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State Supreme Court Overturns Appeals Court Regarding DUI Blood Draws, Testing

Posted by Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney | Sep 01, 2015 | 0 Comments

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It seems silly, but it happens sometimes: a court ruling causes government agencies to change the way they operate; and then a higher court overrules the lower court, making the old modus operandi perfectly legal again.

Such was the case here in Washington regarding warrants for blood draws of people suspected of driving under the influence. In June of 2012, a man was pulled over by a King County sheriff's deputy and had blood drawn for a DUI; and the test showed the presence of alcohol and drugs in his system. After being convicted, the defendant appealed the verdict on the grounds that the warrant police obtained for the blood draw did not give them permission to test the blood sample for intoxicants - and in April of last year, the Washington Court of Appeals agreed.  The language in the warrant said and authorized the taking and storing of the blood but did not authorize the testing of it.

That prompted law enforcement agencies across the state to alter and improve the forms they used to apply for warrants to draw and test blood in DUI cases. But late last month, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously overruled the appellate court decision.

In State v. Martines, the Supreme Court applied a "commonsense reading" to the original warrant and concluded "that the search warrant authorized testing Martines's blood sample for intoxicants because it authorized a blood draw to obtain evidence of DUI."  

That's the frustrating part of the law: in addition to legislators passing new statutes to render the old laws incorrect, courts can also reinterpret the law to mean something else - and then (in effect) "reinterpret it back" to the old way.  On the positive side of this, DUI defense attorneys challenged the system and won.  The system changed and improved in the process. 

About the Author

Kevin Trombold DUI Defense Attorney

Highly rated by former clients, who praise his warm, knowledgeable courtside manner and his fierce determination to reduce or eliminate charges. An accomplished speaker, author, and leader in DUI defense statewide Kevin is well respected by judges, prosecutors, and other attorneys across the State of Washington for his expertise, integrity, and knowledge in the complicated forensic science area of impaired driving allegations.

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