Last summer I wrote about a DUI case (not mine) in Redmond King County District Court where the defendant was convicted of a DUI with a 0.04 alcohol level. The legal limit in Washington State is 0.08. Well another defendant was convicted of having a below legal limit DUI in Redmond. This time it was a 2 nanogram THC level. The legal limit in Washington State now that marijuana is legalized is 5 nanograms.
If you’re not familiar with the DUI laws here in Washington State you may wonder how is this even possible. How can someone who is significantly below the legal limit first of all be charged with a DUI and secondly be convicted of it. Well welcome to the post-2012 world we live in when it comes to DUI cases in King County. In my opinion as a DUI lawyer practicing in Seattle, WA there were three things that changed in 2012-2013 that answers my questions above.
First a major shift occurred in King County when it came to negotiating DUI cases. If you practice DUI defense at all in King County then you know what Im talking about. Long story short if you get charged with a DUI in King County the chances of getting the charge reduced is significantly more difficult than pre-2012.
Secondly in early 2013 there were several high provide vehicular homicide cases where the defendants were repeat DUI offenders in Seattle. The caused a major uproar in our State Government. Both the Governor and the State Legislature used these horrific tragedies as a spring board to drastically change and toughen our DUI laws in Washington.
Lastly because of the negative media those vehicular homicide cases caused, several State legislators used that as a rallying cry against all DUI cases. Regardless if it was a first offense below the legal limit DUI or a repeat offender who caused an accident they were all the same. And many people in the general public have started to become swayed by this uproar and guess what those are the people who fill the jury pools deciding DUI cases.
So when you take all that into consideration. The change in negotiating policy, the negative backlash that all DUIs have been getting, and the brain washed general public who think any DUI is illegal even one that is significantly less than the legal limit. It is a recipe for disaster and that is in my opinion as a DUI lawyer how someone can get convicted of DUI with a blood alcohol level or marijuana level below the legal limit.
About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI lawyer in Seattle, WA. He has repeatedly been named a Rising Star in the area of DUI Defense by both his peers and the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Lawyers receive. Additionally he is rated a 10/10 and listed as a Superb Seattle DUI lawyer by Avvo.com