The most recognizable mandatory warning issued by law enforcement is a reading of a suspect's
Miranda rights, which advises the arrested individual of his or her right to remain silent and to engage
the services of an attorney. But there are other such “warnings” that police are required to provide
depending on specific circumstances. One example is the verbiage which must accompany any breath
test subsequent to a DUI arrest.
This “Implied Consent Warning for Breath test” was the subject of an appellate case here in the
Washington. Darren J. Robison was pulled over in June of 2013 and asked by a Washington State Patrol
trooper if he had smoked marijuana recently. When Robinson admitted that he had, he was arrested
and charged with DUI. At the police station, troopers read an “Implied Consent Warning for Breath”
form which mentioned consenting to a breath test for alcohol, but not pot. Robison's breath test
produced results of blood alcohol levels that were over the legal limit, and Robison was eventually
convicted of DUI.
Robison appealed his case on the grounds that the warnings he heard did not mention anything about
marijuana. The State argued that the omission was irrelevant because Robison was convicted based on
alcohol intoxication, not marijuana impairment; and that Robison failed to show that the omission was
prejudicial to his case. The district court sided with Robison and vacated the conviction, but the decision
was appealed by prosecutors.
In State v. Robison, the justices of the Washington Court of Appeals Division One ruled that the plain
language of the statute as passed by voters required the inclusion of the marijuana-related language –
meaning that the WSP erred by omitting that verbiage. They also stated that the onus to disprove
prejudice fell on the State, rather than the defendant having to prove that his case was adversely
impacted. Therefore, the appeals court affirmed the district court's decision and overturned Robison's
conviction because of the incomplete warnings.
This case illustrated yet another reason why it's essential to obtain representation by a DUI defense
lawyer if you are arrested for DUI. Because if the police don't do their job properly, it could result in the
dismissal of your case; and DUI defense attorneys are experts in identifying such errors.