When does the affirmative defense of ‘safely off the roadway’ apply? Well, it doesn’t apply to the crime of driving under the influence (RCW 46.61.502), which surprises some people. It only applies to being in physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence (RCW 46.61.504). According to WPIC 92.15, ‘safely off the roadway’ is a defense to physical control while under the influence when – prior to being pursued by a law enforcement officer – a person causes their vehicle to be moved safely off the roadway. In determining whether a vehicle is safely off the roadway, a jury may consider the location of the vehicle, the extent to which the driver maintained control over the vehicle, and any other relevant evidence bearing on the question of whether the car was safely off the roadway. The defendant has the burden of proving the affirmative defense by a ‘preponderance of the evidence’, which means that jury must be persuaded, considering all the evidence in the case, that it is more probably true than not true that the car was safely off the roadway. If a jury finds that the driver in fact did establish the defense, the jury is required by law to return a verdict of ‘not guilty’. In short, whether a car is safely off the roadway for purposes of negating a physical control allegation is a factual determination. The jury should be instructed of the defense if it is both requested by the driver and supported by the evidence.
If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a DUI or Physical Control charge, immediately contact a Seattle DUI Attorney. A DUI lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle DUI Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So, it should go without saying that someone cited for a DUI or Physical Control should hire a qualified Seattle DUI Lawyer as soon as possible. DUI charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle DUI Lawyer. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.