The client was driving with a friend late on a summer night in south Snohomish County. Without warning, his car was struck on the side by another driver, who took off at a high rate of speed. The client followed the other driver while his friend called 911 to report that they had been a victim of a hit and run. The client ran through a red light to keep the other car in sight. Police caught up with the other driver after a high speed chase, and that other driver was arrested. But then police came over to our client, who had stopped on his own to speak to the police, and they suspected him of drinking and driving. They questioned him and ultimately placed our client under arrest for Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol (DUI). All the client had done was try to hold the other out of control driver accountable; our client was a victim in this case!
The client came to us for help. After interviewing the client, Derek undertook a full investigation of the case, including a visit to the scene of the incident. The prosecutor had charged our client with both DUI and Reckless Driving.
We demanded that the prosecutor give us all the evidence that they had. When we got the police reports and the case file from them, we realized that there was evidence missing from the police officers who actually first had contact with our client. This evidence was very important because it was the only evidence that would explain why the police had detained our client in the first place. Under Washington law, if the police have no legal basis to stop a vehicle, then any evidence that they obtain from that illegal stop is tainted, and must be suppressed, or thrown out. This can include even serious evidence, such as a breath or blood test result. Without such evidence, the prosecutor cannot prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
We used the fact that the prosecutor could not produce the evidence we requested, as a basis to file a motion to dismiss the case. We used that same lack of evidence to protect our client’s driver’s license from an action by the Department of Licensing to try to suspend the license.
The prosecutor was forced to dismiss the DUI charge because of our aggressive representation of the client. A DUI conviction would have led to disastrous consequences for the client, and likely the loss of his longtime employment. Instead, the client did plead guilty to reckless driving for his running of the red light, and had to pay a small fine, with no jail to serve. This was a far better result for the client, and saved him his job, his liberty, his driver’s license, and his record.
People make mistakes every day. Sometimes, the mistake a person makes leads them to be charged with a crime they didn’t commit. In those times, it is essential that you have a lawyer who will fight for you every step of the way. Whether you made a mistake and have been charged with a crime, or you’ve been wrongly accused of crime, or anywhere in between, if you need help, call our office right away.