Sumner Negligent Driving
Every driver on a public road in Washington state has a duty to use due care and caution for their safety and the safety of others.
Sometimes however, things like weather, road conditions, fatigue, and other factors work to impair your ability to safely navigate the roadways.
If you or a loved one have been charged with negligent driving in Sumner, you are most likely upset, maybe even angry or confused. Many people have never even heard of Negligent driving charges until they’ve been cited for it. You may have questions, such as
- What’s the difference between negligent driving and DUI in Washington state?
- Is there a difference between negligent driving and reckless driving charges in Sumner?
- Do I need an attorney to fight my negligent driving charge in Pierce County?
- What are the penalties for Negligent driving convictions in Sumner?
You need someone on your side who understands what you are going through, can answer your questions, and has experience fighting these kinds of charges. With over 50 combined years of experience handling cases just like yours, our Sumner criminal defense lawyers will fight for a reasonable outcome that you can live with.
We offer a no-cost case consultation for each potential new client. Contact us today. During your consultation, we will evaluate the facts of your case and help you develop a strategy to best defend your charge.Negligent Driving Laws Explained by a Pierce County Criminal Defense Attorney
Negligent driving encompasses a variety of alleged behavior, including
- Drifting across lanes
- Stopping and slowing down erratically
- Not paying attention to the road
- Speeding or driving too slowly
- Failing to stop at a red light
Most of the time Negligent Driving is used as an umbrella infraction, covering any conduct which is potentially dangerous, but isn’t in violation of any other traffic laws.
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 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 main difference between these two charges is the appearance of exhibiting the effects of drugs or alcohol which must be present for a Neg 1 charge, but not for a Neg 2 charge.
One of the most commonly asked questions our Sumner criminal defense attorneys get regarding negligent driving 1 is how this charge is different from a DUI. To be charged with a DUI in Washington state, a driver must have a blood alcohol content (BAC) over the legal limit, which, in most cases, is 0.08. No minimum BAC level is required to be found guilty of negligent driving in the first degree.
The second most common negligent driving question is how a negligent driving charge differs from a reckless driving charge. In Pierce County, reckless driving is considered to be an act of “willful and wanton disregard” for other people and property. To be convicted of reckless driving, it must be proven that you drove recklessly without regard for the safety of others. Unlike negligent driving, a reckless driving charge speaks to the driver’s state of mind when committing a traffic violation.Penalties for Negligent Driving in Washington State
Negligent Driving 2 is a non-criminal traffic infraction. As with any infraction, the only punishment is a fine.
Negligent Driving 1 is a criminal traffic violation. That means if you have been pulled over and an officer of the law accuses you of this charge, you will be arrested. Neg 1 is considered a misdemeanor, and if convicted, you will face up to 90 days in jail and/or up-to $1,000 in fines.
Should you have to appear in court for a negligent driving charge you received in Sumner, misdemeanors are the jurisdiction of both the Bonney Lake Municipal Court (which is located in Bonney Lake but serves as the Municipal Court for the cities Sumner, Bonney Lake, Eatonville, and South Prairie) and the Pierce County District Court, located in Tacoma. Which court you will have to appear in will be determined by the location that your violation occurred in.
Before deciding whether or not you want the hassle of trying to fight a negligent driving charge, think about how your charge will affect your insurance rates and driver’s license. Another thing to consider is how this could affect any future traffic violations.
For example, let’s say you were arrested 5 years ago for reckless driving after you were pulled over for going 95 miles per hour in a 35 miles per hour zone. You’ve paid your dues and done your time, except now you’ve been pulled over for negligent driving because you fell asleep at the wheel and appeared to be intoxicated. You may figure that it doesn’t make sense to fight the charge because you were guilty, and as a misdemeanor, the punishment seems negligible.
But what you may not realize is that the prior conviction for reckless driving puts you in the position to receive more harsh punishments if convicted of negligent driving, including having to install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles operated by you. And if convicted, you will now have 2 alcohol/drug-related violations on your record, which means that if you get pulled over again for another violation, you will face even steeper punishments.
Authorities and insurance companies take these charges seriously and talking with a Sumner criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible can help you fight your charge.How a Sumner Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You Fight Negligent Driving Charges
Every traffic situation and violation is different. It’s imperative that you remember that negligent driving is a criminal offense, not simply a traffic offense, and could result in incarceration or probation, and will be on your criminal history.
If you have been charged with negligent driving in Sumner, contact a skilled Pierce County criminal defense attorney for help right away. A knowledgeable negligent driving attorney can advise you on what steps to take to best protect yourself in court. Our firm of Sumner criminal defense lawyers is a team of experienced legal professionals who are dedicated to fighting aggressively for our clients. We will work hard to help you achieve the best possible outcome for your case and help to keep your insurance rates from inflating.