In Martines, the Washington Court of Appeals Issues Guidance for Search Warrants in DUI/Drunk Driving Cases Involving Blood Samples

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On June 20, 2012, Appellant Jose Martines was observed driving his sport utility vehicle erratically on State Route 167. He veered into another car, careened across the highway, bounced

off the barrier, and rolled over. Washington State Trooper Dennis Tardiff arrived and took Martines into custody. Martines smelled of intoxicants, had bloodshot and watery eyes, and stumbled while walking. Trooper Tardiff sought a warrant to extract a blood sample from Martines. His affidavit of probable cause stated that a blood sample "may be tested to determine his/her current blood alcohol level and to detect the presence of any drugs that may have impaired his/her ability to drive." He obtained a warrant that authorized a competent health care authority to extract a blood sample and ensure its safekeeping. The warrant did not say anything about testing of the blood sample. Pursuant to the warrant, a blood sample was drawn from Martines at a local hospital. Then it was tested for the presence of drugs and alcohol. The test results indicated that Martines had a blood alcohol level of .121 within an hour after the accident and that the drug diazepam (Valium) was also present. Martines had a prior conviction for vehicular assault while driving under the influence. The State charged him with felony driving under the influence of an intoxicant.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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