A new unpublished opinion by the Washington State Court of Appeals Division I came down yesterday. It is an unpublished opinion so it is not controlling authority. But it is an interesting decision, and one that goes against DUI Attorneys.
Essentially the question was whether a Judge had the authority to exercise their discretion and impose an ignition interlock requirement on a DUI sentence when there is no evidence to suggest it involved alcohol? The Court of Appeals held, "the court has the discretion to impose the installation of an ignition interlock device even though there is no evidence that a DUI conviction was alcohol related."
In other words if an individual gets arrested and convicted of a DUI that is not alcohol. So it is a Drug DUI, or Marijuana DUI then the Judge can impose an ignition interlock device even though there is no nexus between what the device will prevent and the crime charged. Meaning an ignition interlock device cannot detect drugs, only alcohol. So if a person wasn't convicted of an alcohol DUI why should a condition that is alcohol related be imposed.
The Court of Appeals reasoned that sentencing Courts have "great discretion in imposing sentences within the statutory limits for misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors." Additionally they state, "A court may impose probationary conditions that bear a reasonable relation ... that tend to prevent the future commission of crimes."
Let me just say that I don't agree with this ruling. However I think the appellant made the wrong argument, and based on how they argued the Court of Appeals is right. Yes, essentially a Judge has the discretion to impose whatever sentence the Judge wants and is related to the commission of the crime. So if you consider a DUI case, what can prevent someone from committing this crime in the future. Well there are two things I guess. You can suspend their drivers license, or you can require them to have an ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
But my question is how in the heck is an ignition interlock device going to prevent someone from committing a DUI if they use drugs, or marijuana. It doesn't make sense to me and I think there are other reasonable alternatives that have more of a nexus to drug or marijuana DUI cases. I think with the recent passage of Marijuana legalization there is going to be more clarity with this particular issue. Whether the imposition of drug treatment, random UAs, or some other form of substance detection is going to happen, we will just have to wait and see.
If you want to check out the unpublished opinion here is the docket info 67664-4, filed 03/11/13. It can be viewed on the Court of Appeals website.
Matthew A. Leyba is a Seattle DUI Lawyer. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other related offenses. He is currently rated as a Top DUI Attorney by Avvo, and was named a 2013 Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine, and Seattle Met Magazine in the area of DUI defense. Less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive this honor.