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Negligent driving lawyer

Washington State Negligent Driving Lawyer

The laws on negligent driving are complex and can be difficult to understand. The offense of negligent driving first degree is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 90 days in jail, and $1000 fine. Negligent driving second degree is an infraction with a penalty of $500 in fines and other costs.undefined

Mr. Graham will fight to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome in your negligent driving court case. Steve Graham was rated one of Spokane's top 5 criminal attorneys by the local magazine Spokane - Couer d'Alene Living. Don't leave your future to chance. Serving Spokane County, Grant County, Ferry County, Lincoln County, Whitman County, Okanogan County and Stevens County, attorney Graham is available for a free consultation today.

Police officers are not always issuing citations and court dates on the spot. Rather the case will forwarded to the prosecutor so he or she can make a charging decision when the courts are back open with a full schedule. If the charge is mailed, the court will not always get the address correct. The court may attempt to mail the summons to a physical rather than a mailing address, or could send the summons to a former address. If a person does not receive the court date in the mail, he or she will fail to appear and a warrant will issue. In this time of uncertainty, it may be wise to reach out to an attorney at the outset so he or she can make sure the matter goes smoothly.

Negligent Driving First Degree

Negligent driving in the first degree is a criminal offense in Washington State. The elements of the offense are 1) that a person operated a motor vehicle in a negligent manner, and endangered or was likely to endanger persons or property, and 2) the driver exhibits the effects of having consumed alcohol or an illegal drug. "Exhibiting the effects of alcohol" means that the person has the odor of alcohol on their breath, or that by their speech, appearance, manner, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise exhibits that they have consumed liquor. Additionally, there must also be proof that the person was in possession of alcohol or liquor or was in close proximity to a container that recently had alcohol in it; or was shown by other evidence to have recently consumed alcohol. As a person can see, the elements of this offense can be very complicated. Unlike most misdemeanors that can be removed from a person's criminal record in 3 years, this offense will usually take between 7 and 10 years to be removed from a person's record.

Negligent Driving First Degree with Illegal Drugs

A person can also commit the offense by driving negligently while "exhibiting the effects of having consumed an illegal drug." This means that a person, by speech, behavior, manner, lack of coordination, appearance, or otherwise, exhibits that he or she has consumed an illegal drug. There is the additional requirement that there be proof that the person was in possession of an illegal drug; or was shown by other evidence to have recently consumed the illegal drug. An "illegal drug" is a controlled substance or legend drug for which the driver does not have a valid prescription or that is not being consumed in accordance with the prescription. Since the decriminalization of marijuana, our office is seeing more allegations involving THC.

Negligent Driving in the Second Degree

Negligent driving in the 2nd degree is a traffic infraction. As with any infraction, the only punishment is a fine, and a person cannot be put in jail for such an offense. This is true even if a person has a substantial record of prior offenses. For an infraction, a person has no right to a jury trial or a defense attorney at public expense. Often the primary concern on such a ticket is an increase in insurance rates.

What is "Negligent" Driving?

"Negligent" means the failure of a driver to exercise ordinary care, and is the commission of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances. Negligence can also be based on the failure to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances. Criminal defense lawyers often see this offense alleged when there is an allegation of excessive speed, inattention to driving, or falling asleep. There is a lot of subjectivity in assessing what is "negligent" and so this is usually left up to the judge or jury in each individual case.

In Washington, the charges sometimes stem from an automobile accident although proof of a collision is certainly not required. Cases sometimes involve an allegation that a person drove too fast on snowy or icy roads during the winter months. Snow and ice can also result in tickets for Speed Too Fast for Conditions. "Negligence" should be contrasted with "reckless driving" which involves a greater risk to persons or property.undefined

Negligent Driving and DUI

Sometimes a charge of negligent driving (1st or 2nd degree) is charged along with the offense of DUI. Under the Washington court rules, these double charges are usually permitted. This typically would not violate the double jeopardy clause. Negligent driving in the first degree is a common charge that DUI is amended down to as a result of a plea bargain. This is particularly true when the DUI breath test result is not very high, and when the defendant does not have any priors.

For DUI convictions in Washington State, there is always a mandatory jail sentence, but there is no such mandatory minimum for convictions for negligent driving in the first degree. Additionally, for DUI, the probationary period is 5 years, but for negligent driving 1st degree convictions, the probationary period can be no more than 2 years. Whether or not a person should accept a plea deal for negligent driving depends on the facts of the case. This is something a person needs to discuss with their criminal lawyer after considering all the issues going in on their case. Obviously the best-case scenario is a dismissal, or "not guilty" verdict, and such a result should be the top priority of the defense attorney.

If a person pleads guilty to negligent driving 1st degree after having been originally charged with DUI, that conviction will count as an alcohol related prior offense if they go to court again for another DUI. People convicted of DUI find that they have difficulty entering Canada, and the same is often true for people convicted of negligent driving in the first degree.

Negligent Driving and the Department of Licensing

For the charge of negligent driving 2nd degree, there is no required license suspension with the Department of Licensing. This is also true of the charge of negligent driving in the first degree. However, if a person is convicted of negligent driving in the first degree, DOL will require a driver to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her car if the driver has any prior alcohol-related offenses.

Free Consultation

If you want to discuss your court case with me please call. We do free consultations on criminal matters in eastern Washington. You will receive our honest opinions, and we will listen to you and answer your questions.