If you are involved in a DUI related accident in Washington state, you could face criminal traffic charges in addition to the drinking and driving offense. Whenever you face multiple criminal charges, it is important to put your case in the hands of a veteran defense attorney as soon as possible.
At The Law Offices of Smith and White, PLLC, we offer a free initial consultation to discuss the charges you are facing. With office in Tacoma, our attorneys handle DUI and criminal traffic charges throughout western Washington state, Pierce County, King County and the Puget Sound area.
WASHINGTON STATE CRIMINAL TRAFFIC CHARGES
Prosecutors have discretion in determining what additional charges a person may face in the case of a DUI-related accident:
- If the person in the other car (or pedestrian) is not injured, you could be charged with misdemeanor reckless driving.
- If the person in the other car (or pedestrian) is injured, you could be charged with felony vehicular assault.
- If the person in the other car (or pedestrian) is kill, you could be charged with felony vehicular homicide.
- If you had a child in the car with you, you could be charged with felony reckless endangerment.
- If you leave the scene of an accident, you could be charged with hit and run.
ASSAULT AND HOMICIDE
Of course none of the charges listed above are desirable – no criminal charge is. However, probably the two scariest possibilities are vehicular assault and vehicular homicide.
Vehicular assault is charged when bodily harm is caused in a traffic accident and the underlying cause is suspected to be a DUI or reckless driving. Even though you did not intend to cause harm; vehicular assault is classified as a felony. You could be facing a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. This is serious, you need to know that. We do know that and will treat it with the seriousness and thoroughness needed.
Vehicular homicide is charged when it is believed that the accident, and therefore the death, was caused by drug or alcohol impairment or by reckless driving. Although you feel horrible that this happened you may be hoping the law will be lenient. After all, you didn’t mean to hurt, let alone kill, anyone. This is not the case. In the eyes of the law the only difference between vehicular homicide and any other homicide is the weapon involved. In the eyes of the law you may as well have used a club, knife or gun; this will be dealt with as harshly as any other homicide. This means you may be facing up to life in prison and up to a $50,000 fine and there is a minimum of 15-20 months of prison time on the least serious form of vehicular homicide. Plus, since this was a driving incident, you may also be facing your license being taken away, being forced to use an interlock device and additional prison time added to your sentence for each prior DUI conviction. That’s not all – this will now be a felony on your permanent criminal record. As you are probably aware that can threaten certain civil rights such as voting and gun ownership and make securing employment and getting housing, federal aid or loans very difficult. That’s why this is serious; aside from your own personal feelings this can follow you with consequences for the rest of your life.
Reckless endangerment, hit and run and reckless driving may have lesser consequences but also have stiff penalties. It should also be remembered that these charges are in addition to, not instead of, the DUI charge. So you would potentially be facing those penalties as well.
ARE THERE DEFENSES IN DUI ACCIDENTS?
Just because you tested over the legal limit of .08 does not mean you do not have a defense. With the help of a veteran lawyer both blood and breath test results can be challenged.
Police may even have difficulty proving you were driving the car. In an accident the driver is usually out of the vehicle by the time police officers arrive. This can raise the issue of corpus delicti which means “the body of the crime.” The police officer needs evidence outside of the statements of the defendant that make him or her guilty. If the police officer cannot place you behind the wheel of the car then the prosecutor may have proof problems.
CONTACT OUR TACOMA RECKLESS DRIVING DEFENSE LAWYERS
To discuss your case with our Tacoma DUI accident defense lawyers, call (253) 203-1645 or send us an e-mail through this website. We will arm you with the information you need to make sound decisions about your case. Call or e-mail the law office of Smith & White, PLLC – your free case analysis awaits you.