Friday, January 23, 2015

WA State legislator proposes bill that would make fourth offense DUI a felony

Now that the 2015 Washington State legislative session is under way.  The annual what can we do to make DUI laws tougher here in Washington State has begin.  The latest example is a proposed bill that would make a fourth offense DUI a felony.  Currently under Washington law a felony DUI law charge applies if a driver has been convicted of a DUI four times within the past decade, essentially making a fifth offense DUI a felony.  

This legislation was proposed last year, and the year before, and the year before it seems.  And it always comes back to the same thing.  Money.  Like all things it always comes back to money.  Regardless of how you feel about DUIs, and by now means do I condone drinking and driving.  But the cost of new legislation and implementing the laws means more in some cases than the idea.  

Would making a fourth offense DUI a felony be a good idea.  Of course it would.  Despite being a DUI Attorney in Seattle, if a driver doesn't learn their lesson by the third time then chances are nothing is going to help them.  At least that is my opinion.  Perhaps facing a lengthier jail sentence would cause a multiple repeat DUI offender to reconsider their choices.  

The problem with this legislation is how will the bill be implemented financially.  It is not as simple as saying okay your fourth DUI is now a felony.  There are costs that need to be factored.  Probation, jail, and monitoring fees are just a few off the top of my head.  

If you're interested in an article about this new legislation here you go.  I would be surprised if this bill passed.  Again not because it is not a good idea, but we still don't have any money here in Washington State.  

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About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  He has been repeatedly recognized as one of the best Seattle DUI Attorneys by the Seattle Met Magazine, and is currently the highest rated Seattle DUI Lawyer by Avvo.com 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

How often can you expect to have Court on a DUI case?

One of the most common questions I get asked as a Seattle DUI Attorney is how many times will I have to go to Court for my DUI case.  The answer is pretty simply.... It depends.   Here are the factors that will determine how often a defendant would have to go to Court for a DUI case.

If the DUI gets reduced to a lesser charge or something along those lines and a plea deal is negotiated then obviously there may not be that many Court dates.  Typically in this situation a defendant will have to attend at least 3-4 court dates.  The first hearing would be the arraignment, there may be something called a pretrial hearing where the defendant will enter the plea deal, and then there would be a sentencing hearing.  So depending on the number of pretrial hearings it potentially could be 3-4 dates.  

If the DUI gets set for trial then there could be many court dates.  Again like the previous example there would be an arraignment, a pretrial hearing, but instead of a sentencing hearing there would be a few other court dates.  The next hearing would be a motion hearing.  This is where a motion to dismiss or suppress evidence would be litigated.  The next hearing would be something called a readiness hearing or omnibus hearing.  Basically this is just where the parties go in front of the Judge and announce whether the trial will actually commence on the date chosen or whether it will be moved.  Then of course the trial date.  

I would say depending on the jurisdiction and how busy they are if a case gets set for trial that will include anywhere from 10-30 additional court dates.  For example I recently has a DUI jury trial here in Seattle and my client and I appeared approximately 30 times before the trial actually started.  This is actually a lot and not the norm but sometimes it happens.

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About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  He is the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC a DUI law firm. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

What are the three standardized field sobriety tests administered in a DUI investigation

Have you ever wondered what the three standardized field sobriety tests are in a DUI investigation?  Well today is your lucky day.  DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba and answer this question and offer a basic overview in layman's terms of how they are administered and what the police officers look for during their DUI investigation.

The standardized field sobriety tests are a battery of three tests that have been standardized by the National Highway Safety Administration.  Back in the day this organization did a few studies based on these tests and determined they were the most reliable.  The reason the term "standardized" is used is because the purpose of these tests is to be administered the same way every time.  Meaning a DUI police officer administering this test in Seattle will be administering it the same way a DUI officer would be Florida.  

So what are the tests:

The first test administered is the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.  If you have ever seen this test in the movies or on the side of the road it is the "eye" test.  What the Officers are looking for his nystagmus.  Nystagmus is the involuntary jerking of the eyeball as it moves side to side following an object.  It kind of looks like a marble rolling across sand paper.  It bounces.  The officers are trained to look for a total of 6 clues, 3 in each eye.  First they look to see whether the jerking occurs, secondly whether it occurs at the furthest the eye can look to the side, and lastly whether the jerking occurs prior to a 45 degree angle.  

The second test generally administered is the walk and turn test.  This test is exactly how it sounds.  The officers look for a total of eight clues during this test.  Whether the subject loses balance in the instruction position, starts too soon, misses heel to toe, stops walking, raises arms, steps offline, fails to take the 9 mandatory steps, and fails to make the correct turn between the first nine steps and the second nine steps.

The third test administered is call the one leg stand.  And like the walk and turn test this test is exactly how it sounds.  The Officer has the subject stand on one leg, keep their arms to the side, count out loud until they are told to stop, and stare at their raised foot which is 6 inches off the ground.  The things they look for are raising the arms, putting foot down, hopping, swaying side to side.  

So there you have it.  Those are the magical standardized field sobriety tests.  Please keep in mind this is simply a blog and not a manual or thesis.  I could probably write a few pages on each test, but thats not what I wanted to do.  

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About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  He is rated a perfect 10 out of 10 by Avvo.com, and named one of the best Seattle DUI lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine.