Washington Supreme Court rules pretrial drug tests can’t be required for release

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SPOKANE — Requiring people who are arrested for driving under the influence to submit to random urinalysis tests as a condition of release is unconstitutional, the Washington Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

The case involves three people arrested in 2015 in Spokane County — Cortney Blomstrom, Brooke Button and Christopher Cooper — for driving under the influence. Each defendant was ordered to participate in random urinalysis testing as a condition of pretrial release.

All three challenged the conditions with the Spokane County Superior Court, which denied their requests.

The state Supreme Court reversed that decision. The case was returned to the Superior Court for further proceedings in a decision written by Justice Charles Wiggins and signed by five justices.

In Blomstrom’s case, the state requested she undergo random urinalysis four times a month.

Blomstrom objected, citing her lack of criminal record and the court requirement that she abstain from using alcohol as adequate to protect public safety. The court ordered her to undergo urinalysis twice a month.

In Cooper’s case, the state again requested four random urinalysis tests a month, which the court imposed.

Button was arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana and had a lengthy record. The state requested four random urinalysis tests a month, which the court ordered.

The three challenged the testing conditions as violating the federal and state constitutions.

“Urinalysis is at least as invasive as a roadblock or a pat down search,” the Supreme Court said, concluding that court-ordered testing “constitutes an acute privacy invasion by the state.”

Four justices issued a partial dissent.

“Once an individual has been arrested on probable cause for certain offenses, such as DUI, courts have the authority to prohibit drug and alcohol use,” the dissent said.

That prohibition can be monitored through random urinalysis, the dissent signed by Justice Steven C. Gonzalez said.

“Judges should not be categorically prohibited from imposing necessary and narrowly tailored release conditions on defendants arrested on probable cause for DUI,” the dissent said.