Is community service becoming less of an option in King County amended DUI cases?

A few years ago if a driver was charged with a DUI in King County and they were fortunate enough to get that DUI amended to a lesser charge.  Often times that sentence would carry a community service requirement typically in the range of 30-50 hours.  However in the past year or so I’m seeing this happen less frequently.  Which begs the question is community service becoming less of an option in King County amended DUI cases?

The answer is yes.  In my opinion as a DUI Attorney practicing in Seattle it is becoming less likely any amended DUI in King County will result in sentence of community service.  In fact I would go so far as to say it may become obsolete in the near future and community work crew will become the new norm.

Before I explain why, I think it is important to understand the difference between community service and community work crew.

Community service involves volunteering at a non profit agency.  The defendant is required to set this up on their own.  The benefit of community service is you can choose the place and hours you want to volunteer.  As long as you provide a letter on company letterhead indicating the number of hours, what you did, and a representative of the agency signs it.  It will generally be accepted by the Court.

Community work crew on the other hand is monitored by the Department of Corrections.  Because of that the Court monitors the enrollment and completion.  Typically there is an orientation date where the defendant will choose the day (M-Sat) they wish to work.  Community work crew is seen as more manual labor than community service.  Usually it involves some manner of picking up garbage, cleaning a park, removing graffiti, etc.  One day equals 8 consecutive hours.

I think the reason the Prosecutors are typically no longer offer community service as an option is two fold.  First community work crew is seen as more of a punishment then simply volunteering at an animal shelter or food bank for example.  It’s more physical and demanding, it’s a full day of hard work.  Sometimes community service is seen something a lot less.  Secondly community work crew is monitored by the Court.  Meaning it is more structured.  At the orientation you pick the date, you show up, and get it done.  Typically it will happen within a month or so.  Community service on the other hand doesn’t have the structure and often times people are not getting it done within the required time frame which means everybody has to come back to Court to address the noncompliance.

So what does this mean for the driver arrested for a DUI in Seattle, King County.  It means if you’re fortunate enough to get the DUI amended to a lesser charge.  In lieu of community service, the sentence recommendation from the Prosecutor will probably involve community work crew.  Just an FYI.

About the author:  Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle.  He is the firm owner of Leyba Defense PLLC, a boutique criminal defense firm in Seattle focusing on DUI defense.