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Implied Consent Warnings (ICWs) and Commerical Driver's License (CDL) holders - inconsistent King County rulings

Posted by Nathan Webb | Feb 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Over the past few weeks I have argued an issue that has arisen for two clients who were CDL holders.  These individuals were driving in their non-commercial motor vehicles (i.e. personal vehicles) and arrested for suspicion of DUI.  Now both of these individuals were presented with the same form, required by the Washington State Patrol in any DUI investigation, that form is called the Implied Consent Warnings (ICWs) for Breath.

When you obtain a driver's license in Washington it is implied you will submit to a test of your breath if stopped for suspicion of DUI and the same applies for CDL holders.  The issues in these two cases was that neither of the individuals arrested were informed there would be any impact to their CDL whether they submitted to a test or refused.  The ICWs inform any driver arrested for DUI that they face at least a 90 days suspension of their personal driver's license if their blood or breath test is over .08 and that if they refuse they face at least a one year driver's license suspension.

In the cases I'm discussing the ICWs have an additional piece of language directly related to CDL holders which informs them they face a possible suspension of their CDL even if they are not driving a commercial motor vehicle.  Neither of my clients were read this additional portion when presented with the ICWs.  To their credit during cross examination, both WSP Troopers admitted that they either forgot to read the additional language related to CDL holders or that they didn't know they had to read it.  Surprisingly the first time I argued this to a King County District Court judge, that particular judge found no error since the driver was told he would lose his license for at least a year if he refused.  If a CDL holder is convicted of a DUI, even in their non-commercial motor vehicle, they face a minimum one year CDL suspension.

This particular judge said that by warning my client of the effects of a refusal on his personal license (that is, at least a one year suspension) that somehow satisfied the warnings regarding his CDL and he was not prejudiced!  What!!!!

I again argued this same issue to a separate King County District Court judge who did find it to be an issue and suppressed the breath test results.  It is amazing the inconsistency we often find when judges at the same level (District Court in this case) reach differing opinions on obvious violations of Due Process which prejudice drivers, in this case, specifically CDL drivers.

The moral of the story is, if at first you don't succeed, try a different judge!

About the Author

Nathan Webb

Nathan "Nate" Webb has been repeatedly recognized by Washington Law and Politics Magazine as a Super Lawyer Rising Star, named one of Seattle's Top Attorneys by Seattle Met Magazine and is rated Superb (perfect 10 out of 10) by Avvo.com.

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