DUI Jurisdiction to Stop Discussed

Every day, Washington and King County DUI defense attorneys raise issues in court involving unique factual situations wherein the power of a DUI officer to detain and arrest an individual is challenged. Such a challenge may occur, for instance when a Seattle DUI police officer makes an arrest outside of his jurisdiction. In such a case, a Seattle DUI defense attorney will likely argue to the court that the prosecution must show proof of the officer’s authority to make the traffic stop and perform the subsequent DUI investigation. The Washington State Supreme Court issued an opinion on October 14, 2010, dealing with a variation of this issue. The case of State v. Ericksen (No. 80653) dealt with the issue whether a Lummi Nation tribal police officer, patrolling on reservation, who witnessed a vehicle drift across the center divider with its high beams activated could pursue the vehicle across the reservation border and then detain the driver on suspicion of DUI. The court ruled that tribal officers have authority to stop and detain offenders on reservation under prior court rulings, and further, that the doctrine of “fresh pursuit” extends this authority to justify a DUI stop made off the reservation so long as the “offense” occurred on the reservation. The court concluded its decision with the following statement: “Our decision today harmonizes with common sense and sound policy. To allow drunk drivers to escape the law by crossing a reservation boundary would unnecessarily endanger lives by incentivizing high-speed dashes for the border. We decline to embrace such a ludicrous result.” History has shown, particularly for DUI cases, that public policy often plays a large part in determining the establishment of legal precedent.

If you or a loved one needs help with a Seattle DUI or a DUI charge anywhere in Washington State, contact Seattle DUI attorney Jon Scott Fox.
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