This Monday, in Seattle, an alleged DUI driver named Mark Mullan hit four people, killing two and severly injuring another two. Before getting into the topic of this post, let me say - NOBODY disagrees that this is a horrible thing to happen. Horrific. No family should ever go through this - whether the driver is drunk, asleep, distracted, or just plain stupid.
Let me also say - I do not advocate drunk driving. As aLynnwood DUI Lawyer, however, I work with people who are caught driving while under the influence, and do everything I can to help them amend for their mistake. I also do everything in my power to force the police and the State to follow the laws and the rules.
Well known Seattle radio personality Dori Monson (whose show is on 97.3 KIRO FM in the afternoons), however is calling for tougher DUI laws. In fact, increasing the penalties for every single DUI offense across the board. Now in fairness to Dori, I don't often catch his show (and when I do we usually disagree) - so I caught this on his blog on MyNorthwest.com.
He guesses that "because alcohol is the chosen drug of legislators, judges" and more, that they "refuse to enact truly meaningful laws that would act as a deterrant." Really Dori? You think our laws are too subtle? Too easy going?
As a leader in the DUI Defense community, I respectfully disagree. Yes. Alcohol is popular. No doubt about it.
But our DUI laws in Washington are among the harshest and most advanced in the country already. Here are a few examples:
1) Washington is the only state that requires an interlock device on every DUI conviction to have a CAMERA installed in it.
2) In some states, DUIs don't even mandate jail time. In Washington, a first offense carries mandatory jail time and a maximum of up to a year in jail.
3) In some states, second offenses carry as little as 7 days jail. In Washington, a second offense carries a MINIMUM of 30 days jail plus nearly TWO MONTHS of electronic home monitoring.
4) We have among the highest monetary penalties and costs to challenge the government's actions. 10 years ago, when I started practice, to challenge the DOLs suspension of your license for ANY DUI - the cost was $100. 2 years ago it was $200. Now it's nearly $400. And that's just to challenge the suspension. That says nothing of the nearly $10,000 in fines, fees, costs, insurance costs, legal fees, attorney's fees, restitution, treatment costs, and more that a FIRST OFFENSE can cost.
The problem of course is that DUI Laws will only get harsher. They've never once gotten LESS harsh. They've never said "You know what, these people who are PRESUMED INNOCENT BY LAW are getting shafted by our laws, so let's make them fairer."
Did you know it's EASIER to get a breath test admitted in a court than any other scientific evidence on Earth? Why? Because the legislature told the courts they could NO LONGER decide what was admissible or not in their own courts. That's right - your legislature decided what the rules of evidence in court should and shouldn't allow.
Until we as a society recognize that people can and do make mistakes, and treat (at least first offenses) them as such, we will continue to have harsher and harsher DUI penalties, more and more unfair laws, and essentially do what Dori suggests - which to my mind is nothing short of a complete perversion of the justice system.
And yes - I said justice.
Read the constitution - find the right to prosecute.
There isn't one.
There's only a right to be defended.
DEFENSE is Justice, my friends. And DUI Defense lawyers are the last line of defense between you and police and governmental misconduct.
DUI Defense lawyers are in the business of law enforcement.
And if you need a DUI Defense Lawyer, call Seattle DUI Defense Lawyer Jonathan Dichter for a FREE CONSULTATION. I don't judge. I don't lecture. I just force the State to do their job, and fight with every essence of my being to help you through a horrible mistake.