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Negligent Driving First Degree Free Case Evaluation

Snohomish County Negligent Driving Defense Attorneys

First-Degree Negligent Driving Charges in Snohomish County, WA

Washington State establishes and enforces two different negligent driving laws: negligent driving in the first degree and in the second degree. While both of these laws hold motorists accountable for placing others on public roads and highways in danger, they differ significantly in scope.

The critical difference between Washington’s negligent driving charges is that first-degree negligent driving involves the presence of drugs and alcohol and is considered a misdemeanor offense according to the Revised Code of Washington, as opposed to a traffic infraction. Second-degree negligent driving charges cover all other cases of unsafe driving and is not a criminal charge, and comes with just a $250 fine.

Relationship Between First-Degree Negligent Driving & DUI Charges

Washington created these two distinct offenses several years ago to confront the problem of drivers who exhibited signs of intoxication or impairment yet still had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) below the legal limit of .08%. This means that even if a motorist is driving within the legal BAC limits, they may still face criminal charges similar to driving under the influence (DUI).

Experienced Defense for Negligent Driving from a Snohomish County Attorney

Don’t be fooled by the term “negligent driving”—this is an alcohol-related criminal charge, and as such, you need a DUI defense attorney to ensure your rights and future are protected. This is where DUIHeroes can step in.

Our Washington DUI firm practices DUI defense exclusively, giving us the necessary experience and resources for fighting these charges. Our DUI specialist, Attorney Jonathan Dichter, has led our firm to a 90% success rate getting DUI charges dismissed or reduced. If you, a loved one, or someone you care about has recently been charged with first-degree negligent driving, call an experienced Snohomish County negligent driving lawyer from DUIHeroes.

If you have been charged with negligent driving in the first degree in Snohomish County, call our firm at 1–800-DUI-HERO or contact us online today.

Legal Definition of Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree in Washington

As defined by the statute, operating a motor vehicle negligently refers to a motorist’s failure to exercise ordinary care. This means that when a driver fails to act in a manner that a reasonably careful person would act, they exhibit signs of negligent driving.

According to RCW § 46.61.5249, a driver can be charged with negligent driving 1st degree if they:

  • Operate a motor vehicle negligently and in a manner that is likely to endanger any person or property; and
  • Exhibit the effects of having consumed alcohol or any drug, or exhibit the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.

The statute clarifies that exhibiting the effects of alcohol can be determined if the motorist has an odor of liquor on their breath, or exhibits signs of intoxication by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, and/or lack of coordination. The only affirmative defense to this charge under the law is if the defendant was under the influence of a drug with a valid prescription and taken as instructed.

In addition to exhibiting signs of alcohol intoxication, at least one of the following two elements must be present:

  • The driver is in possession or in close proximity to a container containing alcohol, or
  • There is evidence showing that the driver recently consumed alcohol.

Intoxication & Negligent Driving 1st Degree

In relation to a case of negligent driving involving any type of drug or chemical, a motorist must exhibit the same types of impairment as defined by the statute relating to intoxication.

At least one of the following two elements must also be present:

  • The driver is in possession of an illegal drug or chemical substance; and/or
  • There is evidence showing that the driver recently consumed an illegal drug or chemical substance.

Washington State Penalties for Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree

Depending on the nature of the charge and the driver’s criminal record, criminal and driver’s license penalties may vary. As a misdemeanor offense, however, typical penalties can include probation, fines up to $1,000, up to 90 days imprisonment, or both.

Additionally, motorists convicted of first-degree negligent driving may face driver’s license suspensions and, in certain cases involving individuals with prior DUI or negligent driving convictions, may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on any vehicles they own.

Defense for Negligent Driving in the First Degree in Snohomish County

While criminal and driving penalties can be harsh, they can be effectively avoided or mitigated with the assistance of a proven Snohomish County DUI defense attorney. Defense strategies will differ on an individual basis, but will generally focus on challenging any chemical evidence of impairment or intoxication, arresting protocol of law enforcement officers, and a motorist’s driving abilities, among other elements.

It is also important to note that in certain cases, individuals who have been charged with a DUI may be able to reduce their charge to first-degree negligent driving, which can reduce criminal penalties. While a first-degree negligent driving charge is serious, it’s preferable to a full DUI conviction.

Discuss Your Defense Options With a Proven Snohomish County DUI Attorney

As a firm that focuses exclusively on DUI defense and related driving offenses, we are uniquely prepared to handle first-degree negligent driving cases. Founding Attorney Jonathan Dichter has spent years representing individuals throughout the state of Washington who have found themselves facing these serious criminal charges. He’s a DUI specialist who has committed his career to the study of defending against these charges. Equipped with extensive experience, tools, and resources, we are capable of fighting aggressively on your behalf.

As negligent driving 1st-degree cases must be addressed on an individualized basis, we encourage you to bring your case to our firm as soon as possible. Contact us today at 1–800-DUI-HERO to learn more about your legal defense options.


"The vision of DUIHeroes is to change the way the public views individuals charged with a criminal offense. And, to change the way they view the criminal defense attorneys who ethically and professionally stand up for and defend the rights of those individuals every day, because those rights are guaranteed to every single one of us. No matter what."

- Founding Attorney, Jonathan Dichter

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