Washington State DUI – Defending against the stop

DUI defense in Washington is very complicated and everchanging. It is important for your attorney to stay on top of the daily maturing law. Below you will find some basic DUI defense issues including some authority behind the defenses. Please realize that this information is just a staring point and  is not exhausting. Each case has to be researched individually. Here are some basic issue:

Was the Initial Stop Legal?

1. The officer must have probable cause and witness a traffic infraction or misdemeanor. As long as the driving is legal the stop should not be justified.

“It (Court) ruled that there was no evidence indicatingprobable criminal conduct when police observed defendant driving and turn suddenly. The court held that the subsequent conduct of defendant did not afford a basis for a reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in or had engaged in criminal activity.”Statev. Hobart, 94 Wash. 2d 437 (1980)

Crossing over the line – The court held that the requirement of §46.61.140(1) did not impose strict liability, and that a vehicle crossing over the line for one second by two tire widths on an exit lane did not justify a belief that the vehicle was operated unlawfully. The stop was thus unlawful, particularly because the officer testified that there was no other traffic
present and no danger was posed to other vehicles.
 State v. Prado,186 P.3d 1186 (2008)

Failure to signal – “The court held that Wash. Rev. Code § 46.61.305(1) did not require a driver exiting a driveway to signal. Section 46.61.305(2) supported this interpretation given its language.” tate v. Brown, 119 Wn. App. 473 (Wash. Ct. App. 2003)

Failure to activate head lights – “no evidence was presented to indicate the presence of other traffic on the roadway or the existence of endangerment to pedestrians or property resulting from defendant’s brief roadway travel of about 100 yards without his headlights on.” State v. Montes-Malindas, 144 Wn. App. 254 (Wash. Ct. App. 2008)

Long stop at stop sign – “The police approached defendant after his car was motionless at a stop sign for almost a minute on the basis that it might have been disabled. Defendant then pulled through the intersection and stopped 50 feet away.”  State v. Dearman, 54 Wn. App. 621 (Wash. Ct. App. 1989). Court found that once police determined car was operating there was no need to continue the stop.

2. The stop must not be based on a uncorroborated anonymous tip.

“The court held that “indicia of reliability” required: (1) knowledge that the source of the information was reliable, and (2) a sufficient factual basis for the informant’s tip or corroboration by independent police observation.” State v. Jones, 85 Wash. App. 797 (1997)

“The court held that the police officer was not authorized to stop the driver’s vehicle on the sole basis that a passing motorist pointed to his vehicle and announced that it was driven by a drunk driver. The passing motorist provided no factual information from which the officer could assess the probable accuracy of the motorist’s conclusion.” Campbell v. DOL, 31 Wn.App. 833 (1982)

Hope these basic case holdings are helpful. They by no means are exhausted or limit any possible defenses. I will be updating this list periodically. Look for a post soon regarding the legality of the arrest.If you have any questions please call us and/or schedule a free consultation.