WA: FST is a seizure, but it is not a search under Fourth Amendment

Field sobriety test is a seizure, but it is not a search under Fourth Amendment or the more inclusive state constitution. State v. Mecham, 2016 Wash. LEXIS 695 (June 16, 2016):

¶17 Since the State cannot comment on a defendant’s refusal to waive a constitutional right, the dispositive issue is whether a defendant has a constitutional right to refuse to perform an FST. This is a question of first impression for this court. Both Washington’s constitution and the federal constitution bestow a right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures. Wash Const. art. I, § 7; U.S. Const. amend. IV. Mecham argues that FSTs are searches subject to these constitutional provisions because they reveal private information that is not voluntarily exposed to the public view. We reject this argument because FSTs reveal only some physical characteristics associated with inebriation, none of which is substantially different from the characteristics a person would observe from simple observation of the defendant. These characteristics are not analogous to the types of information that we have previously accorded protection under article I, section 7. We therefore hold that while a field sobriety test is a seizure, it is not a search either under article I, section 7 of the Washington Constitution or under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

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