SPD Response Questioned

SQ Attorneys

SQ Attorneys

Obviously, one clear telltale sign of DUI is erratic driving. This is so because alcohol and/or drugs compromise a person both physically and mentally.

Well on Mother’s Day a few weeks back a Seattle couple witnessed just that, erratic driving in downtown Seattle. They witnessed the car blow through red lights and weave all over the roadway. The driving was so bad in fact that the couple decided to follow the car and call 911; they gave the 911 dispatcher a description of the car, and followed it for several miles. Finally at 10th and Aloha, the vehicle came to an abrupt stop in the middle of the intersection; the driver appeared to have passed out behind the wheel. While others started to congregate in the area, the police were nowhere to be found. Why? Well, apparently the police were too busy to immediately respond and the callers were told to ‘wait’. This was a response that certainly shocks the conscience because the impaired driver at any moment could simply have driven away, and the good Samaritans were thereby put in the very dangerous position of trying to prevent such a poor and dangerous decision. This unofficial ‘standby’ continued for well over 40 minutes and with no officers coming to the scene the driver did in fact elect to drive off. The police never did show up nor did they provide any instructions on how the good Samaritans were supposed to handle the situation to make it safer for the driver of the incapacitated car or the other pedestrians on the road. The real question then is regardless of the fact the police were dealing with another matter couldn’t the dispatcher have provided other options? Couldn’t he have sent a fire truck or a paramedic? Couldn’t he have at least advised on the best steps in light of the situation?

Sean Whitcomb with Seattle Police Department said this on behalf of the police, “The DUI call was described as a DUI driver, a woman passed out in a car who then wanted to drive away. Now that certainly has the potential to be a life and death situation, but at that moment it is not. At that moment, when someone is trying to commit suicide, that is more likely to result in the loss of life.” So there you have it, prioritization and timing. Luckily no one was hurt or even killed due to this Mother’s Day incident … but SPD would be well advised to be a bit more resourceful in how it responds (either in person or by phone) to cries for assistance by members of the community in situations like the one outlined herein. After the fact, Mr. Whitcomb said that if you ever find yourself in a similar situation “don’t get in front of that car. Don’t reach into the car. Don’t put yourself in danger. Naturally, the best advice we give is to be a good witness, get the license plate, get a description.” It stands to reason that dispatch could have conveyed this same simple line of advice on Mother’s Day? It truly could have meant the difference between life and death.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI you should immediately contact a Seattle DUI defense attorney. A qualified and respected Seattle DUI lawyer, among other things, can quite possibly save the aggrieved person thousands of dollars in court and insurance fees, the extent of loss of privilege to drive, and the amount of jail time to be served. We have said it before and will say it again, Washington DUI laws are far too complicated for any ol’ attorney to handle. Be smart and consult with a qualified and skilled Seattle DUI attorney when arrested for an alcohol and/or drug related DUI in Washington State. SQ Attorneys is here to help – (206) 441-1600.

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