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Woods & Brangwin, PLLC

517 North Mission, Suite 2A
P.O. Box 4378
Wenatchee, Washington 98807

Ph. (509) 663-3915
Fx. (509) 663-6064
info@wblawfirm.com

Articles


Deferring a traffic ticket may be a mistake
Written by John Brangwin   
Thursday, 21 June 2012 19:03
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Here’s a mistake I see all the time:Parents’ “helping” with their son or daughter’s speeding ticket.

 

I remember my first ticket.Bellevue Police on a motorcycle on the road around Phantom Lake.I went to court and tried to beat it---perhaps it was meant to be that I’d become a lawyer.I lost the case but was able to keep it off my record by not getting another ticket for a year.Back then Deferred Dispositions weren’t formalized as they are now.I got lucky.

 
Top 10 Tips for Dealing with Police
Written by John Brangwin   
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 22:53
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1. Always be calm and cool.

2. You have the right to remain silent, and you should.

3. You have the right to refuse [warrantless] searches, and you should.

4. Don't get tricked into waiving your rights.

5. Determine if you're free to go.

6. Don't do anything illegal.

7. Don't run.

8. Never touch a cop

9. Report misconduct: Be a good witness.

10. You don't have to let them in your home [without a warrant].

11. (Bonus Tip) Call Woods & Brangwin if you need help.

 
Why I Support Legalizing Pot
Written by John Brangwin   
Wednesday, 09 November 2011 21:36
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Initiative 502 is currently gathering signatures.At its simplest, I-502 seeks to legalize marijuana and replace it with regulated sales.While I-502 may not be perfect, it would be a wise start.Through November, registered voters can sign I-502 petitions at our offices.For more on I-502, visit their web site at:http://www.newapproachwa.org

 

 

Our drug policy has clearly failed.  Punishing drug crimes has done little positive for society.  It has filled prisons with non-violent offenders, broken up families and allowed organized crime to flourish.  At the same time it has cost tax payers billions, if not trillions of dollars.

 

 
Is Casey Anthony Guilty of Murder?
Written by Steven Woods   
Thursday, 07 July 2011 17:29
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Is Casey Anthony guilty of murdering her daughter Caylee?  No.  Absolutely not.  She is without a doubt not guilty.

Is Casey Anthony innocent of murder?  From what I read in the papers I doubt it, although I don’t really know.

 
Should You File for Divorce or Legal Separation?
Written by Beth Bratton   
Thursday, 23 June 2011 15:36
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The question you want to ask yourself is if you want your marriage completely dissolved after 90 days or if you want to remain married but have everything legally divided between the parties.  The first thing you must do in either situation is file a summons and petition, serve the other party, and wait 90 days.  The big difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that after you file a summons and petition with the court, you have a wait time before final documents can be entered with the court.  In a divorce, you will have to wait 90 days and then you can enter final orders on asset and debt distribution, child support, parenting plans, etc.   After 90 days in a divorce proceeding, you can legally dissolve your marriage and be divorced.

 

 
Trouble with Ignition Interlocks
Written by John Brangwin   
Thursday, 09 June 2011 23:50
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Ignition interlocks don’t always make the roads safer. In fact, sometimes they kill.

On Jan. 22 Joseph A. DeGrasse, 29, was driving his car towards East Wenatchee on Highway 28. He DUI convictions in his past so he was required by law to drive a car only if it had a functioning ignition interlock device. Near Kirby Billingsley Hydro Park, DeGrasse’s ignition interlock device signaled that he needed to “blow.” If he didn’t, depending on the type of device he had, his horn and lights would start flashing and he might be reported to court on a probation violation. When DeGrasse reached down to grab the device he veered onto the shoulder. On the shoulder was a broken down, empty bus. DeGrasse collided with it and his passenger was killed instantly.

 
Modern Day Scarlet Letter - the Z Plate Idea
Written by John Brangwin   
Thursday, 24 March 2011 17:38
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There’s currently a bill pending in Olympia to make drivers convicted of DUI get a special license for their car.  If passed, House Bill 1955 would require every person convicted of DUI to get a license plate marked with a Z, and it would be a crime for the person to drive any other vehicle.

While it might sound enticing to brand drivers this way, it’s nothing more than the “A” for adultery from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel about Puritan Boston.  It would be a badge of shame for all to see.  But the truth is that such a law would do nothing to curb drunk driving.

First of all, most DUI convictions are for first time offenders who never offend again.  Those drivers wouldn’t have a “Z” before hand, and are unlikely to offend again with or without such a plate.  Some might argue that if first-time offenders knew they’d have to get a Z plate they’d be more likely to resist the temptation of getting a DUI.  Unfortunately, people don’t really do such “Hedonistic Calculus.”  Trust me, the penalties for DUI are plenty stiff now.  No one sits in a bar and thinks “Oh, getting a DUI is no big deal; the penalties aren’t that stiff; I’ll go ahead and drive.”  At least no one in their right mind.  First time offenders currently face mandatory jail, loss of license, an alcohol assessment, an ignition interlock requirement, high-risk insurance and thousands of dollars of costs.  Adding a Z plate to the list of unpleasant consequences won’t change anything. 

 
Prostitution Sting - A Good Use of Your Tax Dollars?
Written by Steven Woods   
Thursday, 20 January 2011 01:26
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A recent story in the Wenatchee World noted that five men were arrested for attempting to solicit a prostitute in Wenatchee.  These arrests were the result of a sting operation masterminded by the Wenatchee Police Department.  With all of the news about budget shortfalls, layoffs and decreased revenue, it might be interesting to look at what this sting likely cost the City of Wenatchee, and compare it to what it achieved.

 
Give That Juror A Medal! Published in the Wenatchee World 9-17-10
Written by John Brangwin   
Friday, 17 September 2010 15:38
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JoAnn Chiakulas deserves a medal. Who is she? She was the holdout juror in the trial of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich. The jury voted 11-1 to convict. Chiakulas held her ground. She’s been widely criticized because she held out and would not convict. But she did what she was legally obligated to do. She did what the court instructed her to do. She did what many jurors don’t do. She deserves a medal.

 
Injured In An Accident - How Do I Pay For My Medical Bills?
Written by Beth Bratton   
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 16:19
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One of the main concerns for individuals who are injured in an accident is how they are going to get their medical bills paid.  Well, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident, hopefully you have personal injury protection with your auto insurance.  If you do not have it, we highly recommend that you get it.  You can set the coverage limits yourself and normally this coverage is pretty reasonable.

 
Red Light Cameras, Cell Phones and Big Brother
Written by Steven Woods   
Monday, 28 June 2010 20:13
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We all love technology when it works and hate it when it doesn’t.  Our computers have become an indispensible and useful part of our everyday lives, but if the internet is down or our hard drive crashes it can ruin our whole day.  Everyone seems to have a cell phone so we are never out of touch no matter where we are.  Except it drives us crazy if we are some place where there is no signal.  Generally, we all love the new technology.  But how do we feel when it starts to be used against us?

 
Justice Around the World
Written by John Brangwin   
Thursday, 15 April 2010 08:00
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For the past several years I have visited Thailand, specifically the resort and ex-patriot area of Chonburi, approximately 90 miles south-east of Bangkok.

 

On a couple of occasions I have been stopped by the police for a traffic violation.  One time was for running a red light, although it was more like a right-on-red.  There were three problems with that:  1.  They don’t have right-on-red in Thailand.  2.  Since they drive on the left hand side of the road (like England, Australia and Japan) taking a right was the American equivalent of turning left.  Of course, Thailand doesn‘t have left-on-red either.  3.  There was a cop watching.  The other time I was stopped was for going the wrong way on a one-way street. 

 
No Victim? Assault Charge Dropped???
Written by Beth Bratton   
Monday, 15 March 2010 08:00
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If the victim wants the assault charge dropped, then the case gets dismissed right? Wrong. The victim being unwilling to cooperate or testify will not resolve a case, however, it is certainly a powerful and useful factor in a case and helpful to the defendant. Nonetheless, most defendants are under the impression that if they are charged with an assault charge and the victim does not want to participate in the case, then it will get dismissed. Unfortunately, this is not how it works. The ultimate decision to dismiss the case lies with the prosecutor. So, if you have been charged with an assault, hold tight, because it is going to be a long process dealing with this type of charge, especially in Chelan County.

 
Head On Collision Settled for $300,000
Written by John Brangwin   
Friday, 05 March 2010 17:58
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MR_article_photo_resizeOn July 16, 2007, Ron[1] was driving a company truck south-bound on US-97 near Omak, WA. A driver going the opposite direction tried to pass a semi-truck in a no-passing zone. Ron tried to avoid a head-on collision but was unable to do so because of the guardrail along the highway. When the collision was over Ron and his passenger were alive, but injured. The on-coming driver was not so lucky; he died instantly.

Ron was taken by ambulance to a hospital where emergency surgery was performed to repair his badly broken wrist. He also had a number of abrasions and he was extremely sore most strongly in his left knee, back and shoulder. In all, Ron would have three surgeries to his wrist and countless medical appointments.

 
New Breath Test Machine for Washington State
Written by John Brangwin   
Monday, 01 March 2010 08:00
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For about twenty (20) years Washington has used one breath test machine, commonly (although incorrectly) called a breathalyzer. That machine is the BAC DataMaster, manufactured by National Patent Analytical Systems, in Mansfield Ohio. It is the only evidentiary breath test instrument approved for use in the State of Washington. In approximately 2004, this State purchased several compact versions of the machine, but there were very few differences between the two.

In 220 police departments and jails throughout Washington, these machines sit ready to spit out a reading of a driver’s Breath Alcohol Concentration (BrAC) to convict the driver of DUI.

Now, however, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is planning to bring in a completely different instrument and replace the DataMaster. The new instrument is the Alcotest 9510 manufactured by a German company, Dräger (their name is “Americanized” to become Draeger).

WSP has already purchased 67 of the machines and has them waiting in a basement. Draeger is currently developing firmware (software) to meet WSP’s requirements and to comply with the requirements of RCW 46.61.506 (the law that provides the foundational requirements for a breath test reading to be admitted in court). At a cost of $10,000 each and a need for 253 additional instruments, the State will eventually pay 3.2 million dollars to make the change and that is only for the cost of the instruments themselves. It is difficult to estimate how much it will really cost the State when you include the work hours it will take to implement the change. A number of WSP employees are already working on the implementation, and more are sure to be added. Legal challenges will occur and if the device is approved for use, thousands of law enforcement officers will have to be trained, as well as, prosecutors and judges. I speculate that the true cost may be higher than 10 million dollars.

In today’s economic climate it is a questionable expense when you consider that the DataMaster, while not without problems, has served WSP well and continues to work today.

What’s different about the Alcotest? Almost everything. Instead of using only infrared spectroscopy (IR) to determine BrAC it also uses electrochemical analysis (EC). Essentially it marries the IR technology of the DataMaster with the EC technology of a Portable Breath Test unit. Unfortunately, when you “marry” two different technologies it doesn’t always work out---kind of like trying to put a diesel and a gas engine in the same automobile. Draeger appears to use a software fix to “solve” some of the problems associated with marrying the two technologies, but their method essentially makes the EC analysis useless and negates the alleged benefits of Draeger’s promoted “dual alcohol sensor technology.” Also, the Alcotest’s IR detection is done at 9.5 microns using a pyroelectric detector. The pyroelectric detector is much less sensitive than the lead selenide detector the DataMaster uses. The pyroelectric detector is also much slower. This makes the Alcotest highly prone to report inaccurate and false high readings due to mouth alcohol. The DataMaster uses two filters and checks for ethanol (alcohol) at 3.37 microns and 3.44 microns.

Woods & Brangwin, PLLC has requested WSP to produce thousands of pages of government records through a Public Records Request (the State equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request). We, along with law firms in the Seattle area, such as “Cowan|Kirk|Gaston”, “Fox|Bowman|Duarte”, “The Bianchi Law Firm” and others, will rigorously examine the Alcotest. We will also thoroughly review the selection criteria used by WSP to choose this instrument over breath test instruments from other manufacturers, including National Patent’s newest DataMaster, the DataMaster DMT.

So far, WSP’s movement towards the Alcotest has been done in secret. Despite having a web site with thousands of pages of information about breath testing and toxicology, as of the writing of this article, there is nothing on WSP’s website about Draeger or the Alcotest. WSP has a real quandary on its hands. To promote Draeger’s Alcotest they necessarily have to disparage their current instrument that’s still in use, the DataMaster. If nothing is wrong with the DataMaster why are they spending millions of dollars to replace it? If something is wrong with the DataMaster then how can courts continue to allow drivers to be convicted using that evidence?

Our education and evaluation on this instrument begins before it is even in use in Washington and will continue in detail. The citizens of North Central Washington can count on Woods & Brangwin, PLLC to be knowledgeable and skilled on the Draeger Alcotest instrument.

John Brangwin is a partner in the Wenatchee law firm “Woods & Brangwin, PLLC.” John is certified to operate and calibrate the BAC DataMaster and his firm owns an instrument (Serial No. 921086). A licensed attorney since 1997, John concentrates his practice in defending those accused of crimes, especially DUI. He is an active member of the prestigious National College for DUI Defense.

 

 
Drive Sober, Get Nailed
Written by Steven Woods   
Friday, 01 January 2010 08:00
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We have all seen the commercials.  “Drive hammered, get nailed,” the stern-voiced trooper announces.  Or the one where the driver is literally sitting in a car full of beer which pours out of the window when the police officer approaches to ask the driver if he has been drinking.  And you cannot drive down a highway without seeing a sign warning, “Legal Limit .08.”  So if you are not hammered, and are not above the legal .08 limit, you are safe, right?

Wrong.

 
Done right, the first time
Written by John Brangwin   
Tuesday, 01 December 2009 21:50
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The Washington State Bar Association publishes a magazine each month for its members.  It is called the Bar News.  By far the most read section of the Bar News is the “Disciplinary Notices”.  The Notices detail lawyer misdeeds and the punishment the lawyer received, from disbarment to admonition.  Do not worry, there are roughly 30,000 lawyers in Washington and only a small number are disciplined each year. 

One notice, in the October 2009 edition, caught my eye.  A lawyer from Grant County, Washington (a county where I frequently handle DUI cases) was suspended from practicing law for 60 days.  

The short version is that the lawyer did not know how to properly handle a DUI case, specifically the Department of Licensing (DOL) hearing, and as a result his client, probably wrongfully, lost his license.

In DUI cases there are two ways the driver can lose his license:  By being convicted or administratively (or both).  In this case the lawyer was able to successfully negotiate his client’s DUI charge down to a crime that did not result in license suspension; certainly good work.  However, the DOL still intended to suspend his client’s license administratively.  The lawyer apparently did not know that a reduction in court does not stop the DOL from proceeding.  There actually are some limited ways to use what happened in court to bar the DOL from suspending, but the charge being reduced is not one of them.  

The lawyer wrote to DOL wondering if the hearing was still necessary based on the criminal charge having been reduced.  The lawyer then, inexplicably, withdrew the hearing request and his client’s license was promptly suspended. 

I suspect this lawyer did not handle many DUI cases.  I do not know the lawyer (his name is printed in the notice) and I had never heard of him before his suspension from practicing law.  Given how often I am in the courts where DUI cases are handled, if I have not at least heard of the lawyer it is a bad sign. 

Many lawyers take on DUI cases but few are really equipped to handle them.  The man in this case eventually hired a competent lawyer, but by that time it was too late.  You can tell a good DUI lawyer based on their experience and training. 

Of course, hiring a seasoned and knowledgeable attorney costs money, more money than hiring someone who doesn’t know what they are doing.  But for this man, losing his license also meant  he needed expensive high-risk insurance for three years.  He also hired a second attorney, and although that attorney was not successful I am sure he charged the man.  Last, perhaps this man even lost his job because he could not drive to work with his license suspended.  I have to believe he actually would have saved money had he done it right the first time.  And “done right” in a DUI case means hiring a well qualified attorney.

John Brangwin is a partner in the Wenatchee law firm of Woods & Brangwin, PLLC and concentrates on defending those accused of DUI.  He is ranked “superb” by Avvo, an attorney rating firm.  He is certified by the manufacturer of the BAC DataMaster to operate and calibrate the instrument, and even owns one.  He is trained in Standardized Field Sobriety Tests and has other advanced training relevant to DUI Defense.  Finally, he is a member of the National College for DUI Defense, the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys and the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. 

 

The discipline notice may be viewed at:
http://www.wsba.org/media/publications/barnews/oct09+-+discnotices.htm

 

 
Woman who gave patch to friend guilty of homicide: Prescription pain medication resulted in the death of Wenatchee woman
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 02 March 2003 18:48
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By Laurie Smith, World staff writer
Sunday - March 2, 2003

WENATCHEE - A Wenatchee woman who said she was trying to help a friend when she gave her prescription pain medication pleaded guilty this past week to controlled-substance homicide.
Angeline S. Page, 32, will serve 75 days in electronically monitored home detention and 15 days of community service under the sentence handed down Thursday by Chelan County Superior Court Judge John Bridges.
Page, who has no criminal history of any kind, faced a standard sentencing range of 31 to 41 months in prison.
It's a tragedy that this happened, said defense attorney John Brangwin. She gave her the medicine because she felt Amanda was in pain, and Amanda asked her to give her some, and then this happened.
Brangwin said Page suffers from chronic pain and uncontrolled seizures.

Laurie Smith can be reached at 664-7153 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

* EXCERPT RE-PRINTED WITH PERMISSION.

 

 


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