Monday, December 30, 2013

'RoboCop' takes on new starring role in NHTSA's new anti-DUI campaign

If you're a fan of the science fiction character called 'RoboCop' then you will want to check out the latest commercial put on by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA for short. Its pretty cool, almost like a mini movie or a movie trailer. Here is the link. RoboCop NHTSA.
The NY Daily news recently posted this on their website. 'RoboCop' has taken a serious stance against drunk driving this holiday season, or at least that's what a new public service announcement from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows. Part of a $7.5 million ad campaign, the anti-drunk-driving clip is targeted to a period in the year when crashes involving alcohol increase 10 percent.
As a DUI Lawyer practicing in Seattle I think this is a pretty cool message. Clearly DUI's and alcohol related driving deaths are on the forefront of problems in our society. Sometimes people think just because Im a DUI lawyer that somehow I think these types of messages are BS and I'm in favor of DUIs. You should read some of the garbage people post in my comments section. So much crap that I eventually turned the comments section off because I was tired of reading how what I do is horrible and Im a bad person.
So let me set the record straight. I practice in an area of law where everyone is entitled to legal representation. I am in no way in favor of DUI's or alcohol driving related deaths. But at the same time when people make a mistake and get arrested for a DUI it is my job to help them out, navigate them through these tricky waters, and help them in any way I can. That is why people are afforded legal representation when charged with a crime. That is why the Constitution allows for it.
I never would wish what happened to that family in the Wedgewood neighborhood in Seattle on anyone. That was a horrible tragic Seattle DUI event. The individuals I represent are not that repeat drunk offender, who disobeyed court orders and continued to drink and drive. I would say 99% of my clients are first time offenders. They did not get into a car accident. Most of them have relatively low breath tests. They simply made a mistake and I help them as their Seattle DUI lawyer.
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle Bellevue DUI lawyer. His has been named a Rising Star among Seattle DUI Lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. In addition he is rated as a 10/10 by when it comes to Seattle DUI Defense.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Husky football player & Top Seattle DUI cop speak at Ballard HS in Seattle

A local Seattle high school put on quite a memorable assembly last week about the dangers of drinking and driving.  Ballard High School, which is a few miles from my home, put on a great assembly to over 500 students with some interesting speakers.  The topic and message from the speakers was to not drink and drive, and their experience with DUI arrests in the Seattle area.  

The first speaker was a Mother who lost her son in a drunk driving incident.  She wanted students to hear the important message “from the heart of a mom."  She discussed the accident with her son, provided very graphic images of the accident scene and the response of family and friends to the tragic deaths.  She was quoted as saying “you have the obligation to yourself and to your family and friends to drive and ride responsibly."

Next the students heard from the Top Seattle DUI cop in the land.  Seattle Police Officer Michl talked about what his job is about, why he does it, and how he feels when he takes a suspected DUI driver off of the streets of Seattle.  He was quoted as saying, "every time I make a DUI arrest before a collision it is a win," and “jail time will not fix your conscience or repair the damage you create when getting behind the wheel under the influence.”

Lastly the students heard from Austin Sefarian Jenkins.  He was the All-American University of Washington football player who got a DUI arrest in Seattle last year.  He pleaded guilty to his charge and he talked about what happened, how it has impacted his life, and what he learned.  

Overall it sounds like this was a well put together assembly for the students of Ballard High School in Seattle, WA.  I can tell you as a DUI lawyer who practices in Seattle I have represented several high school students on DUI cases in my day.  And unfortunately a few of them have been extremely intoxicated.  I think it is due to being unfamiliar with how alcohol affects a person, but mostly they are not aware of the consequences and dangers of drinking and driving.  

When I was in high school there was always parties after football games, or summer barbeques where alcohol was always present.  People were always drinking and I don't ever remember hearing about a designated driver, or "so and so" was not drinking because they had to drive.  Had we had an assembly like this maybe some of my former high school classmates would have made different decisions.  

I think the Ballard High School students who were present for this.  Obviously are more familiar with DUI arrests and drinking and driving in Seattle.  And hopefully they will make better decisions this Holiday Season and next year during all the graduation parties.  Remember if you're under 21 there is a zero tolerance for alcohol consumption and driving.  Meaning even if you are well below the legal limit of 0.08.  If you're under 21 you will still face a DUI arrest in Seattle if you get caught drinking and driving.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in the Seattle, Bellevue area of Western Washington.  He has been nominated as a Rising Star among Seattle DUI lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.  Additionally he is rated as a 10/10 by and listed as a Superb DUI lawyer in Seattle. 

Friday, November 29, 2013

WSP DUI "I-5 Challenge" in full swing this weekend

Over this Thanksgiving weekend you may see more law enforcement officers on I-5 in King County, WA. This is the result of the "I-5 Challenge" outlined by the Washington State Patrol.  Between Wednesday and Monday, the State Patrol is conducting the "I-5 Challenge," encouraging drivers to get through the Thanksgiving Holiday extended weekend with zero fatalities on Interstate 5. 

Last year over the Thanksgiving Weekend there were over 350 DUI arrests, with many of those coming in King County.  And on average the past 5 years almost 50 people have died in DUI related accidents during the Holiday season.  

First things first.  Nowadays even having a sip of alcohol and driving can result in a DUI arrest.  Especially in places like King County where Prosecutors are filing DUI charges at a rapid pace never seen before.  So it is best to not even put yourself in that position.  Heck I'd rather have my car get towed, pay a cab fee that costs a couple hundred dollars, even stay a night at an expensive downtown Seattle hotel rather than go through the DUI process.

But if you do find yourself on the wrong end of a DUI investigation here in King County.  Then there are a few things to keep in mind.  Be polite, be polite, and be polite.  And lastly ask to speak with an attorney immediately.  Nothing will result in a DUI arrest quicker than being a jerk to the arresting officer, or doing something stupid that a DUI lawyer could have told you not to do.  Be safe out there from Leyba Defense PLLC, and Happy Holidays!

About the author: Matthew A Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic related offenses.  He has been voted as a Rising Star among Seattle DUI lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine, and is rated as a 10/10 by

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Another Seattle vehicular homicide case is over

There has been plenty of King County DUI news in 2013.  I will forever remember this year for the horrific DUI crashes in King County, the repeat high profile DUI offender vehicular homicide cases in the news, and the toughening up of DUI laws by the Washington State legislature in response to those DUI cases.  I recently wrote about the Mullan DUI case and how he pleaded guilty last week effectively ending the criminal DUI case in Seattle.  Well another vehicular homicide case pleaded guilty this week effectively ending that Seattle criminal DUI case.  

A Kirkland woman who was under the influence of alcohol and a prescription drug when her minivan collided head-on with a car occupied by four people, killing an elderly woman, was sentenced Friday afternoon to nearly 11 years in prison.  The Seattle Times reports that Kelly Ann Hudson, 43, pleaded guilty to vehicular homicide, vehicular assault and reckless driving in September.  In the plea deal she took responsibility for her actions and even though she had no prior criminal history she pleaded guilty as charged.  

Like the Mullan case it appears that Hudson took responsibility for her actions following that horrific DUI crash in King County.  She didn't put the victims family through a long jury trial and accepted what she did and took her medicine.  I doubt the victims family takes any solace in this but as a practicing DUI lawyer in Seattle I can tell you that decision does not come lightly and the fact she pleaded guilty as charged says a lot about the case.  

Yes she killed these people.  Yes she committed a horrific crime.  But in terms of her plea deal there was nothing more she could have done.  Sometimes when you read the comments of the Seattle Times article I get the feeling that people just don't understand how the criminal justice systems works.  Some people are upset she only got 11 years.  Some people are saying she didn't take responsibility for her actions.  

Well as someone in this area of law who practices DUI Defense in Seattle.  Let me tell you there was nothing more she could have done.  She pleaded guilty as charged.  She can't plead any more guilty that than.  She was sentenced to the high end of the sentencing range.  A range that she doesn't get to pick but one that is set by the Washington State legislature.  So in other words there was nothing else she could have done in terms of her criminal case in that court room in Seattle.  

Maybe some view her apology as insincere.  I wasn't there so I have no idea.  But in terms of her criminal case, her sentence, and her plea deal she took responsibility.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a practicing DUI lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of King County.  He is rated as a 10/10 by, and was named a Rising Star among Seattle Bellevue DUI lawyers by the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Mullan Seattle vehicular homicide criminal case is finally over

Seattle's most hated and despised man Mark Mullan was sentenced today to the Seattle vehicular homicide charges he pleaded guilty to last month.  18 years in prison, plus an additional 4 months for failing to have an ignition interlock device in his vehicle.  Thus bringing to an end one of the most tragic stories to hit Washington State in recent memory. 

To Mr. Mullan's credit it sounds like he took responsibility for his actions and pleaded guilty as charged.  He didn't put the family of the people he killed, and injured through a long and sad jury trial.  Obviously everyone in Seattle would rather he trade places with those he killed, or the baby he injured who is now going to be physically handicapped for the rest of his life.  But he did all he could in the legal sense to be accountable.

Far too often people don't understand how the legal system works.  If you read some of the Seattle Times comments people feel this guy should get the death penalty, or life in prison.  And I'm sure the family of those he injured and killed are upset he is only getting 18 years.  Heck I would be upset to if I was in their position and someone who killed members of my family only got an 18 year sentence which would get cut by a 1/3 with good time.  

But unfortunately for those that are not in the legal system.  This is how it works.  There is a sentencing range based on several factors that has been created by the State legislature.  And don't forget the Prosecution could have asked the Judge to impose additional time, but didn't based on his DUI history and the recent DUI arrest he got in Seattle.  

So in the end I know nothing will bring back the members of that family that were killed by this senseless act.  But hopefully they can take some sort of solace that he pleaded guilty as charged and didn't put up any kind of fight at sentencing and appeared to be somewhat contrite over his actions.

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.   

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Should Washington state lawyers be allowed to smoke pot

We all know that marijuana is legal in Washington State.  You can smoke marijuana, you can grow it, heck you will soon be able to by it at local stores.  However one issue that was never fully determined when the passage of I502 and subsequent legalization of marijuana happened was whether Washington State lawyers can use it.

You see State rules disallow local Washington State attorneys from committing a "criminal act," and despite the passage of I502, marijuana is still illegal federally.  Last week however, the King County Bar Association asked the Washington State Supreme Court to let Washington State attorneys use marijuana without punishment.  The KCBA proposal would add language clarifying that attorneys do not violate state ethics rules if their federal transgressions are specifically permitted under state law.

So what does this mean?  If you're a practicing Seattle Attorney for example technically you can't smoke Marijuana like the rest of Washington state residents.  If you do then you would be committing a "criminal act" and you risk losing your license to practice law.  As a practicing DUI lawyer in Seattle it should be interesting to see how the WSBA goes and whether they change this ethical provision.

Now on a related but unrelated note, I have been seeing more and more marijuana or green DUI's come through my office.  Just because marijuana is legal does not mean you can go out and drive if you're still under the influence of it.  Unlike alcohol, marijuana stays in your system longer.  And even though you may not feel the effects of it, if you're a regular user than you might constantly be at the legal limit of 5 nanograms (which is not very much).  

If you're a regular follower of this blog then you know I was not in favor of the passage of this bill.  Not because I have any problem with the actual legalization, but what we were giving up in exchange for that.  In my opinion as a DUI lawyer in Seattle this legal limit is probably equivalent to a very small amount of alcohol.  But those that were hell bent on this passage never considered this, and now people that need this drug for medicinal purposes are constantly driving "over the legal limit."  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is one of Seattle's best DUI trial attorneys in Western, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other related offenses.   

Friday, October 25, 2013

Zombies to scare you out of drinking and driving in Utah

As a practicing DUI lawyer in Seattle I'm constantly surfing the Internet for DUI related news.  Often times the news I find is very sad and usually involves a negative article about DUI relates news, a vehicular homicide case, or some other news article about some repeat DUI offender.  But sometimes I come across something really interesting, and that's what this post is about.

An article titled, Zombies to scare you out of drinking and driving was in the Salt Lake Tribune earlier this week.  Here is an excerpt from the article

Law enforcement officers want to make sure people know how horrifying it can be for the living to drive drunk and hope a scary safety campaign will keep them from driving under the influence and potentially joining the ranks of the dead.  Zombies Against Drunk Driving (a real group) has teamed up with law enforcement for the two-day campaign. Beginning Friday, officers and ghoulish actors will be at two downtown Salt Lake City locations to scare "the bajeebees" out of anyone planning to drink and drive and share safety reminders, according to a campaign news release.
Frankly this sounds like an interesting idea.  It sounds like these law enforcement agencies are just about raising awareness with these crazy ideas.  A few months ago for a University of Utah football game, I guess this same agency was walking around giving the tailgaters spatulas with anti-drinking and driving messages.  

I'm really surprised I haven't heard about anything like this in Seattle.  I would say the closest thing the City of Seattle has done in attempting to prevent DUIs but at the same time not go completely overzealous in their patrols.  Was the change to the parking meters to allow for all night parking so I person can go out.  Have a good time.  Take a cab home and not worry about their car being towed in the morning.  I can't tell you how many times I have met with people and that was the sole reason they decided to drive home.  Just because they didn't want their car to get toward or have to pay for a ticket.  

Maybe someday the City of Seattle will recognize preventing DUI's is not about increasing the DUI patrols, increasing the penalties, in other words these scare tactics.  A simple campaign designed to raise awareness in a humorous or unique way would go a long way with the public.  But they are too busy thinking of ways to throw first time offenders in jail, and how to get them to do more jail, and pay more fines.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle Bellevue DUI Lawyer in Western WA.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic related offenses. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Happenings in Court

It's been a while since I have blogged under my "happenings in court" label.  Nothing interesting or exciting has really happened to warrant a post.  Especially considering all of the recent news involving DUI cases in Seattle, and the recent major change in DUI law.  But recently I was in Seattle District Court the other day and something happened that I thought was kind of noteworthy.

So I was appearing in the District Court in Seattle on a DUI case.  This Court is probably one of if not the busiest Court in all of Washington State.  Especially when it comes to DUI cases.  There is always a lot of defendants in the Courtroom and things can happen very quickly when the Prosecutor starts calling the calendar.  Because of this there is always a long line of DUI Attorneys waiting to check in it with the Prosecutor.   

I actually enjoy appearing in this particular District Court, and it's not because it is down the street from my office.  The only downside with this Court is the Prosecutors office can get really busy.  So if you have a case that you want to negotiate it is always best to try and contact the Prosecutor at least 2 weeks in advance of the hearing.  I don't think this is terribly troublesome to do, and I would rather give the Prosecutor plenty of time to review a case and any legal issues I point out, especially with complicated matters like DUI cases.

So on this particular day I was standing in line to meet with the Prosecutor.  I had already spoken with the Prosecutor weeks prior to the hearing about my DUI case so I already knew what I was going to do.  However the DUI Attorney that was in front of me hadn't taken the time to do that.  So when he got to the Prosecutor he tried to speak with him about some complicated issue with the DUI case.  He had some portions of the video he wanted the Prosecutor to review as well as some affidavits from different witnesses.  

Obviously with only one Prosecutor handling the entire calendar there was no way to review all of this information.  The Prosecutor told the DUI Attorney that he couldn't review all of this properly.  Then to my surprise the DUI Attorney started to throw a tantrum and started to raise his voice with the Prosecutor.  Saying he needed to negotiate and this was the only time to do it.  He really embarrassed himself and his client how he was acting.   And I actually felt embarrassed for the scene he was making.  It was completely unprofessional.

Now I get the DUI Attorney's frustration.  But he shouldn't have taken it out on the Prosecutor, especially when the Prosecutor is the one making the decision about whether or not to reduce a Seattle DUI case.  I don't know what this particular DUI Attorney was thinking, but I'm willing to bet he ruined his chances of getting his client a reduced DUI plea deal.  Just because he lost his cool and was unprofessional with the Prosecutor.  

Point of the story is this.  Maintaining relationships with the Prosecutor is probably the most important thing a DUI Attorney can do.  Pissing one off or embarrassing one is not only going to screw your client over, but future clients as well.  Have there been times I have been upset with a Prosecutor.  Of course, but I never let it show and I think that is why I'm respected among them.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Bellevue DUI lawyer in Western Washington.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  He is rated as one of the Top Seattle DUI Attorneys by and was named a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.     

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Group in Utah pushing to lower legal limit in DUI cases

In case you don't know I'm originally from Salt Lake City, Utah.  I have lived Washington State for the past 10 years, but I still follow the news and events in my hometown.  Especially when it comes to DUI news.  I recently saw an article discussing a recent proposal by a group in Utah when it comes to changing their DUI laws.

Utah, like Washington State, and the rest of the Country for that matter all employ a legal limit of 0.08% in DUI cases.  However a recent push has started to gain traction in Utah when it comes to that level.  A conservative think tank and advocate group for harsher liquor laws in Utah is pushing to lower the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol level.  

The Salt Lake City-based group named Sutherland Institute wants to lower the limit in Utah to 0.05%. Now this idea is nothing new.  In fact I previously blogged about this idea earlier this summer when the National Transportation Safety Board issued a similar recommendation for all the 50 states. What is interesting though is if there is any State in the Country that would seriously consider this idea and support legislation it would be Utah.

You see Utah is one of the most conservative States in the Country when it comes to liquor laws.  It's ironic for me personally moving from a complete conservative State like Utah to one of the most liberal in Washington State.  But I firmly believe this may gain some serious traction.  Most of the State Legislators belong to the predominant faith in Utah which is the LDS church.  In other words there are a lot of powerful people in that State Government that do no believe in the consumption of alcohol and make it their life's mission to some in cases force that belief on those that do.  

As a DUI Lawyer in Seattle I find this idea quite perplexing.  First I don't believe lowering the legal limit would do anything to decrease DUIs.  In fact it would probably increase them.  Think how many drinks a person has to have in order to get to a 0.05.  Not very many.  Probably 1 to 2 drinks.  How many people have wine at dinner or a single beer at a football game.  Now those people would be subject to a DUI arrest.  Secondly lowering the legal limit would effectively put the death grip on the restaurant and bar industry not to mention tourism.  It would be non-existent and that is a big part of where Government receives their funding.  

Should be interesting to see how serious this becomes in the future.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Bellevue DUI Lawyer.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other serious traffic offenses throughout Western Washington.  He has been named a Top Seattle DUI Lawyer by as well as a Rising Star by Seattle Met Magazine in the area of DUI defense, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Another DUI Prosecutor arrested on a DUI case

Another DUI Prosecutor has been arrested for a DUI in Washington State.  Last week I blogged about a Prosecutor who pleaded guilty in their own DUI case.  Not to embarrass that particular Prosecutor due to the arrest, but to show what someone experienced and knowledgeable in DUI law would do when it comes to the field sobriety tests and the breath test.  Decline them.  

The purpose of this post regarding this recent DUI Prosecutor facing a DUI charge is not to embarrass, or even show what they did regarding the tests, but to show you a DUI arrest can happen to anyone.

I'm a DUI Attorney in Seattle for a couple of reasons.  First DUI Defense is an area of the law I thoroughly enjoy.  It has the criminal aspect which usually invokes constitutional issues that I dig, but it also has a scientific component that I find challenging.  Secondly I enjoy trial work.  You don't litigage over 100 jury trials unless you love going to trial, and DUI defense affords me that opportunity.  Lastly a DUI arrest can happen to anyone.  Unlike other criminal cases, most people charged with a first DUI are generally very good people who happen to make a mistake, not a hardened criminal.   

Which brings me to my point.  This DUI Prosecutor made a mistake.  Obviously they are more familiar with the DUI laws than the general public.  So maybe they should have known better and known there is no such thing as a legal limit when it comes to drinking and driving.  But nevertheless they made a mistake and now they are facing a DUI charge.  They are now in the position of the very people they Prosecute that has to be tough situation to be in.  Again my point is if a DUI Prosecutor can get arrested for a DUI, than anyone can.  It doesn't mean they are a bad person, they just simply made a mistake.

And by mistake I don't mean anything egregious by that.  Sometimes people just have a glass or two of wine at dinner, a beer watching a football game and they don't realize they are at the legal limit or even below it and they get arrested for a DUI.  Heck sometimes people are seated inside their vehicle waiting for a cab and they don't realize this is potentially illegal and they get arrested for a Physical Control.  People make mistakes sometimes not even realizing what they are doing is illegal.     

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Bellevue.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  He has been rated as a Top DUI Attorney in Seattle by Avvo, and is named a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

DUI Prosecutor pleads guilty in his own DUI case

A DUI Prosecutor in a small town in Washington State pleaded guilty earlier this week in his own DUI case.  Back in June the Prosecutor was stopped by a State Trooper just after midnight for driving without headlights on in the downtown of this City.  The Trooper found the Prosecutor had slurred speech, flushed face, watery red eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath.  The Prosecutor was offered field sobriety tests, and a breath test.  Both of which he refused.  

Now the purpose of this blog post is not to make fun of this Prosecutor.  He made a mistake and I'm a firm believer that a DUI arrest can happen to anyone.  And it certainly it not a situation to make light of nor am I trying to embarrass this guy.  That is why I have not included any links to the articles, mentioned his name, or even included the town of the arrest.  

The purpose of this blog post is to show you how legally educated individuals who are on the side of the Government view the field sobriety tests and breath tests in a DUI case.  In fact I have previously blogged about a Judge in Snohomish County who was arrested for a DUI last year.  In that case he refused the field sobriety tests and the breath test.  Here we have another Attorney who is familiar with DUI laws, actually prosecutes DUI cases and he also refused the field sobriety tests and the breath test.  

Why is that?  Why do these Attorneys who are more familiar with the aspects of a DUI investigation continue to exercise their right to remain silent and not do any tests.  Because these tests are flawed and regardless of how you perform you will get arrested and regardless of what your breath test is you will get charged.  No matter what.  So why give the Prosecution evidence in your DUI case.  Heck if you decline these tests there is always a chance the DUI charge will not get filed.  That is what happened in the case involving the Judge and I have had this happen to several of my clients.

If you read this blog with any sort of regularity then you know my advice as a Seattle DUI Lawyer is to do the following if you're being investigated for a DUI.
  1. Be polite
  2. Decline to perform any field sobriety tests
  3. Decline to provide a portable breath test
  4. Ask to speak with an Attorney immediately after you get detained
If for some reason you questioned my advice with regards to the field sobriety tests, and possibly declining the breath test.  Then you should follow the actions of these two Attorneys who recently faced DUI arrests in Washington State.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Bellevue, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  He is rated as a Superb DUI Attorney by Avvo, and was named a Rising Star in DUI Defense by the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

The financial costs of a DUI conviction

Whenever a person gets charged with a DUI they face some fixed costs.  The cost of the Attorney fees, an alcohol/drug assessment, and at minimum the cost of the ADIS and VIP classes.  These will not change whether the DUI charge gets reduced to either a Negligent Driving 1, or a Reckless Driving or whether the person gets convicted of a DUI.  However a DUI conviction carries much more in additional costs that are often overlooked or simply not known.  Here are the top 5 hidden costs that come with a DUI conviction.

  1. Probation:  This is probably one of the biggest costs.  If a defendant gets convicted of a DUI.  Whether it is a first offense or a second in most cases a Judge is going to refer the defendant to the probation department.  In addition to that the defendant will be on records check for the duration of the 5 years of probation.  The cost of a probation officer is usually about $40 a month.  Typically this will last for 2 years.  The cost of the records check is $10 a month.  Total cost $1560.
  2. Ignition interlock device: This is the other biggie when it comes to a DUI in Seattle.  On a first offense DUI the Court will impose an ignition interlock device.  This will need to be installed on any vehicle the defendant drivers for a period of 1 year.  Most ignition interlock companies charge around $100 a month for the device.  There is also an installation fee, and monthly calibration fees.  The cost of an ignition interlock device for 1 year is approximately $2000.
  3. Court fines: The base Court fine on a DUI is between $1000-$1200 depending on the blood alcohol level.  
  4. Insurance increase: A DUI carries two types of insurance increases.  The first is the requirement of SR22 insurance that comes with any sort of drivers license suspension.  On a first offense DUI in Seattle or Washington State SR 22 insurance is required for at least 3 years.  I have seen this cost vary depending on the driver, who they go through for insurance, etc.  But I would say on average it is an additional $50 a month on top of your regular insurance policy.  The second increase would be on your insurance policy.  That is if your insurance company doesn't kick you off.  Which I would say happens about 90% of the time.  Estimated cost is an additional $200 a policy term.  
  5. Unknown costs: These are the costs that you cannot possibly know at the time of the DUI sentencing.  For example let say you want to rent a vehicle in the near future following a DUI conviction.  Well most car companies are not going to rent you that vehicle.  The unknown cost would be figuring out an alternative to renting a vehicle.  Maybe it is cab fares, maybe a town car with a driver is rented.  This is just an example.  The cost of this unknown fees can be astronomical and are far too numerous to discuss on this blog, but you get the hint. 
Overall if you're facing a DUI charge in Seattle then you should be well aware of the importance of hiring a good DUI Attorney to get the charge dismissed or reduced.  Even spending $5000-$7500 on a DUI Attorney may seem like a lot of dough.  But when you compare it to all the hidden costs for the rest of your life you will be facing, I think it is money well spent.  Otherwise if you want to go the cheap route then there are plenty of so called DUI Attorneys in Seattle who will take your case for $1000 and get you to plead guilty at the first chance they get.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western WA.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic related offenses.  He is currently rated as a Superb DUI Attorney by Avvo, and a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine and Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

DUI arrest in the City of Bellevue....Now what

If you get arrested for a DUI in the City of Bellevue then you case will be filed in the King County District Court - East division.  Even though it is a District Court the Prosecutor will be the City of Bellevue.  Typically if a defendant's case is in a District Court then the Prosecutor would be the County of the arrest.  So it can get a little confusing.  Here is the basic info regarding this Court.

Your arraignment date will typically be a month or so after your Bellevue DUI arrest.  Unlike the City of Seattle Attorneys Office in the Seattle Municipal Court or even the King County Prosecutors Office it takes the City of Bellevue a little bit longer to file a DUI charge.  Once they decide to file the DUI charge then you will receive a notice of Court date from the County indicating the date and time of your hearing.  Usually it is about two weeks away and you're required to be there.  If for some reason you cannot make it (i.e., you're out of town, or in treatment) then a continuance request can be made to change the date of the arraignment.  However this date will not be moved if you're simply too busy or you have to work.

The Courthouse itself is pretty small.  There are two Courtrooms occupied by Judge Garrow, and Judge Steiner.  Both have been Judges for quite some time so they know what they are doing.  The line can get a little long in the mornings, especially during trial week because there is only one metal detector and it always seems to be really sensitive.  FYI take off any belts, and watches.  Mine always seem to set the thing off.

As far as the actual DUI case in Bellevue goes.  The Prosecutors are tough to work with.  If you have a breath test over a .10 then they are not going to offer a reduction unless there are serious legal issues.  And even the reduction they do offer will more often than not be to reckless driving and not the lower charge of negligent driving 1.  

Lately it seems like I have been going to trial a lot on DUI cases in Bellevue.  My opinion on the juries out there are they are really conservative.  The last pool I had they were highly educated, a lot of Microsoft employees, engineers from Boeing, etc.  They were older.  Looking back on it there was only 3-5 potential jurors under the age of 35.  This can make for a difficult jury, especially in a DUI case where these types of jurors tend to not be as familiar with having a drink or two at dinner, or at least not be sympathetic to it.  Additionally since they work in fields involving math, and science they are more likely to place greater weight on the breath test results, field sobriety test results, and any other expert testimony offered by the Prosecutor.  I will say they are smart.  So a defense expert would not be lost on them.

Overall this is a pretty tough place to have a Bellevue DUI.  The Prosecutors can be tough to negotiate with.  However in my experience since the Bellevue Police Department doesn't have the experience of say the Washington State Patrol when it comes to DUI investigation they are more apt to make mistakes which can be capitalized by the Bellevue DUI lawyer.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Bellevue.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  He is currently rated as a Superb DUI Attorney by Avvo, and a Rising Star by Super lawyers Magazine.     

Monday, September 30, 2013

DUI arrest in the City of Seattle....What next

If you have been arrested for a DUI in the Seattle City limits then your DUI case will be filed in the Seattle Municipal Court.  Facing a DUI in Seattle Municipal Court is a bit different than other jurisdictions.  From the date of your arraignment to the Judges to the probation department everything is a little bit different than other Courts.  Here is everything you need to know about a DUI in Seattle Municipal Court.

First the arraignment.  Your arraignment will be a couple days following the DUI arrest.  It will be either in room 1002 if it falls on a weekday or it will be in the King County Jail if it is on a Saturday.  In most cases regardless of the breath test and the number of offenses the Prosecutor is going to ask the Judge to impose several conditions.  Abstain from alcohol, bail, and an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive.  That's right pretty tough conditions on a first offense, but that is one of the quirks of Seattle Municipal Court.  Obviously you want to object to these conditions.

Second negotiating with the Prosecutors is a little unique.  Like most Prosecutor offices a schedule will come out a few weeks prior to a pretrial hearing.  However in Seattle Municipal Court there are two Prosecutors at a pretrial hearing.  A "talking head" who just speaks on the record, and a "negotiating" Prosecutor who is in one of the attorney conference rooms outside the Court room.  

Third there are two readiness hearings.  That's right the hearing you appear before you announce ready for a trial is called the readiness hearing.  In Seattle Municipal Court there is a first and a second readiness.  Although this is not as common as it used to be.  It still occurs.  The DUI lawyer needs to appear at both.  At the first readiness hearing you can ask for a second readiness hearing if you need additional time to negotiate or there are outstanding issues and either party is not ready for trial.

Fourth is the master calendar.  This is actually pretty cool.  Every DUI case that gets set for trial on a particular week in Seattle Municipal Court appears Tues morning at 8:30.  There the Judge will go through every case.  The parties will either announce they are ready, ask to pass, or ask for a continuance or note a resolution has been reached.  After about 2-3 passes the Judge will start assigning cases to a particular trial Courtroom.  Then the Prosecutor and the DUI Attorney will go to that Courtroom and start the trial.  

The other big difference with Seattle Municipal Court is the requirement of probation on almost all DUI cases if the alcohol/drug evaluation and ADIS/VIP requirements are not done.  In other Court if you don't get the ADIS/VIP class done at the time of sentencing the Judge will give you 90 days or so to get it filed.  There is no probation requirement but simply a deadline.  In Seattle Municipal Court unless you can convince the Judge to go against the norm you will be required to check in with a Probation officer so they can monitor your compliance with the ADIS/VIP.  Why is this a big deal?  Other than the time commitment there is also an additional court fee to be monitored. 

Obviously every court is different, but in my opinion Seattle Municipal Court has some quirks that if you're not familiar with can seem quite odd.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and all other traffic offenses.  Leyba Defense PLLC has offices in downtown Seattle and Bellevue, WA. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Matthew Cordle changes plea to guilty

A few weeks ago I blogged about Matthew Cordle and how there was this outcry from the public because he did not initially plead guilty to vehicular homicide at his arraignment.  

In case you're not familiar with who this guy is or you didn't read my blog.  Basically he was involved in a hit and run.  He posted a confession on YouTube and said he was going to turn himself and and plead guilty as soon as possible.  However at his first hearing, the arraignment, he entered a not guilty plea.  And the media, the general public, and even the Judge were upset and seemed to imply that he went back on his word.

Well I posted that nobody enters a guilty plea at the arraignment.  To suggest otherwise is just ridiculous.  Heck even Judges are reluctant to take a guilty plea on a theft of a candy bar at an arraignment let along a charge as serious as vehicular homicide.  A defendant gives up basically all their constitutional trial and appellate rights.  So it is kind of a big deal and to me it was no surprise his initial plea was one of not guilty.

However last week Matthew Cordle changed his plea from not guilty to one of guilty.  According to the Prosecutor he faces a maximum penalty of up to 8 1/2 years for the vehicular homicide charge.  His sentencing is set for the middle of October.

In case you're not familiar with my blog, I'm a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  So I see people all the time charged with these types of offenses.  Alcohol related offenses, mostly DUI cases.  Most people I see in Court (not my clients of course) they are only looking for one thing.  How to get out of this mess they got themselves into.  

Heck I remember I met with a prospective client once and that was the first thing she asked.  How I was going to get her off.  So it is very surprising when someone in such a public manner just pleads guilty as charged and really takes all the responsibility for their actions.  

I know what this guy did was horrible and somebody lost their life because of a poor decision he made.  But hey you have to hand it to him.  He confessed, he turned himself in, and he followed through with his promise to plead guilty.  To me that shows a lot of character and I respect his decision.  Now don't get me wrong I realize somebody lost their life, but I'm simply saying Mr. Cordle showed a lot of accountability by doing what he believed was right, and I think even the most ardent anti-DUI crusader would agree.  I certainly do. 

About the author: Matthew Leyba is the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC.  A DUI Law Firm located in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western Washington.  He focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic offenses.  He has been named a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive, and he is also rated a Top DUI Attorney by Avvo.   

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Life in prison for a DUI? You betcha in Texas!

I recently saw an article about a woman who received a life sentence in prison for her 6th DUI conviction.  That's right life in prison.  You may be surprised by that, especially considering it wasn't a vehicular homicide or vehicular assault case, but a run of the mill DUI.  But I'm here to tell you these types of sentences are becoming more and more common recently.  So what happened you ask?

Rose Ann Davidson, 44, was arrested by a Kyle police officer in the early morning hours of July 27, 2012, on Interstate 35 after he observed her driving erratically. The officer concluded she was intoxicated and found an open container of beer in her vehicle.  Davidson had five prior convictions for driving while intoxicated dating back to 1996 and had only recently been released from prison, Hays County officials said.

As a DUI Lawyer in Seattle this type of a sentence does not surprise me.  Especially considering the shift in public and media perception of DUI offenses.  If you have been following my blog about Seattle DUI Defense you will know that these types of sentences are going to become more common as the years go by.  Repeat DUI offenders are not being tolerated, and this case in Texas is just another example.

A few days ago I stumbled across a blog where the author said people charged with DUI's do not need an attorney.  That DUI Attorneys are only in the business of scaring people so they can charge an exorbitant fee and prey on their fears.  I almost spit up my coffee when I saw this "so called advice."  By hey to each their own.  

Im a DUI Lawyer and I do this for a living.  I have never seen a case where a defendant appeared pro se and they were better off.  I've seen people think they were smart and they could represent themselves.  But it almost always ends up badly for them, and it is definitely not something one should consider.  Especially considering the increase in more zealous prosecutions for even first time offenses.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC, a Seattle DUI based law firm, focuses exclusively on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic offenses.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

What else can affect a drivers ability to operate a motor vehicle similar to a DUI

I recently saw this article from the Chicago Tribune titled, "Push to lower legal limit of intoxication to 0.05 stirs debate."  I initially thought it was another article discussing the National Traffic Safety Board's suggestion to lower the blood alcohol level in DUI cases from 0.08 to 0.05.  But when I dove into the article there was actually some interesting information that I wanted to share on my blog.

Interesting enough many opponents of DUI and other safe driving advocates remain silent on the issue of lowering the BAC level to 0.05.  Many believe it is due to the difficulty of actually proving someone is impaired at 0.05.  Others believe it is due to the reality that so many more non criminal acts can affect a person's ability to drive more than an alcohol level at 0.05.   

The gist of the article begins a discussion of what actually constitutes dangerous driving.  And I was quite surprised at some of the examples they provided.

For example the "National Sleep Foundation states that drowsiness is very similar to alcohol impairment and “can impair driving performance as much or more so than alcohol,” according to a report on the topic. Being sleepy can slow reaction times, limit vision and create lapses in judgment and delays in processing information, the foundation states."

Additionally "A 2003 study by University of Utah showed that motorists who talk on cellphones — hands-free or not — are as impaired as drivers at a 0.08 BAC. Study participants drove slower and hit the brakes and accelerated later than those driving un-distracted. Drunken drivers drove slower than cellphone users and un-distracted drivers but more aggressively. They also followed more closely and hit their brakes more erratically, the research showed."

Lastly the article mentions some studies that establish lane deviations and attention lapses occur at a BAC as low as 0.001.

Now don't get me wrong.  Even though I'm a DUI Attorney in Seattle, I am not advocating drinking and driving.  In fact in my family I have a strict policy of absolutely no alcohol if you're driving.  This is in part due to the danger of driving while impaired, but mostly it has to do with all the DUI's I have defended where the blood alcohol level was significantly less than the legal limit.  FYI - there is no such thing as a legal limit.  

So for all those proponents of lowering the legal limit to 0.05.  There are many more things that are as dangerous if not more when it comes to driving.  Should we criminalize texting while driving.  Should criminalize those that have only had an hour or two of sleep while driving.  Absolutely not.  The legal limit is fine where it is.  That's just my opinion.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic related offenses. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Can a federal law enforcement agent detain for a DUI?

Imagine you're driving close to the Canadian border.  You maybe had a glass of wine or two at dinner.  A border agent traveling to work happens to come across your vehicle.  Decides you're a suspected drunk and driver and decides to try and pull you over.  The border agent is in full uniform, and is driving a department of homeland security vehicle.  Because Washington State borders Canada any citizen of our State could be in this position.  What would happen?

Well this issue arose in Vermont involving a similar set of facts.  The case began on June 7, when a uniformed Customs and Border Protection officer on his way to work at the border noticed a car parked by the side of the road in Newport with the driver apparently asleep inside. The driver told the agent she was not in distress and didn’t need help.  Yet the agent took her keys and demanded identification. The officer then called a Border Patrol agent, who arrived a short time later. The two agents kept Leary there until a state trooper arrived and arrested her on a DUI charge.  Ultimately the DUI charge was dismissed the charge because the agents did not have the grounds to detain the driver and there was no suspicion the driver had committed a federal crime.

As a DUI lawyer in Seattle this issue can arise at any time.  So it is interesting to think about.  If I was a Prosecutor and I was arguing a detention was lawful involving a border agent.  I would probably try and argue the agent wasn't acting as a state actor or anything and it was a citizens arrest.  To arrest someone as a citizen the State only needs to establish there was some kind of breach of the peace.  You see this often in citizens who exercise this authority for suspected DUI cases.  Usually the problem overcoming this is establishing what a breach of the peace is.  Typically the driving amounts to little more than a traffic infraction, so it is often difficult to do.  

The other issue is some border agent or federal agents are given broad state powers to exercise state law.  Customs and border agents regularly enforce state laws along the border.  And in remote areas since they are often the first to arrive or assist then they have the authority to act under State laws.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic related offenses.  If you have been arrested for a DUI in Seattle or anywhere in Western Washington contact him immediately to ensure your constitutional rights are protected 


Monday, September 9, 2013

North Carolina Court decides whether a Firefighter can pull someone over for DUI

I recently saw an article discussing a case in North Carolina.  Since I found it interesting, and I had a similar about 7 years ago I thought I would discuss it here on the blog.  It asks two questions whether a firefighter can stop and detain someone for a DUI and whether by doing so are they acting as a state agent which would subject them to 4th amendment restrictions.

Basically in North Carolina a firefighter was on his way to a fire alarm in his fire engine when he passed a motorist who did not have her headlights on, and the window was down in pouring rain.  The firefighter thought this was weird, but he continued on.  When he finally got to the fire alarm another engine was already there so he left and searched out the vehicle he previously saw.  He found the vehicle, observed it weaving in traffic and almost cause a collision.  He then called 911, activated his fire engine lights and pulled the driver over.

At the trial court level the Defendant argued this stop was impermissible, but the Judge disagreed and denied the motion to dismiss.  The Defendant was ultimately convicted of DUI.  The Defendant appealed to the appellate level where they found this issue did raise 4th amendment implications and therefore remanded back to the trial level to determine the issue of whether the firefighter acted as a private citizen or a state actor.  Not surprisingly the trial court followed their earlier decision and found the firefighter was acting as a private citizen and it was a lawful citizens arrest.  A new trial has been ordered.

This is a pretty interesting issue.  As I noted above I had a similar issue about 7 years ago.  I had a client who was driving through downtown Seattle on the 4th of July or New Years.  I can't recall.  There was lots of traffic and a meter maid was directing a four way intersection.  When my client approached the intersection he didn't go through for some reason, the meter maid approached him.  Observed the typical signs of impairment, ordered him to the side of the roadway and took away his keys and called the Seattle Police Department.  The client was eventually arrested for DUI.

I essentially raised the same issue as in the North Carolina case.  I argued first the meter maid did not have the requisite authority as an actor of the Seattle Police Department to conduct a seizure.  They are non-commissioned officers, despite being directed to enforce the traffic code.  Secondly I argued this was an unlawful citizens arrest because it did not constitute a breach of the peace.  At most not driving through the intersection amounted to a traffic violation, not a breach of the peace.

Fortunately for my client we never got the opportunity to argue the case in front of a Judge.  I remember the Prosecutor was brand new.  I was able to convince her she was going to lose and ultimately my client was offered a plea deal he couldn't turn down.  As a DUI Attorney in Seattle I was hoping to litigate it and create some precedent by appealing if we lost, but it wasn't meant to me.   

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic related offenses. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Nearly 300 drivers arrested for DUI in King County during 3 week strech

I read an article this afternoon from the Seattle Times discussing the success of the "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign.  Slowly but surely it sounds like it is working, although not at a rate law enforcement or the general public might want.  The excerpt is below but in the same time frame last year there were more than 80 DUI arrests made.  So that is 80 less DUI arrests in King County due to this enforcement.  I for one think that is progress, but you can decide.  Here is the article

A total of 292 drivers were arrested on suspicion of impaired driving in King County during a DUI enforcement campaign that ran from Aug. 16 through Sept. 2.
Last year, during the same time period, officers on routine and extra patrols arrested 374 people for DUI in the county, according to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
Statewide, the recent “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign resulted in 1,420 arrests.
Participating law enforcement agencies in King County included police departments in Auburn, Bellevue, Black Diamond, Burien, Clyde Hill, Covington, Des Moines, Duvall, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Issaquah, Kent, Kirkland, Maple Valley, Mercer Island, Newcastle, North Bend, Port of Seattle, Redmond, Renton, Sammamish, SeaTac, Seattle, Snoqualmie, Tukwila and Woodinville. The Washington State Patrol also participated.
One of the things to keep in mind about this campaign and the Target Zero Task Force which consists of law enforcement officers targeting drunk driving in King County is that it's all federally funded.  Meaning if there isn't a progress shown then that funding probably will be cut off.  

Personally as a Seattle Criminal DUI lawyer I have been seeing more and more drivers arrested and charged with DUI who were well under the legal limit.  I suspect it is due to funding as well as the State Patrol saying they are getting tough on DUIs and showing an "x" amount of DUI drivers arrested and therefore saying its a success.

Remember the phrase "Driver sober or get pulled over" is not just a campaign.  It's the truth there is absolutely no such think as a "legal limit" anymore.  If you have a drop of alcohol in your system then you're fair game to get arrested.  Believe me I have seen it.  Clients with literally a blood alcohol level barely above 0.00 getting arrested and charged for DUI.   

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic related offenses.  If you have been arrested for a DUI call for a free 60 minute consultation to discuss your rights and how to protect them.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Extra DUI patrols this weekend in Seattle

Every major Holiday seems to bring extra DUI emphasis patrols.  This weekend is no different.  The end of summer is usually considered the labor day weekend, and with that come summer ending parties and gatherings and the start of college football.  Both the Seattle Police Department and every other major law enforcement agency are trying to capitalize on people making poor decisions as part of their "Drive hammered get nailed" DUI campaign. 

There will be extra DUI emphasis patrols in all major counties in Washington State.  Including King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties.  Additionally all municipal law enforcement agencies will be ramping up their weekend patrols.

As a Seattle DUI Attorney my advice is not to drink and drive.  Don't even have a drop of alcohol and get behind the wheel.  There is no such thing as a "legal limit" anymore and police are cracking down more and more than ever before.  It's not worth the risk.  Additionally the Prosecutors office is no longer offering reductions even on first time offenses unless there is a complete legal issue that could result in the case being dismissed or a major piece of evidence suppressed.  This includes DUI cases that are under the legal limit. 

However should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being investigated for DUI.  Here are a couple of things to keep in mind.  Before you answer any questions.  Before you agree to take any field sobriety tests.  And before you agree to take any breath test.  Ask to speak with a DUI Attorney and contact my office in Seattle.  You can't talk yourself out of a DUI, so you might as well start to protect yourself and limit any evidence that may be used against you in the criminal case.  

Matthew Leyba is a Seattle criminal defense attorney who focuses his practice on DUI defense in Western Washington and it's surrounding areas.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

King County District Court - SW Division moving to RJC

If you have been charged with a DUI in King County and you have been going to Court in the SW Division down in Burien, then pretty soon you will be going to Court at the Regional Justice Center or RJC for short in Kent.  Likewise if you have been arrested for a DUI in South King County or even in the Seattle area by certain Target Zero Troopers then your arraignment will be at the RJC if your DUI is filed after the first of week of September.

I have to say I'm sorry to see this move being made.  Early in my career I worked as a public defender in SW District Court.  Some of my first DUI jury trials, and other trials were there.  It's a nice court location, with ample free parking, and it just happens to be next to the best Pho restaurant in Seattle.

The change is being made like all things these days due to budget cuts and the economy.  The Courthouse will still be operated by other municipalities but it's days of handling King County cases are gone.  With the 99 closure expected in the next few years maybe it's a good thing to travel to Kent instead of Burien.

Now don't get me wrong the RJC is not all that bad.  It's a much newer courthouse than the downtown King County courthouse.  It is a much nicer facility in a much nicer area.  It's not as big as the downtown Court, but it is still one of the bigger Courthouses in all of Washington State.

Additionally the move will also be much easier for the public defenders.  The Associated Counsel for the Accused the largest public defense firm in King County has an on office location in Kent.  So those attorneys will not have to travel from their office in Kent to Burien for one case.  Now they can walk over from their office to the RJC.  This will cut down significantly on travel time, and will free up more time for them to work on their cases.  Which is great news if you're currently represented by a PD at ACA. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Boating under the influence laws changing this week in Washington State

Today July 25, 2013 marks the first day the boating under the influence laws in Washington State take effect.  As part of a sweeping reform overhauling DUI Laws in Washington State, Governor Inslee also had a few changes for BUI laws.  Here are a few of the highlights

The biggest change is the increase in the penalties once faces if charged with DUI.  Previously a BUI charge was a simple misdemeanor.  Meaning it carried a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1000 fine.  Now if you get arrested and charged for a BUI you will face a maximum penalty of 364 days in jail and a $5000 fine.  BUIs are not gross misdemeanors.

Additionally there is now an implied consent law.  Meaning a police officer or coast guard officer can ask a suspect they believe to be under the influence to take a breath test.  If they decline the breath test then they can face an increased civil penalty of $1000 which could rise to $2000 if certain statutory penalties are imposed.  Also  that refusal can be used against in a criminal trial.  

Lastly the other major change was addition a provision to comply with the recent legalization of marijuana in Washington State.  So the same THC limit of 5 nanograms in DUI cases is also the same in BUI cases.

Overall the biggest change obviously was the increase in maximum penalties faced.  Im not sure why this was done since in my experience BUI cases are not prosecuted as zealously as DUI cases.  In fact in the cases I have the plea offer is some sort of agreement where the charge would get dismissed after a period of time elapses.  But now there is probably going to be less of those types of deals and a focus on more convictions from the Prosecutors office.

The one change I was interested in that never made it was some sort of license suspension for a breath test refusal.  Previously there was some chatter among the legislators that a boaters would be required to have a license and that would get suspended much the same way it does in a DUI case.  However that never gained any traction.  It should be interesting to see if this changes in the future.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic offenses.   

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Vehicular manslaughter by bicycle....Can it happen?

The City of Seattle is the most bicycle friendly city I have ever lived in.  Literally thousands and thousands of people ride their bicycle to work every morning.  As someone who commutes into downtown Seattle, driving next to a bicyclist can be very trying.  Especially when the bicyclist is an aggressive rider and they don't follow the rules of the road.  

Well something happened in San Francisco recently that may make bicyclists think twice about riding aggressively.  A bicyclist recently pled guilty to vehicular manslaughter after he rode through a red light and hit a 71 year old man back in March of 2012.  The man died four days later from injuries suffered from the collision.

So how is this vehicular manslaughter?  Well the first issue you want to determine is whether a bicycle is considered a vehicle.  Under Washington State law for example RCW 46.04.670 expressly states a "vehicle includes a device capable of being moved on a public highway, including bicycles."  I imagine this statue is very similar to the California one, so yes a bicycle is considered a vehicle.

The next issue you would want to look at is whether this is actually manslaughter.  If you watched any of the Zimmerman trial than you know manslaughter is considered a less culpable crime than murder.  Usually lacking the mens rea or the intent to kill someone.  

The facts of the San Francisco case are as follows.  The defendant was riding his bicycle in the Castro district in SF.  Witnesses say he was riding bicycle recklessly.  He came upon a light that turned red.  He continued to ride through the light and a group of pedestrians started to cross the street at the crosswalk.  The defendant struck a 71 year old man knocking him down and subsequently causing his death.  

So even though there was no case law in the entire country with similar facts the San Francisco DA's office decided to file charges.  And I think based on the law, and the facts of the case they had a sufficient basis to file the charge.  

So can you get a vehicular manslaughter charge if you kill a pedestrian while riding your bicycle?  Yes you can.  Be careful out there. 

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in Seattle. He is currently ranked as a Top DUI Attorney by Avvo, and named a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine.  An honor less than 2.5% of all Lawyers receive. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Will the Zimmerman verdict affect jurors in simple DUI cases?

As a practicing DUI Attorney in Seattle, I have been thinking about this idea since the verdict.  To be clear I'm not referencing race, or self defense, or any of the other political topics that came up from the Zimmerman verdict.  But whether jurors will somehow not want to find a defendant not guilty in a DUI trial since there has been such a negative backlash against the jurors in the Zimmerman case.  In my opinion I can totally see this happening and here is my reasoning?

First whether people admit it or not, everyone is affected by what goes on in the real world.  For example would it have been wise to have a DUI trial in King County earlier this year when all the media was jumping over the two repeat drunk driver accidents.  Of course not.  There was too much negative feelings and I don't care if a juror said they could be fair and impartial there is no way that prejudice wouldn't creep into their subconscious.  

I'm thinking the same thing could happen now the Zimmerman was found not guilty.  Perhaps you might get some jurors who were not happy with the Zimmerman verdict.  In King County especially I'm willing to bet there are a lot of people who feel that way.  Especially considering how liberal our County is.  They may see the Zimmerman verdict is a failure of our criminal justice system, and feel like they need to right the ship with their verdict.

Secondly I'm willing to bet some of these folks might also sympathize with the Prosecution in the Zimmerman case.  They may feel like they got the raw end of the verdict.  They did a good job, etc.  Anytime a juror feels sympathy for the Prosecution.  As a defense attorney you have already lost.  It's just that simple.  

This is just a fun and interesting idea to think about.  Perhaps I'm reading too much into things and I'm trying to generate topics for this blog.  But I really have to say if you have been arrested for a DUI in Seattle.  In all the years I have been doing this.  This is probably the worst time to be a defendant in King County.  

Between the Prosecutors office changing their negotiating policies.  The new legislation passed by the State Legislature toughening DUI laws in our State.  The public backlash against drunk driving due to the two horrific DUI tragedies that occurred earlier this year.  And now possible backlash from the Zimmerman verdict.  It has been tough this year for all defendants in King County on DUI cases, and will continue to get tougher as the year unfolds.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC.  A firm focusing on DUI defense and other traffic offenses.  He is currently a Top rated DUI Attorney by Avvo, and a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine.  An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.  Feel free to contact our office for a free consultation if you have been arrested for a DUI.      

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Governor Inslee set to sign into law tougher DUI measures this Thurs

The much anticipated change in DUI laws, depending on where you stand, is about to become official this Thurs.  Governor Inslee will sign into law the revised DUI bill which was approved last month at the Washington State Special Legislative Session.  Under the revised bill, repeat DUI offenders will face more strict penalties as well as more stringent conditions on their release following a DUI arrest.

If you have been following this DUI bill from the beginning you will see it is just a shell of what it could have been.  Earlier this year amid two horrific tragedies in King County involving repeat DUI offenders.  Governor Inslee and several others sought to ride the public outcry and completely overhaul DUI legislation.  The Governor was on record saying the original proposals would make Washington State the Toughest in the Nation when it came to DUI Laws. 

Well unfortunately what the Governor was proposing was simply impossible to do.  When the budget in Washington State is already operating in the red.  There is no way millions of dollars can just magically appear in the budget.  In fact what was originally being proposed would have cost the State $300 million dollars.  Compared to the $2 million these changes will now cost the State.

As a Seattle DUI Attorney clearly I did not agree with what was originally proposed.  Booking people in jail for first offenses, requiring an ignition interlock for everyone within a few days after the arrest, and increasing the jail time for a first time offender by 10 days was a wee bit much in my opinion.  The current law that will be signed will be more strict for repeat offenders and keep the current penalties the same for first time offenders.

About the author: Matthew Leyba has been a practicing Seattle DUI Attorney since 2006.  He is a current Rising Star in DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine, and a Top Rated Attorney by Avvo.   

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Congrats Seattle DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba on being named a 2013 Rising Star!

Seattle DUI Attorney Matthew Leyba the owner of Leyba Defense PLLC was recently named a 2013 Rising Star in the area of DUI Defense by Super Lawyers and Seattle Met Magazine.  This is an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive. 

Super Lawyers is a rating service that reviews lawyer from over 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.  This is a very selective organization on who it nominates and recognizes.  This award cannot be bought or obtained in any other way except through peer recognition and professional achievements.

To be named a Rising Star, Super lawyers selects an Attorney based on peer nominations, independent evaluations, and third party research using a 4 step process:

First lawyers enter the candidate pool by either being nominated from their peers, or through third party research.  What makes this award so special is most of those that receive it have been nominated by their peers.  Secondly the research department evaluates each candidate to see whether they meet certain standards of peer recognition and personal achievement.  Thirdly each lawyer is placed in their particular legal field.  They are then compared with other laws based on the point system obtained in the second stop.  Lastly the final selection is made and published.  

Overall this is quite an accomplishment for Matthew Leyba.  Unlike some other awards other DUI Attorneys claim to have.  This cannot be purchased or obtained in any other way other than peer recognition.  Meaning other DUI Attorneys in Seattle nominated Matthew Leyba, which is the ultimate validation of his skills as a DUI Attorney. 

So congrats to firm owner Matthew Leyba on being named a 2013 Rising Star in DUI Defense, and here is to many more nominations in the future! 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Can't there be a happy medium when it comes to filing DUI cases in King County?

My last blog post discussed an article written by the Seattle Times basically throwing the King County Prosecutors Office under the bus because they don't file DUI charges until 2-3 months after the DUI arrest.  Essentially the Times used a couple repeat offenders as examples of situations where an individual was arrested for DUI in King County, the charge wasn't filed right away and they got arrested again for DUI and injured someone.  All before the King County DUI charge was filed.

Well the Seattle Times and anybody else who complained about the practice of the King County Prosecutors office when it comes to filing DUI charges got their way.  Tomorrow morning in Redmond District Court there will be over 130 arraignments on the arraignment calendar.  This is almost 3 times what is typically is.  From my understanding the King County Prosecutors Office is no longer going to stagger DUI cases when it comes to filing.  

From now on every DUI case gets filed at the same time.  It will be an endless cycle and it will be much more the norm to see arraignment calendars with over 100 people.  That is all fine and dandy except there is no way any Court in King County can handle that kind of volume.  Regardless of what the Judges think.  It is just not feasible.  So what will happen?

Well the calendars are not going to get finished and one of two things will happen.  The Judge will make the defendants came back later that day, or the arraignment will get rescheduled to another date.  Either way it will be a colossal waste of time for the defendant and their defense attorney.  Imagine sitting in Court all morning for 3 hours.  Your case is not called and the Judge tells you regardless of what other plans you had, regardless if you have to go back to work, regardless of anything else you have going on.  You have to put it on hold and come back from your arraignment because we scheduled too many people and you're the odd person out.  

Hopefully it doesn't come to that, and there can be some kind of happy medium with the Court and the King County Prosecutor's office where the DUI filings get staggered.  The arraignment calendars are back to normal size.  And people aren't stuck in Court for 3 hours only to have to come back.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI lawyer.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other related offenses.  He is rated a 10 out of 10 by Avvo, and named a Rising Star in Criminal Defense by Seattle Met Magazine.    

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Does it matter when the Prosecution decides to file a DUI charge?

Recently an article came out in the Seattle Times discussing the delayed filing of DUI charges in King County compared to other jurisdictions in Washington State.  The reporter suggested the delayed filing of DUI charges was bad, and called out the King County Prosecutors office because of it.  In the article an example is used of a guy who was arrested for DUI but the charge was not filed for a few months.  During those months he was arrested again for DUI.  And the question was asked why would he out of custody?

Well this article got me thinking.  Does it really matter when the Prosecutor files a DUI charge.  Obviously this will be from a Defense Attorney standpoint, but in my opinion the filing of a DUI charge most times has very little effect on a DUI case.  However there are certain instances when a delayed filing will benefit the Defense.  For example:

Lets say that you have been arrested for a DUI in Seattle.  Your case gets referred to the King County Prosecutors office.  Almost 3 months after the arrest you have an arraignment.  At that arraignment the Prosecutors office asks for bail or a requirement of ignition interlock while the case is pending.  The Prosecutors argue there is a community safety risk if these extra conditions are not imposed and there is a substantial likelihood another drunk driving arrest will occur.

Well in my opinion as a Seattle DUI Attorney the Prosecutors would stand a better chance of having those above conditions imposed if the DUI charge had been filed sooner.  It is kind of difficult to convince a Judge someone is a community safety risk when the Prosecutor hasn't been concerned with them for the past 3 months.  Meaning if they thought there was a substantial risk they would drink and drive again then the DUI charge should have been filed sooner.  Typically this is what a Judge says and that is why sometimes the Prosecutors cannot get those conditions imposed.

The second reason it is sometimes advantageous for the Defense when a DUI charge is not filed right away is the amount of investigation that can get done prior to the arraignment.  If a DUI charge does not get filed for 2-3 months.  Than that is 2-3 months a Defense Lawyer is working on the case.  Interviewing the arresting officer.  Requesting and reviewing video evidence.  Investigating the breath test records and maintenance logs of the breath test machine.  Essentially this delayed filing has given the Defense Attorney a head start on preparing a defense.  Something that comes in handy when compared to the amount of time a Prosecutor has on the case.

And lastly in my experience when a DUI charge gets filed closer to the statue of limitations rather than sooner.  And I mean right at the 2 year limit then usually by that time the case is pretty stale.  Witnesses are gone.  Police officers do not remember as well or may not even be around anymore.  And usually due to the time frame and age of the case, Prosecutors are more willing to negotiate and offer a plea deal then normally would not have.

So those are three instances when a delayed filing will benefit a Defendant.  But generally a delayed filing of 2 months is not that big of a deal on a first offense DUI and most times will have little to no effect on the outcome of the case.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle.  He is rated a 10 out of 10 by Avvo and named a Top Seattle DUI lawyer.  Additionally he has been named a Rising Star in the field of DUI Defense by Seattle Met Magazine.  An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.