When is it a good idea to turn down a Neg 1 on a King County DUI case
If you’re an avid reader of this blog then you undoubtedly read my recent post about the 2 nanogram DUI case where the defendant was found guilty in Redmond District Court. This past summer I blogged about a .04 DUI case where the defendant was also found guilty of DUI in Redmond. From what I hear both defendants turned down Neg 1 offers and opted to go the jury trial route instead. Clearly they made the wrong decision, but that got me thinking. Is it ever a good idea to turn down a Neg 1 reduction from a DUI.
In my opinion as a Seattle DUI Attorney I would say most times it is a bad idea to turn down a Neg 1 on a DUI case. I was thinking about this and in my career I have only advised 4 clients to turn down a Neg 1 from a DUI and go to trial. If that is too few I guess you can say I’m pretty conservative. If you think that is too many than I guess Im a risk taker. But I tend to think a Neg 1 is a very good deal especially nowadays where they are not offered very often. And turning one down should be considered very carefully.
Each DUI case where I advised a client to turn down a Neg 1 were pretty similar in the sense I felt very strongly it would either get dismissed or my client would get found not guilty. One case was a slam dunk safely off the roadway defense, where my client ended up getting found not guilty. Two other cases contained pretty severe evidentiary issues in terms of the stop, and both cases ended up getting dismissed by a Judge. The last case my client couldn’t afford any kind of conviction on his record otherwise he would lose his career and on the eve of trial the Prosecutor contacted me and offered to reduce the DUI to a traffic ticket which he ended up taking.
3 of the 4 DUI cases where I advised my clients to turn down a Neg 1 rested on pretty strong legal issues. From what I hear those cases in Redmond did not have much in the way of legal issues and the Neg 1 was turned down because both the DUI Attorneys thought there was no way a jury would convict their clients of a DUI when they were below the legal limit.
And that is a common misconception in DUI cases in King County. There are two ways a person can get convicted of DUI. When is if they are above the legal limit. The other is if their driving was appreciably affected by the marijuana or the alcohol in their system. To think a defendant cant get convicted because they are below the legal limit is just plain stupid and it is quite risky if you ask me.
So that brings me to the questions I initially posed. When is it a good idea to turn down a Neg 1 on a DUI case in King County? I would say if there is a slam dunk legal issues or affirmative defense then it might be worth the gamble. However if you’re banking on a jury to walk the defendant than it’s probably not a good idea. The instant you rely on a jury it brings into too many factors that are outside the control of the Defense. At least if there is a legal defense or evidentiary issues a Judge would rule on pretrial you might have a better assessment of what is going to happen. That is the difference. But in the end it really is just a gut decision.
_ About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western WA. He has been rated as a 10/10 and listed as a Superb DUI lawyer by Avvo.com. Additionally he has been repeatedly recognized as a Rising Star among Seattle DUI lawyers by Super Lawyers Magazine, and the Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.