New WA case rules in the favor of defense when it comes to search warrants and DUIs
A recent case came out from the Washington State Court of Appeals Division 1 that *shocker* is in favor of the defense. The case is State v. Martines. From my reading of the opinion this potentially could be a big deal that may result in blood test DUI cases that came from a search warrant being suppressed. It’s more of a technical issue that was raised for the first time on appeal, but I have to tell you it’s pretty dang smart and kudos to the appellate attorneys that raised it.
Essentially the court held the extraction of blood from a drunk driving suspect is a search. This isn’t news and everybody should know this by now. However testing the blood sample is a second search. The Could held it is distinct from the initial extraction because its purpose is to examine the personal information the blood contains. Therefore the State may not conduct tests on a lawfully procured blood sample without first obtaining a warrant that authorizes testing and specifies the types of evidence for which the sample may be tested.
Like I said this is a technical issue that can easily be fixed. In fact I suspect every Prosecutor’s office is checking their search warrants and adding the additional language that any blood test can be analyzed for alcohol, marijuana, drugs, etc. If the search warrant didn’t contain that language initially I’m not sure what will happen on the Prosecutors side. I know the Defense will be challenging the blood test results, but if the Court simply allows the search warrant to be amended and the remaining vials of blood to be retested for the specific substance than I guess that would be an easy fix. But like I said I have no idea what Prosecutors are planning.
Anyway it should be interesting to see how things unfold in the near future. Nowadays anytime a person refuses a breath test or if they get arrested for a Marijuana DUI then they are getting a blood test. Thanks to the Supreme Court a search warrant is now required anytime there is a blood test. So like I said before this could affect a lot of cases in Washington State.
_ About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA. He has been named as one of the best DUI lawyers in Seattle by the Seattle Met Magazine, and Super Lawyers Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all lawyers receive in their practice area. Additionally he is rated as a 10 out of 10 by Avvo.com, a lawyer rating service.