I’ve been meaning to write about this article since it came out a couple of weeks ago. In case you haven’t read it, Washington State Liquor Board, including City Police Departments and the Washington State Patrol have a database of where people had their last drink prior to a DUI arrest. The purpose of this list I guess is to target these bars, because they are known to allegedly over serve intoxicated patrons and allow them to drive home.
From a public policy standpoint I can understand keeping tabs on bars that over serve patrons, and then allow the patron to drive home. Even though Im a Seattle DUI Attorney, I still don’t want to see people injured, or even killed as a result of a DUI crash. After all Im still a compassionate human being with feels and emotions, despite what all the jokes say about Attorneys.
But what I don’t agree with is if certain police agencies are just sitting outside targeting people who leave these bars. First of all if police officers are wasting their time sitting outside a bar, just because 20 people who were arrested for a DUI last year said the last drink they had was there, then this is just a waste of time. As a citizen of this State, I want my police department actively seeking out crime and doing something to stop it. Sitting outside a bar for an entire night, just keeps them from doing their job. To be honest it sounds like lazy police work, but thats just me. The other issue I have is this is completely pretextual and unconstitutional. A pretextual stop is where a police officer will randomly target someone, follow them until they commit a minor traffic infraction. Then use that traffic infraction for the basis of an unconstitutional search and seizure.
I recently got a DUI case dismissed for this exact reason. Basically what happened was a police officer was dispatched to a location of a wedding because it was serving alcohol. No crimes were being reported, no DUI calls were made. The officer got behind the first person exiting the wedding. Followed them until he observed a minor traffic infraction (my client didn’t use his blinker when merging onto I90). The officer then stopped my client, didn’t talk with him about the infractions, but immediately asked if he had been drinking. The officer didn’t observe any other signs of possible impairment. Things like slurred speech, an odor of alcohol, finger dexterity issues, or even bloodshot watery eyes. My client admitted to having a few drinks, the officer then pulled him out of the car, administered the field sobriety tests, and placed him under arrest.
It sounds like lots of people can be facing similar situations based on the worst bar offender database. Remember if you have been stopped for a DUI and you have been drinking, there is probably a very good chance you will get arrested. Even if you believe you’re not under the influence. Ask to speak with an attorney immediately. Seriously give me a call, I will always answer my phone.