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!