Top 10 Washington DUI Cases of 2014 (Part I)

Top 10 Washington DUI Cases of 2014 (Part I)

Case Law Update - Blog Photo 1 - 1.2.15This is an extremely exciting case law update on the most important Washington DUI case law of 2014. Well, maybe exciting for DUI attorneys. However, if you want to know what’s up with DUIs in 2014, here we go (in no particular order):

1. State v. Huffman

Huffman is a Division One case that limits one of the most important cases in the DUI lawyer’s tool box: PradoPrado is in the family of DUI cases where a traffic infraction is the basis for a DUI stop. Under Prado, briefly crossing over the fog line is not a violation of the Lane Travel Statute,which requires travel as “nearly as practicable” within a single lane, and thus does not give an officer reasonable grounds to stop a vehicle. However, Huffman distinguishes crossing a lane-line when it is the centerline from the fog line. Unlike the Lane Travel Statue, the Centerline Statute, requires drivers to stay right of the centerline and contains no “nearly as practicable” language. So, where Prado establishes that a brief crossing of the fog line does not give an officer reasonable grounds to stop a vehicle, Huffman establishes that crossing a centerline in the same way is reasonable grounds to stop a vehicle.

2. State v. McLean

This is a 2013 case, but I think it is appropriate to mention here because: 1) it was decided late in 2013; 2) the WA Supreme Court declined to review the case in 2014, essentially making it good law; 3) the case relates to the case above, and 4) I need more cases to make ten.

Under McLean, weaving within the lane and crossing over the fog line three times formed a proper basis for reasonable suspicion of DUI. Thus, in this situation, the officer is justified in pulling the person to investigate criminal activity (DUI) where he would not be justified in making a stop for a traffic infraction under Prado.

3. State v. Quaale

Prior case law establishes that the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test shows physical signs consistent with ingestion of intoxicants, but it does not show a specific level of intoxication, for example, “impairment.” Thus, an officer may not testify in a way that gives an aura of scientific certainty to the testimony and may not predict the specific level of drugs present in a suspect. In Quaale, the State trooper’s opinion testimony that, based on the HGN test alone, there “was no doubt that [defendant] was impaired,” was inadmissible opinion on ultimate issue, in the DUI trial.

4. State v. Goggin

The Washington Implied Consent Statute  requires an arresting officer to advise any person arrested for DUI he or she has the right to additional testing. Under Goggin, when a person is properly advised at arrest, but then refuses testing, the officer need not re-advise the person of the right to additional testing if the officer thereafter gets a search warrant for blood.

Goggin doesn’t preclude arguing that an officer must inform every person arrested for DUI or other drug/alcohol-related driving offenses of the right to additional testing no matter if the officer later obtains a warrant. Most importantly, I’d still argue that the advisement of the right to additional testing is required even if the officer suspects drugs, skips the breath test, and goes right to a warrant. Under previous case law, the requirement to inform of the right to additional testing attaches at arrest, regardless of the fact that there is no right to refuse the mandatory blood test.

5. State v. Fedorov

Not a great case for DUI attorneys or their clients. Under Fedorov, a person arrested for DUI’s right to call appointed counsel is not violated by the officer’s presence in the room during the telephone conversation. Washington’s Court rules (here and here) a defendant’s right to counsel attaches “as soon as feasible after the defendant is taken into custody.” When a defendant in custody seeks legal advice, he must have an opportunity to have a telephone consultation with a public defender.

Basically, Fedorov requires the defendant to ask for complete privacy, and so long as the officer testifies he cannot hear the conversation, he can be in the same room. However, the officer must be credible, so if he testifies he cannot hear the conversation but is only a few feet away, such an invasion of privacy may lead to suppression of the breath test and/or refusal.

See numbers 6 through 10 here.

FlickrNicolas Raymond | Photo

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