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Negligent Driving First Degree

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Defense LAwyers for Negligent Driving in Washington

Understanding Negligent Driving 1st Degree Washington State Laws

The state of Washington establishes and enforces two different negligent driving laws; negligent 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. 

What is the Difference Between Negligent Driving in the First Degree and Negligent Driving in the Second Degree in WA?

Essentially, the main differences between Washington's negligent driving laws are that first-degree negligent driving involves the presence of drugs and alcohol and is typically considered a misdemeanor offense rather than a traffic infraction.

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 Lynwood Attorney

If you, a loved one, or someone you care about has recently been charged with first-degree negligent driving, understanding this law is essential to helping you understand the importance of retaining an experienced Lynnwood DUI lawyer from our firm.


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


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

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.

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. 

Exhibiting the Effects of Alcohol & Negligent Driving 1st Degree

The statute clarifies that exhibiting the effects of alcohol can be determined if the motorist has: 

  1. An odor of liquor on their breath or 
  2. Exhibits signs of intoxication by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, and/or lack of coordination.

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
  • There is evidence showing that the driver recently consumed alcohol.

Intoxication & Negligent Driving 1st Degree in Washington

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.

Penalties of Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree in Washington State

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

While criminal and driving penalties can be harsh, they can be effectively avoided or mitigated with the assistance of a proven Lynwood 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. 

Motorists who face these allegations after taking prescription medication within the prescribed dosage also have grounds for a solid and legitimate defense. 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 in turn reduce criminal penalties.

Discuss Your Negligent Driving Defense with a Proven Lynnwood 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. 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 bring your case to the attention of our firm as soon as possible. Contact DUI Heroes today at 1-800-DUI-HERO to learn more about your defense options.


 

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- Founding Attorney, Jonathan Dichter

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