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Sat Oct 26, 2019, 02:03 PM

Washington Supreme Court: Lawmakers Can't Legislate Constitutional Rights Away

Source: Forbes

EDITOR'S PICK Oct 24, 2019, 09:35am

Washington Supreme Court: Lawmakers Can’t Legislate Constitutional Rights Away

Nick Sibilla Senior Contributor
Policy
I cover criminal justice, entrepreneurship, and offbeat lawsuits.

Declaring that it was unconstitutional for the Washington State Legislature to mandate warrantless seizures, the Washington Supreme Court unanimously struck down an automatic DUI impound law last week. “Our constitution cannot be amended by statute,” Justice Steven Gonzalez wrote for the court in State v. Villela. “While the legislature can legislatively protect constitutional rights, it cannot legislate them away.”

Back in January 2018, Sergeant Paul Snyder pulled over Joel Villela for speeding in Grant County. During the stop, Snyder smelled alcohol on Villela’s breath, a suspicion that was only bolstered when Villela refused to take a roadside sobriety test. Snyder promptly arrested Villela for DUI. But he also impounded Villela’s car, even though there were two adult passengers inside.

Thanks to “Hailey’s Law,” whenever a driver is arrested for DUI, their car must always be impounded, even if another person could drive it away safely or if the car is off the road. In a joint amicus brief, the Institute for Justice, the state chapter of the ACLU, the Washington Defender Association and the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers described “the irrationality of the statute:”

“Even if a co-owner is sitting in the vehicle, is not under the influence, and is able to drive it away, it must be impounded. Allegedly this is to keep the impaired driver from regaining possession of the vehicle when released from custody. Under the statute, however, the registered owner or co-owner is entitled to proceed immediately to the impound yard and redeem the vehicle without any waiting period. If the owner or co-owner can be trusted to redeem the vehicle without delay, that person is clearly equally trustworthy, as recognized in the case law, to drive it away from the point of arrest.”

Not only is the law “completely unnecessary,” it imposes significant consequences on drivers. A short impound period can easily rack up over $1,000 in storage and towing fees. Those unable to pay can lose their car permanently. Moreover, since “drivers of color are more likely to be stopped than white drivers,” mandatory impounds “would increase and entrench the racial disparities in treatment,” the joint amicus brief argued.

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Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2019/10/24/washington-supreme-court-impounding-cars-without-warrants-violates-right-to-privacy/#2a30855d102a

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Reply Washington Supreme Court: Lawmakers Can't Legislate Constitutional Rights Away (Original post)
Eugene Oct 2019 OP
mr_lebowski Oct 2019 #1
tymorial Oct 2019 #2
Thomas Hurt Oct 2019 #3
stopdiggin Oct 2019 #4
Jake Stern Oct 2019 #5

Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Oct 26, 2019, 02:09 PM

1. Sweet ... all this civil forfeiture shit needs to be outlawed except in the most extreme cases (nt)

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #1)

Sat Oct 26, 2019, 02:13 PM

2. I agree. Far too many agencies use civil forfeiture to pad their budgets

And offset operating costs

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Oct 26, 2019, 02:29 PM

3. well duh, wtf were they thinking.

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Response to Thomas Hurt (Reply #3)

Sat Oct 26, 2019, 03:59 PM

4. well .. they weren't really

but as the suit illustrates, the intent was clearly as a "punitive" strike .. rather than the "safety" measure they purported.

(And, yes .. the courts have been way, way behind on the forfeiture issue. Which has been rankly unjust, misused, corrupted .. and frankly unconstitutional for years. All with a multitude of examples at their disposal. Their mistake in acceding to the legislative branch.)

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Response to Eugene (Original post)

Sat Oct 26, 2019, 05:05 PM

5. "Even if a co-owner is sitting in the vehicle, is not under the influence, and is able to drive it"

That means you knowingly allowed an intoxicated driver to operate your motor vehicle. Why is that not a crime?

On Edit: I don't disagree with asset forfeiture per se, I disagree with it absent a conviction.

I like Ohio's law - they don't impound the car but make them put a special drunk driver tag on the car.

An example of Ohio's Drunk Fuck Plate:

[link:https://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/c_fill,f_auto,fl_progressive,g_center,h_675,pg_1,q_80,w_1200/cwqwqnju8koiuzozq1rt.jpg|]

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