Port Orchard Negligent Driving Lawyer

The state of Washington takes traffic offenses very seriously. Did you know that most states don’t differentiate between reckless and negligent driving? Washington State does. What, exactly, does that mean for you?

The laws on negligent driving are complex and can be difficult to understand. If you or a loved one have been charged with negligent driving in Port Orchard, you probably have many questions, such as-

  • Is negligent driving a criminal traffic citation?
  • Will I go to jail if I get convicted of negligent driving charges?
  • Will I lose my license if I get convicted of negligent driving in Port Orchard?
  • Do I need a lawyer to fight my negligent driving charges?

The information presented on this website is a basic overview of negligent driving charges in the state of Washington. Our team of Port Orchard criminal defense attorneys believes that educating our clients about their charges is of the utmost importance. Operating on the principle that it’s easier to fear something when you don’t understand it, our firm is dedicated to making sure our clients never have to say the words “I don’t understand” when it comes to their case.

If you would like to speak to an experienced Kitsap County Negligent Driving Defense Lawyer, please contact our firm today. We offer a free initial case evaluation so that you can get to know us, and we can get to know you and your case.

Understanding Your Negligent Driving Charges- An Explanation by a Port Orchard Criminal Defense Lawyer

"Negligent" is defined as the failure of a driver to exercise ordinary care and is the result of the pursuit 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. Confusing, isn’t it?

Criminal defense lawyers often see this offense alleged when there is an allegation of excessive speed, inattention to driving, or falling asleep. If a negligent driver causes an accident, the presumption is that the driver did not cause the accident “on purpose.” There is a lot of subjectivity in assessing what is "negligent" and so this is usually left up to the subjective opinion of the arresting/citing officer of the law.

The laws surrounding negligent driving can be complicated and difficult to understand. To begin to break it down, there are two types of charges; negligent driving in the first degree, also known as Neg 1 or Negligent Driving 1, and Negligent driving in the second degree, also known as Neg 2 or Negligent Driving 2.

State Statute RCW 46.61.5249 on Negligent Driving 1:

“A person is guilty of negligent driving in the first 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, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or marijuana or any drug or exhibits the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.”

Like the charge of Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Neg 1 is a criminal driving offense that includes alcohol or drugs, but there are significant differences between a Neg 1 charge and a DUI charge. For a DUI charge, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) must register at 0.08. You may be convicted of Negligent Driving 1 having consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs; it is not dependent on the quantity or the results of a breathalyzer or blood test.

Yes, this means you can be charged with a criminal offense after drinking one sip of alcohol. If an officer can smell alcohol on your breath or if you seem intoxicated but are below the legal limit of 0.08, you may be charged with negligent driving 1 instead of a DUI.

Negligent Driving 2 is a lesser charge than Negligent Driving 1.

State Statute RCW 46.61.525 on Negligent Driving 2:

“A person is guilty of negligent driving in the second degree if, under circumstances not constituting negligent driving in the first degree, 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.”

In essence, this means that you have been accused of negligent driving, but not suspected of using drugs or alcohol at the time of citation. A common defense for Neg 2 is that the driver was operating the motor vehicle on private property with the consent of the owner in a manner consistent with the owner's consent.

Criminal traffic charges and citations are no laughing matter. While it can seem simpler to just pay the fine and get it over with, hiring an experienced Port Orchard negligent driving attorney to represent your interests with the Courts may work out better for you in the long run. With decades of experience dealing with Washington negligent driving cases, our team of legal professionals is poised to do everything legally possible to have your case dismissed or reduced.

What Are the Penalties for Negligent Driving in Kitsap County?

Negligent Driving 1 is a criminal offense in Washington State. As a misdemeanor, penalties for negligent driving can include

  • Fines up to $1000
  • Up to 90 days in Jail
  • Requirement of Alcohol/Drug Treatment
  • Possible Ignition Interlock Device (IID) use
  • Probation up to two years
  • Increased Insurance Premiums

If you have been charged with Negligent Driving 1 in Port Orchard, you may have to appear in either the Port Orchard Municipal Court or the Kitsap County District Court.

Negligent Driving 2 is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction. As with any infraction, the only punishment is a fine. This means that Negligent Driving 2 carries no jail time penalties, 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. Negligent Driving 2 infractions are still hiring a Port Orchard criminal defense attorney to fight in order to avoid fines and significant increases in insurance premiums.

If you are facing negligent driving charges in Kitsap County, an adept defense lawyer can help defend you against the potential negative complications a conviction would have on your record and your driver’s license.

So What Does It All Mean for Me?

The bottom line is that you never want a criminal conviction on your record, especially if a police officer arbitrarily decides to charge you with an offense you didn’t commit. It’s vital that you talk to a qualified Port Orchard criminal law lawyer about your situation so that they can help you better understand your charges and build a suitable defense. This is especially true if driving is part of your job.

How a Port Orchard Negligent Driving Lawyer Can Help You

Building an aggressive defense against your Washington negligent driving charges starts by contacting our team to arrange a free case evaluation. You will be able to explain the details of your specific case, ask us any questions you might have, and find out how your case might be resolved. This is a no-risk way for you to decide your course of action on how you would like to handle your Port Orchard negligent driving violation.

Being charged with crimes associated with negligent driving can be unnerving, not to mention overwhelming, if you don’t have the insight of a Port Orchard criminal defense attorney. The first step towards resolving your negligent driving case and maintaining your peace of mind is to contact our Port Orchard criminal defense attorneys today. The negligent driving attorneys at our firm have extensive knowledge in this area and know how to tackle each case. Our attorneys will walk you through the process of resolving negligent driving charges in Washington State. We are available now to begin your no-cost case evaluation. Contact us today.

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