Back on August 29, a Snohomish County Judge was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. Timothy Ryan was pulled over for speeding by a state trooper, who reportedly smelled alcohol on Ryan's breath. The judge refused to submit to both field sobriety and breath tests, insisting that he had just had one beer. Another Judge, with whom Judge Ryan was dining, would later say that Ryan was drinking wine and not beer.
This week, prosecutors in King County (where the case was transferred to avoid conflict of interest with the Snohomish County Prosecutors Office) declined to file the DUI charges against Ryan, saying they didn't have enough evidence to convict him.
Of course, they may have had the evidence had Ryan agreed to blood alcohol testing. Thats why the prosecution standards accross Washington are harsher on drivers who refuse than those that provide a breath sample. Washington law says that anyone who refused to take a blood alcohol test can have his driver's license revoked for two years following conviction. It less if you give a breath sample.
The King County Prosecutors decision not to file appears to be inconsistent with their decisions in numbers of other cases. The facts cited by the King County Prosecutors in their letter to the police agencies involved are the following.
The vehicle crossed out of its lane with both tires and maintained that position for approximately 50 feet before correcting. The vehicle later crossed over the lane line two more times, and at one point accelerated to 55 mph in a 40 mph zone. The car made a slow unsignaled lane change and was slow to react to the trooper's emergency lights, the prosecutors said.
Upon contact the trooper smelled alcohol on the Judge's breath, saw watery and bloodshot eyes, and heard slurred and choppy speech the prosecutors said in their letter. The trooper was familiar with the Judge's speech and noted that it didn't sound normal, the prosecutors said.
Another interesting aspect is the revelation that Ryan asked the trooper his name, then said, "I'm Judge Ryan. I was just curious." In addition, a subsequent investigation revealed that Ryan had been drinking wine and not beer as stated to the trooper about his alcohol consumption. (The judge reportedly drank wine, not beer, and had two glasses in a three-hour period.)
Do you think this is much ado about nothing? Or does this incident fail the "smell test?"