Puyallup Negligent Driving
A negligent driving charge may sound insignificant, but it isn’t. These charges are considered serious criminal offenses in Pierce County. If you are found guilty of negligent driving in Puyallup, you could go to jail, be subject to heavy fines and establish a criminal record that could negatively impact your job opportunities and other aspects of your life.
The decision to hire a lawyer to defend your negligent driving charges is in your best interest. Getting arrested for a traffic violation can be confusing and scary. You may have many questions, including
- Is negligent driving a criminal offense in Puyallup?
- What is the difference between negligent driving and reckless driving in Washington state?
- Will my license be revoked if I am convicted of negligent driving in Pierce County?
- Do I need a lawyer to fight my negligent driving charges in Puyallup?
The best thing you can do for your own peace of mind is hire an experienced Pierce County defense attorney. With over 50 combined years of experience handling criminal cases like negligent driving throughout Washington state, our team is well equipped to handle any criminal traffic charge obtained in Puyallup and the surrounding cities in Pierce County.
This website was designed to impart some general knowledge about negligent driving charges in the state of Washington. It is not intended to be legal advice. If you have any questions pertaining to the specifics of your case, we suggest you contact our team of qualified Pierce County criminal defense attorneys for a no-cost case consultation.Negligent Driving Charges Explained by a Pierce County Criminal Defense Attorney
If you were to google the words “negligent” and “reckless,” many dictionaries and thesauruses list these words as synonyms. However, for the purposes of Washington state law, negligent driving, also known as careless driving, is a distinct and separate charge from reckless driving.
The difference between these two charges has to do with intention. State law RCW 46.61.500 defines reckless driving as a “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property” The important words here are “willful” and “wanton,” which deal with the driver’s intention. Someone driving recklessly has the intent to harm a person or property, whereas the careless or negligent driver does not. The reckless driver is fully aware that they are driving in a hazardous manner but chooses to proceed anyway.
Under Washington state law, there are two degrees of negligent driving
State law RCW 46.61.5249 defines Negligent driving in the first degree as someone who
“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.”
RCW 46.61.525 defines negligent driving in the second degree as someone who
“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.”
The key difference between the two charges is whether or not the driver charged with negligent driving appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
One of the most important things to note about these charges is that negligent driving is one of those charges that is in the “eyes of the beholder.” The wording of the state statute for negligent driving leaves the interpretation of your actions to the complete discretion of the arresting officer. There are no real guidelines and each case depends on the facts of that case.
Factors that lead to these charges are similar to elements of a DUI or a reckless driving arrest. The role of hazardous roads, dangerous weather, a motor vehicle malfunction or any pre-existing medical condition you may be suffering from could cause an officer to misunderstand the situation. An experienced Puyallup criminal defense attorney may be able to use that misunderstanding to lower the charge or get the charge dismissed altogether.Penalties for a Negligent Driving Conviction in Puyallup
In Washington state, most traffic violations are separated into two categories: moving violations and non-moving violations. A moving violation occurs whenever a traffic law is violated by a vehicle in motion. Some moving violations, such as
- HOV lane violations
- Failure to Stop
- Negligent Driving 2
Result in a ticket that requires no further action than mailing in a check to cover a fine.
Other moving violations, such as
- Negligent Driving 1
- Reckless Driving
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Physical Control Violation
Result in a driver being arrested and charged with a crime.
Negligent Driving 1 is considered a gross misdemeanor and, if convicted, you may face
- Fines up to $1000
- Up to 90 days in Jail
- Requirement of alcohol/drug treatment course
- Probation up to two years
- Increased insurance premiums
Most gross misdemeanor cases will be tried at either the Puyallup Municipal Court, located in the Puyallup Executive Park or at the Pierce County District Court, which is located in Tacoma. Which court you will have to appear in is dependent upon the location you were arrested in.
You may think you don’t need a lawyer to help with a negligent driving charge in Puyallup. Admitting a violation is the fastest and easiest way to deal with it. However, you may end up paying more in fines than you would if you fought it. Fighting a negligent driving charge gives you a chance to evade those negative consequences. An experienced Pierce County criminal defense lawyer can help you assess your situation and consider your options.How a Puyallup Traffic Violation Attorney Can Help You With Negligent Driving Charges
Many individuals appear in traffic court and plead guilty to traffic charges without the assistance of an experienced Pierce County criminal defense attorney. Often this leads to immediate conviction without someone to advocate for your case. It’s in your best interest to consult an experienced Puyallup criminal defense attorney if you’ve been charged with negligent driving in Pierce County. Our team of experienced Puyallup defense attorneys can:
- Help you understand your rights, explain your options, and provide clear legal advice
- Conduct an independent investigation into the charge to determine if negligence actually occurred.
- Manage the administrative aspects of your case, such as preparing documents and ensuring all paperwork gets submitted on time
- Negotiate aggressively to seek a reduction or dismissal of charges
- Represent you in court, if necessary, to aggressively defend you against the charge.
Contact our Pierce County negligent driving attorneys today for a free case evaluation. One conversation with us will cost you nothing but time and may bring you peace of mind.