DUI Enforcers!


  • Tuesday, April 21, 2015 10:17 AM | Anonymous

    In a 6-3 decision, the US Supreme Court held that reasonable suspicion is needed before an officer may involuntarily hold a driver pending a dog sniff of the vehicle.   In this case, the driver was stopped for briefly driving on the shoulder of the road.  The officer completed the infraction and asked the driver if he could walk his dog around the perimeter of the car.  The driver refused, but the officer decided to proceed anyway.  The officer called for backup and held the driver for an additional 7-8 minutes awaiting backup.  Once the backup officer arrived, the officer conducted the dog-sniff.  The dog alerted and meth was found.     

    The Court held that absent reasonable suspicion, the officer could not expand the scope of the investigation and could not lawfully detain the driver beyond that necessary for the lawful basis of the stop.     The dissent argued the court should not have reached the legal issue because the officer actually had reasonable suspicion in the case, and the decision is inconsistent with prior decisions.  The dissent may ultimately prevail on this point, it was remanded for the 8th Circuit to address that issue.

    Unresolved in this case is the extent to which officers are permitted to investigate beyond the infraction at hand when the detention doesn't involve a dog-sniff.  Many officers, as in this case, pose questions intended to uncover criminal behavior.  If these questions are peppered throughout the detention and extend the length of the stop, is it a 4th amendment violation or is it "reasonable" in light of the overall circumstances?  Justice Alito, in a footnote to his dissent writes, "it remains true that [during the stop] police may ask questions aimed at uncovering other criminal conduct.  But it is not clear the majority would agree; saying only that an officer "may conduct certain unrelated checks" during a stop, without discussing what that implies.  

    The full case is here:  

    Rodriquez v. United States
  • Thursday, November 06, 2014 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    Beginning November 20, 2014, WSP begins deploying the long awaited Draeger breath test instrument.   Beginning in District 7, Whatcom County to Snohomish County, each jurisdiction will eventually replace the existing DataMaster breath test instrument with a new Draeger.   Likewise in District 3, from Yakima to Walla-Walla, the Datamaster will be replaced with the new instrument.   Operator training for Troopers begins immediately, with allied Officer training beginning shortly. 

    For more information:WSP Press Release 

    Seattle Times Article:November 4, 2014 Story 

  • Tuesday, July 22, 2014 1:45 PM | Anonymous

    Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals concluded that a warrant to seize blood evidence in a felony is ineffective to allow testing when the warrant itself only specifies seizure.  Before a lawfully procured blood sample may be tested, a warrant authorizing the testing must also be issued. State v. Martines, __Wn. App.__(2014).

    The text of the full case is here: State v. Martines

    Blood warrants are currently being revised to address the decision. 

  • Monday, June 09, 2014 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    Division One of the Court of Appeals rejected challenges by Megan Mollet for her role in the murder of Trooper Tony Radulescu.   Mollet was in the truck with the murderer when he shot the Trooper and the truck used in the crime was concealed near her residence.  When interviewed by police soon after the shooting, she denied knowing the murderer or any knowledge of the crime.      

    The full case can be seen here: State v. Mollet 2014.pdf 

  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014 10:08 AM | Anonymous

    Division 1 of the Washington Court of Appeals concluded that once an officer forms a reasonable suspicion that a driver is under the influence, a DUI suspect has no 4th Amendment right to refuse tests that reveal whether the person is under the influence.  Because the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) are valided for precisely that purpose and are not overly intrusive or time consuming, the court concluded the request was reasonable and the refusal to peform those tests was indicative of consciousness of guilt and admissible for that purpose.   While Washington courts had previously held that the refusal to perform SFSTs was admissible, that challenge was under the federal 5th Amendment. 

    The full case is available here: State v. Mecham (April 21, 2014) 


  • Monday, April 07, 2014 8:13 AM | Anonymous

    A 19 year-old Wyoming exchange student tried pot brownies during his Spring break and died after jumping off a balcony.  Despite testing for other substances, only marijuana was found in the student's blood.  The medical examiner lists marijuana intoxication as a significant contributing factor in the death--the first time they have done so. 

    Denver Article

    NBC News

  • Tuesday, April 01, 2014 8:50 AM | Anonymous

    No joke. Division One of the Court of Appeals concluded today that the Governor's line-item veto of provisions in the 2011 bill ESSSB 5073 changed the Medical Use of Cannabis Act from its original intent to legalize some marijuana uses.  Under the original bill, persons registered in a state registry could legally grow and use marijuana under certain circumstances.  Because the registry was vetoed, it is impossible for anyone to comply with the provision.  As approved by the governor, the law creates an affirmative defense in criminal prosecutions for those who are not registered.  

    Importantly, the court held that the law authorized by the legislature and the governor provide jurisdicitons the authority to regulate marijuana under RCW 69.51A.140.  The power to regulate includes the power to exclude.  Accordingly, the City of Kent's zoning ban on collective gardens is lawful. 

    The full case is available here: Cannabit Action Coalition v. City of Kent 

  • Monday, March 24, 2014 10:30 AM | Anonymous

    Less than a tablespoon of liquid Nicotine can kill an adult.  Nicotine is a powerful stimulant and it need not be consumed--it just needs to come into contact with your skin.  In a case out of Kentucky, a woman was rushed to the hospital with heart failure when her e-cigarrete broke in her bed and she absorbed the concentrate by contact.  But adult incidents are far less common than children.  60% of these cases involve very small childrent lured by the bright colors and interesting fruity flavors now popular for Nicotine.  When use by a child-vomiting is immediate but death can follow quickly.   Liquid nicotine is now offered on the internet by the barrel, at $195/gallon for 10% Nicotine solution.  

    For the full story by Matt Richtel:   Matt's NY Times Story  

  • Friday, February 28, 2014 11:34 AM | Anonymous

    A study that reviews the deaths of two young men who died unexpectedly while under the influence of marijuana concludes they died as a result of their marijuana use.  While marijuana use is not associated with overdose deaths (because marijuana receptors are not found where life support functions exist), these deaths occured from cardiac failure.  In one case, an underlying heart problem contributed and marijuana can cause arrhythmia.   

    The study calls into question a long-held claim of marijuana proponents--that no one has ever died from marijuana.   The study suggests that marijuana, like all drugs, should only be used after a thorough examination by a medical doctor to determine if it is safe for the user. 

    As an aside, the study also demonstrates that levels of blood THC are signifcantly lower than THC levels in the brain.  In both cases, the subjects had approximately 300% more Delta 9 THC in brain tissue than in the blood.  The subjects also had psychoactive 11-OH-THC at much higher levels in the brain than in their blood--around 350% more.  

    The full study can be seen here:  Hartung_ForensicSciIntl_2014.pdf 

  • Thursday, January 16, 2014 1:29 PM | Anonymous

    In answer to a formal inquiry from the Washington State Liquor Control Board, the Washington Attorney General's Office today issued an Opinion concluding that Initiative 502 does not express an intent to preempt individual jurisdictions from exercising their own authority to further control marijuana.  

    The Opinion opens the door for any jurisdiction to ban or strictly limit sales, manufacturing, distribution of marijuana. 

    The full Opinion is here. 

    The Opinion comes on the heels of the Yakima Nation's announcement that they intend to forbid use of all 12 million acres of Yakima ceded land from any involvement in the new marijuana trade.  The Yakima Nation has filed more than 300 objections to such licensing on their lands and expects to file hundreds more.  The story is covered in this Olympian article Here 

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