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.