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Seattle Criminal Law Blog

Bam Margera faces charges for DUI

Seattle fans of TV personality and skateboarder Bam Margera might be interested to learn that he was detained on Dec. 7 on charges of DUI. Margera has never faced DUI charges before although he has been open about his struggles with alcohol abuse and finding sobriety. His friend Ryan Dunn died in a drunk driving accident in 2011.

Margera was stopped by California Highway Patrol officers as he drove past them while he was on his phone and they were making another stop. After pulling him over, police reportedly smelled alcohol on his breath.

Why people wear SCRAM bracelets

Washington residents who are convicted on a drunk driving charge may have to wear a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet. Typically, they are reserved for those who are on probation, parole or have otherwise been released early. This may be used instead of an ignition interlock device in a vehicle. The main benefit is that it may be possible to monitor a person's blood alcohol content remotely.

The bracelet will measure the amount of alcohol in a person's sweat once per hour. Those results are then sent to a regional computer, and it will notify the authorities if there is alcohol present or if the bracelet has been tampered with. If an individual has tampered with a bracelet or otherwise run afoul of SCRAM rules, it may be seen as a parole or probation violation.

Age plays a role in juvenile arrests after school fights

Some children learn to handle their problems with aggression. Others always have high energy and may turn to aggression because they don't know how else to explain their feelings. The problem with aggression is that it can lead to fist fights and violent acts against friends and family members. If the violence takes place at school, there is a chance a child could face prosecution.

While many schools won't immediately turn to prosecution, the severity of the child's actions could call for penalties. Detention and a visit to the principal's office is a normal response, but for children who continue to cause problems, parents could find that they receive notice of legal consequences.

Woman facing DUI charges after allegedly striking WSP vehicle

Police in Washington have reported that a woman in her early 20s was taken into custody on the night of Dec. 14 on suspicion of drunk driving and leaving the scene of an accident. The woman allegedly struck a Washington State Patrol vehicle with her Honda sedan while under the influence of alcohol and then attempted to flee the scene. Media outlets picked up the story because the patrol vehicle involved was being used by an officer who was assisting with the arrest of another drunk driver at the time.

Reports indicate that the sergeant had pulled over in the vicinity of 40th Street and Rucker Avenue in Everett at approximately 10:00 p.m. when a sedan being driven recklessly swerved onto the shoulder. The sergeant says that the Honda's passenger side mirror then struck the rear lights of his patrol vehicle before continuing northbound on Rucker Avenue. He also claims that the woman could not have missed his patrol vehicle as its blue lights were flashing at the time.

Agencies warn about traffic safety during the holidays

Seattle drivers should be particularly careful over the Christmas and New Year's holidays, a time of year when fatalities from car accidents are on the rise. To help combat the problem, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration runs a yearly campaign against drunk driving called Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.

The campaign includes a commercial that shows a man after being taken into custody in a police car and a virtual reality web experience at a crash scene. The web experience allows users to interact with EMTs, injured people and others on the scene. There is also a SaferRide app that people can get for Apple or Android devices.

President Trump pledges resources to combat drunk driving

Law enforcement agencies in Washington and around the country generally step up their efforts to reduce impaired driving during the holiday season. As part of these efforts, the Trump administration has proclaimed December 2017 as National Impaired Driving Prevention Month. The president's Nov. 30 proclamation pledged to provide the nation's police departments with the resources and tools they need to keep drunk drivers off the roads. It also vowed to reduce the number of regulations faced by companies offering an alternative to driving home such as ride-sharing companies like Uber and Lyft.

Alcohol was once a factor in about two-thirds of all fatal traffic accidents. However, the roads have become far safer in recent decades thanks largely to persuasive public information campaigns, stricter drunk driving laws and rigorous law enforcement. However, the downward trend in road deaths came to an abrupt end in 2015, and fatalities have now risen alarmingly for two consecutive years. According to government figures, more than 10,000 road users lost their lives in accidents involving drunk drivers in 2016.

Randy Travis loses another bid to halt release of arrest video

Country singer Randy Travis recently lost another legal bid to keep video footage of his 2012 drunk driving arrest under wraps. Washington music fans may be aware that he has been fighting to stop the video's release for several years.

Travis' request to place a preliminary injunction on a police recording of his arrest, which reportedly shows him naked and resisting officers, was denied by a federal judge on Nov. 30. The ruling allows the Texas Department of Public Safety to release the footage any time after Dec. 1.

How to restore voting rights in Washington

Those who have been convicted of a felony in the state of Washington may lose their right to vote. However, it may be possible to have those rights reinstated if certain conditions are met. For instance, a person may have to pay all fines, court costs and other fees imposed as part of a sentence. It may also be necessary to complete community service, required treatment or probation before regaining the right to vote.

The date of the conviction may play a role in determining how the individual gets back the right to vote. Those who have been convicted prior to July 1984 will need to ask the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board to restore voting rights. If a person was convicted after July 1, 1984, he or she will receive a Certificate of Discharge as soon as the requirements of the sentence have been met.

Identity theft: A serious and confusing crime

Identity theft, also known as identity fraud, is exactly what it sounds like. This is a type of crime in which a person wrongfully uses or obtains another individual's personal data in a matter that involves deception or fraud. Adding to this, the theft usually occurs so that the person stealing the data can make a financial gain.

Generally speaking, identity theft laws make it illegal for a person to use another individual's financial or personal information without consent. This can include but is not limited to credit history, social security number and PIN numbers.

Black men receive longer sentences for similar crimes

Facing sentencing in a criminal case can be a dangerous time for any defendant, but it can be even more complex for Black men in Washington and throughout the United States. In a study by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, it was shown that Black men tend to receive significantly longer sentences than white men convicted of the same or similar crimes. The sentences of Black men can be 19.1 percent longer than those of white men on average, found commission researchers when examining sentencing data for people convicted between 2012 and 2016.

The Sentencing Commission is a bipartisan and independent agency that falls under the mandate of the U.S. federal judiciary. In its study, the commission found that the racial disparity in sentencing cannot be explained away by factors like criminal records, past violence or related concerns. In fact, when taking factors such as prior violence into account, the disparity actually rose; Black men were sentenced to periods 20.4 percent longer on average than white men with similar histories of violence, according to data collected in 2016.

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