Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Meet the man behind Washington States move towards stiffer DUI penalties

State Rep. Roger Goodman a democrat from Kirkland is the man behind the push towards toughening up Washington State's DUI laws.  Recently an article from the Seattle Times sat down with Rep. Goodman and did a profile on him.  He sounds like a pretty interesting guy.  He is a 52 year old lawyer who admits to smoking marijuana as recently as last fall, and he received over $40,000 from the marijuana community for his campaign.  But at the same time he is known as one of the bigger anti-DUI leaders.  Put it this way, even though he sounds like a cool guy, you don't want him sitting on any DUI trials.

He is the leader of the impaired driving working group, as well as the chairman of the House Public Safety committee which oversees DUI policy.  In other words this guy is the public face behind the push to make Washington State have the toughest DUI laws in the nation.

Admittedly I do not follow politics.  So I was not very familiar with this guy prior to all this push for tougher DUI laws in the past few months.  But from the article it sounds like this is not the first time he has attempted to toughen up DUI laws through proposed legislation.  It sounds like this is his MO or personal goal when it comes to DUIs.  For example this session he was also a sponsor of a bill that would restrict deferred sentencing on DUI cases, and the imposition of a DUI court.

In my opinion the proposed legislation to restrict the deferred sentencing speaks more towards trying to make a statement than any sort of public policy issue.  For those that don't know a deferred sentence occurs typically when a Judge will not sentence an individual, but hold off.  If they comply with certain conditions, they take back their guilty plea and the charge gets dismissed.  In a DUI case this is very rare for it to happen.  When it does usually the charge has been lowered to Negligent Driving 1, the person has no priors, they are not likely going to get in trouble again, they have completed all conditions of a sentence prior to the plea.  The benefit is the charge will get dismissed.  But it is not like it gets vacated from the record.

Currently a deferred sentence does not count as prior offense if the individual got another DUI, but a Judge has the discretion to treat a subsequent DUI as a prior even with a deferred sentence.  The fact that he would want to eliminate this benefit has nothing to do with public policy, but trying to come off as some sort of crusader against people charge with DUIs.  I don't agree with that as a Seattle DUI Attorney, or a resident of Washington State.

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA.  His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic offenses.  He is currently ranked as Top Seattle DUI Lawyer by Avvo, and was named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine and Seattle Metropolitan Magazine.  An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.  

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