DUI Enforcers!


  • Tuesday, December 22, 2015 12:44 PM | Anonymous member


    The US Supreme Court granted review on the topic of breath and blood refusals in Bernard v. Minnesota, 14-1470, and Birchfield v. North Dakota, 14-1468.  Minnesota and North Dakota are among the thirteen states criminalizing refusal of a test for alcohol content when probable cause for DUI exists.  The challenge in these cases attempts to extend the reasoning in the Minnesota v. McNeely decision from April 2013.  In the McNeely decision,  the court erased decades of case law by concluding the normal dissipation of alcohol is, alone, not an exigent circumstance justifying the warrantless seizure of blood evidence.   Because McNeely did not consider either the implied consent laws or breath testing--many state laws remain largely unchanged.     

    The petitioner Bernard was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and later charged with first-degree test refusal.  That crime carries a mandatory minimum three year jail term. Bernard argues imposing criminal penalties for refusing to submit to a warrantless breath test violates the Fourth Amendment. The Minnesota Supreme Court disagreed, reasoning that a warrantless breath test is reasonable as a search incident to arrest.

    The petitioner in Birchfield failed a field sobriety test administered after he drove his car off the road, and later refused to submit to a blood-alcohol test. The North Dakota Supreme Court affirmed Birchfield’s conviction on two grounds. First, that attaching criminal penalties to a test refusal in this context is reasonable; and second, that the privilege to drive may be conditioned on the driver’s consent to the test under implied consent.

    A Minnesota article discussing the appeal is here: Minnesota Lawyer Dec 17 2015.pdf

  • Wednesday, November 04, 2015 7:49 AM | Anonymous member


    Report Examines Marijuana Positive Drivers Involved in Deadly Crashed

    Olympia, WA – Since Washington legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana, many have asked the Washington Traffic Safety Commission how this change may impact traffic safety. The Commission took the first step toward understanding the issue by releasing a new report today providing a detailed examination of marijuana positive drivers involved in deadly crashes.

    This is the first time in Washington that crash data on marijuana positive drivers has distinguished between drivers who test positive for THC, the impairing substance in marijuana, and those who have residual marijuana, called carboxy, in their system from prior use which may have occurred days ago. This study categorizes marijuana positive drivers into mutually exclusive categories based on the total results of their blood tests.

    In Washington, impaired driving is the leading factor in traffic deaths. This includes drivers who are impaired due to alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs—prescription or illegal.


    Most drivers received both alcohol and drug testing. The State Toxicology Laboratory tested blood samples for both alcohol and drugs for 1,773 drivers involved in deadly crashes between 2010 and 2014. Of these 1,773 drivers tested, nearly 60 percent (1,061) were positive for alcohol, marijuana, or drugs.

    Most drivers who were tested had multiple substances in their system. Among drivers with positive test results, the largest percentage showed combinations of alcohol, marijuana, and other drugs. Approximately one-third revealed alcohol only (34 percent), and eight percent tested positive for marijuana only.

    Marijuana is the most frequently found drug. Not including alcohol, marijuana continues to be the most frequently-occurring drug among drivers involved in deadly crashes. By itself or in combinations with alcohol and other drugs, 349 drivers tested positive for marijuana.

    The report further separates these drivers by those positive for THC and those positive for carboxy-THC.

    More drivers tested positive for THC. In 2014, of the 89 drivers who tested positive for marijuana 75 of them (84 percent) were positive for THC. This is much higher than 2010 when 81 drivers were positive for marijuana and 36 (44 percent) of those were positive for THC.

    Half of THC positive drivers are above 5 ng/ml. In 2014, among the 75 drivers involved in deadly crashes who tested positive for THC, about half exceeded the 5 ng/ml per se limit.

    THC is increasing while alcohol is decreasing. The 75 THC-positive drivers in 2014 comprised the highest number of THC-positive drivers in any year during the five-year period studied. The 51 drivers who only had alcohol in their systems (and were over the per se limit) in 2014 were the lowest number of such drivers in the study period.

    Most THC positive drivers are young men. When looking at drivers positive for THC, either THC-only or in addition to alcohol above the per se limit, nearly 40 percent were men ages 16-25.

    Drivers combining marijuana and alcohol showed increased risk. Drivers who combined alcohol and marijuana were frequently unbuckled, unlicensed and speeding.

    THC positive drivers were more likely to be involved in daytime crashes. A majority of deadly crashes involving drivers with THC alone, or in combination with other drugs, except alcohol, occurred during the daytime hours. A majority of deadly crashes involving drivers with alcohol above the per se limit, alone or in combination with marijuana or other drugs, occurred during the nighttime hours.

    The full report, “Driver Toxicology Testing and the Involvement of Marijuana in Fatal Crashes, 2010-2014,” is available at www.wtsc.wa.gov.

    The Washington Traffic Safety Commission embraces Target Zero—striving to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030, but we can’t get there without you. Driver Sober and be part of our Target Zero Team. Remember, drunk, drugs or high, it’s a DUI. For more information, visit www.targetzero.com.

  • Thursday, October 08, 2015 7:35 AM | Anonymous member

    The State Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals requirement that search warrant authorizations by the court for blood must also explicitly authorize testing of the blood.  In reversing the court of appeals, the Supreme Court explains, "A warrant authorizing a blood draw necessarily authorizes blood testing, consistentt with and confined to the finding of probable cause."  The court went on to reject Martines' argument that a finding of alcohol only permits testing for alcohol.   Only when alcohol is expressly NOT found, should the court look for explicit probable cause to test for drugs, since drugs may always be found with alcohol. 

    The full case is available here: State v Martines 2015 Supreme Court.pdf    

  • Thursday, July 30, 2015 2:34 PM | Anonymous member

    Courts around the nations began employing 24/7 programs to cut jail costs and improve compliance with conditions of release.   In 2013, Washington piloted the 24/7 program and in 2015 expanded its use in Ch. 36.28A RCW.   However, a Montana court ruled the 24/7 program was an unconstitutional search and seizure under the 4th Amendment.   The Montana Supreme Court reviewed that decision, concluding that while it is a search--the search is reasonable in light of the reduced privacy expectations of the defendant and the well established concerns with impaired driving.  

    A copy of the full opinion is available here: 

    Montana v. Spady 2015
  • Thursday, May 28, 2015 8:03 AM | Anonymous member

    The Washington State Patrol introduced the new Dreager instrument to prosecutors, judges, and defense attorneys this week in Spokane.   New instruments were delivered to the region this week and will be deployed into field locations in the coming weeks.   For questions related to the Draeger deployment in Spokane, contact Trooper Technician Jon McKee or Sgt. Brandon Villanti.  

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

    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 member

    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 member

    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 member

    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 member

    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) 


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