Blood, Breath and Tears: The Science and Law of DUI

4.5 General and 1.0 Ethics Credits | WSBA AV Activity ID #1005757

Both defending and prosecuting attorneys require an understanding of the science and function of the new breath and blood testing instruments, as well as the discovery issues and evolving case law surrounding DUI for cannabis as well as alcohol. This program provides functional information on the new Draeger Alcotest instrument and the facts of cannabis absorption and elimination as well as impairment levels; build connections between alcohol and cannabis investigation phases; cover the groundbreaking angles brought before SCOTUS and the Washington Supreme Court regarding constitutionality of breath and blood tests; and offer practical tips on ethical dilemmas with clients accused of DUI.

Photo of program chair William Kirk and speakers Andrea Robertson and Briteney Mercer.


Recorded:  03/23/2016
Credits:  4.5 General and 1.0 Ethics | WSBA AV Activity ID #1005757
Length: 5.5 hours

Featured Speakers:
William Kirk, Francisco Duarte, Jonathan Rands, George Bianchi, Andy Robertson, Brit Mercer, Officer Eric Michl

Co-Sponsored by the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice


8:15-8:45 a.m.

Registration & Coffee

8:45-9 a.m.

Welcome and Introductions

9-10 a.m.

How to Deal With the Draeger Alcotest and Your Clients Bad Breath......Test 

This presentation will cover a range of issues, from how the Draeger Alcotest instrument works, through current legal challenges and discovery issues.

Speaker: Jonathan Rands

10-11 a.m.

Blood Testing

  • Sample collection and storage

Speaker: Francisco Duarte

11-11:15 a.m.



Cannabis & Cars

"Cannabis & Cars" will provide an overview of the effects of marijuana on driving performance and inconsistencies in current legislation for "Cannabis & Cars." It addresses the scientific studies on when, and at what level, marijuana impairs driving capabilities, as well as how marijuana is absorbed and eliminated. Mr. Bianchi will provide an essential compilation of various laws on "Cannabis & Cars" throughout the United Stated and explain how to navigate these distinctions when dealing with out-of-state convictions for comparable offenses. Lastly, the presentation will cover details of the DUI investigation phases for alcohol and how it pertains to the DUI investigation of marijuana.

Speaker: George Bianchi, The Bianchi Law Firm

12:15-1:30 p.m.

Lunch on your own

1:30-2:30 p.m.

Case law trends and updates

DUI defense requires consistent adjustment based on changes in legislative provisions and published opinions which impact the admissibility of evidence. This hour will cover the groundbreaking angles brought before the U.S. and Washington Supreme Courts regarding the constitutionality of breath and blood tests, and the ability of the state to utilize evidence of a defendant's refusal to submit to a warrantless DUI search (including field tests, breath samples, or blood draws), along with the question of whether the government can criminalize the act of refusing to submit to this search.

Also discussed will be the ever-changing 4th and 5th Amendment rulings which impact DUI defense, and a review of how practitioners can use current case law to challenge the issuance and execution of search warrants for blood draws.

Speakers: Brit Mercer and Andrea Robertson

2:30-2:40 p.m.


2:40-3:40 p.m.

Ethics and the DUI Client

DUI clients present an attorney with a wide array of potential ethical dilemmas. Our strong desire to win coupled with the pressing needs of our clients can cloud judgement, and at times, lead to unethical choices. The need to set an ethical tone in you representation of your client begins with the initial consultation, but continues throughout the entire time of representation. This program will examine some of the most common areas where DUI defense attorneys can find themselves in ethical dilemmas. This program will help identify those early on, so that the correct and ethical path may be chosen by the practitioner.

Speaker: William Kirk, Cowan Kirk Kattenhorn

3:40-4:10 p.m.

Question and Answer Panel

Moderator: William Kirk

Panelists: TBA

4:10 p.m.

Course Evaluations and Adjournment

Photo of program chair William Kirk and speakers Andrea Robertson and Briteney Mercer.



Francisco Duarte

Francisco A. Duarte is a former Assistant Attorney General and Deputy King County Prosecutor. Mr. Duarte is a director and former chair of Lawyers Helping Hungry Children and served on the Board of Directors of the Seattle Shakespeare Company. He is also past chair of the WSBA Criminal Law Section, the WSBA Criminal Justice Institute, and WACDL Public Education Committee. Mr. Duarte has taught trial practice in Botswana, Kenya, and Mexico. In addition, Mr. Duarte is on the faculty of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) and the Trial Lawyers College, which was founded by Gerry Spence in 1994. Mr. Duarte teaches trial advocacy at the University of Washington School of Law and is a frequent lecturer at legal education programs on criminal law topics and has appeared on Northwest Cable News and radio programs as a legal analyst. Mr. Duarte is a trial lawyer dedicated to helping the injured and individuals accused of DUI and other crimes.

William Kirk

Bill Kirk has been with Cowan Kirk Kattenhorn since 2000 practicing exclusively in the area of DUI and BUI Defense. Named a Super Lawyer by Washington Law and Politics every year since 2003 Bill currently serves as the President of the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice. He has been recognized as one of Washington's Top 25 Defense Attorneys on two separate occasions. He currently serves on the Board of Regents to the National College for DUI Defense and is Board Certified by the National College. A regular speaker at this seminar, Bill has lectured now in over a dozen states in the area of DUI Defense.


George Bianchi

Founded in 1960, The Bianchi Law Firm began emphasizing DUI defense. George joined in 1985 and has become recognized as an innovator in the defense of DUI and other alcohol/drug-related crimes. George has lectured at numerous CLE programs throughout the United States concerning DUI defense and has been lead counsel in a number of cases resolving significant criminal law issues. George was elected to the position of Regent with The National College for DUI Defense in July of 2000, elected Dean in 2010, and currently is a Fellow to this organization. He has been named to the "Super Lawyers" list annually since 2000, annually named one of the Top 25 in Criminal Defense since 2006, and annually named one of Seattle's Top Criminal Defense Lawyers since 2010. In 1999, the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice presented him with an Award for Creative Advocacy. In 2003, he was presented with the Dean's Service Award "In Recognition of His Tireless Dedication, Generosity, and Efforts on behalf of the National College for DUI Defense." In 2012, George was presented with a Certificate of Appreciation from the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers "In Recognition of and Appreciation for Distinguished Service to the Organization and Its Goals," and in 2013, this same organization presented him with the President's Award "For Your Distinguished Service to the Highest Traditions of the Criminal Defense Bar." In December of 2013, the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice presented George with an award for his "Tireless Leadership, Courage, Integrity, and Command of the Law."

Brit Mercer

Brit Mercer has devoted her career to defending individuals accused of crimes and has represented hundreds of people in municipal, district, superior and federal courts. She has significant experience defending DUIs and other criminal traffic violations, domestic violence, serious crimes and misdemeanor charges. Brit joined SGB's Criminal Defense practice after nearly a decade in private practice. Her hard work and integrity have earned her the respect of her peers, adversaries and clients. She graduated from the University of Washington School of Law. At SGB she focuses her practice on DUI Defense, related vehicular charges such as Physical Control, Felony DUI, Vehicular Homicide and Assault, domestic violence, and other serious misdemeanor and felony offenses.

Jonathon Rands

Located in Bellingham, Jonathan is among the first Washington State defense attorneys to handle Draeger cases in DOL and court settings. For years prior to its deployment, Jonathan has been researching and preparing for the Draeger's arrival. Jonathan educates himself to the highest level possible to help achieve the best results possible for his clients. Jonathan is NHTSA qualified to administer roadside sobriety tests, and is also ARIDE qualified. He is a graduate of AXION Training Institute/Analytical Laboratories in partnership with the American Chemical Society where he completed three separate 40 hour hands on training for Headspace Gas Chromatography, Solid Drug Analyses, and recently DUI-Drugs. Jonathan limits his practice to DUI, serious criminal traffic offenses, and other alcohol related crimes.

Andrea Robertson

Andy Robertson has been in criminal defense practice since 1998, starting as a public defender and now in private practice. Andy is also employed as a part-time lecturer on trial advocacy at the University of Washington School of Law. She has been designated a Washington "Super Lawyer" annually since 2014, after 9 years on the "Rising Stars" list. Andy is a 2004 graduate of the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College and an elected member of the Washington Foundation for Criminal Justice. She has been a featured speaker and author for statewide seminars and publications, including the WFCJ, the Washington Defender Association, and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. Andy has been an ensemble improv performer since 2003 with Seattle's longest-running live show, TheatreSports, with Unexpected Productions. She presents regularly to fellow attorneys and law students about utilizing improvisational theater techniques in trial practice. She's also a mom of two boys, ages 10 and 6.

Photo of program chair William Kirk and speakers Andrea Robertson and Briteney Mercer.


General Registration - $165.00

Seattle University School of Law Alumni - $140.00