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.