Re-Licensing Court!

Nearly 300,000 Washington drivers have had their licenses suspended for not paying multiple traffic tickets, and if they want to get them back, they have to run a gauntlet that includes collection agents and a patchwork system of courts.

Many have now turned to King County re-licensing court to begin to dig out of the mess they find themselves in. Like drug court, it’s a diversion program for people who have been stopped by an officer while driving on a license that was suspended for failure to pay traffic tickets. If charged with Driving While License Suspended, contact your Seattle Criminal Lawyers at SQ Attorneys immediately.

Maggie Nave, head of the District Court unit of the King County Prosecutor’s office, said re-licensing court frees up prosecutors for more serious cases. But it also gives a suspended driver a way to get their license back sooner.

After a driver makes a few payments, the court lifts the hold on his license, which means he can get it back while he continues to pay off his tickets.

Court administrators in King and Pierce counties say that in any year, up to 25 percent of traffic tickets end up in collections. Re-licensing court is a cheaper alternative, but it’s only available in a few counties.

Judge Mark Eide presides over King County re-licensing court, but he has no authority to reduce and consolidate fines from most of the county’s 39 cities, much less another county.

“It is rather inefficient to have people go to multiple different courts to try to take care of getting their license back,” Eide said.

Suspended license cases consume a lot of court resources. One-third of misdemeanor court filings in Washington are for driving with a suspended license for failure to pay citations, according to a 2008 study by Washington’s Office of Public Defense.

“It’s a victimless crime and it’s a crime of poverty,” says Bob Boruchowitz, a former longtime public defender turned law professor at Seattle University.

He said there’s evidence that minorities are more likely to have their licenses suspended for not paying their traffic fines.

Options include working off the ticket through community service, or getting on a payment plan.

Don Pierce, who heads the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, supports diversion programs, but not decriminalization. He said some scofflaws need the threat of jail.

“If we totally decriminalize they can simply tear the ticket up right in front of the officer’s face and drive away and there’s nothing we can do about it and I don’t think that serves the general public,” he said.

If you or a loved one is faced with a criminal charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle criminal attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal defense lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington’s criminal laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle criminal lawyer who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Advertisements

SPD Officer Arrested for Domestic Violence

A sergeant with the Seattle Police Department’s Domestic Violence Unit was arrested over the weekend for investigation of domestic violence after an incident during Leavenworth’s annual Oktoberfest, according to the Chelan County Sheriff’s Office. If arrested for a crime contact your Seattle Criminal Lawyer at SQ Attorneys immediately.

The officer, who was identified by the Sheriff’s Office as Ronald Lee Murray, is a 28-year veteran of the force, according to Seattle police.

Chelan County sheriff’s Detective Jerry Moore said two deputies were working at Oktoberfest late Friday when they saw a man dragging a woman by her hair and jacket through a gravel parking lot.

Moore said the woman turned out to be Murray’s 44-year-old girlfriend.

The two were apparently arguing over beer tickets, Moore said.

“Mr. Murray gave away $20 worth of beer tickets and she got upset,” he said. “An argument ensued and then turned physical.”

Deputies noted the woman was intoxicated, according to Moore, but did not indicate whether Murray, 55, was believed to be intoxicated.

The arresting deputy noted that Murray said he knew he was wrong and had no excuse for his behavior, Moore said.

Murray was arrested without incident and booked on investigation of fourth-degree domestic violence, a gross misdemeanor, Moore said. He later bailed out of the Chelan County Regional Justice Center.

Seattle police learned of the arrest early Sunday, according to a statement.

The department has transferred the sergeant out of the Domestic Violence Unit, pending the criminal investigation, police said.

A complaint process has been initiated with the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA).

According to police, the OPA will begin a separate administrative investigation into the employee’s conduct after the conclusion of the criminal case.

The Seattle police statement noted that October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

If you or a loved one is cited or charged with a crime in Western Washington (whether as a primary aggressor or as an accomplice) it is imperative that a Seattle criminal attorney be retained as soon as possible to ensure all personal, professional and financial interests are protected. Seattle criminal defense lawyers Greg Schwesinger and Saad Qadri of SQ Attorneys represent those individuals criminally charged through all phases of their Washington State criminal case. The Seattle criminal attorneys of SQ Attorneys are experienced and proven negotiators that make a world of difference for those accused of committing a crime. SQ Attorneys is a team of seasoned Seattle criminal lawyers that work tireless to achieve the best possible outcome for each and every client they have the honor of representing. Arrested for committing a crime in Western Washington? Call The Criminal Defense Team of SQ Attorneys at (206) 441-0900 or (425) 998-8384 for an initial free consultation.

iPhone DUI Apps

After pressure from four U.S. senators, Apple Inc. has said it will start rejecting iPhone applications that tip drivers off about police checkpoints for drunken driving.

Apple updated its app developer guidelines Wednesday to exclude such apps. On Thursday, some DUI apps were still available in the App Store, but Apple usually gives developers a chance to update their apps so they can conform to the new guidelines before booting them.

The apps often combine warnings about DUI checkpoints with warnings about speed traps and red-light cameras. Users of the applications help create the warnings by registering the locations.

An Apple spokesman had no comment on the change in the guidelines, and wouldn’t say why the change was made.

Senators Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-N.J.), and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) asked Apple, Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, and Google Inc. to remove DUI-avoidance apps in March. RIM complied, but Google refused.

Google runs an application store for phones that use its Android software. The company places far fewer restrictions on application developers than Apple does.

Although Washington state no longer has police checkpoints as they have been deemed unconstitutional, the penalties for a DUI charge in WA are some of the toughest in the nation. The Seattle DUI Lawyers at SQ Attorneys focus their practice on DUI defense and should be immediately contacted upon arrest.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Seattle, Bellevue or some other city in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI lawyer who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that can win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI Attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Rubber Stamp Sergeant Retires

A Seattle police sergeant who built a stellar career before an internal investigation found misconduct in his supervision of drunken-driving arrests has retired after being told the department planned to fire him.

Sgt. David Abe’s retirement was disclosed by sources briefed on the matter. A Seattle police spokesman, Sgt. Sean Whitcomb, confirmed Monday that Abe retired Thursday after an investigation by the department’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA) led to a recommendation that he be demoted to the rank of officer, then fired.

The department hasn’t released the findings of its internal investigation of Abe, a veteran of nearly 33 years who supervised officers in the unit that enforces driving-under-the-influence (DUI) laws. If arrested for a DUI contact your Seattle DUI lawyer at SQ Attorneys.

But the investigation has focused on allegations that Abe, 57, repeatedly failed to report to work and provided a rubber stamp to officers to affix his approval on their arrest reports, according to sources.

One high-level source said Abe had a good record during most of his career but displayed a “marked decline in performance” tied to health problems, a family illness and unhappiness over his assignment, for a second time, to the DUI Unit last year.

Abe was to meet with Police Chief John Diaz to discuss the proposed discipline but opted to retire, another source said.

Last year, Abe earned $108,034 in regular pay and $49,691 in overtime, according to city payroll records.

Throughout his career, Abe received numerous commendations for his work, notably for perfect attendance during a number of years, including a period from December 1978 to February 1988 in which he didn’t take a day off for illness or injury, department records show.

His only listed discipline occurred last year, when he was reprimanded over the way a driver’s license was returned to a citizen.

Abe and three officers became the subjects of internal investigations in March after an audit found dozens of DUI cases had been mishandled.

In a June 22 report, the department found that two officers in the DUI Unit routinely used a signature stamp without having a sergeant approve their arrests as required by department policy.

The third officer, John Velliquette Jr., put written statements in his reports attesting that his arrests had been approved by a sergeant even though no review had occurred, the report said.

The three officers were cleared of misconduct allegations involving honesty and arrest procedures after the OPA heard testimony that the practice pre-approving arrests had been going on for 20 to 25 years. Most area law-enforcement agencies do not require DUI arrest screening because suspects are generally released after processing, the OPA noted.

Although the allegations were not upheld, the three officers were ordered to undergo supervisory counseling and training for violating department policy.

Velliquette, in an April interview with a defense attorney representing a DUI defendant, said Abe’s brother was dying of cancer at the time of the events under investigation, and that Abe was suffering from his own health problems, according to court documents.

Abe also “wasn’t happy” when he was assigned to the DUI Unit in March 2010, Velliquette said, characterizing Abe’s supervision as “not much.”

Asked if Abe had screened arrests in person, Velliquette stated “not that I recall” and related that, in his opinion, supervision of the DUI officers had been lacking.

His statements were used by defense attorneys in another case, who sought dismissal of a DUI charge against their client or suppression of Velliquette’s testimony.

A Seattle Municipal Court judge declined the requests Sept. 1 but said Velliquette could be cross-examined by the defense about his false statement that a sergeant had approved the arrest.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.

Former UW Football Player Sentenced to 1 Year for DUI

Reggie Rogers, a former Washington football standout and NFL defensive lineman, has been given another year in jail for his sixth conviction for drunken driving. Rogers was arrested in November at Highway 509 and Port of Tacoma Road in Tacoma.

Rogers, 45, will begin serving his latest sentence out of Tacoma in January, after he finishes the remainder of a two-year sentence for a 2009 conviction in Burien.

Tacoma Municipal Court Judge Elizabeth Verhey ordered Rogers to report to jail on Jan. 3. Verhey, however, set a hearing for Nov. 16 to hear evidence that jail could aggravate a back injury for which Rogers recently underwent spinal surgery.

Rogers was a defensive lineman and college basketball player at Washington. In football, he was a consensus All-American and won the Morris Trophy as the Pac-10’s top defensive lineman. He was drafted in the first round by the NFL’s Detroit Lions in 1987.

The following year, Rogers failed to stop at a red light while driving drunk in Pontiac, Mich., colliding at nearly 60 mph with another car and killing three teenage boys. He was convicted of negligent homicide and spent a year in prison.

Robert Willett, the father of the 18-year-old driver killed by Rogers in 1988, said Friday he thought the judge’s sentence was too lenient, and thinks Rogers should be behind bars, back problem or no.

If you or a loved one is faced with a DUI charge in Western Washington, you deserve the assistance of a reputable and qualified Seattle DUI attorney who will relentlessly defend your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI lawyer who has an intimate understanding of Washington BUI/ DUI laws and the legal issues that could win your case. You deserve a Seattle DUI attorney who is not afraid to stand up against the prosecution and aggressively fight for your rights and interests. SQ Attorneys is the right Western Washington DUI law firm for the job. Call for a free initial consultation – (206) 441.0900 (Seattle); (425) 998-8384 (Eastside) – it will be the best decision you make all day.