Posts tagged lawyer blog

Distracted Driving – Learn about It!

As of recent I’ve been hearing the buzz words “distracted driving.” While the words seem to explain themselves, I wanted to dig a little deeper and find out more.

According to the U.S. Department of transportation, distracted driving is defined as; any activity that could divert a person’s attention away from the primary task of driving. All distractions endanger driver, passenger, and bystander safety.

Here are a few examples of distracted driving:

  • Distracted Driving for David O Defense websiteUse of a smart phone or cell phone; looking at texts, sending messages, making calls, receiving calls, changing music etc.
  • Eating, reaching for food, and passing food to other passengers.
  • Applying makeup or styling hair.
  • Programing a GPS or navigation system.
  • Trying to manage children.
  • Pets roaming inside a vehicle.
  • Taking off a coat or piece of clothing while driving.
  • Reaching for an item across the vehicle.

 

I think we have all been guilty of distracted driving at one time or another. But again, why all the fuss, what’s the big deal? I didn’t hurt myself or anyone else while driving and munching on some hot McDonald’s fries, after all the fries are much better devoured hot rather than cold.

Well it turns out it is a big deal! Here are some shocking and rather persuasive statistics:

  • Recent research has discovered that distraction “latency” lasts an average of 27 seconds, meaning that, even after drivers put down the phone or stop fiddling with the navigation system, drivers aren’t fully engaged with the driving task. (AAA Foundation)
  • Five seconds is the average time your eyes are off the road while texting. When traveling at 55 mph, that’s enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. (2009, VTTI)
  • Text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver, it is by far the most alarming distraction. (Distraction.gov)
  • Ten percent of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of driv­ers who were distracted at the time of the crashes. (NHTSA)
  • A recent in-car study showed that teen drivers were distracted almost a quarter of the time they were behind the wheel. (AAA Foundation)
  • In 2014, 3,179 people were killed, and 431,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. (Distraction.gov)

After reading these statistics I felt quite guilty for my distracted driving and eating hot fries in the car. Now I realize how dangerous distracted driving can be. I am happy to change my driving habit from here on out to keep others safe and to set a good example for my three kids who will one day grow to be teenage drivers themselves.

Follow these 5 easy tips to avoid distracted driving:

  1. Focus on driving. Remember your operating a large machine and it requires your full concentration. Keep your eyes on the road, hands on the steering wheel, use your mirrors, signal, and be a defensive driver.
  2. Avoid the use of smart phones, cell phones and technology while driving. Pre-set your devices before you start to drive. If you need to use or change a technical device, simply pull your vehicle over. REMEMBER NO TEXTING WHILE DRIVING!
  3. Set your kids up for success before you start to drive. Make sure they have what they need and are buckled properly before hitting the road. If you need to manage your child while driving, pull over.
  4. Get your self situated before you start to drive. Make sure you’ll be comfortable while driving. For example; complete your daily grooming before you leave, make sure you have enough time to get to your destination, and remove your coat before hand.
  5. Don’t let other passengers distract you, this includes pets. Let passengers know if they are being distracting and make sure your pets are safely secured.

These tips are simple and when followed they help keep drivers, passengers, and others on the roadways safe. Let’s keep everyone safe, don’t be a distracted driver. Want to learn more, go to distraction.gov or aaa.foundation.org.

5 Big Reasons NOT To Talk To Cops

As a Washington State criminal defense attorney, I often meet with clients after they have been arrested and charged with a crime and more often than not, they have said too much to the arresting officer, which in turn can make their case more challenging.  As a defense attorney I am on my clients side and I want my clients to save themselves, thus I always advise my clients to be respectful to police but not to talk to police, keep quiet, and here are the reasons why:

5 Big Reasons NOT To Talk To Cops

1.  Talking to the police will not convince them of your innocence.  Some people think that if they tell the officers they are not guilty of a crime that the officer will believe their story and let them go.  Wrong, that does not happen, the officer already has some reasonable cause for thinking you have committed a crime and sharing your side of the story will only lead to serious risks of saying incriminating statements.  For example; “Officer I’m not drunk, I only had a few drinks with food and that was hours ago, I’m fine, I was driving safely .”  That individual just told the officer that they consumed alcohol and now “I only had a few drinks” will be used against the individual during the prosecution of their DUI charge.  Talking will not set you free!

2.  Remaining silent does not mean you are guilty.  Often people believe that not talking to law enforcement means they are admitting they are guilty.  False, by not talking does not mean you are guilty, it just means you have chosen to exercise your constitutional right to remain silent.  You have the right to remain silent!

3.  There is no benefit from admitting your guilt.  Confessing your guilt of a crime to a police officer has no benefit.  In fact an individual who confesses their crime to an officer will face a longer and harsher sentence than an individual who did not confess guilt and let their criminal defense attorney do the talking for them.   It is much more difficult for a defense attorney to negotiate a plea bargain for an individual that has confessed to an officer of their guilt.  Again, it is in a person’s best interest to remain quiet.

4.  Cops embellish and exaggerate.  Unfortunately, cops don’t write their police reports from an unbiased perspective, they write their reports from their own perspective.  And more often than not, cops will embellish or exaggerate their reports to make themselves and their arrest appear more legitimate, which in turn makes the accused appear more guilty.  For example; if a person arrested for domestic violence tells a cop, “I accidentally knocked over the table lamp.” the cop could embellish that statement in his report by writing “when I walked into the house I observed broken glass all over the floor, of which the outraged perpetrator admitted he smashed the table lamp on the ground” which paints a much more aggressive picture than what was originally said.  In a police report, the cop will look like the good guy and the person charged with a crime will look like the bad guy.  If you don’t talk, a cop cannot exaggerate on your statements.

5.  The more times you tell a story, the harder it becomes to tell it the same.  It is nearly impossible to retell a story exactly how you told it the first time, even if it is the truth.  The more times you tell a story the more versions you create.  If you told your story to the arresting officer you better bet the officer wrote down what you said in their police report.  Now imagine your case has gone to trial where you will have to tell your story again, but under stress, in front of an audience, and with a lot of serious consequences on the line, it would be very tough to tell your story exactly how you told the arresting officer.  And once you deviate from your original story, the prosecuting attorney will attack, trying to discredit you and make you look like a liar.  Thus the moral of story telling is save your story for your criminal defense attorney, let your attorney talk for you, and don’t talk to cops!

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This blog was inspired by the November 2014 Issue of Washington Criminal Defense, article entitled, “Top 10 reasons why you should never talk to cops!” written by Wade S. Samuelson and Professor James J. Duane.

The Difference Between A Public Defense Attorney And A Private Defense Attorney – Q&A.

When it comes to finding a defense attorney to work on a DUI case or any other type of criminal case, one of the first major decisions an individual must contemplate is to hire a private defense attorney or to utilize a public defense attorney.  For some individuals the choice is clear, for others the decision may be more difficult.  Here are some commonly asked questions and answers concerning private and public defense attorneys that may aid in the decision to hire an attorney or not.

Q.  Does a public defense attorney cost money, and if so how much?

A.  A public defense attorney does not cost money if that individual qualifies as indigent under Washington State law.  According to RCW 10.101, a person who is indigent:

  • Receives public assistance (temporary assistance for needy families; aged, blind or disabled assistance benefits; medical care services under RCW 74.09.035; pregnant women assistance benefits, poverty-related veterans’ benefits, food stamps or food stamp benefits transferred electronically, refugee resettlement benefits, Medicaid, or supplemental security income); OR
  • Is involuntarily committed to a public mental health facility; OR
  • Receives an annual income, after taxes, of 125 percent or less of the current federally established poverty level (external); OR
  • Is unable to pay the anticipated cost of counsel for the matter before the court because the available funds are insufficient to pay any amount for the retention of counsel.

If an individual does not qualify as indigent but does not have enough money for a private attorney than that individual is considered “able to contribute” and the Department of Public Defense screener will have the individual sign a promissory note to offset the cost of the public defense attorney.

Q.  Does a private attorney cost money, and if so how much?

A.   Yes, a private defense attorney will charge a flat fee or an hourly fee for services rendered.  Fees vary between private attorneys and more experienced attorneys or large law firms often command higher fees.  Here at David O Defense, attorneys offer a free consultation to talk about the criminal allegation.  During the consultation the attorney will be able to determine the legal fee, which is based on the circumstances of the case and criminal history.  A unique feature of David O Defense is the ability to offer tailored payment plans, to fit the financial situations of our clients.

3.  Q.  Does an individual get to choose a public defense attorney of their choice for case representation?

A.  No, the Department of Public Defense will assign an attorney, an individual does not get to choose.

4.  Q.  Does an individual get to choose a private defense attorney of their choice for case representation?

A.  Yes, an individual chooses a private defense attorney that best fits their legal needs.  Here at David O Defense we prefer to meet individuals in person so they can get a better impression of our attorneys and office environment.  We also encourage individuals to meet with other attorneys so they can determine which private attorney will provide the best representation. When visiting other attorneys, David O Defense suggests individuals should observe; 1) attorney mannerisms, 2) how well the attorney articulates legal matters and answers questions, and 3) the organization of the attorney and their office. Additionally, we recommend reading attorney reviews by peers and past clients on reputable websites like Nolo.com,Yelp or Avvo.com.

5.  Q.  Will a public defense attorney or a private defense attorney provide better case resolution and results?

A.  Generally a private defense attorney will work harder for better case resolutions and results.  Generally a private attorney has a smaller case load than a public defense attorney and therefore can dedicate more time and effort into an individuals case.  Also a private attorney has monetary and future referral incentives to work hard on an individual’s case, whereas a public defense attorney will receive a paycheck win or lose a case and they do not depend on referrals for future clients.  Here at David O Defense, our attorneys work very hard to achieve optimal case results for each and every client.

6.  Q.  Do public and private defense attorneys have the same legal education and qualifications for criminal defense work?

A.   Yes, both public and private defense attorneys have completed law school and passed the Washington State Bar exam to become a practicing criminal defense attorney in the State of Washington.  Years of experience, extra curriculum legal involvement, and a passion for criminal law will vary between attorneys.

 

Written by Criminal Defense Attorney, David O

Co-Written by SAO

David O Defense
2211 Elliott Avenue, Suite 200 Seattle, WA 98121
Tel: 206.459.6392
Fax: 888.615.0237
Email: david@davidodefense.com

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