Police Must Have a Good Reason to Tow a Car

State v. Villela, No. 96183-2 (October 17, 2019), Washington Supreme Court.

Brief: Since the officer did not make the judgment that it was reasonable under the circumstances and there are no reasonable alternatives, the impound was unlawful under Wash. Const. art. I, § 7, and the trial court properly suppressed the fruits of the seizure. RCW 46.55.360, under which officers are required to impound a vehicle any time they arrest its driver for driving under the influence, regardless of whether the vehicle is safely off the roadway or whether another person is able to safely drive it away, violates Wash. Const. art. I, § 7 because it requires what the constitution allows only under limited circumstances.

Translation: When arresting someone for DUI, officers cannot tow the car without specific reasons why the tow is necessary (e.g., the car is blocking the road or no sober person is available to take the car).

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