Saturday, June 25, 2011

Huge Win for DUI Defendants

Typically when a prosecutor intends to present a forensic or toxicology report, they must subpoena the person who actually did the work that produced the report.  However,  in DUI cases, prosecutors have successfully been allowed to admit the report without the supporting testimony.  DUI defense attorneys challenged this approach arguing that admitting the test without the actual testimony of the person who prepared the results violates a defendant’s Sixth Amendment rights under the Confrontation Clause.

On June 23rd the United States Supreme Court ruled that those accused in all criminal prosecutions have the right to be confronted by adverse witnesses, including lab technicians who analyze blood samples for DUI prosecution.  Bullcoming v. New Mexico,131 S.Ct. 587 (2010).

In a 5-4 decision, the Court reversed a ruling from the New Mexico Supreme Court that accepted the trial testimony of a different forensic analyst who neither tested the accused's blood sample or prepared the report of the resulting blood alcohol level. In the opinion of the Court, this procedure denied the accused the opportunity to cross-examine the actual analyst involved in the testing and certification.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Proper Passanger Etiquette on a DUI stop

Yesterday morning a 45-year-old Seattle woman gave Kitsap County sheriff's deputies and Bainbridge Island police officers an earful early Tuesday after her boyfriend was arrested for DUI.  According to the Kitsap Sun, at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, the officers pulled over the driver of a van because they recognized him and knew his driver's license was suspended. The stop led to the man's arrest for DUI. Officers soon discovered that a woman was in the back of the vehicle when she "screaming at the top of her lungs" and kicking her legs in the air.  Not wearing pants or shoes and believed to be highly intoxicated, the woman "continued this screaming of vulgar insults non stop," officers said.
The woman was seated on a curb but soon began running for the patrol car in which her boyfriend was seated. Officers took her to the ground and placed her under arrest. Deputies had to use leg restraints on the ride to jail, in which she continued her tirade using "colorful terms" and made threats. She had also urinated on at least two officers before being booked into jail on suspicion of obstructing a law enforcement officer, the documents said.

While most of us know that urinating on officers will get you no where, it does raise the question, how should one behave if they are a passenger that is getting pulled over? Officers will likely request passengers to provide identification but passengers are free to refuse to provide identification however, this can lead to additional problems. If the police officer has reasonable suspicion that there may be drugs, weapons or other contraband in the vehicle, the passenger may also be arrested and detained. Passengers who choose to provide identification willingly to an arresting officer will likely have their names run in the system for warrants or outstanding tickets. 

The best thing for a passenger to do is keep quiet and at the soonest possible time ask the officer if they are free to leave.  If the passenger is unfortunate enough to have an independent  reason to be arrested they at least are afforded the same rights to challenge the basis of the stop as the driver is afforded.  So, things might turn out okay for our Ms. Urinating Seattle woman because the basis of the stops seems suspect.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Going out this weekend in Tacoma? So are the cops!

 Cops will be going out in Tacoma this weekend as a part of a DUI emphasis.

posted By Stacey Mulick on June 1, 2011 at 3:18 pm Bookmark and Share Share this
Pierce County law enforcement officers and commanders will be visiting bars throughout Tacoma this weekend as part of a new effort to raise awareness about the dangers of drinking and driving.
They'll go to bars where impaired drivers report they'd been drinking right before their arrests.
"There's no enforcement action," said Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman. "We are just hoping to change some behaviors."
The first weekend for the Home Safe Bar program marks the beginning a month-long public awareness program near the most frequent sites of the county's fatal drunken driving car crashes, the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force.
Here's how the Home Safe Bar program will work. Extra law enforcement officers will be out Saturday night, patrolling for drunken drivers.
When they make arrests, the officers will ask the drivers where  they'd been drinking. If the driver had been at a bar in Pierce County, other law enforcement officers and commanders will then visit the bar, Cheesman said.
The commanders will talk with the management at the bar about the enforcement effort, ask them to abide by the state's alcohol laws and provide them information from the Liquor Control Board. They'll also help the customers find designated drivers or call taxis.
"It's pretty low key," Cheesman said.
Frank Blair, a Tacoma father whose 24-year-old daughter was killed in a drunken driving crash in Everett, will be with law enforcement officers and visiting the bars.

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