Yesterday I wrote about the several functions of the Washington State Patrol's Impaired Driving Unit (IDU). One of the units is the Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutors. The WSP has hired two attorneys to serve as their "DUI Prosecutors" and has also created a site entitled "DUI Enforcers." See site. The site is "dedicated to prosecutors, law enforcement and judges specializing in impaired driving crimes in Washington." It appears that every party involved in a Washington State DUI arrest and subsequent legal process is allowed to join this program except defense attorneys. This is very troubling to me.
I completely understand the intent and purpose of this program. If law enforcement wishes to work hand in hand with prosecutors who represent the government in the legal process surrounding a DUI arrest they certainly should have the ability to do that. But I cannot understand how a judge who presides over a Washington State DUI case, or a hearing examiner who is assigned the task as the "fact-finder" in an administrative hearing for a Washington State DUI arrest, can be a member of the "DUI Enforcer" program. Judges and hearing examiners are supposed to be fair and unbiased. Even with the innocent intent of obtaining more information on current DUI laws, a judge and/or hearing examiner should not be a member of a group comprised of law enforcement and prosecutors. Does that not contradict the meaning of "appearance of fairness?"
Most of the members of "DUI Enforcers" are prosecutors and law enforcement. A few are not. I have been able to confirm that both a district court judge (who regularly presides over DUI cases) as well as a hearing examiner of the DOL (who is the "fact-finder" in an administrative hearing for a DUI arrest) are members of the program. And defense attorneys are barred.
While the ultimate goal is to eliminate impaired driving in Washington, the means utilized cannot violate the rights of the accused. By allowing judges and hearing examiners to be members, while specifically excluding DUI defense attorneys, tramples on the rights of drivers accused of a Washington State DUI.