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Seattle DUI Lawyers Alert: Seattle Court of Appeals Says Screenings for Alcohol, Chemical Dependency Don't Mix

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | May 15, 2013 | 0 Comments

Seattle DUI Conditions of Sentence

In Seattle both crimes are DUI's - driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs.  But they are two different crimes in the eyes of the Washington penal code, especially concerning Felony DUI's.  Many laymen and laywomen tend to erroneously group the two transgressions together into the same category. Apparently, some judges do, too.

A recent decision by the Washington Court of Appeals Division One reiterated the individuality of these two crimes on the felony DUI level. In State v. Warnock, a man was arrested on charges of DUI-alcohol in November of 2011 after an officer observed the man staggering and also smelled alcohol on the suspect's breath. The man was also charged with second-degree assault in conjunction with a barfight that occurred prior to him being pulled over by an officer. He was found guilty of assault, but acquitted on the DUI charge. Nevertheless, the state sought to impose additional conditions related to his alcohol use as part of his sentence on the assault charge.

One of these conditions was for the man to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation. The man appealed that portion of his sentence, claiming that neither drugs nor other controlled substances had anything to do with his case. The appellate court agreed with him, noting that "the chemical dependency condition is ambiguous and can be read as requiring evaluation and treatment for substances other than alcohol."

The appeals court remanded the sentence back to the trial court with instructions to only consider alcohol-related conditions or punishments.  The decision was based on felony sentencing laws, which will limit the decisions impact on District and Municipal Court matters such as Seattle DUI's, which are filed in Seattle Municipal Court.

The moral of the story? The old saying is that alcohol and drugs don't mix - apparently neither do their penalties.

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.


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