By Garth O'Brien | August 25, 2010
Filed Under Seattle DUI
Years ago a prospective client was explaining his night out on the town with buddies. It was a typical story provided by a vast majority of those arrested for DUI. For purposes of this post we will refer to my client as Mr. X.
Mr. X informed me he was out after work hitting up various bars in downtown Seattle. Mr. X and his friends drank until 1:00 am and then proceeded to drive home. Mr. X decided to drive because his friend was “really wasted” and he only had a “couple” of drinks throughout the night. Mr. X mentioned he did the field sobriety tests without error and then was arrested for DUI. His breath test reading was above 0.15 which was bad news since Washington’s legal limit is 0.08.
During the discovery process we received a video tape of the arrest from the Washington State Patrol. Video in most cases ends up becoming a win-win situation for defense attorneys. Clients will watch the video and one of two conclusions are made: 1. Oh God I was really drunk or 2. See I really was sober. The clients that believed they were sober clearly see how smashed they were. Also, the video can point out how aggressive and blind a police officer can be.
For example, I watched one video of a defendant driving perfectly straight within their lane. There was absolutely no weaving within the lane or travel outside of his lane. On the video you can hear the officer stating, “See the weaving. Oh he almost hit the curb!” In court the prosecutor and judge disagreed with the officer’s assessment and the case quickly went away. Mr. X wished his video could have worked the same magic.
The WSP Trooper was incredibly professional, polite and quite nice. He was not the brute type that is common amongst those in blue during an arrest. Mr. X could hear his slurred speech, and watched as he performed poorly on the field sobriety tests. After the tests the officer placed Mr. X into the patrol car and swiveled the camera around so it captured the backseat and my handcuffed client.
The trooper then went to inventory my client’s car and to speak with the passenger. While this is going on my client’s nose begins to itch badly. Since his hands were cuffed behind him he had to get resourceful. He smashed his face against the protective glass that separates the front of the patrol car with the backseat. Then he rubbed his nose downward leaving an obvious nasty yellowy smear of snot across the glass. Just as he finished the cop came back to the squad car.
Luckily the trooper did not notice the snot artwork, but did have some bad news. This is how the conversation went:
Trooper: Well I have some bad news and some worse news.
Client: Okay. What is the bad news?
Trooper: Your friend puked in your car. (Said with a smile)
Client: Oh no! Damn really? Oh that sucks.
Trooper: Yea. (laughing) It is everywhere. Dashboard, floor, seats and door.
Client: Son of a bitch. What is the worse news?
A few second pause
Trooper: He pissed himself real bad.
Trooper: Yea, and it soaked into your car seat.
While we watched the video I tried my best to keep from laughing and smiling. When that exchange past I paused the video and looked at my client. He said he could not remember that conversation, but told me the seat was ruined and had to be replaced. Surprisingly, he was good natured about the incident and laughed it off.
Although, the video clearly proved he was under the influence the prosecution offered a nice settlement to a reduced charge. They never admitted it, but I think they felt my client suffered enough that night at the hands of his friend.