Top 10 Washington DUI Cases of 2014 (Part II)

Top 10 Washington DUI Cases of 2014 (Part II)

DUI Case Law UpdateCases 6 through 10 in this case law update on the most important Washington DUI case law of 2014:

 6. State v. Martines

This was probably the most talked about case of the year, and probably had the biggest effect on DUI cases and investigations. Under Martines, to test a person-arrested-for-DUI’s blood, an officer needs a search warrant to take the blood and a warrant to test the blood, because each is a discrete search requiring its own warrant.

Arguably, this case also suggests the warrant to test the blood must be supported by probable cause specific to the drug being tested for. For example, if the officer only reasonably believes the person is under the influence of alcohol, the warrant shouldn’t also authorize testing the blood for drugs.

The Washington Supreme Court has granted review on this case, so it may be overruled or affirmed.

7. State v. Mecham

Under Mecham, evidence that a person refused to perform to a field sobriety test can be used against him or her at trial. Under common law, a person may refuse to consent to field sobriety tests. However, a prosecutor could later argue that such a refusal to participate in field sobriety testing was intended to frustrate or delay the investigation or that such refusal was calculated to conceal guilt.

A good DUI attorney can argue 1) the facts show some other purpose for refusing the field sobriety testing, if any; and 2) that a person doesn’t have to do the tests whatever the reason.

Again, the Washington Supreme Court has granted review on this case, so it may be overruled or affirmed.

8. State v. Creed

This is a drug possession case where the police officer, misread the license plate number and stopped the defendant believing she was driving with stolen plates. The officer realized the mistake and was going to tell defendant she was free to leave when officer noticed what appeared to be drugs in the vehicle.

To justify a traffic stop, an officer’s reliance on mistaken facts must be reasonable. Where such mistake is due to the officer’s negligence, reliance is not reasonable. It doesn’t matter whether the mistake is “innocent” or made in good faith.

So here, the officer did not have a reasonable suspicion to continue detaining the defendant after discovering that she was not driving with stolen license plates.

9. Heien v. North Carolina

This is a SCOTUS case involving an officer making a traffic stop based on the mistaken belief that North Carolina law required two working brake lights. The court held that a reasonable mistake of law can be the basis for reasonable suspicion, as required for a traffic stop or an investigatory stop. (Compare to the Creed case, above, about mistake of facts).

Under the Fourth Amendment, attorneys must continue to argue any mistake of law is an unreasonable basis for a reasonable suspicion, and distinguish the facts of Heien, where the actual law was obscure and difficult to interpret (the law came from the time when cars would have one light that said “stop” that activated when braking). Washington attorneys must also argue that the right to privacy in Article 1, Section 7 of the Washington Constitution requires “[actual] authority of law“, not mistakes of law, as a basis to invade or disturb privacy.

10. TBD… any recommendations? Unpublished cases? Important cases in other states?

I hope you enjoyed my DUI case law update. If you have a DUI case, and you want to know the current state of the law, give me a call at (253) 906-0393. Also, attorneys, feel free to contact me with your thoughts.

Flickr | Nicolas Raymond | Photo



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