Seattle PoliceIt’s that time again when the Phillips Law Firm practices its dubious honor of highlighting a member in our community whose actions make us all cringe.  They make us cringe because the actions are unsafe.  They are careless.  They are foolish.  They place people’s lives in danger.

Rooted in our firm’s values is a belief in justice.  We believe in it and also work tirelessly to achieve it for our clients.  Our work is simply made more difficult when others act irresponsibly.  To help deter this irresponsible conduct, we believe it useful to emphasize those actions that should be avoided, reprimanded, and ridiculed.  To put simply, we seek to highlight a person whose actions make us all stand up and scream…”What Was He Thinking!?”

This month our “What Was He Thinking” award goes out to a drunk driver.  Go figure.  This driver was not only careless, but the driver gives new meaning to the phrase, “three strikes and you’re out.”

Strike One – Drinking and Stealing

The driver in question is an unnamed man we can refer to as “Mr. Ridiculous.”  On, or about, Friday, July 18th, Mr. Ridiculous consumed eight whiskey shots.  The approximate time of the last shot was somewhere around 6:00 to 6:30 pm.

Upon drowning himself in alcohol, Mr. Ridiculous decided to steal a Mustang.  He then took it for a spin through downtown Seattle.  Maybe now is a good time to remind everyone that drinking and driving do not mix.

Strike Two – Vehicle Collisions

At approximately 6:30 pm, Mr. Ridiculous sped drunk, in the stolen vehicle, the wrong way down 2nd Avenue.  He soon collided head-on with an Audi that was being driven by a valet.  The valet was not seriously injured.  However, Mr. Ridiculous’ reaction should be noted.  After the collision, our disturbed driver found it somehow meaningful to throw a bottle of whiskey out the Mustang’s window.  He then drove away.

Apparently one collision was not enough.  After colliding with the valet, Mr. Ridiculous sped off and eventually ran a red light at the intersection of 5th and Cherry Street.  The result was a second collision.  This time it was with a bus.

The driver and passengers of the bus were luckily not injured.  The collision though did damage the bus’s bike carrier.  It also severely damaged the Mustang.

Strike Three – Hello SPD

Mr. Ridiculous ended his drunken tour of Seattle in perhaps the most just of ways.  After colliding with the bus, the Mustang finally came to a stop at the corner of 5th Avenue and James Street.  For those unfamiliar with the streets of Seattle, this exact location is directly across from the Seattle Police headquarters.

Just moments after the Mustang came to a halt, SPD Public Affairs Sergeant Sean Whitcomb exited headquarters.  He spotted the Mustang, approached the vehicle, and courteously advised Mr. Ridiculous to remain at the scene.

Seattle patrol officers quickly arrived and arrested Mr. Ridiculous.  The charges filed against him included: hit and run, DUI and investigation of auto theft.  Sergeant Whitcomb declined to comment on the event.  He simply stated “please don’t post this” and “get back to work.”

Three Strikes and You’re Out!

For the record, the Phillips Law Firm is unanimous on one unified message regarding this event…”Mr. Ridiculous, What Were You Thinking!?”  A batter in baseball is declared out after three strikes.  However, Mr. Ridiculous, you should have been declared out after consuming eight shots of whiskey and stealing a vehicle.

The above facts involve serious crimes that threaten all of our safety.  Auto theft, driving while intoxicated, and colliding with vehicles are by no means good things.  They are reprehensible.  They are irresponsible.  They are a danger and pose risks of unnecessary harm to fellow motorists and pedestrians of all types.

Please learn a lesson from the above story.  It’s a true story that luckily did not involve harm.  However, it could have easily ended in severe injury and/or even a person’s death.  Don’t be ridiculous when it comes to alcohol use, operating a motor vehicle, or even exercising sound judgment.  Be smart and responsible.

If, for any reason, you have unfortunately been injured in an automobile accident, please contact our office today.  Our firm consists of a talented team of successful attorneys that are always available to help.  They can only help, however, if you contact them.


On July 8th, Deb Greene, a 65-year old grandmother, walked into the store Cannabis City and legally purchased two bags of marijuana.  The purchases are significant for they mark the first bags of marijuana legally sold for recreational purposes in Seattle.  Yes, a march that started as Washington Initiative 502 is finally coming to fruition and the legal sale of marijuana is well underway in the greater King County area.

Despite your specific stance on this issue, the legal sale of marijuana is now producing a myriad of issues that Seattle must come to grips with in the name of safety, protection and responsibility.  One such issue involves driving an automobile while high, or under the influence of marijuana (an act that is entirely illegal).  To help combat this issue, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) recently released three videos all with the theme of “Drive High, Get a DUI.”  We want to discuss this campaign and we’re interested in hearing your thoughts on the matter.  Will the commercials really deter the illegal act of driving while high?

The “Drive High, Get a DUI” Campaign

The videos in question all depict marijuana users under the influence.  In one video, we see a smoker attempting to shoot a free throw.  In a second, we see a very happy male trying to mount a flat screen television; and in a third, we see a stoned guy trying to cook food on a gas powered grill that is missing a propane tank.  How about if we take a quick look at our master barbequer?

As the video depicts, grilling while high is now legal in Seattle and the State of Washington.  The same holds true for playing basketball and hanging television sets.  However, as the video also conveys, driving while high is not legal.  The three videos have already been released on YouTube and they will be running on Washington television channels.

Washington’s “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign was actually borrowed from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDT).  CDT produced the commercials and aired them in Colorado earlier this year.  Their effectiveness in Colorado is still being studied.

The Reality of the Campaign

No matter if you’re a fan of the videos or not, they do convey a very important message.  That being, driving while high in the State of Washington is illegal and it could easily lead to a DUI charge.  A motorist in Washington can be stopped and arrested for DUI if the motorist is under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.

Further, a DUI is a very serious offense.  It can also carry very harsh consequences, such as fines, possible jail time, and the suspension of a driver’s privileges to operate a vehicle.  If a person is arrested for or convicted of a DUI, he will face both criminal penalties in court and administrative penalties with the Washington Department of Licensing.

Add to this the very important fact that motorists driving while high impose a severe safety risk to other motorists.  An impaired driver can cause irreparable damage to another driver’s auto and physical well-being.  Driving while high can even result in the death of innocent motorists.

The Effectiveness of the Campaign

The “Drive High, Get a DUI” campaign has received mixed reaction.  Some find the videos humorous.  Some declare them dull.  Others believe they present an erroneous stereotype of recreational marijuana users.  Still others question their basic ability to deter the illegal and dangerous act of driving while high.

The Phillips Law Firm is interested in hearing your comments on the videos.  While our firm knows how to successfully represent clients that have been injured in a DUI accident (whether the accident has resulted from a driver’s over-consumption of alcohol or drugs), we are still working on mastering the art of critiquing videos.  How about if you lend us some help?

Do you believe the “Drive High, Get a DUI” videos will help deter a motorist from driving stoned?  Do you find them entertaining, or just down right boring?  Do you find them offensive?  We are eager to hear your thoughts.


Tuesday, March 4th, a pickup truck crashed into a taxi minivan killing a pregnant woman and her baby. 34-year-old Shanna Huttenstine of Tacoma and her fiancé were riding in a taxicab minivan when pickup truck driver Anderson Hamilton crashed into them head-on. The pickup truck was heading north on Highway 167 when he crossed into the southbound lane and into the oncoming taxi. While the taxi driver swerved to avoid the pickup, it was too late and they collided in a glancing head-on crash.

Sadly, Shanna Huttenstine was killed, as was her 12-week fetus. Her fiancé and taxi driver were also injured and the taxi driver is in critical condition at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

When police officers arrived at the scene, they found injection needles and marijuana in the driver’s pockets. He refused a field sobriety test, but Washington State troopers believe that he was under the influence of drugs at the time of the fatal crash. Toxicology reports are pending. Currently, Hamilton is being held on $500,000 bail and facing charges of vehicular homicide and vehicular assault.

Drugged driving is a serious issue in Washington and throughout the United States. Drivers who drive impaired put themselves and everyone around them at risk. Drugs slow reaction time down and make it difficult for drivers to make critical decisions during emergencies. They may mistakenly apply the gas instead of the brakes, fail to notice a stop sign, or fail to comprehend changes in traffic patterns.

If a drunk driver or someone who is under the influence of drugs injures you or someone you love, it is important that you seek legal counsel immediately. Your attorney will need to work closely with police officials, accident recreation experts, medical professionals, and forensic experts to build a case designed to obtain the maximum compensation for your injuries.

Drivers who choose to drive under the influence of drugs are negligent and should be held accountable for their negligence. At the Phillips Law Firm, we fight aggressively for our clients and to ensure that they are not taken advantage of during this difficult time. We fight for you—so you can focus on your recovery.


According to the first nationwide analysis of “buzzed” drivers, there appears to be no safe level of alcohol in the bloodstream when it comes to driving. Based on information from a U.S. national database, researchers have concluded that driving with even a slight buzz puts drivers at a far greater risk of causing a traffic accident.

The authors of the study analyzed data from more than 570,000 collisions between 1994 and 2011. Drivers with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 percent, the lowest level recorded in the dataset, were 46 percent more likely to be solely blamed for the crash than a sober driver. For both men and women, the likelihood of blame for the accident rose as blood alcohol level increased.

For a grown man, it takes only half of one 12-ounce beer to generate a .01 percent BAC reading on a Breathalyzer test, which is well below the U.S. legal driving limit of .08 percent. However, experienced drinkers begin to become impaired at a .05 BAC, and inexperienced drinkers become very impaired at much lower levels. This study demonstrates that having just one drink, no matter how small, has a real impact on traffic collisions so, based strictly on the data, the only safe driver is one with zero blood alcohol content.

Protecting Yourself from Buzzed Drivers

Some federal agencies recommend reducing the national legal BAC limit below .08 percent, and research certainly supports that. However, until this is accomplished, there are other steps you can take to keep yourself, and those around you safe. Don’t drive buzzed, and don’t get in the car with a buzzed driver. Do whatever it takes to get a sober driver behind the wheel, which may include calling a cab. Before you head out, have the number of a reputable cab company in your wallet, so you have a reliable and sober way to get home.

Contact An Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car crash involving a buzzed driver, you should contact an experienced personal injury attorney, such as those at Phillips Law Firm immediately. Victims of buzzed and drunk driving crashes often face expensive medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. You focus on yourself and your family, and let your attorney handle all the details.


Driving under the influence is defined as operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) that is above the legal limit. In most jurisdictions, a BAC of .08% or higher is illegal and can be considered a crime; however, driving under the influence can also refer to a driver operating a vehicle while using drugs or medication. Committing a DUI is a serious crime punishable by large fines, suspension of one’s license and in the most severe cases, imprisonment. Driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs causes thousands of accidents every year that result in a devastating loss of life and take a huge financial toll on society.

The 10 Shocking DUI Accident Statistics

  1. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person is injured in a DUI accident every 90 seconds.
  2. Every day in America, twenty-seven people will die as a result of drunk driving accidents. That is an average of one every 53 minutes.
  3. During 2010, 211 children were killed in DUI accidents. Of those, sixty-two percent, or 131 children were riding with the intoxicated driver.
  4. Traffic accidents are the leading cause of death for teens, and approximately one-third of these accidents involve alcohol or another substance.
  5. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10,228 people were killed in DUI accidents during 2010. This accounts for 31% of traffic-related deaths in the United States.
  6. At 23.4%, the rate of DUI is highest among people aged twenty-one to twenty-five. Approximately 5.8% of 16-17 year-olds and 15.1% of 18-20 year-olds confessed to having driven while intoxicated sometime during the past year.
  7. On average, a drunk driver will drive eighty times while under the influence before their first arrest.
  8. Alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal DUI accidents in 2010 was four times higher at night than during the day.
  9. According to the CDC, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested in 2010 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics.
  10. It is estimated that one in three people in the United States will be involved in a DUI accident sometime in their life.

Stay Safe!

If a drunk driver injures you or someone you love, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, like those at Phillips Law Firm. Obtaining legal council will ensure that you receive maximum compensation for your injuries.


Last year a horrific pedestrian DUI accident occurred in Seattle. Karina Schulte and her 10-day-old son were crossing the street in Seattle’s Wedgewood neighborhood last March with her parents when a repeat drunk driver plowed through the family. Karina’s parents were killed and Karina and her son Elias were critically injured. For the last year, the mother and son have been slowly recovering, but the road to recovery after a DUI accident is a marathon.

Karina has only been home for a few months, but she is slowly gaining strength. She is able to perform some of her daily living activities and walking and talking almost like she did before the accident. She still has permanent damage to her left side, but she has made remarkable progress, her husband Dan related in a blog post.

Their son, Elias, was only 10 days old when repeat drunk driver Mark Mullan crashed into his family. Since then, he has recovered well and is developing fairly normally with assistance from regular therapists. He does have severe vision problems that resulted from the trauma to his brain after the DUI accident. His recovery, although remarkable, is far from over, however. Elias is scheduled to undergo another surgery this month at Seattle Children’s Hospital to repair the membrane between his skull and brain.

Last November, Mark Mullan was sentenced to 18 years in prison for his crime.

Drunk driving accidents are often catastrophic—and made even more tragic by the realization that they should not have occurred at all. The decision to drive intoxicated can have devastating and far-reaching consequences to everyone involved. Drunk drivers should be held accountable for their negligence and the injuries they have caused.

At Phillips Law Firm, our lawyers believe in holding irresponsible and negligent drunk drivers accountable and we won’t back down. We will fight aggressively to ensure that you and your family have the compensation you need to fully recover and put your life back together. We believe in ‘Justice for You’.

Contact Seattle Car Accident Attorneys

If a drunk driver injures you or someone you love, an experienced Seattle car accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington. 


Seattle BartenderWashington has a dram shop statute that makes a business which sells alcoholic drinks or a host who serves liquor to a drinker who is obviously intoxicated or close to it, strictly liable to anyone injured by the drunken patron or guest. Statutory violations are “punishable by a fine of not more than $500 as well as separate [civil] actions.”

One purpose for these laws is to keep persons who are already inebriated from overindulging in alcohol and being injured or killed from over-intoxication. The most important goal of dram shop laws is to prevent hosts or bartenders from providing more alcohol to an inebriated patron who could potentially get into a vehicle and drive off, placing innocent persons at risk of injury or death.

Establishments in Seattle, which are licensed to sell liquor to patrons, are required to properly train employees to assess whether or not a person has had too much to drink.

Holding an Alcohol-serving Establishment Liable

If a drunk driver has injured you or someone you love, you have the legal right to sue the establishment responsible for endangering the public by allowing an intoxicated patron to leave the establishment and drive away. You may be entitled to compensation from the restaurant, bar, pub, liquor store or other alcohol-serving establishment if you meet the burden of proof.

Any alcohol-serving establishment is accountable to victims of drunk drivers when its bartenders or waiters knowingly over-serve an underage or obviously inebriated patron. The difficult part is that the victim must show the restaurant knew that the driver was a minor or intoxicated.

How a Washington Injury Attorney Can Help

The legal hurdles associated with burden of proof can be daunting, and the longer you wait to pursue your case, the harder it may be. A Seattle Injury Attorney will conduct the legal and investigative work necessary such as;

  • Obtaining copies of the driver’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) exams
  • Interviewing eyewitnesses, police officers, paramedics and others at the scene of the accident who can offer more details about what happened
  • Gathering witness statements, credit card receipts and decisive video surveillance evidence from the establishment

Contact Seattle Car Accident Lawsuit Attorneys

If a drunk driver injures you or someone you love, an experienced Seattle car accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Kent, Auburn, Renton, Federal Way, Bellingham, Marysville, Lakewood, Redmond, Shoreline, and throughout the State of Washington.


Motorcycle Accident - Washington StateMarijuana has been legal in the State of Washington for a year now—driving under the influence of marijuana, however, is not. A Bellevue man was recently charged with vehicular homicide after he collided with a motorcyclist on October 4th. Prosecutors allege that Caleb Floyd was driving high on marijuana when he collided with Bellevue motorcyclist Blake Gaston. Blood drawn from Floyd’s blood found levels of THC that were twice the legal limit.

The Bellevue motorcycle accident occurred when Gaston was crossing 102nd Avenue Northeast on Northeast 10th Street. Floyd was heading east when he suddenly cut left. Gaston was unable to stop and laid his KTM 450 motorcycle down and into the side of Floyd’s car. He suffered catastrophic injuries, including massive head trauma and was pronounced dead at Overlake Medical Center.

Now that marijuana is legal in Washington, law enforcement officials and state prosecutors now have to contend with drivers who are driving under the influence of pot. In the fist 6 months of 2013, 745 drivers tested positive for THC when pulled over by police officers. Over half of those were over the state’s new legal limit of 5 nanograms of THC per milliliter of blood. Whenever anyone operates a vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the results can be deadly.

Motorcyclists, in general, are at risk for sustaining fatal injuries, due to the limited protection a motorcycle offers. Even when they are hit at relatively low rates of speed, motorcyclists can suffer serious head injuries, spinal cord injuries, and life threatening complications. Sadly, the majority of motorcycle accidents occur because of inattentive motorists who simply fail to recognize the motorcyclist on the road.

According to statistics, motorcyclists are not likely to escape an accident unharmed. In fact, 98% of multiple motor vehicle accidents and 96% of single vehicle accidents result in motorcyclists being injured. Of those, 45% of motorcyclists escape with only a minor injury. This means that the majority of injured motorcyclists sustain a serious injury after a motorcycle accident.

Contact Seattle Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit Attorneys

If a negligent driver injures you or someone you love, an experienced Seattle motorcycle accident attorney at Phillips Law Firm can help. If you are interested in learning more about your legal options, call us at 1-800-708-6000. Our Seattle personal injury lawsuit attorneys are waiting to assist you 24/7, offering a free case evaluation. Remember our no fee promise. If we do not recover anything for you, you do not owe us an attorney fee.

The personal injury lawyers at Phillips Law Firm have successfully represented injured individuals and their families in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma, Everett, Redmond, South Hill, Bremerton, Shoreline, Woodinville, Lake Stevens, Kent, Federal Way, Olympia, Bellingham, and throughout the State of Washington.


As Washington State gets closer and closer to legalizing marijuana, the fact that the National Traffic Safety Board (NTSB) found Washington to have one of the highest rates of drugged driving in the country has raised some questions as to what effect that kind of legislation will have on drivers and pedestrians.

Not only is marijuana legal to use as a medicinal pain remedy for various approved illnesses in Washington, but Seattle as a municipality has de-prioritized it for police officers, basically saying to recreational users that it’s okay to use if an officer isn’t around.

In fact, almost every ballot over the past few cycles has marijuana related legislation for voters to give their voice to. Even some politicians can be seen stumping at Hemp Fest, which indicates where the marijuana legislation winds are wafting.

Now this upcoming November ballot has not only a choice for president, but also the option to decriminalize marijuana in Washington and rendering it legal to be packaged and sold to the public as well as being taxed and regulated as such. The Initiative-502, dubbed “New Approach Washington,” is not only expected to inject millions of dollars into the state budget, but also widen access.

This is not only expected to increase the number of customers who wouldn’t have bought marijuana due to the risk and lack of access, this could potentially skyrocket Washington to number one on the list of drugged driving states. Many advocates point to studies that show there is no change in driving ability when a person is high on marijuana, however, a recent study released this week strongly disputes those claims.

Marijuana and Driving

Researchers at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada reviewed nine studies involving 49,411 people involved in accidents on public roads involving one or more motor vehicles. The study including all vehicles licensed to drive on streets, cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles, where the drivers cited the use of marijuana or use was confirmed by blood tests.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) this month, found drivers who had used marijuana within three hours of beginning to drive had nearly double the risk of causing a collision, especially those that were fatal.

“Results show that if cannabis is consumed before driving a motor vehicle, the risk of collision is nearly doubled. Previous results have also found that there is also a substantially higher chance of collision if the driver is aged 35 or younger,” researchers wrote.

Marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug worldwide and rates of its use in drivers are increasing. The study cites a 2007 study in Scotland that found 15% of 537 drivers aged 17 to 39 had used marijuana within 12 hours of driving at the time of the study.

“The consumption of cannabis impairs motor tasks important to safe driving, increasing the chance of collisions and that future reviews should assess less severe collisions from a general driving population,” the authors of the study suggested.

Drugged Driving in Washington State

Currently only 19 states have laws prohibiting any amount of drugs while operating a vehicle, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA). The laws in Washington State for driving under the influence (DUI) are pretty explicit.

According to RCW 46.61.502: (1) A person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within this state:

  • (a) And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person’s breath or blood made under RCW 46.61.506; or
  • (b) While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor or any drug; or
  • (c) While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor and any drug.

Testing for drugs is also a lot different than alcohol. Many times a police officer needs to see the telling signs of drug use and take a suspect in for tests alternative to breathalyzer in order to determine the type and amount of drugs taken. The telling signs vary according to the drug the suspect has taken. Some of the signs of various drugs are:

  • Marijuana – This has a distinctive sweet or nutty and smoky smell. Drivers often speak slowly or take longs pauses before responding. They have blood shot eyes and can show signs of fatigue. Field sobriety tests are unreliable. Blood tests and hair follicle tests required.
  • Amphetamines – This category includes cocaine and meth amphetamine. When smoked, they can have a distinct toxic burning smell. There can also be residue left over on the dashboard. The driver speaks quickly in bursts, interrupts, and elicits paranoid behavior. Field sobriety tests are unreliable. Blood tests and hair follicle tests required.
  • Pharmaceuticals and Opioids – Many people don’t view these as dangerous or illegal to drive on, however, many pain killers are made from opium, the same as heroin. These drugs are known as opioids, and they can cause numbness, drowsiness, and blackouts. Field sobriety tests are effective in detecting that the person is under the influence. Blood tests and hair follicle tests required.

Seattle DUI Victims Lawyers

Marijuana legislation and the outcome is only our concern when it comes to the safety of our roads. DUI has been on the decline and is expected to further decline as laws become more strict and the consequences become more costly. Hopefully, if marijuana laws are passed, the proper education programs and media are implemented in order to warn the public and kids about the dangers of marijuana use and driving.

If you or someone you know have sustained serious personal injuries as a victim of a negligent driving accident then you need experienced counsel to protect your interests with the insurance companies and health care providers. Call the Seattle car accident attorneys at Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation.


New Years Eve has passed and slowly the tally of drunk drivers caught over that notorious night and the DUI heavy holiday season come in from local and state law enforcement agencies. So far, the tally looks pretty normal with some municipalities showing an increase and some a decrease. But what they don’t seem to tally are the excuses. When some people make a mistake, they like to blame the alcohol. “I was drunk!” they might say, but this is seldom an excuse used by drunk drivers for obvious reasons. So how do they explain away their behavior? Well, who knows or cares, because as new research shows, there are no good excuses when it comes to DUI, because the drivers are fully aware of what they’re doing. That’s right, DUI drivers can now give a laundry list of excuses, but that won’t eliminate the fact that they were completely aware that they had been drinking and were then getting into a car and that is not only a mistake, but illegal.

DUI Awareness Study

The new study called Alcohol Effects on Performance Monitoring and Adjustment: Affect Modulation and Impairment of Evaluative Cognitive Control, can be seen in the upcoming edition of the Journal of Abnormal Psychology and was paid for by the The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the University of Missouri Research Board. The study took brain tests of 67 people and showed that alcohol dulls a mechanism in the brain that tells an individual to stop their behavior when they realize they’re making mistakes. Essentially, the study shows that people who commit blunders while under the influence of alcohol know they’re doing it; they just don’t care.

“This isn’t the first study that shows alcohol alters the behavior of those who consume it, but it’s the first to show they don’t care that they’re making mistakes,” said Bartholow, associate professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia and lead researcher.

The implications of this study is that people who put the public in danger by drinking and getting behind the wheel can’t blame it on not having control because they are fully aware of their behavior, the potential for serious car accidents. The study group derived of people between the ages of 21 and 35 that were broken into three groups:

Group A – One-third of the participants received drinks with enough alcohol to raise their blood levels to just under the legal driving limit of .08 blood alcohol content (BAC). Researchers noted that all participants in the control group got the same amount and they didn’t measure if the effect was gradual. Group B – Another third of the participants received non-alcoholic placebo drinks, however they didn’t know if the drinks contained alcohol or not.Group C – A third received drinks they knew contained no alcohol.

Each group was then assigned tasks designed to elicit mistakes. Researchers used devices on the participants to measure brain activity as the subjects took the tests. Medical technology exists to measure brain activity for impulse control, emotion, mood and other functions. With these devices they recorded results as they observed various factors in participants behavior during the tests such as

  • Mood and demeanor
  • Accuracy in computer tasks
  • Perception of accuracy in the tasks

Though this was a computerized test and not a driving simulator, the moral and reactionary tests were similar. When the mechanism is working, researchers observed that the participants that didn’t ingest alcohol slow down and either tried not to make the mistake again, or they take corrective action. However, the control group that had alcohol was observed to be more likely to disregard the moral stop sign, even though they knew what they were doing. It became apparent that non-drinkers had normal activity in the part of the brain that regulated recognizing mistakes, whereas drinkers had less activity.

“Normally, someone who makes mistakes is aware and makes an effort not to make that mistake again,” Bartholow said. “Drinkers made less of an effort or simply moved past their errors even though they knew they’d made errors.”

The dulling of the brain’s mistake alarm only occurred among people who had alcoholic beverages, he said, and added that using alcohol doesn’t allow someone to escape culpability.

Drinking and Driving In Washington State

Washington State DUI laws, like most laws around the world, prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle by a driver not only under the influence of alcohol, but also under the influence of a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, inhalants and other intoxicants. These include prescription drugs that specifically warn against operating machinery. The .08 percent limit is a general standard used across the US to determine which drivers are “impaired.” Washington has lower BAC limits for commercial drivers (.04) and drivers under the age of 21 (.02). This ensures that underage drivers and commercial drivers stay alert and responsible. The DUI limits translate as such: DRINK EQUIVALENTS: 1 drink / 1 dose equals:

  • 1 1/2 ounces of rum, rye, scotch, brandy, gin, vodka etc.
  • 1 12-oz. bottle of normal-strength beer 3-4%
  • Approximately 7 – 8 oz. of Malt Liquor, or a strong micro brew.
  • 3 ounces of fortified wine
  • 4 – 5 ounces of table wine

Allow an hour per dose before returning to work. Example 2 glasses of wine, allow two hours from time of last dose.

Seattle DUI Victims Lawyers

If you or a loved one sustain serious personal injuries caused by a drunk driver then it is imperative that you find a good lawyer with a proven track record of success in personal injury litigation. Call Phillips Law Firm for a free consultation. Learn More About:

  • Types of Injuries Sustained in a Car Accident
  • Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit
  • Personal Injury Settlements