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King County Criminal Attorney | Washington State Negligent Driving

Washington state negligent driving offenses

King County Criminal Attorney

Washington state negligent driving offenses

Washington has two negligent driving offenses: first-degree negligent driving and second-degree negligent driving.

Negligent driving in the first degree

A person is guilty of negligent driving in the first degree if he or she (1) operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and that endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property (2) while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug.

A person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonably careful person would not do under similar circumstances or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under similar circumstances. For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Craig Kline.

A person exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor if the person (1) has the odor of liquor on his or her breath, or (2) shows by appearance, behavior, or odor of alcohol on the breath that he or she has consumed liquor, and (3) is either:

(a) In possession of or close to a container that has or recently had liquor in it, or

(b) Shown by other evidence to have recently consumed liquor.

A person exhibits the effects of having consumed an illegal drug if the person (1) shows by appearance or behavior that he or she has consumed an illegal drug and (2) the person is either (a) in possession of an illegal drug, or (b) is shown by other evidence to have recently consumed an illegal drug.

First degree negligent driving is a misdemeanor, which means it is punishable by a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000.00 fine.

The bad news about this law is that you can be charged with an alcohol related traffic offense even if you are not over the legal limit, are not intoxicated, and your driving is not impaired. All that is required is a careless turn out of the bar or restaurant parking lot coupled with the smell of alcohol on your breath.

The good news is that if you have been charged with a Washington DUI, it may be possible to get the charges reduced to negligent driving in the first degree. This offense, unlike DUI, does not require any jail time or a license suspension and it may eventually be removed from your record. A King County criminal attorney can advise you of whether reduction of a DUI charge to negligent driving in the first degree may be possible in your case and whether accepting such an offer from the prosecution is advisable.

Negligent driving in the second degree

Second-degree negligent driving is negligent driving that does not involve liquor or illegal drugs.

A person is guilty of negligent driving in the second degree if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property. Just like first degree negligent driving, a person is negligent if he or she does something that a reasonably careful person would not do under similar circumstances or fails to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under similar circumstances.

Negligent driving in the second degree is a traffic infraction subject to a penalty of $250. It does not involve jail time or a license suspension. Next to a dismissal, a reduction of your DUI to negligent driving in the second degree is considered the best outcome.

Get help with a DUI or other Washington state driving offenses

If you have been charged with negligent driving, reckless driving, or DUI in the south King County area, our attorney is available for a free consultation. To arrange to speak to a King County criminal attorney, please complete the Free Case Evaluation form on this page, and she will respond promptly.

For legal issues, I recommend lawyer Mark Kaylor.