Judges in Washington State are throwing out a new law that was supposed to make the state tougher on drunken driving and breath-test results more difficult to keep out of court, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports. Since the law took effect just over a year ago, judges have handed down conflicting rulings on whether lawmakers went too far. The state Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the law, which last year’s legislature passed unanimously, should stand.
Some accused drunken drivers have been allowed to plead guilty to less serious charges when their judges have rejected the new law completely. In other courtrooms, judges upheld the law or struck down just part of it, still allowing the breath-test evidence to be heard in court. Defense attorneys say judges have kept hundreds, if not thousands, of breath tests out of court because of the flaws. The new law tells judges to “assume the truth” of the prosecutor’s evidence. “What the legislature is doing is essentially telling the judge who to believe in the courtroom,” said attorney Ken Fornabai, who has challenged the law. “It’s sort of like having a crooked referee.”