PSA: Bellingham Phone Scam

PSA: Bellingham Phone Scam

Over the last few weeks, our office has received a number of calls from people seeking advice on a current phone scam making the rounds in the Bellingham area. We’ve gathered up the information we have below so you can know what to expect should you find yourself targeted by the scammer.

The Phone Scam

Residents are receiving calls from a man introducing himself by the name of ‘Sgt. Smith’ or ‘Lt. Steven’, who is contacting to inform them of an outstanding federal warrant for their arrest—typically for missing jury duty. Targets of the phone scam are asked to pay a large fine to settle the violation or risk facing jail time.

What To Do

So far, despite attempts to capture the fraudster, local officials have been unsuccessful. The impostor has avoided a number of sting operations set up by deputies and remains at large.

If you receive a call from ‘Sgt. Smith’ threatening you with incarceration, you have no reason to panic. Law enforcement does not contact people via phone to resolve warrants or collect on debts. The Sheriff’s office strongly encourages targets of the scam to hang up on the impostor immediately and to not pay the fine he requests.

More Information

You can find more information on the phone scam at The Bellingham Herald.

In an earlier blog post, Adrian Madrone covered how to find out if you actually have a warrant for your arrest.

Contact Us

The law firm of Lustick, Kaiman & Madrone handles cases in DUI, felony and misdemeanor defense, as well as military and aviation law.  If you would like to meet with us to discuss your case, please contact our staff at 360-685-4221. You can also access our form below for a free case evaluation:

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Categories: Fraud,Warrant

How Does Washington’s New E-DUI Law Affect Drivers?

How Does Washington’s New E-DUI Law Affect Drivers?

About Washington’s New E-DUI Law

This Sunday, July 23rd, 2017, a new Washington law takes effect which is aimed at reducing the number of drivers who are distracted by their phones. Referred to as “driving under the influence of electronics,” or an “E-DUI,” the new distracted driving law prohibits the driver’s use of any electronic device while on the road, even when stopped at a red light. The new law’s supporters cited a 32 percent increase in deaths from distracted driving between 2014 to 2015, as the central reason behind the new law.

So, what does the new E-DUI law mean for Washington drivers? Below, we lay out what you should know before hitting the roads after this weekend.

What is Changing:

With the passage of this new law, Washington state becomes one of the strictest in the nation in its fight against distracted driving.

Washington’s previous cellphone law forbids texting and calling while driving, but the times have changed, and so have cell phone’s capabilities. The new law prohibits the driver’s interaction with a cellphone almost entirely.  That means no reading the news, no checking Facebook, no watching the newest viral video—nothing that takes your eyes off the road.  If you are inside the flow of traffic, you may not use your phone. That means no touching a cellphone even while stopped at lights or in gridlock traffic. If you want to use your phone, you must pull over and park.

The new law classifies these actions as a traffic primary infraction offense, called an “E-DUI,” or “driving under the influence of electronics.” This means that police officers, sheriff deputies, or state patrol troopers can stop drivers whenever they see violations of this new law occur.  Unlike previous versions of the state’s cellphone or seatbelt laws, the violations do not need to be preceded by another traffic violation.  

What an E-DUI Will Cost You:

The penalties for receiving a new E-DUI infraction will follow a graduated scale, starting with a $136 traffic fine. A second offense and subsequent offenses within five years will result in a $234 fine. Furthermore, unlike the state’s previous cell phone violations, the new E-DUI tickets will be placed directly on a motorist’s driving abstract, and all offenses will be reported to their insurance provider, thus potentially leading to higher premiums.

The new law also includes provisions allowing officers to ticket drivers for other distracting behaviors behind the wheel. “Any activity not related to the actual operation of a motor vehicle,” like applying make-up, smoking, or eating, will result in a fine of $99. The new law assumes that these activities are distracting per se, and even if a driver is not actually distracted, the offense is still citable.

What is Allowed Under the new E-DUI Law?

Hands-Free Use

Any phone use while driving must not require more than “minimal” finger touching. This means unlocking it via swiping or pressing your fingerprint on the scanner is okay, anything else will likely be considered more than “minimal.” Keeping your phone in a cradle and using voice commands to make calls, look up directions, select music, etc. is permissible.

Contacting Emergency Services

In case of an emergency, you are allowed to use your phone while driving to contact the appropriate services or dial 911. This was the case with Washington’s old cell phone law as well.

Parked or Out-of-Traffic Use

Under the new E-DUI law, you are allowed to use your phone to make calls or access the Internet if you are parked outside of traffic. The State Patrol recommends making calls or setting your GPS before you begin moving your car.

CB Radio

Two-way radio and citizens band radio are excluded from the law. Drivers may still use CB radio to communicate while on the road, and this will not be considered a violation of the new law.

Police, Fire and Emergency Workers

The law exempts police officers, fire fighting personnel, and emergency workers who are using their cellphones in the line of their governmental duties.

What to do if You Get Cited for E-DUI:

Even though the new E-DUI law is tough, there are some legal defenses that can be raised to our state’s new traffic offense.  Drivers should not hesitate to contact Lustick, Kaiman & Madrone for legal representation, which is affordable and effective.

One good reason to fight your E-DUI ticket right away is that no one knows how having one on your driving record could impact you in the future. Specifically, we do not know how an E-DUI conviction will be judged by other state licensing authorities or by big insurance companies. Having an E-DUI could possibly cast you in the same negative light as having an alcohol or drug DUI conviction. Some out of state drivers could face large points on their records, and some drivers may not be able to obtain rental cars or vehicle insurance.

According to the Washington State Patrol, the first several months after the new law takes effect will be spent handing out warnings rather than issuing actual tickets, in order to allow people to get familiar with the new law. But if you are cited for an E-DUI, our defense attorneys stand ready to help you.

More Resources:

Looking to learn more about the reasoning behind the law and how it affects Washington drivers? The state’s website has more information regarding the E-DUI law.

Contact:

Lustick, Kaiman & Madrone has a long history of successfully defending clients accused of traffic charges.

If you find yourself in need of expert legal defense, contact us for a free consultation on the form below, or call our office at 360-685-4221.

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Categories: DUI,Traffic Law

Fireworks Laws in Whatcom County – 2017

Fireworks Laws in Whatcom County – 2017

It can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing Whatcom County fireworks laws. Each year it seems like a new local ordinance comes along which changes when and where fireworks may be sold and discharged. So to help you keep up with the rules, we’ve gathered together the 2017 fireworks laws for Whatcom County cities in one place.

If you are outside Whatcom County, a complete list of all legal firework sales and discharge times across Washington state is provided by the Fire Marshal’s Office here.

Have a fun, and safe, Independence Day!

Bellingham:

In 2013, The Bellingham City Council voted to pass an ordinance banning all fireworks within the city limits. Under the current law, Bellingham residents who violate the ban may be cited with disorderly conduct and face a civil infraction fine set between $250.00 – $1,000.00. Fire officials and law enforcement also have the power to seize any fireworks on the property without a warrant.

Blaine:

The City of Blaine recently banned personal fireworks from use in west Blaine, including the Semiahmoo Spit. Residents within the Blaine city limits may discharge fireworks from:

July 1: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 2: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 3: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 4: 9:00 AM – Midnight

July 5:  9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Everson:

Those looking to discharge fireworks within Everson City limits are allowed to do so:

July 3: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 4: 9:00 AM – Midnight

July 5:  9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

Ferndale:

The City of Ferndale’s fireworks laws restrict the legal discharge dates to Independence Day:

July 4: 9 AM – Midnight

Indian Reservations:

While you may legally purchase and discharge fireworks on Indian Reservations and Native Trust Lands, they become illegal to possess or launch once they leave the reservation. Many of the most popular fireworks purchased on Indian Reservations — M-80’s, firecrackers, bottle rockets, and missiles — are illegal under Washington state law. Possessing illegal fireworks is a criminal misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail.

Lynden:

According to Lynden ordinances, residents may discharge fireworks from:

July 1: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 2: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 3: 9:00 AM – 11:00 PM

July 4: 9:00 AM – Midnight

July 5:  9:00 AM – 9:00 PM

Dec 31: 6:00 PM – Jan 1: 1:00 AM

Whatcom County:

In 2015, The Whatcom County City Council passed an ordinance limiting the dates residents are legally allowed to discharge fireworks. If you are outside any city limits, these new dates and times include:

July 3: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

July 4: 6:00 PM – Midnight

July 5: 6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

December 31: 6:00 PM – 1:00 AM

Contact Us:

The lawyers of Lustick, Kaiman & Madrone have 40+ years of combined experience practicing law and have represented thousands of clients in DUI, felony, and misdemeanor cases. If you would like to meet with us to discuss your case, please contact our support team staff at (360) 685-4221. You can also fill out the free case evaluation form below and we’ll be in touch with you shortly.

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Categories: fireworks

Boating Under the Influence in Washington

Boating Under the Influence in Washington

Everyone is aware of the penalties associated with driving under the influence, but fewer know that boating under the influence (BUI) in Washington can also land you in hot water. Like drivers on the road, boaters are required to stay within the legal limits when consuming intoxicating substances. This means a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) below .08, and under 5.0 nanograms for marijuana.

Boating Under the Influence: What Counts as a Boat?

The Washington BUI law is very broad in its definition of “vessels” that operate on the water. While small inflatable tubes are acceptable, boats of all shapes and sizes, including kayaks, canoes, rowboats, and even inflatable fishing rafts fall under the definition of “vessel.”

Boating Under the Influence: Your Rights If Pulled Over

If an officer has probable cause to believe the boat operator is intoxicated, they can ask the driver to submit to a breath test. Operators may refuse to take the test, but in doing so, they may be subjected to civil penalties of up to $2,050.

Boating Under the Influence: Penalties and Fines

Operating a boat under the influence in Washington is considered a gross misdemeanor and is punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and up to 364 days in jail. Although a BUI won’t restrict your driver’s license, it will be considered a “prior offense.” If you receive a DUI charge in the future, or are currently on probation for a DUI, a BUI can compound the consequences into something much more serious.

The BUI charge may also be upgraded to a felony if someone was injured during the incident.

Boating Under the Influence: Emphasis Patrols This Summer

Beginning on Memorial Day and running through Aug. 19, state and local law enforcement agencies will join forces for BUI emphasis patrols in Washington’s waterways. Heavy enforcement will occur statewide, including on local lakes and the waters off Whatcom, Skagit, and San Juan Counties. Our attorneys at Lustick Kaiman & Madrone are experts at defending Boating Under the Influence charges. If you get stopped on the water this summer, your first call should be to us.

Stay safe this summer, and find someone other than Captain Morgan to steer your ship.

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Categories: BUI,DUI