Supremes Relax DUI Warning Requirements

The Washington State Supreme Court recently reversed the Division 2 Court of Appeals ruling in State v. Robison. In doing so, the DUI warning requirements that law enforcement must provide to a suspect prior to administering a BAC test have been relaxed.

In this particular case, the defendant was arrested for DUI and read the Implied Consent Warnings prior to a breath test being administered.  However, law enforcement omitted the statutorily required warnings pertaining to THC levels, claiming the warnings did not apply to the subject because they were requesting a breath test for alcohol, not a blood test for THC.  On appeal, the Division 2 Court held that law enforcement lacked the discretion to decide which portion of the Implied Consent Warnings applied to a specific subject and were instead required to read the warnings to the subject in their entirety. As a result, the Court reversed the defendant’s conviction.

Subsequently, the prosecution appealed to the Washington State Supreme Court which announced their decision in the consolidated cases of State v. Murray and State v. Robison, holding that law enforcement substantially complied with the statutory requirements when they provided the suspects with the relevant portion of the warnings.  As a result, law enforcement are now authorized to omit portions of the Implied Consent Warnings, as long as they provide the subject with all of the relevant warnings.  This signals a shift away from a previous “strict compliance” standard to a more relaxed position giving law enforcement the discretion to read or omit portions of the warnings as they believe to be relevant.