Friday, January 27, 2012

Washington State Supreme Court affirms right to independent blood test

The Washington State Supreme Court has thrown out a man's DUI conviction because it was never proven that he was advised of his right to have an independent blood test at this own expense in Spanish.

The Implied Consent Warning is a something that is read to DUI suspects prior to law enforcement asking them to submit to a breath or blood test.  The warning outlines what happens to a persons license if they take the test and its over the legal limit or if they decline the test.  It also also informs them if their license gets suspended they may be eligible for an ignition interlock license, and they have the right to have additional tests administered by any qualified person of your own choosing.  In other words the DUI suspect as a right to have an independent test done at their own expense.  Such a test may be introduced at trial.

In the Washington State Supreme case, the defendant was convicted of a DUI and hit/run.  During the arrest the Trooper had an interpreter read the implied consent warning to the defendant.  However at trial the interpreter was never called to testify and therefore it couldn't be shown whether the defendant was advised of the right to an independent blood test..

To read about the case click here

Thursday, January 12, 2012

New push to reinstate DUI sobriety checkpoints in Washington State

Recently legislation has been brought forth in Washington state to reinstate DUI sobriety checkpoints.  Currently there are 11 states in the country that do not employ DUI checkpoints, and Washington state happens to be one of them.

This practice ended in the 80's when the Washington State Supreme Court found it unconstitutional.  Now some state lawmakers, including some political action committees want to bring it back citing the increased level of DUI fatalities in Washington state.  According to data they cite Washington State is 6% higher in DUI fatalities than the national average.

Im all for making the roads safer for the residents of the State.  But at what cost should we be doing this.  Washington states constitution provides for greater privacy protections than the US Constitution.  To conduct these roadblocks, pull over, interrogate, and invade a persons privacy rights through unconstitutional searches and seizures is a problem in my mind.  Currently Washington state allows for DUI emphasis patrols.  Im fairly certain that the areas where these patrols are being conducted are areas that have had greater DUI fatalities or DUI related accidents than other areas.  Although I believe these patrols can create potential problems with pretextual stops, this has been found to be constitutional.

The other issue that DUI sobriety roadblocks can cause is the financial burden it will impose on tax payers.  Think about it, to shut down entire roads or areas, man these areas with numerous officers and/or state troopers, the planning and implementing all comes at a cost.  And guess who will foot that bill.  We the tax payers will.  In addition I would be curious as to what percentage these DUI sobriety checkpoints actually result in a DUI arrest.  I have seen some statistics from other states that its less than 1%.  Now to me that doesnt seem like enough of a return to conduct unconstitutional searches and seizures.  But hey I guess thats just the sensible Defense Attorney in me who happens to be concerned with our State budget and increased taxes.

Keep an eye out for this.  HB 1912 in the Washington state legislature.  Should be interesting.