Thursday, April 4, 2013

Are Washington State's DUI laws tough enough?

Amid the controversy over Mark Mullen and why he was still on the street another article has come out chiming in on this issue.  This one from the Seattle Times basically asks the question, Are Washington State's DUI laws tough enough?  

In case you have been living under a rock this all stems from Mark Mullen.  The guy who had several previous DUI convictions, and how two pending DUI matters in Seattle Municipal Court, and Snohomish County District Court.  Yet despite that and having an order from both Courts to not drive unless his vehicle was equipped with an ignition interlock device killed two people, and seriously injured a mother and child a couple of weeks ago.

So that brings us to the question at hand. Are the DUI laws in Washington State tough enough?  In my opinion yes they are.  Here are a few reasons why?

  • 4 or more prior DUIs in a period of 10 years are now felonies
  • Required ignition interlock devices for first time offenders in Washington State
  • Last year alone law makers doubled the penalties for vehicular homicide cases
  • Additionally the max amount of jail a first time offender faces is 364 days
  • 5 years probation for first time offenders

Now some are wondering despite all of this how can people like Mark Mullen still be on the road.  In my opinion the bottom line is while this was a horrific and tragic incident, Mr. Mullen was going to drive no matter what.  At his arraignment the Court did everything within its power including imposing bail, setting conditions of release, etc. 

Remember Criminal 3.2 which states there is a presumption of release in a court case unless it can be shown the individual is not likely to appear at their next hearing, or there is a substantial likelihood they will commit a violent offense in the future.  In this case the Judge found there was a substantial likelihood he would drink and drive again and imposed bail.  Mr. Mullen just happened to have money and posted it.  Additionally if conditions of release are imposed those conditions must be reasonable.  

Don't get me wrong I'm still a Seattle DUI lawyer but with that being said my heart goes out the families of the victims in this case.  I walk those streets every day with my family and it easily could have been us.  But to suggest there was anything that could have been done within reason to prevent this is a stretch.  I believe Washington State has some of the more tougher DUI laws in the Country, and unless the Judge imposed a $100 million dollar bail (which would not happen for any case) he was going to post.  The problem here is not the system, but Mr. Mullen's choices.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a Seattle DUI lawyer.  He is rated a Top DUI Lawyer by Avvo, and currently is a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine in the field of DUI defense.  

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