an appeal is thus permissible, even for indigent appellants.

Additionally, Courts have identified the driving privilege as an “important” and “substantial” but not fundamental right. Consequently, the court reasoned, this contradicts Didlake’s assertion that the filing fee has a “chilling effect” on drivers’ exercise of their due process rights. Thus, he fails to establish a facial challenge on due process grounds. And because he paid the fee and received a hearing that complied with due process, he does not show that the fee requirement is unconstitutional as applied to him. “Whether facial or as-applied, Didlake’s due process challenges fail.”

 The Court concluded that because Didlake failed to establish that the implied consent statute’s fee requirement violates procedural due process, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s order dismissing Didlake’s class action claim.

My opinion? Speaking as a DUI attorney, DOL hearings and license suspensions are just another way for the State to profit from defendants charged with DUI. These days, a DOL hearing costs $375. Additionally, a defendant’s window of time to apply for these hearings is small – only 20 days after the DUI incident happened. Finally, DOL hearings are very difficult to win. There must be some glaring legal weakness in the case regarding (1) the pullover of the defendant’s vehicle, (2) the evidence of DUI, (3) whether the officer read the Implied Consent Warnings, and/or (4) whether the defendant tested over .08 BAC or refused the BAC machine.

Unfortunately, given the Court’s analysis above, it appears the wheels of justice shall continue to financially grind upon defendants facing license suspensions from DUI charges.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Marijuana / THC Breathalyzer Available Soon.

Marijuana breathalyzer technology is here, and it's coming for drivers |

Technology appears to be catching up.

Since Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2014, and the growing trend to legalize pot in some capacity across the nation, there is an increased interest in addressing drugged driving.

However, today’s standardized testing marijuana intoxication is not as simple as detecting alcohol. More science and research are required. It the meantime, technology will be coming to market, such as the marijuana breathalyzer being developed by Cannabix Technologies, Inc. to give police officers an on-site tool to enhance detection of THC, the psychotropic metabolite in marijuana.

In the future, devices of this type will likely be dialed in by the forensic community and become an integral element in identifying marijuana-intoxicated drivers and in other settings, including workplaces and general consumer use, just as the alcohol breathalyzer is today.

My opinion? We saw this coming. It’s almost humorous. Typically, the law lags behind technological advances. Here, technology appears to be lagging behind the evolution of marijuana legalization! Interesting development, no? This device is another tool in the hands of law enforcement – along with Drug Recognition Experts, and search warrants for the testing of blood – for investigating DUI charges.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Attorney Alexander Ransom Accepted Into National College of DUI Defense

Orlando DUI Lawyer | National College for DUI (Drunk Driving) Defense —  Orlando DUI Lawyer Elliott Wilcox

Attorney Alexander Ransom became a General Member of the National College for DUI Defense, Inc.

The National College for DUI Defense (NCDD) is a professional, non-profit corporation dedicated to the improvement of the criminal defense bar, and to the dissemination of information to the public about DUI Defense Law as a specialty area of law practice. The National College is headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama. It consists of a governing Board of Regents, a Founding Membership, a Sustaining Membership and a General Membership.

College members represent the most experienced DUI defense attorneys in the country. Members are among the top DUI practitioners in the United States. The NCDD recognizes defense lawyers who have demonstrated the skill and experience of the original Founding Members, as well as the generosity to financially sustain the growth of the NCDD. General Members are the backbone of the college—capable, experienced attorneys who dedicate a portion of their practice to the defense of DUI cases throughout the country.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Seafair 2013 Brought Less Arrests for Boating Under the Influence.

Washington's New Boating Under the Influence 'Implied Consent' Law

The numbers are out: 34 people were cited for boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol (BUI) during the Seafair events on Lake Washington this weekend. This shows a drop of more than 40 percent from last year’s Seafair BUI total, which was 61.

Matching the decrease, however, was the fact that Seafair’s ticket sales also decreased dramatically. Seafair officials said that since it’s an open festival, exact numbers weren’t available, but ticket sales at the log boom were down 20 percent.

Police contacted 473 boats, down 32 percent from last year’s event, and doled out 42 citations for speeding or unsafe lane changes, among other infractions. Medical assistance was called for four boaters. Of those contacted, 15 refused breath tests. Nowadays, refusing a breath test carries a fine of $2,050.

Of the 34 people charged with BUIs, four were booked and taken to jail. Others were pulled over and told to have someone come pick them up. Four search warrants were served for blood samples and one for search of a vessel resulted in a drug arrest.

RCW 79A.60.040 is Washington’s Boating Under the Influence Statute. In short, It prevents people from operating a boat while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug. A person is considered to be under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person has 0.08 grams or more of alcohol. This can be proven by breath tests of a blood test. Drugs and/or the combination of drugs and alcohol may also constitute Boating Under the Influence.

Unlike DUI, Boating Under the Influence is a simple misdemeanor. It isn’t viewed as seriously as DUI, and carries less punishment as far as court fines and jail time is concerned. Still, the court may still order the defendant to pay restitution for any damages or injuries resulting from the offense. Additionally, a BUI charge/conviction can negatively impact a Skipper’s license to operate their vessel.

And it only gets worse. If someone is seriously injured at the hands of an intoxicated boat operator, that operator can be charged under RCW 79A.60.60, a Class B felony. And if someone dies as a result as a proximate cause of the operation of any vessel by an intoxicated person, that person will be charged with a Class A felony under RCW 79A.60.50. Finally, any operator of a boat who willfully fails to stop when requested or signaled to do so by a law enforcement officer is guilty of a gross misdemeanor under RCW 79A.60.080.

Hire an attorney if you find yourself charged with any of the above-referenced water related crimes. You’ll need all the help you can get. Nowadays, consuming two beers while enjoying your vessel can easily get you in trouble.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.

Sheriff’s Office Patrolling the Waters LEGO City Police Patrol Boat 60129: Toys & Games

On land, sea and air . . .

Boaters hitting the water for the first weekend of summer should have a designated captain, as the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office will be launching extra patrols on county waters starting Friday, June 24.

The patrols will look for people who are boating under the influence of drugs or alcohol through Sunday. The effort is part of a nationwide weekend of enforcement aimed at reducing the number of alcohol-related accidents on the water.

As part of the extra patrols, deputies will be making contact with boaters, doing safety checks and performing enforcement. Regular enforcement patrols will take place throughout the 2011 boating season.

My opinion?  Watch your drinking!  BUI (Boating Under the Influence) is the same as DUI (Driving Under the Influence) and carries similar penalties: jail, court fines, loss of license, alcohol evaluations, probation, etc.  It’s tempting to drink out there in the open water, but BE SAFE.

Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.