Monthly Archives: February 2016

State v. Feely: Endangering Other Officers During Pursuit Brings Enhanced Penalties

Here’s an interesting case out of Whatcom County.

In State v. Feely, the WA Court of Appeals held that a defendant convicted of Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle also faces sentencing enhancements under RCW 9.94A.834 when an officer who deploys spike strips is endangered.

Shortly after midnight, Trooper Travis Lipton was parked in an unmarked vehicle on the shoulder of the northbound on ramp to Interstate 5. A pickup truck driven by defendant Thomas Feely passed very close to Trooper Lipton’s car while merging onto the freeway. Trooper Lipton saw the truck drift into the left lane before returning to the right lane. He followed Feely.

Once Trooper Lipton caught up to Feely, he started his car’s audio and video recording system. He observed Feely drift “back and forth within the right lane continuously,” and cross the fog line and the “center skip line” dividing the two lanes. After Feely failed to signal a lane change, Trooper Lipton activated his siren and emergency lights.

Feely continued northbound. Trooper Lipton advised dispatch of Feely’s failure to stop. Feely took the next exit and ran the stop sign at the top of the exit ramp. Feely continued on the two-lane road, greatly exceeding the speed limit and drifting “over onto the oncoming lane frequently.” He bypassed two cars that slowed or stopped as a result. Trooper Lipton requested dispatch contact other troopers to deploy spike strips.

Police set up a spike strip, but Feely went around it. Sergeant Larry Flynn set up another spike strip. Feely attempted to drive around it but “immediately locked up” his brakes. He “slid almost the whole way” towards Sergeant Flynn and stopped just short of where Sergeant Flynn was standing. Feely then “started to jerk forward” towards Sergeant Flynn by the side of the road. Sergeant Flynn released some slack on the spike strips so he could get farther off the road. Feely ran over one of the spike strips with his front left tire and sped away. Trooper Lipton maintained his pursuit.

After turning down a private driveway, Feely drove his truck into a swamp. He ran into the woods, leaving one shoe behind in the mud. More police officers shortly arrived, and after searching with two police dogs, they found Feely hiding in a tree. He had no shoes on and his clothes were wet. The officers took Feely into custody and smelled alcohol on his breath.

Trooper Lipton took Feely to a hospital. About an hour later, Trooper Lipton collected Feely’s blood, which registered a blood alcohol level of 0.13.

The State initially charged Feely with one count of Felony Driving Under the Influence (DUI) and one count of Attempting to Elude a Pursuing Police Vehicle with an endangerment sentencing enhancement. The State later amended the information to allege an aggravating circumstance under RCW 9.94A.535(2)(c) because Feely had committed multiple current offenses and his high offender score results in some of the current offenses going unpunished.

At trial, Feely stipulated that he had four prior qualifying convictions, elevating the DUI to a felony. The jury found Feely guilty as charged. In a special verdict, the jury also found that a “person, other than [Feely] or a pursuing law enforcement officer, was endangered by Feely’s actions during his commission of the crime of Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle.”

The trial court sentenced Feely to 60 months for the felony DUI. The court sentenced him to 29 months for attempting to elude, plus 12 months and one day for the endangerment enhancement. The court ordered “all counts shall be served consecutively, including the portion of those counts for which there is an enhancement.” The court imposed this upward exceptional sentence after expressly finding that Mr. Feely committed multiple current offenses and the defendant’s high offender score resulted in some of the current offenses going unpunished.

Feely appealed. One of his arguments was that the prosecutor misstated the law when he argued the jury “could find Feely endangered someone other than himself or a pursuing police officer if it found he endangered the officers who deployed the spike strips.”

However, the Court of Appeals disagreed. It reasoned that the prosecutor did not misstate the law in arguing that the jury could consider Feely’s endangerment of the spike strip officers for the sentencing enhancement.

The Court also reasoned that multiple, corroborating facts identified Feely as the driver of the truck, consequently, compelling evidence supports his convictions:

Moreover, Feely’s crime was captured on Trooper Lipton’s vehicle’s video recording system and admitted at trial. This video showed one driver driving a truck registered to Feely’s parents. The officers testified that they followed Feely down the private driveway, where they found his truck stuck in a swamp with the driver side window partially rolled down and the driver side door ajar. The passenger side door was closed and an expired Washington State identification card belonging to Feely was in the center console. The officers also testified that they heard what “sounded like one person” “making his way through the brush and the sticks,” and that they did not hear any sounds coming from any other direction. Moreover, police dogs, who arrived within five minutes of finding Feely’s truck, were able to locate him hiding nearby in a tree. These dogs led the officers to the same tree. Feely smelled of alcohol, and several hours after the incident, had a blood alcohol level of 0.13.

Additionally, the Court of Appeals rejected Feely’s argument that the Prosecutor’s minimization of the State’s burden of proof here was improper. It reasoned that the prosecutor here never implied the jury had a duty to convict without a reason to do so or ever suggested that the burden of proof shifted to Feely. “In context of the total closing argument, we conclude the prosecutor did not trivialize the State’s burden.” Consequently, and because Feely did not object at trial and fails to establish any resulting prejudice, the Court decided Feely’s claim fails.

Finally, the Court of Appeals concluded the trial court properly imposed an exceptional sentence based on Feely’s high offender score: “Under the Sentencing Reform Act of 1981, chapter 9.94A RCW, the sentencing range increases based on the defendant’s offender score, up to a score of 9.59. Based on Feely’s offender score of 14 for each count, he faced a 60–month sentence for the felony DUI conviction alone.”

Proposed Law Would Require Bartenders to Cut Drunk People Off

A news article written by S.E. Smith of www.care2.com reveals that a new bill was introduced into the California State Assembly that would require bartending personnel and managers to undergo training in how to handle alcohol and cut off intoxicated customers.

Under the Responsible Interventions for Beverage Servers Training Act of 2016 (RIBS), Assembly Bill 2121 would require bartenders to intervene when a bar customer has had too much to drink. The law, which if passed would go into effect in 2020, hopes to save lives decrease DUI, and curb drunk drivers. Bartenders would be required to complete a minimum of four training hours on subjects like recognizing intoxication and understanding the physical and social effects of alcohol. The course would also examine state laws surrounding beverage service. Every three years, participants would need to renew their certifications.

Although the California Business & Professions Code reveals that bartenders have always practiced some discretion in this area, the bill would create a more robust legal framework and provide bars with specific training requirements for staff. Furthermore, the legislation would ensure that bartenders across the state follow the same curriculum when they learn how to interact with customers.

According to S.E. Smith, one of the most frustrating parts of the job can involve making judgement calls about when someone has had too much to drink and needs to go home. Some states – including Washington State – have “cut off” laws requiring bartenders to stop serving intoxicated customers. Most have laws barring service to people who are already drunk. Individual bars also have their own policies and procedures for handling customers.

Drunk drivers are the main concern here. Intoxicated people who hurt themselves — an uninsured person who requires care for a broken limb, for instance —  may create public health nuisances and expenses. However, when intoxicated people get in cars, the decision can be fatal.

S.E. Smith emphasizes that 30 people die as a result of drunk driving every day in the United States, including sober drivers in other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. One third of traffic deaths can be attributed to intoxicated driving.

My opinion? Similar to Ms. Smith, this bill is a step in the right direction. Many of my DUI clients tell me they were over-served at the bars they frequented before being pulled over for DUI. It helps to have backup — like policies a bartender can apply — to remind a customer that they’re breaking the law if they kept serving.

State v. Robison: Implied Consent & Pot DUI

In State v. Robison the WA Court of Appeals Division I held that a BAC test requires suppression when the officer giving the breath to a driver suspected of marijuana DUI fails to provide that driver with Implied Consent warnings required by that statute.

On June 29, 2013, Washington State Patrol Trooper B.S. Hyatt stopped Darren J. Robison for traffic violations. Trooper Hyatt smelled intoxicants and marijuana. Trooper Hyatt asked how long it had been since Robison had smoked marijuana. Robison responded that it had been a couple of hours. Trooper Hyatt arrested Robison. At the Tulalip Police Department, officers read Robison an “Implied Consent Warning for Breath” form, which Robison stated he understood and signed.

The form included warnings only about alcohol and did not include any marijuana-related warnings. The two breath tests given Robison both produced results over the legal limit. The State charged Robison with DUI. Robison asked the district court to suppress evidence based on an illegal stop and to suppress the breath test because Robison did not receive all required implied consent warnings.

The district court denied the motion. It concluded that Trooper Hyatt had probable cause to stop Robison. The district court also took judicial notice that the breath test used cannot detect THC, and that its purpose was to determine the alcohol concentration in Robison’s breath. The district court decided that the implied consent warnings given accurately informed Robison of the consequences of the breath tests, which “were all the warnings that were legally required on the date of violation given the decision facing the defendant.” The district court found Robison guilty but stayed his sentence pending his appeal. Robison appealed to the superior court.

The superior court reversed the district court. It found that the marijuana-related warnings were a significant part of the required implied consent warnings and the failure to give these warnings under the circumstances made the warnings given incomplete and misleading. The superior court suppressed the test results and remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its decision.

Ultimately, the WA Court of Appeals granted the State’s request for discretionary review of the superior court’s decision.

First, the Court of Appeals gave background on how police officers apply Washington’s Implied Consent Laws in DUI investigations. Before giving a breath test to a person reasonably believed to be driving under the influence, an officer must provide that person with certain warnings required by statute. Specifically, an officer must inform the driver of his right to refuse the test or to have additional tests done. The officer’s warning must also state that refusal to take the test will result in license revocation, that the refusal may be used at a criminal trial, and that the driver may be eligible for an ignition interlock license. Pertinent to this case, the officer must also warn about the consequences of certain test results. This warning has changed several times in recent years.

The court further explained that in 2012, Washington voters enacted Initiative 502, which legalized some uses of marijuana. This initiative also amended Washington’s Implied Consent laws by adding a warning about marijuana test results.

In this case, Trooper Hyatt warned Robison about the consequences of test results showing an alcohol concentration in his breath. However, Trooper Hyatt failed to warn Robison of the consequences of test results showing a prohibited level of THC concentration in his blood. Consequently, the Court of Appeals reasoned that the BAC test was properly suppressed because of this omission.

Additionally, the Court rejected the State’s argument that (1) an arresting officer has discretion to edit implied consent warnings as he deems appropriate to the facts of a case, and (2) the officer’s incomplete warning was harmless. Here, Robison smelled of marijuana when arrested and admitted smoking marijuana to the arresting officer. “Under these circumstances, we cannot conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that Robison would have agreed to take the breath test had he received the THC warning.”

The Court of Appeals concluded that because the State cannot show that an officer gave Robison all the statutorily required warnings, it cannot establish the foundation required for admission of the breath tests given to him. “While cases have characterized this result as suppression, when the State cannot show that it complied with the implied consent statute, the State has failed to meet its burden of proof for admission of evidence it offers to prove guilt. The defendant does not have to show prejudice in this circumstance.”

With that, the Court of Appeals affirmed the superior court’s decision to suppress Robison’s BAC test.

My opinion? Good decision.  DUI investigations involving Implied Consent Warnings must keep up with today’s legislative amendments. The law is the law.

State v. Kohonen: No Proof of Cyberstalking

In State v. Kohonen, Division I of the WA Court of Appeals decided the State failed to prove that a defendant’s tweets constituted “true threats” sufficient to support a conviction for Cyberstalking.

When the defendant J.K. was in eighth grade, a classmate, S.G., informed a teacher that another student was behaving oddly. As a result, the other student and J.K. were both suspended from school. J.K. and S.G. had no other interaction until the incident at the center of this case.

Two years later, when J.K. and S.G. were sophomores in high school, they shared a first period class. One morning, J.K. saw S.G. in class and was reminded of the incident two years before. She quickly posted two short messages, known as tweets, via the web site Twitter. The first read, “Tbh (to be honest), I still want to punch you in the throat even tho it was 2 years ago.” The second read, “#[S.G.]mustdie.”

Eventually, J.K. was taken from class to the school administration office, where she was confronted her with the tweets. J.K. immediately admitted that she had written and posted the tweets but stated that she had not intended for her actions to harm S.G. Later, J.K. also explained that she posted tweets frequently. She used Twitter as a “virtual diary,” posting her thoughts, reactions, feelings, and more. She testified that she sent the messages quickly and without thinking, as a fleeting expression of her agitation at the memory from middle school. Although she was aware that the posts were public, and that she had approximately 100 people who followed her, she testified that she did not consider the potential impact her tweets might have on S.G.

J.K. was charged with one count of Cyberstalking. After trial, the juvenile commissioner adjudicated J.K. guilty as charged, finding that J.K. had acted with the intent to embarrass, harass, and torment S.G. and that she was not credible on the question of whether she had considered the effect the tweets could have before posting them. The court also concluded that the tweets constituted a true threat. J.K. was sentenced to six months of probation and 30 hours of community service. The superior court denied J.K.’s motion to revise. Division I accepted her appeal.

The Court of Appeals held there was insufficient evidence that the tweets in question constituted “true threats,” as required by the federal and state constitutions.

The Court reasoned that due process clauses of the United States Constitution and WA Constitution require that the government prove every element of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The critical inquiry on review of the sufficiency of the evidence to support a criminal conviction must be to determine whether the evidence could reasonably support a finding of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  The relevant question is whether, after viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution, any rational trier of fact could have found the essential elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Court further reasoned that in order to convict J.K. of Cyberstalking, the State was required to prove each of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt: (1) that J.K. made an electronic communication to another person, (2) that, at the time J.K. made the electronic communication, she specifically intended to harass, intimidate, torment, or embarrass another person, and (3) that J.K. threatened to inflict injury on the person to whom the electronic communication was made.

Under the circumstances, the Tweets were not true threats:

“J.K.’s tweets bear the signs of—admittedly mean-spirited—hyperbolic expressions of frustration, and that is precisely how they were received. A reasonable person in J.K.’s position would not have anticipated a different reception. Therefore, insufficient evidence was presented that the tweets constituted true threats.”

On that, the Court of Appeals reversed the conviction and dismissed the case.

Good decision.

Harsher DUI Penalties Pass Washington House

According to Q13 Fox News, a bill that would require harsher penalties for people convicted of felony-level offenses for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has unanimously passed the House.

House Bill 2280, approved Monday, would make a driver’s fourth DUI conviction within 10 years a Class B felony, rather than a Class C felony.

The bill will now be considered by the Senate.

A Class C felony has a maximum of five years in prison, a $10,000 fine or both.

A Class B felony has a maximum of 10 years in prison, $20,000 fine or both.

A DUI is a gross misdemeanor in existing law.

A DUI for someone convicted of vehicular homicide or vehicular assault while intoxicated would also be a Class B felony under the bill.

“Good Time” Early Release

A recent news article from The News Tribune and the Bellingham Herald discussed how inmates earn time off their sentences. Also, earned release time is at the heart of the mistaken early release of inmates that is roiling the state prison system.The scandal has shown just how complicated the calculations involved can be, requiring software whose programming errors freed as many as 3,200 inmates early yet went undetected for a decade. At least two of the inmates prematurely released were later charged with deaths that happened while they should have been in prison.

These recent developments inspired this blog.

Although I’m highly successful at resolving serious criminal cases in a manner which avoids prison sentences, if prison is unavoidable then I do my best to reduce and/or amend their criminal charges in a manner which allows for early release through “Good Time.” It’s time to clarify some misunderstandings about what “Good Time” really is.

THE BASICS

“Good Time” is governed by RCW 9.94A.728 and RCW 9.94A.729Washington’s Department of Corrections does not allow Good Time to individuals serving life without parole or sentenced to death. Also, Good Time cannot reduce a mandatory minimum prison sentences. There is no good time awarded on deadly weapon or firearm enhancement time. DOC does not award good time for sexual motivation enhancements. There is no good time awarded when confinement is imposed on conviction of a sex offense under Washington’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA).

DOC uses specific terms for what we call good time: DOC calculates “earned release time” (ERT) as a combination of “good conduct time” and “earned time credit.”  “Good conduct time” is time awarded for good behavior and “earned time credit” is time awarded for participating in DOC approved programming such as work and school.  A person who earns early release time and who shall be supervised by DOC will be transferred to community custody in lieu of earned early release. A comprehensive guide to good time and other related issues can be found at the DOC web site.

CAN OFFENDERS GET 50% OFF?

No. Under state law, the 50% good time rule expired on July 2, 2010, and has not been reinstated.

WHAT CALCULATES POTENTIAL “GOOD TIME?”

The chart below lists the potential good time that an inmate can receive.  Individuals may not be released on their early release date if they do not have a Release Plan, even if they have earned the time.

Crime type/classification Eligible Good Time Notes
Serious Violent or Class A Sex Offense Up to 10% if sentenced on or after 7/1/2003

 

Up to 15% for individuals sentenced from 7/1/90-7/1/2003
All other offenses Up to 33%

For all individuals sentenced July 2, 2010 and after, unless they are sentenced as a persistent offender.

Previously – up to 50% for certain offenses, depending upon risk level and other factors, if sentenced July 1, 2010 and before.

 

For the most part, offenders may receive 10% – 33% off for “Good Time.”

RISK ASSESSMENT TOOL

In 2009, the DOC implemented a standardized assessment which conducts an offender’s risk assessment upon arrival. That assessment determines the offender’s classification. Factors include criminal history (including in other states), current crime, and history and type of infractions. The “tool” is supposed to be more effective at determining risk. From DOC’s standpoint, this approach is supposed to be more effective at determining risk.

However, the Defense Bar has criticized DOC’s standardized assessment criteria as being “static” and “inflexible.”  Before 2009, individuals could see their classifications change for the better. Now, however, it doesn’t ever improve for the better– the risk category stays the same or gets worse.

ARE IN-CUSTODY PROGRAMS AVAILABLE?

Washington’s prisons house more than 16,000 people. More than 2,000 of them work for Correctional Industries, which is one way inmates can qualify for earned release time. Another 1,000 are on the waiting list, according to the job-training program.

About 9,000 are involved in some kind of education program, according to the community-college system that runs the programs. Hundreds more are on waiting lists for classes. The college system offers high-school level education, vocational training, and other programs such as job-search, parenting and anger-management courses. State law doesn’t allow state money to be used to award associate degrees.

Keeping all of this in mind, it’s imperative for defense attorneys to properly advise clients facing prison sentences of their eligibility for earned release and opportunity for rehabilitative programs.

Record Number of False Convictions Overturned in 2015

 

According to an article written by Pearl Gabel for the New York Times, a report from the National Registry of Exonerations reveals that  2015 was a record-breaking year for exonerations in the United States.

The bulk of the exonerations in 2015 came from just two states: Texas, where 54 people were cleared, and New York, with 17. The registry linked that trend to efforts by individual district attorneys in Brooklyn and in Harris County, Tex., to review questionable convictions, says Gabel.

Official misconduct played a role in 65 of the exonerations in 2015, the registry said, and false confessions were seen in 27. The most common reason inmates were cleared, in 75 of the cases, was that no crime had even occurred.

Gabel reveals that, In one such case, three men were cleared of setting a fire in 1980 in Brooklyn that caused the death of a mother and her five children. The sole witness in the case was deemed unreliable, and advances in arson science showed that the fire was most likely an accident. Two of the men, William Vasquez and Amaury Villalobos, spent almost 33 years each in prison on arson and murder charges. The third defendant, Raymond Mora, died in prison.

The exonerations in Harris County, which includes Houston, largely involved drug offenses. Last year, 42 people who had pleaded guilty to possession were cleared after retesting found that the substances were not, in fact, drugs.

The registry showed that many of the defendants might have chosen to plead guilty because they were stuck behind bars, unable to make bail, and feared risking years in prison at trial. It also found that more than two-thirds of those exonerated in 2015 were minorities, and half were African-American. Five defendants had death sentences.

Public interest in exoneration cases has risen in recent weeks as a result of the popular Netflix documentary “Making a Murderer,” which raised doubts about a murder case in Wisconsin.

My opinion? Advances in DNA and surveillance technology have opened the floodgates to the phenomenon that “justice” is not nearly as blind and unbiased as we like to think. Some Prosecutors have agendas, some police officers are corrupt and some defendants have ineffective defense attorneys.  The list goes on. Fortunately, this report shows some of the weaknesses in our system of justice and could provide solutions toward improvements.

Wrongful Incarceration

In Garcia v. County of Riverside, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that an individual’s lawsuit against police may proceed when the jail did not engage in readily available identity checks to ensure that they were not detaining the wrong person.

Plaintiff was arrested for DUI in Riverside County, California, on November 26, 2012. He was booked in a Riverside County jail. A booked individual is electronically fingerprinted through a system called “Livescan.” The Livescan image is then sent to the California Department of Justice.

When Riverside County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) officers searched for Plaintiff “Mario Garcia,” they found a felony warrant for Mario L. Garcia issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1994. The warrant described Mario L. Garcia using only his first and last name, date of birth, height, and weight. The first and last name and birth date matched Plaintiff’s own. However, the authorities did not forward information on Mario L. Garcia’s biometric identifiers, middle name, or criminal record, all of which were different from Plaintiff’s.

AS a result, RCSD matched Plaintiff to the warrant and told him that he would be detained, despite Plaintiff’s protests that he was not Mario L. Garcia and that he had been mistakenly detained before based on the same warrant.

The next day Plaintiff was transferred to an LA County jail, where he alleges that he repeated his complaints to LASD officers. Plaintiff contends that LASD knew or should have known that he was not Mario L. Garcia for several reasons: (1) their middle names do not match; (2) their height and weight differ considerably (Mario L. Garcia is listed as 5’1″, 130 lbs. Plaintiff is 5’10”, 170 lbs.); (3) Plaintiff’s biometric identifiers, including fingerprints and CII number, did not match the subject’s; and (4) Plaintiff’s criminal history, which was linked in the system to his fingerprints, did not match the subject’s.

Plaintiff sued under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment by LASD, LA County, and several other defendants. He also brought state-law claims against LASD and LA County. He claimed that it is the policy of LASD to ignore identification processes, to ignore prisoners’ complaints of misidentification, and to accept an outside agency’s determination that an arrestee is the subject of a warrant rather than conduct an independent identity check upon booking in LA County.

The LASD and LA County’s defense was “Qualified Immunity.”

For those who don’t know, “Qualified Immunity” protects government officials from lawsuits alleging that they violated plaintiffs’ rights, only allowing suits where officials violated a “clearly established” statutory or constitutional right. When determining whether or not a right was “clearly established,” courts consider whether a hypothetical reasonable official would have known that the defendant’s conduct violated the plaintiff’s rights. Courts conducting this analysis apply the law that was in force at the time of the alleged violation, not the law in effect when the court considers the case.

The “Qualified immunity balances two important interests—the need to hold public officials accountable when they exercise power irresponsibly and the need to shield officials from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.”

Here, the 9th Circuit decided that law enforcement’s failed to investigate his claim of mistaken identity after he was arrested. There was an obvious physical discrepancy between the warrant subject and Mr. Garcia, the most obvious which consisted of a nine-inch difference in height. That, accompanied by a detainee’s complaints of misidentification, should prompt officers to engage in readily available and resource-efficient identity checks, such as a fingerprint comparison, to ensure that they are not detaining the wrong person.

My opinion? Excellent decision. Civil rights violations do not always involve incidents of police shootings or beatings. Wrongful incarceration is covered, too. I’m happy the 9th Circuit understands this.

Stoned Drivers Hit Test Course To Evaluate Marijuana DUI Limits

An article from the Denver Huffington Post addressed an interesting question regarding the regulation of legal marijuana: how high is too high to drive?

Given the lack of precedent, Washington TV station KIRO opted to observe actions over words. The station assembled a group of volunteers, had them smoke pot (appropriately, the strain was called “blueberry train wreck”), and set them loose on a driving test course.

Here’s the video.

A handful of police officers stood nearby, watching any telltale signs of stoned driving. Also, a driving school instructor sat in the passenger’s seat, ready to take the wheel or stomp the brake pedal at a moment’s notice.

Unfortunately, the results (while entertaining) don’t add much clarity to the question at all. A regular smoker of marijuana tested above the legal limit to begin with, yet drove without much of a problem (at least initially). Two casual smokers also navigated the course without incident. (Spoiler alert: after smoking more marijuana, things devolve quickly).

In 2012, Colorado legislators declined to pass a law that would have limited drivers to 5 nanograms of THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, per milliliter of blood.

“This is a bit of unprecedented territory, so trying to find the right approach has proven difficult and cumbersome,” explained Rep. Dan Pabon, a lawmaker on Colorado’s marijuana-legalizing task force, to CBS News in 2012.

Washington lawmakers, meanwhile, passed a law in 2012 setting the threshold for legal impairment at 5 nanograms of THC, reports NPR.

Ultimately, though, it comes down to common sense. Explains Bob Calkins, a Washington State Patrol spokesman, to The Oregonian, “We don’t just pull people over and draw blood… If you’re driving OK, we’re not going pull you over. But driving impaired is still driving impaired.”