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Vancouver Washington Legal Blog

Understanding Washington's implied consent law

One of Washington's most powerful weapons for enforcing its drunk driving laws is the so-called "implied consent law." While many Washington drivers may have heard of this law, very few understand how it may affect them. The implied consent statute provides a method by which police officers can compel drivers to submit to a test of their sobriety before deciding whether to charge them with one or more drunk driving offenses.

The law is based upon a legislatively created presumption that everyone who operates a motor vehicle within the state has given his or her consent to submit to a test of his or her blood alcohol content as measured by a standardized breath sampling test. Therefore, if a police officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person was driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the officer can direct the person to submit to a breath test. If the person refuses, his or her license is automatically suspended for at least one year. The officer must provide adequate warning to the driver of the consequences of refusing the test and of being convicted of drunk driving. A refusal to take the test can be introduced into evidence during a trial to determine if the person was intoxicated.

Choosing between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy

Most residents of Vancouver understand that the United States Bankruptcy Act can be used to keep creditors at bay and prevent loss of assets such as a house or automobile. A critical aspect of the nation's bankruptcy laws is often overlooked when people are considering filing a bankruptcy petition: the difference between a Chapter 7 proceeding and a Chapter 13 proceeding. An exhaustive list of the differences between these two types of proceedings is too long for this blog post, but an overview can guide initial decision-making.

Chapter 7 is intended to wipe out a person's debts by selling assets subject to lawful seizure and using the proceeds from those sales to settle claims with creditors. When a Chapter 7 proceeding is finished, the petitioner's debts will be eliminated except for secured claims, such as a mortgage or automobile loan. Chapter 13 takes a different approach by requiring the debtor to submit a repayment plan under which the debtor agrees to make payments to creditors over time, usually five years, until the debts are paid off. A Chapter 13 proceeding does not eliminate debt outright, as does Chapter 7, but it provides breathing space for the debtor to reorganize his finances and keep his or her assets.

How does Washington's "means test" affect a bankruptcy?

As most residents of Vancouver realize, a person can file two kinds of individual bankruptcy petitions: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding frequently results in all unsecured debts being discharged. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding is sharply different on this point: the debtor must present a plan to the court for paying off debts over time. If the choice were free, most, if not all filers, would choose a Chapter 7 petition. However, the federal Bankruptcy Act puts a significant barrier in front of persons seeking a Chapter 7 discharge: the means test.

The test is intended to prevent high-income filers from using Chapter 7 to unfairly discharge debts that could be repaid in a Chapter 13 proceeding. If a debtor's adjusted monthly income is below the Washington median income, the person is exempt from the means test and can file a Chapter 7 petition. If, however, the debtor's median income is higher than the state median, he or she or they (if it's a joint petition) must go through a calculation to determine whether a Chapter 7 petition is permitted.

Should a prenuptial agreement be part of your estate plan?

If you are planning a wedding, the last thing that you want to think about is the possibility that the marriage could end in divorce. However, it can be both prudent and financially practical to think about the future in case it does not work out as planned.

One of the ways that you can protect your interests before you even get married is to draft a prenuptial agreement. This may not seem like a romantic prospect during the exciting time leading up to your wedding, but you will not regret having the protection of your property and financial interests fully secured for the future.

Vancouver police arrest hit-and-run suspect

Car accidents are never happy events, but one of the cruelest types of wrecks is the hit-and-run collision. The victim is often deprived of the opportunity to recover damages for any injuries suffered unless the hit-and-run driver can be found, and that outcome oftentimes depends upon the police. The Vancouver police have brought at least one such case to a satisfactory conclusion by finding and arresting the man responsible for a hit-and-run car accident that badly injured a local motorcyclist.

The crash occurred on July 30, 2017 at about 9:30 p.m. on State Route 500. The motorcyclist was westbound on Highway 500 when a black sedan similar to a Honda Accord swerved into his lane. The cyclist was forced to swerve and accelerate in an effort to avoid the sedan. The sedan approached the motorcycle at a high rate of speed, striking it from behind and throwing the cyclist to the ground. The motorcyclist suffered several broken ribs and a fractured shoulder blade. The black sedan then left the scene without stopping.

How are different debts treated under Chapter 13 bankruptcy?

Sometimes when a person in Vancouver falls on hard financial times, they determine that they need to file for bankruptcy. Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be attractive to those who believe that they can repay their debts given more time, as well as to those who want to try to keep certain pieces of property. However, when it comes to repaying debts under a Chapter 13 repayment plan, it is important to understand the difference between priority debts, secured debts and unsecured debts.

When it comes to debts for bankruptcy purposes, there are priority debts, secured debts and unsecured debts. Priority debts are treated specially by the bankruptcy code, and include costs associated with the bankruptcy proceedings themselves and unpaid taxes. Secured debts are backed by collateral, which is property that can be repossessed if the debt is not paid. One example of a secured claim is an automobile. Unsecured debts are those which are not supported by collateral, such as medical debt.

Four-vehicle collision kills one and injures two others

Police are investigating the cause of a complex four-vehicle collision on SR-500 near Vancouver. The truck and car accident killed one person and injured two others. According to early police reports, alcohol may have been a causative factor.

A 53-year-old woman was driving a Cadillac Escalade west on SR-500 when she apparently crossed the centerline and struck the rear end of a westbound Ford F250 pickup. The impact spun the pickup and forced it into the eastbound lane, where it collided with a Volkswagen Jetta. Rebounding from the initial collision, the Cadillac then smashed head-on into an eastbound Pontiac Vibe. The driver of the Vibe succumbed to her injuries at a nearby hospital. The driver of the Cadillac and the Volkswagen were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment of what are believed to be critical injuries. Their exact medical conditions have not been disclosed. The driver of the Ford pickup was apparently injured, but he was not hospitalized. The accident closed all lanes of SR-500 near Milepost 9 at about 10:30 a.m.

What to consider when listing as for sale by owner

You have hit a lot of milestones in your life. You went to school, and then started your career. You purchased your first home. You’re at a point in your life where you have a family to focus on. In order to do that comfortably, you are ready to sell your first beloved home and get into something more fitting for your growing family. After a lot of thought, you have decided that you don’t want to list your house with a realtor. Instead, you are going to go the ‘for sale by owner’ route.

While there are benefits to selling your home yourself, there can also be some disadvantages. You may not have the same connections that an agent has, and you don’t have the experience. With that being said, you are smart. You can take on the task. In order to do so, you must think like an agent.

A summary of Washington bankruptcy exemptions

The state of Washington has established a list of various kinds of property that may not be attached by creditors to satisfy a judgment. This same list establishes the kinds of property that are exempt from the claims of creditors in a bankruptcy proceeding.

When a person files a bankruptcy petition, one of the initial tasks is listing and valuing the property that is exempt from creditors' claims. The debtor may use the exemptions allowed under the United States Bankruptcy Act or the exemptions available under Washington law. A person cannot use both lists.

Washington's distracted driver law takes effect

Washington's attempts to eliminate distracted driving moved to a new level on July 23, 2017, when the state's zero tolerance law went into effect. The law aims to prevent drivers from doing anything but driving while they are operating a motor vehicle. According to police, the new law is aimed at sharply reducing the number of car accidents on Washington's highways.

The law prohibits Washington drivers from operating or even touching an electronic device. If a driver is pulled over for a traffic violation and is holding a cell phone or other electronic device, the officer has the discretion to issue a ticket for a "DUI-E" in the amount of $135. Officers are also authorized to issue tickets for distracted driving to motorists who are consuming food. Officers also have discretion to issue DUI-E tickets if warranted by the driver's conduct. According to the state police, a DUI-E is a primary infraction, much like a speeding ticket or an ordinary DUI. If convicted of the offense, the driver's record will reflect the violation, and his or her insurance rates will be affected.

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