Pullman WA Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending charges of DUI, MIP, drug possession, assaults, felonies, etc.

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Minor in Possession of Alcohol – Medical Amnesty & WSU – College “Good Samaritan” Laws

If you go to the hospital for an alcohol overdose will you be charged with M.I.P.?  What if you are under 21 and drunk and you call 911 for a friend who is overdosing?  Will a fraternity or sorority chapter get in trouble if 911 is called for an intoxicated minor who needs medical attention?  These are some of the questions that medical amnesty laws seek to address.Medical Immunity Minor Possession Alcohol

Medical Immunity laws vary from state to state, but a new Washington law, RCW 66.44.270(6), prohibits the prosecution of a minor who seeks medical attention for alcohol poisoning.  More importantly, RCW 66.44.270(6) also prohibits the prosecution of a minor who seeks medical attention for another minor who is experiencing alcohol poisoning.  What this means is that if your friend has overdosed on alcohol, you will not get him or her in trouble if you call an ambulance, or take him or her to the hospital.  This also means that you will not get in trouble if it becomes clear that you were also drinking while underage.  This law does not grant immunity to the person who furnished the alcohol to the minor.

In addition to the immunity from criminal prosecution, WSU also has guidelines that protect students from being disciplined by the university.  The WSU Good Samaritan Guidelines provides that when a student voluntarily summons professional assistance from police, medical professionals, university staff members or resident advisors for alcohol intoxication or a drug overdose, the Office of Student Standards and Accountability will refrain from imposing formal discipline for alcohol or drug use and possession under the Standards of Conduct for Students, on either the reporting student or the intoxicated individual.   Although the school will not discipline such individuals, WSU does reserve the right to make such students take a class or seek counseling.

It should be noted that the policy does not provide immunity to entire Greek chapters, and doesn’t provide immunity for hazing, or other related offenses.  Under Washington State University policy, a student can actually be disciplined for not seeking assistance for a student who is suffering from alcohol poisoning.  Each year, approximately 1,300 to 1,400 university students die from alcohol-related injuries, including alcohol poisoning and car accidents, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.


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Marijuana DUI – Pullman DUI Attorney Perspective

I was interviewed recently about the topic of “marijuana DUI” for the journal Elements at the University of Richmond, so I figured I this might be a good time to discuss the subject.  When I first started working as an attorney in King County in the 1990’s, marijuana DUI was practically unheard of.marijuana dui It is really only in the last decade that police and prosecuting attorneys have even tried to prove “marijuana DUI” cases. Unlike alcohol, marijuana just doesn’t affect a person’s coordination the same way.  We have all heard the expression “falling down drunk” but there really isn’t the equivalent of “falling down stoned.” Studies have shown that marijuana does not affect people in the same predictable manner that alcohol does.

Much of the enforcement that DUI attorneys see today is really a backlash against initiative I-502. Law enforcement arrests have increased since the decriminalization of marijuana in Washington state because the police have more time on their hands, and they are concerned about people abusing the new law. Initiative 502 sets a “per se” limit of 5 nanograms THC for a driver’s blood. Also, Initiative 502 really puts minors in a difficult position because the law sets a zero tolerance level for any THC in a minor’s blood. Such a charge can pose a real hardship for college students. A conviction for marijuana dui stays on a person’s record for life, and it is impossible to expunge or vacate the conviction. The 5 nanogram limit for THC within I-502 was controversial and there is no real scientific evidence proving that that is the level that necessarily impairs a person’s ability to drive. In Pullman, Washington, I have seen charges brought against minors with blood THC levels of only 1 nanogram of marijuana. There are many legal challenges that can be brought against a court case alleging such an offense. The field sobriety tests or “FST’s” on marijuana DUI cases have not been certified to the same extent as alcohol related DUI cases.