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DUI Case Updates 2017

DUI Washington State Case Law Updates (2017)

Cases challenging how Washington State DUI laws are interpreted and applied are ongoing.  That means that the law is always evolving and being interpreted by our courts.  With that in mind, some of the most recent court decisions affecting DUI cases are listed below.

In State v. Sosa (2017) the Court of Appeals held that an officer is not required to inform a person of the right to seek additional tests prior to a blood test.

In State v. Sosa, the Court of Appeals held under the statutory scheme (following 2013 amendments), an officer is not required to inform a person of the right to seek additional tests prior to a blood test. The Court in Sosa upheld the statutory scheme against both due process and equal protection challenges and held there is not any independent constitutional right to such advice. The fact that a defendant has a constitutional right to investigate his or her case and develop evidence does not provide an independent basis requiring an advisement about independent testing. This is particularly true in the context of a blood draw. Unlike breath samples, blood samples are stable and can be tested and retested at different points in time. See WAC 448-14-020.The failure of law enforcement to provide a defendant on-the scene advice about the possibility of an independent laboratory test does not strip a defendant of the ability to perform such testing at a later date. There are no due process problems with eliminating this requirement. State v. Sosa, 198 Wn. App. 176, 183, 393 P.3d 796, review denied, 188 Wn.2d 1022 (2017). See also Kandler v. City of Kent, 199 Wn. App. 22, 397 P.3d 91 (2017).

In State v. Olsen (2017) the Washington State Supreme Court Helds Random UAs to Monitor Abstinence for DUI Probationer Does not Violate Privacy Interests Where Order is Narrowly Tailored

In State v. Olsen, the Court held requiring a probationer convicted of DUI to submit to random urinalysis testing for alcohol, marijuana, and/or nonprescribed drugs did not violate the probationer's privacy interests under article 1, section 7 of the State Constitution because, under the facts of the case, they were conducted with authority of law. In Olsen, the Court held the State has a compelling interest in supervising a probationer to assess his or her progress toward rehabilitation and compliance with probation conditions. The Court found the random UA testing was narrowly tailored to monitor such compliance.  State v. Olsen, __ Wn.2d ___, 399 P.3d 1141 (2017)

In State v. Baird (2016) the Washington State Supreme Court held a Driver has no Constitutional Right to Refuse a Breath Test

In State v. Baird, the Court held the implied consent statute does not authorize a warrantless search, and a driver has no constitutional right to refuse a breath test because such search falls under the search incident to arrest exception to the warrant requirement. The Court further noted that although the implied consent statute gives a driver a statutory right to refuse the test, by exercising the privilege to drive, a driver consents to admitting the refusal to take the breath test into evidence. State v. Baird, 187 Wn.2d 210 (2016). The Washington Court's ruling follows the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Birchfield v. North Dakota, U.S., 136 S.Ct 2160 (2016). The Birchfield decision holds that under the Fourth Amendment, administering a breath test is a search incident to arrest, which is an established exception to the warrant requirement. The Court describes the application of the search incident to arrest exception as a “categorical rule”, that does not require a case by case analysis.

In State v. Murray (2016) the Washington State Supreme Court held an Officer is not Required to Read an Irrelevant Statutory Implied Consent Warning to a Driver

An implied consent warning substantially complies with the statute when it does not omit any relevant portion of the statute; accurately expresses the relevant portion of the statute and; is not otherwise misleading. State v. Murray, 187 Wn.2d 115, 384 P.3d 1150 (2016).  An officer is not required to read an irrelevant statutory warning to a driver. For example, statutory warnings are not misleading or inaccurate that omit warnings related to underage drinking and commercial drivers' licenses when advising those over 21 or driving on a noncommercial license. To meet the substantial compliance requirement of RCW 46.20.308, the officer must advise with respect to the substance essential to every reasonable objective of the statute. (1) to discourage individuals from driving an automobile while under the influence of intoxicants, (2) to remove the driving privilege from those individuals disposed to driving while inebriated, and (3) to provide an efficient means of gathering reliable evidence of intoxication or nonintoxication.

In State v. Kocher (2017), the Division One Court of Appeals Addressed Reasonable Suspicion for Traffic Stop based on Observing Vehicle Travel Crossing the Fog Line

RCW 46.61.670 pertains to driving with one or all of the wheels off the roadway (or fog line). It states in relevant part: It shall be unlawful to operate or drive any vehicle…over or along any pavement…on a public highway with one wheel or all of the wheels off the roadway thereof, except…for the purpose of stopping off such roadway, or having stopped thereat, for proceeding back onto the pavement. In State v. Kocher, the officer observed the driver from behind on Interstate 5 in the far-right southbound lane. As traffic to the driver's front and left came to a stop, the driver drove two wheels of her vehicle over the fog line for approximately 200 feet. Based on these observations, the officer stopped the vehicle and after observing clues of intoxication, the defendant was arrested for DUI. The defendant argued the officer did not have reasonable suspicion a traffic infraction was committed, specifically there was not reasonable suspicion of a violation of RCW 46.61.140 (driving within a single lane of traffic). The appellate Court held the facts in this case gave rise to a reasonable, articulable suspicion of a violation of RCW 46.61.670 (wheels off the roadway). The Court followed its reasoning in State v. Huffman, 185 Wn. App. 98, 340 P.3d 903 (2014) (Div. I) and looked at the plain language of the statute. The Court declined to construe or read into the “wheels off the roadway” statute the qualifying language “as nearly as practicable” found in RCW 46.61.140(1) (the “lane travel “ law).  State v. Kocher, 199 Wn. App. 336 (2017).

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.