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Legally Speaking: DUI breath test law under fire

Legally Speaking: DUI breath test law under fire

06:48 PM PST on Thursday, January 13, 2005

By ALLEN SCHAUFFLER / KING 5 News

An all-out attack on the state's new DUI breath test law is underway and and thousands of DUI cases could be dropped.

Attorney Linda Callahan is spearheading a movement to overturn Washington State's new DUI breath test law - the law, which came into effect last June that automatically makes every alcohol breath test admissible in court. Callahan calls it "fundamentally unfair to our system of justice."

"It's as if there is no judge in the courtroom anymore in a DUI case," said Callahan. "What the Legislature has done is said it goes to the jury regardless of weather the machine was broken, defective or if there was some problem with the actual administration of the test."

Attorneys backing the tough legislation say the state was just sick of judges tossing out cases due to questionable breathalyzer tests. But now, if these motions go through and the courts toss the law, thousands of DUI cases could be dropped.

According to Callahan, it could result in the suppression of every breath test taken since June of 2004.

Other attorneys across the state are filing similar motions, hoping the courts will see the impact the breathalyzer law is having on the judiciary system.

"I do believe the legislature sees the evils inherent in drunk driving," said Callahan. "But in their effort to stop drunk driving what they have done is cast the net so wide that it draws in even the innocent."

Rulings on the motions filed in municipal court are expected to come down any day now. If judges decide the state's new breath test law should be thrown out, expect the state to appeal those rulings. And in a few months it might just be the state Supreme Court having the final say.

Attorney Kathleen Carey

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