Can you get a fair trial in a DUI Case in King County nowadays?
Yet another article has come out casting negative light in DUI cases. This one comes my My Northwest titled, “King County Prosecutor says Washington not serious about drunk driving crimes.” By my account that is 6 articles, or news stories in the past two weeks discussing how DUIs are handled in Washington State, how the penalties are not tough enough, etc.
This has created a very negative light in any DUI case. Regardless if it is a person’s first one, they were not involved in an accident, their alcohol level was barely above the legal limit, and they are not going to get another one. If that is you, unfortunately you’re being lumped in with the two drivers who killed innocent pedestrians, and drivers in the past month here in King County.
If you read my blog then you know that Im a Seattle DUI Lawyer. My job is to represent people accused of DUI. Now I can tell you that 99% of my practice is representing good hardworking professionals who have never been involved in the criminal legal system before. They were not involved in any kind of car accident, for the most part their alcohol levels were not very high, and they have been assessed by an alcohol counselor and found they do not have a problem with alcohol and drugs and this was an isolated incident not likely to be repeated. They are scared and I can tell you with a lot of confidence they will never get in trouble again.
Now you can take this anyway you want but in my opinion they are not the problem. Yes they made a mistake. Yes in some cases they shouldn’t have driven after drinking. But you have to remember it is not illegal to consume alcohol and drive. Otherwise there would be no legal limit. How many people out there have ever consumed an alcoholic drink and then drove. Whether you were at a restaurant and you had a glass of wine, whether you met a fried after work for a beer, or you were at a party and had a single cocktail. If you consume alcohol, then you have done that. I guarantee it. And don’t tell me you haven’t.
Now the only difference between these people and my clients is my clients probably had one or two more drinks. Nothing big, nothing extreme. They simply did not realize how alcohol exits the human body, how they could still be over the legal limit hours after their last drink. In fact before people cast stones, I can tell you I have represented lots of people with alcohol levels below the legal limit. In one case I represented a client who had a .03 alcohol level and she was charged with DUI. That is right that is .03, probably half a glass of white wine, and she was arrested and charged with DUI. So the people that have consumed a drink and then drove you could have been arrested for DUI and the only reason you weren’t was because you were lucky.
So what is the point of this article. Well I have a DUI trial next week. And I have a great fear that my client is going to get denied a fair trial due to all the recent events and negative media surrounding DUIs lately. I hope that is not the case because a fair and impartial jury of our peers is what our entire country is built on. But I fear that members of this jury are not going to hear the facts of this case impartially. They are going to have all the recent events in the back of their mind when deciding my clients fate. And worse off I fear they will wrongly convict him because in their minds they don’t want to be responsible for letting a “drunk driver” off the streets.
So what do you think can an individual get a fair trial in a DUI case with all the recent events in King County? Leave a comment.
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA. His is currently rated as a Top DUI Attorney by Avvo, and has been named a 2013 Rising Star by Super Lawyers Magazine in the field of DUI Defense. This is an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys in Washington State receive.