Tumwater Negligent Driving

What Does it Mean to Be Charged With Negligent Driving in Thurston County?

Negligent (adjective): Failing to exercise the care expected of a reasonably prudent person in like circumstances.

The above definition is sourced directly from the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Seems pretty straightforward, right?

Washington State statute’s definition of negligent driving is slightly more complex. According to RCW 46.61.5249, you are guilty of negligent driving 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.”

If you or a loved one have been charged with negligent driving in Tumwater or the surrounding area, you probably have many questions, such as-

  • Do I need a lawyer to fight my negligent driving charge?
  • 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 Thurston County?
  • Is negligent driving the same as a DUI?

The information presented on this website is a basic overview of negligent driving charges in the state of Washington. Our Tumwater criminal defense team 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 Thurston 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 Thurston County Criminal Defense Lawyer

The term negligent driving is often used interchangeably with reckless driving or driving under the influence (DUI). Laws regarding these charges vary from state to state, but here in Washington, all three terms are used as separate, distinct charges.

The laws surrounding negligent driving can be 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, Negligent Driving 1, or “wet reckless,” and Negligent driving in the second degree, also known as Neg 2 or Negligent Driving 2.

Like the charge of 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.

What this means is that you can be charged with a criminal offense after drinking one single 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.

Handily, the state statute also allows for a defense against Neg 1 charges written directly into the statute
“It is an affirmative defense to negligent driving in the first degree by means of exhibiting the effects of having consumed any drug that must be proved by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence, that the driver has a valid prescription for the drug consumed, and has been consuming it according to the prescription directions and warnings.”

Even with this built-in defense, we caution you to speak to an experienced Tumwater criminal traffic offense attorney. A knowledgeable lawyer who knows the facts of your case and has experience handling similar cases can come up with many possible avenues of defense for your charges. Each case has unique circumstances, and an experienced lawyer can modify their strategies to your specific needs.

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 Thurston 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 Tumwater, you may have to appear in either the Tumwater Municipal Court or the Thurston County District Court, which is located in Olympia.

Negligent Driving 2 is considered a noncriminal traffic infraction. As with any infraction, the only punishment is a fine. You may be tempted to simply pay the traffic fines because you believe it will allow you to avoid any additional hassle. However, you may not realize that paying traffic tickets may lead to additional complications down the road, such as skyrocketing insurance premiums. Hiring an experienced Tumwater criminal defense attorney may save you money and time in the long run.

Our Thurston County criminal defense lawyers are experienced with traffic matters and highly skilled at getting the best possible outcome in these cases. No matter what type of charge you face, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your case.

How a Tumwater Negligent Driving Lawyer Can Help You

As motorists, we all make mistakes from time to time. Even individuals with perfect driving records are prone to an occasional misjudgment on the road. While the majority of roadway incidents are victimless crimes, the consequences of receiving a traffic citation can have a lasting impact. Just because you’ve received a traffic citation does not mean you have to settle for a blemish on your record.

Having a Thurston County negligent driving lawyer who is familiar with the Washington State statutes and who understands which violations could be considered negligent will be invaluable for mitigating your case. It may lead to your charge being reduced, which could significantly lower the potential penalties, or have the charge dismissed completely. Contact our team of Tumwater criminal defense attorneys today and let us put our skills and experience to work for you.

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