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  • Wednesday, June 08, 2022 12:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On March 23, 2017, the Governor of Utah signed into law House Bill 155, modifying Utah Code §41-6a-502 to prohibit people 21 and over from operating a noncommercial vehicle with a BAC of .05 g/dL or greater, rather than .08 g/dL. The law established this as a per se offense and carried an effective date of December 30, 2018. With the passing of this legislation, Utah became the first State to adopt an impaired driving per se BAC limit lower than .08. 

    NHTSA has studied the impacts of the new law and found that overall the findings indicate that passage of the .05 per se law had demonstrably positive impacts on highway safety in Utah. The crash analyses highlighted reliable reductions in crash rates and alcohol involvement in crashes associated with the new law that were consistent with, or greater than, those observed or predicted by prior research. While the concerns about the impact of the law change on the State’s economy were certainly understandable, the data reviewed for this study indicate none of the potential negative effects of concern came to fruition. In fact, alcohol sales and per capita consumption appeared to continue their increasing trends under the new law as did tourism and tax revenues. Similarly, DUI arrests for alcohol did not climb sharply after the law went into effect as some had feared.

    The change in the law had a demonstrable impact on how people view drinking and driving.  The "norms" around drinking and driving are changing. We need that change in Washington.  Too many people think it is perfectly fine to have a few drinks and drive; or that no real consequence will occur if they get a DUI; or that law enforcement officers are too overburdened to pull me over.  A change in the mentality around DUI needs to change. We all wear our seatbelts--why, because it's the law, but also because it is safe.  Safe driving should be the norm.  DUI driving should NOT be the norm. Click for more information on the NHTSA study.  

    Washington road deaths reached a 20-year high in 2021, with 663 fatalities. Preliminary data for 2022 indicate the trend in fatalities continues to increase, with more traffic deaths in the first quarter compared with the same timeframe last year. To reverse the trend, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) issued a call to action for residents to work together to reinforce safe behavior for all road users. To get the message out, the WTSC is launching one of its largest public education campaigns in its history this summer.  For more information, please read here. 

     

  • Wednesday, June 08, 2022 12:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In State v. Fraser, ___ Wn.2d ___ 2022 WL ___ (May 12, 2022), the Washington Supreme Court unanimously rejected constitutional attacks on the per se THC statutory DUI prong. The Court’s introductory section, summarizes the ruling as follows: In 2012, Washington voters approved Initiative 502, which legalized cannabis1 for recreational use, as well as created a regulatory system for cannabis. In doing so, the initiative modified the driving under the influence (DUI) law and created a prong under which a person can be convicted of DUI depending on the level of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) found in one’s blood. Under RCW 46.61.502(1)(b) a person is per se guilty of DUI when one drives a vehicle and “[t]he person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher [nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)] as shown by analysis of the person’s blood” (hereinafter the “per se THC prong”). Douglas Fraser III was convicted of DUI under the per se THC prong for driving with a THC blood level of 9.4 +/- 2.5 ng/mL within two hours of driving.

    On appeal, Fraser challenged the constitutionality of this prong of the DUI statute, claiming that the statute is not a legitimate exercise of the legislature’s police power, that it is unconstitutionally vague, and that it is “facially unconstitutionally overbroad because no scientific evidence supports the conclusion that there is a perse concentration of active THC at which all or most drivers would be impaired.” The Court held that this statute is constitutional and that it is a legitimate exercise of police powers as the limit is rationally and substantially related to highway safety. The research shows that the minimum 5.00 ng/mL limit appears to be related to recent cannabis consumption for most people (including chronic users), which is linked to impaired driving and highway safety, although there is no similar scientific correlation to impairment akin to the minimum 0.08 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for alcohol.

    Further, there is a reasonable assumption that having the limit will deter people who have recently consumed cannabis from driving, thus reasonably and substantially furthering a legitimate state interest. We hold that this statute is not vague because this specific 5.00 ng/mL limit does not lead to arbitrary enforcement, but rather it avoids arbitrary, erratic, and discriminatory enforcement.

    Finally, the Court held that this statute is not facially unconstitutional because there exists a circumstance under which the limit can be constitutionally applied even under Fraser’s allegations of arbitrariness. Fraser’s own expert testified that some people are impaired at a THC blood level of 5.00 ng/mL. Therefore, when someone who is impaired at 5.00 ng/mL consumes cannabis and drives, this limit would not be unconstitutionally arbitrary in that circumstance. Accordingly, Fraser’s conviction was affirmed.

    In footnote 1, of the Fraser Opinion, the Court also declared as follows: that the word “marijuana” is now a disfavored word, and that the favored word is “cannabis:” The court stated, "We recognize that using the term “marijuana” instead of “cannabis” is rooted in racism. See, e.g., Michael Vitiello, Marijuana Legalization, Racial Disparity, and the Hope for Reform, 23 LEWIS & CLARK L. REV. 789, 797-98 (2019) (“Advocates of criminalizing marijuana often made overtly racist appeals.”). The transition from using the scientific “cannabis” to “marijuana” or “marihuana” in the early 20th century stems from anti-Mexican, and other racist and anti-immigrant, sentiments and efforts to demonize cannabis. Id. at 797-99. Our legislature has recently acknowledged this discriminatory origin and has enacted a law to replace “marijuana” with “cannabis” throughout the Revised Code of Washington with various effective dates depending on the statute. See LAWS OF 2022, ch. 16, § 1. Accordingly, unless quoting language or referring to the text of a statute, we use “cannabis.”

    Result: Affirmance of Snohomish County Superior Court conviction of Douglas Fraser III for DUI under the statutory per se THC prong for driving with a THC blood level of 9.4 +/- 2.5 ng/mL within two hours of driving. Full opinion here.

    Reality--Anyone who drives impaired by alcohol, or any drug, is guilty of driving under the influence.  We have legal limits in Washington for "per se" prosecution purposes. Meaning if your BAC or blood results show that within 2 hours of driving you have a BAC concentration of .08 or above or THC concentration of 5.00 or higher [nanograms per milliliter (ng/mL)] as shown by analysis of the person’s blood, and the prosecution can prove you were driving, within that time period, with the per se levels, you are guilty.  But per se levels should not be confused with the level of impairment nor should anyone think you are ONLY impaired if you reach the legal limit.  A person can be impaired well under the per se levels and be prosecuted. 

    Bottom line--DUI is an entirely preventable crime. You have to drink and then make a choice to drive. Understand that you can and will be prosecuted whether you are below or above the legal limit if the evidence supports that you were "impaired".  Do not read this case for the proposition that impairment starts at an .08 or a THC concentration of 5.00ng/mL.  Impairment is the key. 

    --Melanie Dane


  • Wednesday, April 06, 2022 11:11 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Members! The second quarter newsletter is posted on the members webpage under Newsletters.  Read up on Free CLE's, Traffic fatality and serious injury accident data nationally and in WA, legislative updates, open view and plain view cases law, and Utah's .05 BAC law and whether it is headed to our State.  Enjoy!  

  • Wednesday, March 09, 2022 1:54 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A Message on the Passing of Former Chief Justice and WSBA President Mary Fairhurst

    read the full article here:  by WSBA

    Join us in remembering Mary Fairhurst during a Celebration of Life at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 9, 2022, at Saint Martin's University's Marcus Pavilion, Pacific Ave. SE, in Lacey, WA

    We are saddened by the passing of retired Chief Justice Mary Fairhurst after a long battle with cancer. Justice Fairhurst was a legal luminary and ferocious advocate for justice. She was also an unwavering beacon of love and compassion and a friend to all who came into her life. Both aspects of Justice Fairhurst’s legacy have impacted the Washington State Bar Association, making it a better, stronger organization, as well as leaving indelible marks on many of our hearts. Her resolute belief in miracles, her contagious smile, and her effervescent aptitude to live life to the fullest will be sorely missed-they are also all reminders for us to live life in the same manner.   



  • Monday, January 10, 2022 3:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In February, 2021, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC) announced its Together We Get There brand, marking the start of the agency’s new systematic approach to improving safety on our state’s roadways. Read more about the campaign here.  With this launch, WTSC joins a collective of forward-thinking organizations throughout the country that are using Proactive Traffic Safety Culture to usher in a new era of traffic safety communications and outreach.

    Proactive Traffic Safety Culture is an approach that engages the majority of people who use the state’s roads safely in order to influence the smaller group engaging in risky behaviors. Essentially, by recognizing and reinforcing the positive safety norms that already exist in Washington, like wearing a seat belt or intervening to stop a friend from driving impaired, WTSC is creating a community that supports these safe behaviors and helps others adopt them.


    READ MORE ABOUT IT HERE IN THE AP-NEWS


  • Monday, January 10, 2022 2:51 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    For members looking for the LEGAL UPDATE FOR WASHINGTON LAW ENFORCEMENT, aka. "The LED", the latest publications is available on our TSRP website under our Members Tab.  

    This monthly publication is sent out by WAPA and often duplicated by our TSRP website.  To provide you access 24/7, and so you don't have to search through your emails to find the publication you are looking for, they will be kept on our website for your convenience.    

    Enjoy and thank you Law Enforcement Officers, for your service, protection and sacrifice.  

    -Melanie Dane, WA TSRP

  • Monday, January 10, 2022 2:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On the heels of the final Seahawk's game of the season, arguably the best game of the year for the Seahawks, Geno Smith, the Seahawks’ backup quarterback the past three years, was arrested Monday on suspicion of driving under the influence and then released, according to King County District Court records.  

    Smith was arrested at 2:10 a.m. and released at 9:27 a.m., documents show.

    No other details were immediately available. Click here for the Seattle Time Story.  


  • Tuesday, September 07, 2021 2:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    For members looking for the LEGAL UPDATE FOR WASHINGTON LAW ENFORCEMENT, aka. "The LED", the latest publications will be available on our TSRP website under our Members Tab.  

    This monthly publication is sent out by WAPA and often duplicated by our TSRP website.  To provide you access 24/7, and so you don't have to search through your emails to find the publication you are looking for, they will be kept on our website for your convenience.    

    Enjoy and thank you Law Enforcement Officers, for your service, protection and sacrifice.  

    -Melanie Dane, WA TSRP

  • Monday, August 02, 2021 4:21 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Drunk driving statistics 2021

    In the latest drunk driving statistics from the NHTSA, age, gender and location are significant factors. Those most at risk for drunk driving are young people, motorcyclists and drivers with prior DWI convictions.

    https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving

    https://www.nhtsa.gov/risky-driving/drunk-driving#alcohol-abuse-and-cost-5091

    COVID and drunk driving

    In addition to the distractions drivers already face on the road, compounded by the stress of COVID-19 and the resulting pandemic, other increasing driver trends are concerning - particularly in conjunction with drunk driving and driving fatalities.

    However, COVID-19 also left its mark on these statistics, conversely affecting drunk driving trends.

    By September 2020, drunk driving fatalities increased almost five percent from the same period in 2019, although total miles traveled decreased about 14.5 percent. The fatality rate also increased from 1.10 to 1.35 in just a year. 

    https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/impaired_driving/impaired-drv_factsheet.html


    What safety steps can individuals take?
    Make plans so that you don’t have to drive while impaired by alcohol and/or drugs. For example:

    • Before drinking, designate a non-drinking driver when with a group

    • Don’t let your friends drive while impaired.

    • If you have been drinking alcohol and/or using drugs, get a ride home, use a ride share service, or call a taxi.

    • If you’re hosting a party where alcohol will be served, remind your guests to plan ahead and designate a sober driver. Offer alcohol-free beverages, and make sure all guests leave with a sober driver.

    • Always wear your seat belt — it’s your best defense against impaired drivers.

    • If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact local law enforcement. Your actions could help save someone’s life.

  • Thursday, July 22, 2021 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Read the full opinion here.   State v. Vanderburgh, COA No. 35868-2-III

    Because “drunk driving is neither innocent nor passive,”State v. Blake, 197 Wn.2d 170 (2021), does not overrule or invalidate alter pre-existing case law which holds that vehicular homicide predicated upon the defendant operating the vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs is a strict liability crime. The trial court did not err in excluding evidence that the jaywalking decedent pedestrian was potentially impaired by drugs at the time of the incident as neither the decedent’s noncompliance with state law regarding cross-walks nor drug use was a “but-cause” factor in her death. Read the full opinion here.   State v. Vanderburgh, COA No. 35868-2-III

    The “driving under the influence of an intoxicant” for DUI or vehicular homicide is a strict liability crime, although the State must still prove that the conduct of the defendant was the proximate cause of the death. Frahm, 193 Wn.2d at 596. The defendant’s driving could have been “‘flawless.’”  Regardless, the law imposes absolute liability based on intoxication. State v. Burch, 197 Wn. App. 382, 407 (2016).

    “Moreover, the conduct in vehicular homicide by intoxication requires the choice to consume alcohol and drive, an unquestionably dangerous combination.” State v. Bash, 130 Wn.2d 594 (1996).

     

    Congratulation to Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office on this decision. 


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