Listen to a First Hand Experience of Someone Who's Been Arrested for DUI

Listen to a First Hand Experience of Someone Who's Been Arrested for DUI

Tracy Ellis, colleague of Dillon Honcoop and client of DUI attorney Jonathan Rands, opens up and shares his experience of being arrested for DUI, and all the emotions, headaches and details that go along with it.


Episode Transcript

Announcer
The Legal Docket with Dillon Honcoop on KGMI 790 and KGMI.com. 

Dillon
We have a legal expert, a local defense attorney in the studio morning, but also one of his clients. Jonathan, have we ever done this before?

Jonathan
Never. I have some reservations.

Dillon
Brought a client in.

Jonathan
Did I bring the client in?

Dillon
Well, I guess in some ways, he was already here. Interesting story, and we're going to explain all the details to you this morning. Welcome to local DUI attorney, Jonathan Rands. Thanks for being on the program again this morning.

Jonathan
Thanks very much for having me. Good morning.

Dillon
Our other guest this morning is a client of yours, and also a colleague of mine, Tracy Ellis, who's in studio with us this morning.

Tracy
Indeed.

Dillon
Tracy has a story to share with us morning. Do you want to have anything to set up this story? You've been more involved with this than certainly I have.

Jonathan
Well, I'll just say this. I'm certainly not in the habit of airing details and facts of the case. Actually, it's a very sensitive issue and something I take very seriously. In this particular case, I can say that not only do I have Tracy's permission, and this is after the fact as well, but this ultimately was Tracy's idea in terms of talking about his experience. There will be no attorney client privilege waived or divulged in this particular conversation, but I think we're going to use it as more of either a teaching or education or even just a look into the process itself.

I'll leave it at that and turn it over to Tracy at this particular point, and I can interject and we can have a conversation about it and just educate everybody out there in terms of a fairly unique situation that in this case is unique, but doesn't not happen. Most of the time, the facts of a case are drastically different than Tracy's. This is somewhat of an exception, but it still happens.

Dillon
Well, this is the kind of thing that you and I have talked about, though, but what happens in this sort of scenario, so let's talk about this scenario. Tracy Ellis with us, host of course here on KGMI. We don't need to get into too many of the nitty gritty details, but in general, what happened? What's your story?

Tracy
Well, first off, I want to say, I joke oftentimes about drinking on your afternoon show. I certainly like to have my beers and my scotch and my gin, not all at the same time. I do enjoy all those. We talk about wine on the show, as well. One thing that I probably should mention a little bit more is that I believe drinking and driving is wrong, because I've seen so many stories, and I've done so many news stories on people who have died in alcohol related crashes. It's a horrible thing, and I have in the past probably been over the limit in driving.

In this particular case, it was a Saturday night, and I went out with some friends actually from here at work. We started off [inaudible 00:03:12] and had a couple beers there, then we went to, there's this hookah lounge in town. They don't have alcohol there, and we went there to watch one of our friends play music. While we were there, I just drank coffee and smoked out of this hookah, whatever. One of our other friends showed up later, and she said, "Oh, let's go have a drink," so we took off for a little while and had a couple of drinks, and then came back to the hookah lounge, and more of the same, drank coffee.

Dillon
Feeling like, "I haven't just been hitting it hard."

Tracy
Right, right, right.

Dillon
Socially hanging out.

Tracy
Right, and I know what I had. Had I just left after having the drinks, I definitely would've been over the limit for sure, but we walked from the hookah lounge to another bar, then we'd walk back and had coffee and spent the night, about two more hours, hanging out watching the Katie Gray Band, by the way. I always like to plug her when I can.

It was time to leave, and when I left, there was a part of me, I have to admit, that said, "Well, I know I had those drinks earlier, but I feel fine. I'm going to grab something to eat and then go home." I was on my way to get something to eat. I was on James, and there's a section of James right past the elementary school. That section of James, I always have thought it was 35 miles per hour. 

Jonathan
It's not.

Tracy
It's 25 through there. I was doing about 42 I think, maybe a little bit faster, but around there, and I got pulled over by a state patrol trooper. He smelled the alcohol on my breath and asked me if I'd been drinking, and I told him, "Yes, I had a couple drinks," which I know Jonathan, you're not supposed to say anything. I'm sorry. After that, he asked me to do a field sobriety test.

If you listen to the show often, I'm sure you've heard Jonathan say many, many times, as some of our other lawyers who have been on this program, Jeffrey Lustick, Adrian Madrone, and others and others, who have said, "Never do the field sobriety test, ever. It's not a good idea even if you've only had one drink."

Dillon
The advice usually is, "Politely decline."

Tracy
Right.

Jonathan
Absolutely, for a variety of other reasons than what people usually think, but my advice stems from two reasons. It's a search. It's a voluntary search, and you have the right to say, "No, thank you." The way that the tests are set up are they're not designed for passing, but continue.

Tracy
I said no, and I knew as soon as I said that I probably would be going down to take a breath test, just knowing how it works. He smelled alcohol on my breath. He had concerns about it, so I was ready to do that at that point. I knew it was coming, and sure enough, he said to me, interestingly, he said that I have one other thing I can do. They have handheld breathalyzers that they use on the field. He said, "Okay, well, you could do this," and I said, "No, no, I don't want to do anything. I don't want to do that. I don't want to do the field sobriety. I don't want to do the handheld."

He said, "Well, you're not leaving me many options here, man." I'm like, "Are you saying if I don't do the handheld, you're taking me down to jail?" He didn't say yes or no, but I could tell you, I read body language well enough. He's like, "Uh." I did the handheld. I guess that was enough for him to take me down and have me do the regular breathalyzer. I did it. How many times do you blow? Twice, right?

Jonathan
Two samples. It may take more than two breaths to provide two breath samples because of how long it is, literally in terms of inhaling, but it's two breath samples, and each sample is analyzed two different ways and gives you four numbers, but ultimately, it's two samples.

Tracy
Right, so I did that, and I saw him writing this stuff down and didn't know exactly what it meant, but I saw everything looked like it was all under .08, right? 

Jonathan
Yes.

Tracy
Anyway, he's all done with it, and he said, "Well, here's the deal. You're not going to lose your license." I'm just like, "Oh, so relieved." 

Jonathan
Yes. You're under the legal limit. You're thinking-

Tracy
He actually said that, "Because you are under the legal limit, so you won't be losing your license. You won't have to deal with that, but I'm going to book you for DUI and you're going to spend the night in jail." At this point, I'm floored. I know the law, and I did not know that if I blew under the legal limit that I could be arrested for DUI and held overnight jail. Sure enough, that's what happened.

Dillon
By the way, I should mention this case has now wrapped up. It's all over. We're talking with local DUI attorney, Jonathan Rands, who of course is a recurrent guest here on the program, as well as my colleague here at the radio station, Tracy Ellis, telling his story. Here we are. You're booked into jail, charged with DUI.

Tracy
It's horrible, right? It's horrible. It's a horrible feeling. I tried calling people. I tried calling you. You were out of town or something. It was awful. It's an awful experience. I had to come here to work the next day because I do work in the public eye and tell you about it and tell our GM, Don Curtis, about it. I have another job in Seattle. I missed the day's work there and I had to tell them all about it. It's awful. Awful thing to go through. I went through it, and to be honest with you, I was pretty bitter at first, because I thought this was ridiculous. The first thing you have to do, how much is it to get your car out of impound? 

Jonathan
The total bill is usually around three and a quarter, three and a half.

Tracy
Before I do anything, I have to get my car out. I want people to start maybe in their mind calculating this cost. It's about 300 bucks to get my car out. After that, I went to Jonathan.

Dillon
That's no matter what happens with the case. You've got to pay that to get your car back.

Jonathan
Once you're arrested, Hailey's Law says anybody arrested in the state, and you don't know what the breath test is or if one's going to be even given after the fact, so at the point of arrest on the side of the road, and Tracy, I'm sure you waited, you saw the tow truck arrive, load up your car. Once the tow truck is in possession of the vehicle, then you go off for breath testing. The longer it sits there, some storage accrues, so if you get arrested on a Friday night and you don't get released until Sunday, not only do you have to pay the impound, the cost of the truck coming and grabbing the vehicle is about $180, and then the transport back and the storage, that rounds it up with the taxes. 

If it's a Friday and you're released on a Saturday, and it's after hours, there's a special after hours fee, if you wait until Monday, it's actually cheaper to let it accrue storage of about 25 bucks a day and pick it up on Monday. Either way, yes, it's going to be impounded and there's nothing you can do about it. If you leave it there for too long, I think after 30 days, they have the right to auction it off and recoup their fees, but not that that ever happens.

Tracy
I would like to interject, just real quick here. The tow people, we know him, Dan.

Jonathan
Johnson.

Tracy
Yes, Dan Johnson. They were really, really great and easy to work with and there was no judgment or anything like that when I went to pick up my car. The people at the jail, considering how crazy it is there, and it is [crosstalk 00:10:31]. It is overcrowded, it is old, but the people there were extraordinarily professional. I mentioned it to the sheriff actually, just the professionalism of everybody involved, even the state patrol trooper I think for the most part. 

It's funny because after it's all done, we were talking like buddies. While it was happening, you could tell he's asking me questions, trying to get certain answers. That's a very confusing process, too, while you're sitting there doing the breath test and he's asking you these questions. I didn't know what to say, but I tried to be as honest as I possibly could without incriminating myself. It was quite the process. Obviously, knowing Jonathan, the first thing I did on Monday is I called him and went to his office, and that's where he comes into-

Dillon
By the way, this is The Legal Docket here on KGMI News Talk 790 talking with Jonathan Rands, local DUI attorney, and just most recently there, Tracy Ellis, who's a colleague of mine here at the radio station, talking about his story of when he recently, not super recently, but a little while ago, was arrested and booked into jail and accused of DUI. You get a hold of Jonathan. We've got a couple minutes here before we need to run through a quick timeout, but where do you start with something like this, Jonathan?

Jonathan
Well, unfortunately, there's no picking and choosing in terms of where you start. The first thing that happens is, I think Tracy, I think we actually talked Sunday night.

Tracy
We did, yes.

Jonathan
Because we have a preexisting relationship and knowledge of each other, I said, "Here's what we'll just do. You've got an arraignment at 2:30. I'll meet you at the courthouse." We spent some time Sunday night, me telling him, "This is what has to happen." Not only do you just get out of jail, get home, get a shower, start feeling normal again, then you've got to go into work and talk to people, and then you've got to take some time off in the afternoon to go to an arraignment, which is where we answered not guilty to the charges. I just spent some time explaining to Tracy what exactly that procedure was going to be, what his rights were, and that's what the purpose of an arraignment is. 

Because in the end, at the time that he provided a breath sample it was under the legal limit, we also have some information to use to your advantage if you will at that arraignment, meaning when a person generally gives a breath sample over an 08, certain conditions are imposed. When you give a breath sample and it's under an 08, the commissioner who runs those arraignments has a tendency and a habit of not imposing the strictest conditions that he could, mostly I think because you're under the legal limit, which is this weird juxtaposition of, "I'm under the legal limit. I'm arrested. I'm booked. I'm charged. I didn't think I could, and I really philosophically don't think I should be, especially if there's no evidence of being impaired, and so I faced these conditions, but they're going to be more lenient because I'm not over an 08."

Tracy
It is very confusing as that whole process is going, because Jonathan is telling me in court, he said, "Listen, basically what I'm going to ask and what I'm sure you're going to get is you were released on your own recognizance without any conditions," which isn't normally the case. It's interesting to me, because the prosecutor did want the place conditions on my release. 

Jonathan
Conditions of the release, the judge is in a position to have to decide, "How do I do a couple of things? How do I make sure that this person comes back for court appearances, and how do I make sure that this person is not going to be a danger to the community?" All at the same time, presuming innocence. Conditions of release only are supposed to be set only as much as necessary to meet those factors. When a person is alleged to be DUI, the typical conditions revolve around drinking and driving. They tell you not to consume alcohol. They tell you not to drive a motor vehicle unless you're validly licensed and insured, and they also order you not to have any new criminal law violations, and come to court when you're supposed to come to court. 

In your particular case, because legally, under the per se law, you are clearly innocent. We were an 07 is what we were talking about, and the judge's typical position at that point is the only condition that you need to abide by while the case is pending is to have lawful behavior. That really covers everything, right, because lawful behavior means don't drive unless you have a valid license and insurance, it means don't break the law in the future, and as far as coming to court, as you learned through my representation that there are ways that I can keep you from having to come to court when you fill out certain forms, and I have certain contact with you. 

That's a local rule, so the conditions were a little less by virtue of the potential evidence that was in the form of a breath test that ultimately exonerated or proved your innocence under the per se law. The question then becomes, "Well, if that's the case, why do we do an arraignment altogether? Why do we go forward with the charge?" The similar question that you probably had, the breath test prints out and the trooper says to you, "Congratulations, you're not going to suffer a Department of Licensing action because you're under the legal limit," and you're like, "Great, show me the door." He's like, "Yes, but it's the jail door. It's not the other door."

Tracy
He showed me a door. It went clank.

Dillon
Let's take a quick timeout. This is The Legal Docket, by the way. Dillon Hancoop with you here on your Sunday morning on KGMI News Talk 790. Our legal expert and defense attorney in studio this morning, Jonathan Rands, as well as Tracy Ellis, a colleague of mine, host of course of your afternoon show here on KGMI, telling his own personal story. It's kind of a Sunday morning confessional here, bearing all.

Tracy
I'm not even Catholic.

Dillon
Yes. More straight ahead here on The Legal Docket.

Announcer
The Legal Docket with Dillon Honcoop. 

Speaker 5
Breaking news, stimulating talk. This is KGMI Bellingham and KGMI.com.

Announcer
The Legal Docket with Dillon Honcoop on KGMI 790 and KGMI.com.

Dillon
Well, we're laying it all out there this morning, at least a colleague of mine is. Your afternoon show host, by the way, three to six PM weekday afternoons here on KGMI, Tracy Ellis, is with us. He's telling his story of a legal situation that he found himself in recently. Our expert in studio, local DUI attorney, Jonathan Rands, who worked with Tracy.

By the way, if you've ever worked with Jonathan, don't worry. He's not going to share your info. This is all because Tracy said, "I'm willing to talk about this." I normally have no idea who the people are that Jonathan even works with. I wouldn't have even known that Tracy worked with him on this DUI that Tracy was charged with and arrested for, except Tracy told me about it.

Tracy
Well, I will say this. Dillon was trying to get a hold of me to tell me one thing, "Call Jonathan."

Dillon
I heard something had happened and, "You better call Jonathan. Just call Jonathan right away." We have a lot more. We have news in just a moment here. We need to finish this story. What happened with your whole case? What did it feel like to be at that place?

Tracy
First off, jail is bad, okay? If there's any way for you to avoid jail, do it. I will say, my cell mate, who was a pretty hardened guy, was nice and very patient. I have sleep apnea, and so I snore when I don't have my CPAP. The guy didn't get any sleep any night. I knew it, and he was still really nice. I wish I knew his name. Anyway, still, it's jail. It's rough. There are a lot of rough people in there, and it is crowded. It's packed. One of the people that got arrested the same night as I did, she was crying because it's just the whole thing. I was so elated, until I had to call my wife.

Jonathan
I bet that wasn't fun.

Dillon
To recap where we're at, you were arrested for DUI on what, a Saturday night?

Tracy
Yes.

Dillon
And blew once you came back to the station, like we talk about here on The Legal Docket. It came back. It's not the Data Master anymore.

Jonathan
Draeger. 

Dillon
The Draeger, the new breath test machine. You blew under the legal limit, so that's the case that's starting here essentially.

Tracy
But I still got arrested.

Dillon
Not only got arrested, but had to spend the night in jail. Of course, that's where Jonathan comes in. Am I recapping this so far correctly?

Jonathan
Sounds good to me.

Tracy
I did my first court appearance because I did call Jonathan on Sunday, did my first court appearance on Monday with Jonathan, and I met with him. I think it was Monday. I don't remember, but we met. He came in early for me, which I appreciate. I guess the first thing is when you're in this situation, you feel like you did something wrong. You feel bad about yourself. You feel like people are judging you. When I walked in the office, they didn't treat me like some guy who just got a DUI. They treated me like a client, like a customer. I mentioned to Jonathan afterwards, I said, "Please thank Carrie for me." Carrie is one of your assistants.

Jonathan
My legal assistant, yes.

Tracy
Because they treated me just like I was, like I said, like I was a client and a customer. Meeting with Jonathan initially, I think it's very important for people to understand, when you go into a lawyer's office, and I hope that every office is like this, when the lawyer offers you a cup of coffee and asks you to sit down and say, "I hope you feel comfortable. Let's just talk about this," it's so important, because then you feel like, "Okay, I can be honest. I can be open with this guy." I've had some past with Jonathan. I know this is how he treats every client. That was huge.

Dillon
Literally you have an advocate who's in your corner who's going to work with you.

Tracy
Exactly, and that's what it felt like. It really did.

Dillon
We've got more straight ahead. Of course, news is next, and then we continue the story, because we're left hanging here. We don't know what happens with Tracy's case. We're going to explain the rest of that, hear the rest of Tracy's story, and get some more analysis from Jonathan straight ahead here on KGMI News Talk 790.

Announcer
The Legal Docket with Dillon Honcoop.

Speaker 5
Breaking news, stimulating talk. This is KGMI Bellingham and KGMI.com.

Announcer
The Legal Docket with Dillon Honcoop on KGMI 790 and KGMI.com.

Dillon
Kind of a Sunday morning confessional I think is what I called it a little bit earlier here on The Legal Docket, and an interesting situation, something I don't think we've ever done here on the program. We have a local defense attorney in the studio, and we have one of his clients. What's unique about this is that one of his clients is a colleague of mine, Tracy Ellis, host of your afternoon show weekdays here on KGMI is in. He worked with local DUI attorney, Jonathan Rands, who we talk with just about every week here about DUI defense and so many different issues. 

Tracy's case that we're ending up hearing the story about where he was arrested and accused of DUI is one of these exceptions that we've discussed multiple times on the show, which is when someone, I guess for lack of a better way of saying it, blows under the legal limit, as the slang goes, as far as breath testing. We often talk about the per se, .08 blood alcohol content, legal limit, but what happens if someone is tested, breath tested, and they're under? Well, that doesn't mean they won't still go to jail. A lot of people don't realize that. You're saying that Tracy, you didn't even realize that going into the situation that you were in?

Tracy
I had no idea. I was so relieved when the officer told me, "Hey, listen, you blew under the legal limit and you're not going to lose your license." I was like, "Great, I'm out of here." I was trying to figure out how I was getting my car. That's what I was thinking about at that time, but he said, "But I'm booking you for DUI."

Dillon
Jonathan, you've talked about DUI accusations and cases as low as what, .04, .05?

Jonathan
.04 is recently the lowest number that I've worked with somebody on, yes.

Dillon
Don't take the numbers for granted. Don't take .08 for granted. It's not as magic of a number maybe as a lot of people think.

Jonathan
Well, that's one of the reasons that I tell everybody that as soon as an officer either smells the odor of alcohol or a person admits to consuming alcohol, and you didn't do anything wrong when you admitted to consuming alcohol. I would much rather that a person say, "Yes, I've consumed alcohol," when the officer asks if you have, simply because they can smell it. A person that denies drinking altogether and then ultimately ends up giving a breath sample when faced with an odor-

Dillon
Then you're lying.

Jonathan
Right. It doesn't start off as a real credible witness looking forward in the issue, but there's nothing wrong with consuming alcohol and driving, so there's never anything wrong with admitting to consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel. What the problem is, is when you manifest symptoms of being affected by alcohol or you've drank to the point where you're over the legal limit, neither of which we had in your case either, Tracy.

Tracy
Yes.

Jonathan
You had said, "Yes, I've had a couple of drinks," and that starts off a fairly decent relationship with you and the officer. You're not lying. You're not telling half truths. "Have you drank tonight?" "Yes, I have," and then usually the next question is, "When and how much and where?" That usually leads down the road to something else.

Tracy
Yes, it's interesting because I think everybody answers that question the same way, just inadvertently. It just pops into your head, "Oh, I had a couple beers."

Jonathan
Well, if you ask any of the officers, they hear more than anything, "Two drinks." Some people say, "If I've drank, should I say two drinks?" I say, "Well, what have you drank?" I make a personal habit if I'm out and I'm going to be driving and if I do have a drink, it's one. It's not two, it's not three. It's not anything, knowing that if I am in the situation where I am stopped, that would be uncomfortable knowing all the troopers I have worked with or against, but knowing that A, I'm well under the legal limit, absolutely not affected, and B, it's not the proverbial two drinks. They say it doesn't bother them, but they certainly know when somebody says two drinks, especially if you can't really understand them when they do say it, they know right away that you haven't had that many.

Dillon
Before the news update, we had heard about Tracy, his situation, his being arrested and being booked into jail, and then ultimately meeting with you and going through the arraignment that he did a few days after his arrest, so what happens then?

Jonathan
Well, one of the things that I asked you to do is even though you were under the legal limit is we made for sure certain that there was not going to be any Department of Licensing action. The trooper had told you, "Hey, you're under the legal limit. You're not going to lose your license." That's what should have happened, but he doesn't know for sure. I've seen situations where the report does go to DOL and DOL does simply because your name pops up on a form, send you a suspension notice. When they do send you a suspension notice, if you don't respond to it timely, then you forfeit your right to have a hearing and ultimately you suffer a one year license revocation. 

In this particular case, I had said to you, and you asked me, "If I'm under the legal limit, why?" Just out of an abundance of caution. Fill out the forms, send the check, and what did I tell you? I said, "You're going to do this, and if they do what they're supposed to do, they're going to send you back the check and say, 'No hearing for you.'"

Tracy
One thing I got good at was writing checks during this process.

Dillon
You did caution us earlier as we listened to your story to follow along with a pencil and keep the tally going of the cost, because that's one of your big things here. This costs a lot of money.

Tracy
It costs a lot of money, even if you're completely innocent. One of the things I liked about Jonathan is that he told me, he said, "Hey, listen, when I represent you, I represent you for however long it takes, and this is the fee," right?

Jonathan
Yes.

Tracy
It's good to know that you pay this, and if you want to go all the way to trial-

Dillon
By the way, when we're talking about fees, it's not just the fee to have Jonathan represent you. There are a lot of other fees that you're going to be writing checks for, as we're hearing here.

Tracy
Yes. Anyway, that was kind of the first thing. It's like, "Okay, I know that he's going to be representing me the whole time." Anyway, so yes, that's the first check. Then, after that, it's interesting because eventually, the Department of Licensing, and it took forever it seemed like, did get back to us and said, "No, there is no hearing, so here's your check back." That wasn't the only thing you wanted me to do preemptively, it seemed like, and that's the thing that I thought was interesting.

Jonathan
Well, we waited until we had a copy of the police report, and that gave me an opportunity to assess the quality of evidence, and I always look ahead to a trial. If we have a trial, what's the trooper going to come in and say? We know exactly what he's going to say, because we have a report that's submitted under penalty of perjury, and that's the report that he filled out regarding his time in contact with you. Once we have an assessment of what that eyewitness evidence and testimony is and what it means, then you and I switch into a position of, "All right, so how do you want to handle this?" 

My position is always it's the state's burden to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, and this is a case where I don't think they can do it. I don't think that they can do it because you made some good decisions on the roadside. I'll probably get some flack for this. You made a good decision to not drink more than being over the legal limit, even though that decision led to the arrest, but insofar as the evidence against you in the scientific forum or in the forensic science realm, that showed that you were not guilty. 

They had a tough road to hoe in terms of proving a DUI, to prove that you were over an 08. Now, there's some wiggle room there because the statute says within two hours of driving, and there's a way to backtrack. It's not very scientifically reliable, but there is a way to say, "Alcohol burns off at this amount, and you were stopped at this time," and if we assume that you were burning off, Tracy, by the time you get in front of a breath sample, there's a likelihood that at the time of driving, you were above a .08. That's not a real strong case, especially since you never know where you're at in that curve. 07 might have been as high as you ever would've been an hour later, so at the time of driving, you could be an 04, an 05, or something like that.

I did have you do something preemptively. I said, "Listen, no matter what happens, unless the case is dismissed at a motions hearing or we go all the way to trial and there's a not guilty verdict, if we resolve this case in any other way, shape, or form, there's a couple things you're going to need to do." I didn't want you to spend the money on something called the Drug and Alcohol Evaluation knowing that that was going to cost you a couple hundred dollars and pretty much knew what the outcome was going to be. They're dictated by your breath test number and how many times you've had law enforcement contacts that are alcohol related or your criminal record, which in this case, there wasn't anything to worry about there, and so I said, "Let's see if we can save you that money." 

The outcome of that is likely going to be, you don't have a problem, but the recommendation under the state standard is to attend an eight hour education course, and also to attend a two hour pseudo education course, but that's called the DUI Victim Impact Panel. I did give you that information and I said, "Go do these couple of things." You were very good. You said, "Yes," and out the door you went, didn't even say why, went and sat through the eight hour class, which I can certainly let you fill listeners in a little bit as to what that is like.

Tracy
There is one firm. It's in Bellevue. You had to go all the way to Bellevue for it, that does the Victims Impact Panel and the class on the same day. The Victims Impact Panel was, as the name suggests, it was impactful. It really was. This woman had lost two children in DUI-related crashes, and neither one of them was their fault. 

Dillon
Separate crashes, separate incidents.

Tracy
The son asked a friend to take him home because he was too drunk to drive, actually doing the right thing. The friend had too much to drink. The other one was some meth head drunk guy who just ran the daughter off the road. This woman had two kids, and it was insane. All of us in the room, there was everybody from young teenagers to more hardened criminals to professional people in that room, afterwards we talked about it and it's like, "Wow." It was impactful. If people get a chance to do that, I would say do it, because if you ever have the tendency to go out and drink and drive when you know you've had too much to drink, you won't do it after watching what happened to this woman and her family.

The eight hour class, it was kind of a lot of stuff that you would expect, but it was informative. It was another opportunity to kind of get to know the other people and hear about their situations. Everybody has a different situation, and so we all talked about it. I don't feel like it was a waste of time, but it was more check writing for both the victims in that panel and the class, you have to write more checks.

Dillon
Tracy Ellis with us here on The Legal Docket. He's host of your afternoon show, but here, he's in the capacity as the client of local DUI attorney, Jonathan Rands, and talking, telling the story about a situation he just recently went through. You go through these things, these panels, which Jonathan suggested, and you explained why. What do you do beyond that, because we're still kind of in the middle of this case, right? You've said, "Well, here are some of facts." What's happening this whole time? I would imagine it's kind of a frustrating place to be for you, Tracy. You're thinking, "Okay, what's going to happen here? I'm just kind of in limbo."

Tracy
What's interesting, and I'll let Jonathan pick it up from here, but it's interesting, I didn't realize how long it would take. I went to court maybe a couple times. One time Jonathan went without me. The other time, we went, and it's like it got continued and then it got continued, and you're like, "Is this thing ever going to end?" Jonathan told me something, and I had no idea. I was only at that point maybe six months into it. You said it lasts usually a year, right?

Jonathan
I tell everybody six to nine months is a pretty average timeframe. Shortest DUI case I've ever handled was 47 days. Longest was three and a half years.

Tracy
Wow.

Jonathan
Both DUI cases, both misdemeanor cases, but drastically different facts, different counties, and things like that. I generally try and tell people, and I have a pretty good idea of how, for lack of a better word, how straightforward or easy the case. Yours is one of the cases where the decisions to be made are relatively straightforward and easy, but it still took as long as it took. We went to the arraignment. We had another court date that was issued to us that was about 45 days later. That was one where I said, "Hey, you signed off on this piece of paper. I don't want you to spend time coming to court for me to say, 'Your honor, I need some more time.'" Literally, it takes that amount of time and they give us a new court date.

To your credit, after that, even though I told you, "You don't need to come to this one," you were there, appropriately dressed, interested, and chomping at the bit to get it over with, which was one limitation we had to deal a little bit with in terms of saying, "Listen." I always have to fight against client's urge with closure that's not as good as I hope or think that we could get, because there is that feeling of just wanting it done. I'll do anything to get out of this, caged animal chewing its leg off to get out of the leg hold. 

We had a couple of appearances where I'd said to you, "I think things are going to change in terms of the prosecutor's perspective and position on this case. Can you be patient with me for another two weeks?" It was like, "I guess so," and then we had what turned out to be the final court date. Again, we had that conversation and we addressed the issues in terms of the pros and cons of should we come back in another two weeks and give me a little more time, and should we strike while the iron's hot when we have something right now, which A, gave you some closure, and B, a pretty decent result in terms of the things that mattered most to you.

Dillon
We've got to take a quick timeout. I have a couple seconds, though, if you wanted to add to that.

Tracy
I was going to say during this whole time, remember, it was nice just to know Jonathan was handling it. I just was like, "You deal with it. Tell me what I need to do. I'll do it." He's handling it, and I can just put it out of my mind. I can work and do the things that I needed to do. During that time, also gave him a chance to better understand the case I'm sure, read through the report. There was a video of me apparently, as well, that the officer had. He's going through all that process, too, I'm sure during this time, until we finally get to that final court date.

Dillon
Local DUI attorney Jonathan Rands is in studio this morning with one of his clients, who happens to be a coworker of mine here at the Cascade Radio Group, Tracy Ellis. More straight ahead. When we come back, let's wrap this one up and talk about how it all ended straight ahead here on The Legal Docket.

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The Legal Docket with Dillon Honcoop.

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Dillon
Okay, so what happened? We've been hearing a story this morning on The Legal Docket of my colleague, Tracy Ellis, here at KGMI radio. He's a client of our recurring guest to the program, Jonathan Rands, local DUI attorney. Why? Well, yes, Tracy was arrested for and charged with DUI several months back. What happened? We've talked about the case up to this point. We've talked about a bunch of the facts, and now we're at the point where there's going to be some kind of decision made.

Jonathan
What I can tell you I did in the interim of those court dates, Tracy, and I think I gave you the summary of it at the time, a couple of different times, but my perspective of the case and the whole legal system is set up for, when you're accused of a crime, it's the state's burden to prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. In the facts of your particular case, that was very challenging for the state to do, and as a result of that, we both have to engage in some risk assessment, me for your interest in the state, because if we go to a jury trial and a jury says, "You know what? I don't see any evidence of him being affected, and I believe the trooper. I also saw the video, and we have a breath test of being under the legal limit," that's a tough case to get over the presumption of innocence and find the person guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The state has to take that into consideration, as well, but so do we, because the opposite could happen.

You never know who your jury's going to be until the day of trial, and even though you get a chance to interview with 30 people, you have six people that you're left with and you don't get a chance to really get everybody's true feelings. Somebody might say, "I don't particularly care what his breath test level was. You shouldn't drink and drive and I'm going to convict him." That's a reality of jury dynamics, and that's something that we had to struggle with, and you had to struggle with in terms of saying, "I just don't know what the best thing to do is." That's not the situation that you can look to me and say, "What should I do?" 

These choices are always my clients' choices. All I can do is say, "We've got a really good case for trial. I see not guilty," but if I'm wrong, I'm not the one that has to spend 24 hours in jail, have a 90 day license suspension, which we already avoided, be on probation for potentially five years, and have an ignition interlock device for one full year, all of which wasn't going to happen in your particular case if something else other than a DUI conviction happened.

We did a little negotiating in terms of risk assessment. You had done the things that I'd asked you to do, and ultimately, you had decided to accept the offer that was offered to you and not take a little more time to do something a little bit, what I would say better or different. In the end, the charge against you was changed from DUI to that of negligent driving. It was not dismissed in refile, which is really what I wanted to see happen. It was amended, and basically, there was no jail imposed because you had already served some jail. When you think that you're not going to go to jail ever again or you won't go to jail, the jail comes upon being arrested. It doesn't necessarily come upon being convicted of something. You had already done two things that I had asked you to do, and I said that that would have a favorable opinion on the judge, and it did.

Tracy
It did. He actually mentioned it.

Jonathan
Yes, and finally, there was a fine to be paid. You were not placed on probation, which means that there was no fines for that or no fees for that, which are $100 a month and last up to 24 months. There's $2,400 of checks you didn't write, as well.

Tracy
Which was great. Listen, when we got to this point, I know Jonathan wanted to take it at least one more step and see if he could get them to refile, but at this point, it seemed like the prosecutor was hesitant even to do this, to offer no probation. It's 100 bucks a month to do probation, so more checks, and plus you have to go and do it all the time. I said, "This is not something I really want to do." Plus, it's not just me. You think about when you get into a situation like this, you just think, "Oh, okay, the only person really affected is me." It's not. My wife, every time I went to one of these court cases, her anxiety level went way up.

We could've maybe gone to trial. There's probably a pretty good chance I would've won, but there's also a chance I would've lost, and I was not willing to take that risk. When she said no probation, I could pay a fine, even though it was not cheap, let me tell you, it just seemed like too good to pass up. I will say, Jonathan did try to, I don't want to say talk to me into doing the other thing, but certainly made it very clear that he thought there was a better option out there.

Dillon
That's what Jonathan says. Ultimately, it's up to you, up to the client, when we're talking about this, deciding what they want you to do for them, but you're going to give them the advice of, "Well, I think this is the best thing. Here are some other options. Here's some things you definitely should not do," but ultimately, it's up to the client, right?

Jonathan
I would have loved to have tried your case. I would've loved to have tried the case up until the point if it happened we were wrong and there was a guilty verdict for DUI. I would've been ecstatic to try to the case and have a jury find you not guilty, which is what I think should have happened and would've happened. If I'm wrong, that's everything you have to do. Unfortunately, I can't make that decision for you or any other client, so I try to present options and give as good advice in terms of my skill, and not only my skill, but ultimately, more importantly, the things that you should expect. That's not always something anybody can tolerate.

Dillon
Thanks for sharing. We're out of time. Tracy, thanks for sharing your story. I appreciate it. I think it's a cautionary tale to a lot of people.

Tracy
Don't drink and drive.

Dillon
I think it's an important thing to hear, and it's not like, "Oh, well, I'm going to be under 08." Well, no, there's still issues to think about there, and that's what your story highlights. I thank you for that level of transparency to be able to share this. Jonathan, thanks for being here to guide. I know Tracy has been very pleased with being able to work with you and the guidance that he got, and he can't say enough I know to me about how you handled it.

Jonathan Rands, by the way, recurring guest here on The Legal Docket. 360-306-8136 is the phone number to reach his practice if you do have a situation of your own, or maybe you just have a question about what we talked about today. His website as well is jrandslaw.com, just the letter J, his last name, which is Rands, R-A-N-D-S, and law, L-A-W, so jrandslaw.com. Very easy to find. A very good resource as well with tons of info about these kinds of cases and other situations. Jonathan, thanks for being here.

Jonathan
Thanks for having me.

Call now for your free consultation (360) 306-8136