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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

State Supreme Court rules random testing unconstitutional

On Oct. 5, the Washington Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional to require those who were accused of driving under the influence to submit to random urinalysis tests as a condition of their being released before trial. Three individuals had challenged the requirement for participation in random urinalysis testing, resulting in the case being brought before the court.

In 2015, the three were detained on suspicion of driving under the influence. As a condition of pretrial release, each person was ordered to participate in random urinalysis testing. They challenged the random tests, though the Spokane Superior Court denied their requests. When the case went before the state Supreme Court, the decision was reversed. The case was then sent back to the Superior Court.

The Supreme Court stated that the court-ordered testing was invasive and was an invasion of privacy by the state. Four justices dissented, stating that courts should have the legal ability to prohibit drug and alcohol abuse after a person was taken into custody on probable cause for DUI and other associated offenses. Further, the dissenter argued that random urinalysis testing could be used as a measure to prevent drug and alcohol use and that judges should not be prohibited from imposing certain release conditions.

Drunk driving accusations can result in serious consequences that could include a jail sentence, random drug or alcohol tests, fines and the requirement to have an ignition interlock installed. Dependent on the circumstances, a criminal law attorney may challenge the drunk driving charges if there is evidence that the authorities did not follow proper procedures or violated an accused person's rights. The attorney may also challenge the results of the breathalyzer tests and any other tests that may not have been properly conducted.

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