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Category: Driving Under the Influence

State v. Jones: Bad Stop or Bad Laws?

State vs Jones - Bad Stop - Bad Laws - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

The Police Stop: A Quandary

Most of us do not want a police state where government officials or police can simply stop you and ask you for your “papers” for no reason.  Yet there is also that righteous indignation about those who “get off” “scot-free” because of “technicalities.” Consider this tension in the context of vehicle stops for minor technicalities. On one hand, no one wants to be stopped on their way to work for failing to follow a perfect vector down the road. On the other hand, we do not want our spouses, children, and friends to be put in danger on the roadway.

Years ago Division One of the Court of Appeals issued what became a somewhat controversial opinion in State v. Prado. You can read more about Prado here or review the opinion in full here. In short, the case concerned a driver who drove across an eight-inch white line by two tire widths while exiting the freeway. The driver was stopped for violating RCW 46.61.140(1) which requires vehicles to be driven “as nearly as practicable entirely within a single lane…”

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Jury or Judge: Can You Kill a Corpse?

Brelo - Judge Jury Executioner - Police - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

When I first heard the news that there was a verdict in Cleveland Police Officer Michael Brelo’s shooting case I was pleased. I thought it would give me a great opportunity to demonstrate what I had been talking about in prior posts regarding these types of cases: Let the Jury Decide, Let the Jury Decide, Let the Jury Decide. Except this case was not decided by a Jury. It was decided by a Judge. Ugh.

A judge trial, more properly called a ‘bench trial’, is rare. Very rare. As in, you almost never seriously consider it in criminal cases. In divorces, at least in Washington State, you are stuck with them. I guess that is because there is no Constitutional Right to a jury trial in those cases, no presumption of innocence, no proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Just two angry former lovers fighting over toasters and pet dogs and who gets to (or in some cases, has to) take the kids over holiday weekends. (Sorry Mimi and SDS, but you know it’s true. As I always say I’d rather handle a rape or murder case any day than a divorce. Much less nasty.)

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DUI Field Sobriety Tests – The “Eye Test” and its Limitations

DUI Eye Test - Limitations - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

There are three standardized tests all officers in Washington are trained to administer during DUI Detection.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend drove me to a New Year’s Eve party. He was the designated driver for the night. He drank one beer. The night was long. After the music stopped I hopped into my friend’s car and we began to head home. As we drove down a long county road my friend was pulled over by a deputy sheriff.

I recall the sheriff approaching the car and asking my friend for his license and registration. All documents were produced without issue. The sheriff then asked him how much he had to drink. My friend was honest and replied, “I had one beer a long time ago.” The officer asked him to step out of the car. That is when I saw him checking his eyes. The eye test took a little bit, but eventually the officer let my friend go on his way (unusual these days).

I recall my buddy coming back into the car saying something along the lines of “I didn’t have any problem with that test. It wasn’t hard to follow his finger.”

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Evolution of Search and Seizure Law: Blood Draws for DUI (Part 3)

Bood Draws for DUI - Search and Seizure - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

In Part 2 we discussed the constitutional problem concerning admission one’s refusal to submit to a breath or blood test as substantive evidence of guilt.

Unfortunately, it seems there is a lack of uniformity among trial courts and judges concerning this issue at this time. But Missouri v. McNeely has caused the law to evolve in other ways as well.

In late July 2014 the Court of Appeals of the State of Washington released a new opinion in State of Washington v. Martines. As discussed in Part 2, the court recognized that the extraction of blood is a search. But the court went a step further:

It concluded that the testing of the blood is a second search distinct from the blood draw because the purpose is to examine personal information in the blood.

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Evolution of Search and Seizure Law: Blood Draws in DUI (Part 1)

search and seizure - blood drawsAny warrantless search or seizure is presumed unlawful aside from a few jealously guarded exceptions. Traditional exceptions include but are not limited to (1) consent; (2) incident to arrest; (3) hot pursuit; and (4) exigent circumstances.

Exigent circumstances concern situations where there is an emergency where obtaining a warrant is impossible or impracticable. Exigent circumstances may exist where there is a risk of immediate destruction of evidence or imminent danger of substantial injury where police must act quickly and have no time to get a warrant.

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Navarette v. California: Anonymous Claims Sufficient for DUI Stop

In Navarette, the United States Supreme Court recently held that an anonymous informant’s tip that a certain truck “ran her off the road” was sufficient to provide reasonable suspicion of DUI to support a traffic stop. The opinion is problematic as it will have far reaching implications in terms of providing law enforcement with minimal justification to intrude on persons freedom of movement.

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The Future Of Our “Rights”: Punishment For Exercising The Right To Withhold Consent From Warrantless Searches?

A Minnesota appellate court recently appears to have claimed that the state may criminalize a person’s refusal to consent to a warrantless search if the officer could have hypothetically obtained a warrant. You can read the opinion here.

This is dangerous.

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Part 1: Why Conservatives Should Support Fed Legalization Of Pot In Washington State

Why Conservatives Should Support Federal Legalization of Pot in Washington State - Seattle Criminal Lawyer Blog

Conservatives champion small federal government limited to the express functions set forth in the constitution (i.e. enumerated powers), state sovereignty, federalism, separation of powers, laissez faire economics, and limited regulation.

Yet some conservative pundits (including Sean Hannity of Fox News) appear disgusted with the recent moves of Colorado and Washington state to legalize marijuana. Why? This may be consistent with social conservative values.

But it is inconsistent with conservative principles with respect to limited federal government and state sovereignty.

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No New Laws That Compromise Freedoms – DUI Checkpoints in Washington State

DUI Checkpoints

It seems like every time there is a terrible tragedy, a cliche of a light bulb suddenly lights up in every politician’s mind and a thought bubble materializes over each politician’s head that reads: “bingo… I got an ‘NEW’ idea… how about a BRAND NEW LAW law?” Unfortunately, this less than novel approach occurs year after year after year.

The result? Nothing. Nothing aside from placing more limitations on the freedoms of law abiding citizens.

For example, some politicians are still stuck on the idea of warrantless, suspicionless, random DUI checkpoints. While no one wants to be on the road with those that are impaired, certainly no one wants to be caught in an “artificial” traffic jam. And we do need to stop think about protecting and not sacrificing our constitutional freedoms.

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