The Washington State Constitution recognizes a privacy right and prohibits disturbance of that privacy without authority of law. When a driver is arrested for driving under the influence, the vehicle must be impounded pursuant to RCW 46.55.360. A defendant recently challenged the impound statute as a violation of the Washington State Constitution.
The defendant was stopped for speeding. According to the court opinion, the officer smelled alcohol on the defendant’s breath. The defendant declined a field sobriety test and the officer arrested him for suspicion of driving while under the influence of intoxicants. The officer impounded the defendant’s jeep without considering any reasonable alternatives.
The officer performed an inventory search of the vehicle and found items he believed were associated with drug dealing. Cocaine was found on the defendant in a search incident to arrest. The defendant was charged with DUI and possession with intent to deliver controlled substances.