Though he's likely to be charged with vehicular assault and driving under the influence for his wrong-way I-5 crash that put two women in the hospital, King County Assessor Scott Noble--who registered a staggering .22 blood alcohol content--didn't hire an attorney who specializes in those types of cases.
Instead, he hired John Wolfe, a highly regarded defense attorney who appears to specialize in white collar and high-profile cases. Wolfe has represented, among others, strip club magnate Frank Colacurcio, Jr., former Port of Seattle CEO Mic Dinsmore, former Alaska senator Ted Stevens' son, Ben Stevens, and Richard Curtis, the former anti-gay rights state rep who resigned his seat over his own gay tryst.What Wolfe will be able to do in terms of legal defense remains unclear. The state patrol says that Noble's BAC was established via a blood test, which is more reliable than a breath test. One of the first things attorneys look to do in DUI cases is to challenge the reliability and accuracy of the test results, notes Dan Fiorito, a local lawyer who specializes in DUI defense, sometimes by targeting the state toxicology lab for its previous problems following protocol for breathalyzer tests. Attorneys will often also challenge whether the officers had probable cause to arrest.
But there's no indication that Noble didn't consent to the test, and police were legally entitled to take it anyway if there was probable cause to believe Wolfe had committed the crimes of vehicular assault or driving under the influence. His witnessed I-5 U-turn and his alleged confession that he'd had too much red wine--detailed in the police report--probably fit the probable cause bill. And toxicology lab challenges have focused primarily on previous years' breath tests, not current blood tests. Barring major missteps by the state patrol, the case looks ripe for a plea bargain--and a personal injury lawsuit or two afterward.