University Place Negligent Driving

Have You or a Loved One Been Charged with Negligent Driving in Pierce County?

Every day, thousands of drivers in Washington state commit small acts of careless driving. Most of the time, nothing happens except perhaps a honked horn or a yelled expletive. However, something as simple as drifting from your lane while changing a radio station could result in a citation for negligent driving in University Place.

Chances are this is your first negligent driving charge and you are probably unsure of what to expect. You may have some questions, such as

  • Will a negligent driving conviction in University Place affect my insurance rates?
  • Is negligent driving a criminal charge in Pierce County?
  • Do I need a lawyer to fight negligent driving charges in University Place?
  • Is there a difference between negligent driving and reckless driving charges in Washington state?

Rest assured that is what a knowledgeable University Place criminal defense attorney is for, to answer your questions and work to get you the best possible outcome for your case. We have designed this website to give you a basic overview of negligent driving charges in Washington state, however, this does not replace the counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Even the safest and most mindful motorists can receive a negligent driving ticket in Washington State. If you or a loved one find yourself in this situation, you can count on our Pierce County criminal defense attorneys to be there to help you through this unfortunate situation. We have over 50 combined years of criminal law experience in Washington state and offer a no-cost case evaluation to every prospective client. Contact our team today to speak to a legal professional about the circumstances of your case.

Understanding Washington State Negligent Driving Laws

Although Washington state isn’t considered to be one of the top 10 states with strict driving laws, we are still one of the few states to make two separate laws for negligent driving and reckless driving. Most states consider negligent or “careless” driving to fall under the charge of reckless driving.

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. This speaks to a drivers state of mind

Washington State’s definition of negligent driving is rather broad. 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.

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.”

This speaks to appearances instead of a state of mind. Slurred speech, glazed eyes, and shaky hands are all signs that a person may be intoxicated. But they also characterize a person who is exhausted or ill. An experienced University Place negligent driving defense attorney can use these kinds of insights in defense of your charges.

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 a Neg 1 charge and a Neg 2 charge is whether or not the accused appears impaired by alcohol or drugs. Some examples of scenarios where drivers have been cited for negligent driving 2 in Pierce County include

  • Failing to maintain a safe distance between cars
  • Disobeying traffic signs
  • Swerving or weaving through traffic
  • Failure to use turn signals
  • Failure to use headlights during inclement weather
  • Failure to check when reversing

If you’d like to learn more about negligent driving laws in Washington state, or if you would like to set up a free consultation for your case, contact our team of Pierce County criminal defense attorneys today. Continue reading to learn more about the penalties associated with negligent driving charges in University Place.

Penalties for a Negligent Driving Conviction in University Place

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 course
  • Probation up to two years
  • Increased insurance premiums

Additionally, if you have been convicted of a drug or alcohol-related traffic offense in the last seven years and then get convicted for negligent driving, state law requires the additional punishment of an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.

If you have been charged with Negligent Driving 1 in University Place, you may have to appear in court. Currently, all misdemeanor charges are adjudicated at the Pierce County District Court in Tacoma, as University Place does not currently have a municipal court.

Negligent Driving 2 is a non-criminal traffic infraction. As with any infraction, the only punishment is a fine, however, the true cost of a traffic ticket can be far more than the amount of the fine. Negligent driving can and probably will increase the cost of your car insurance. Some people have reported as much as a 50% increase in insurance costs because of a negligent driving charge.

Even if you have never been convicted of a crime and don't believe you are guilty of the charge, negligent driving is a serious offense that has significant consequences, including an impact on your insurance premiums. Don't dismiss a negligent driving charge as simply another traffic infraction, and speak to a University Place criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

How a University Place Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You With Negligent Driving Charges

The circumstances behind every negligent driving arrest are different, however, the Pierce County prosecutor must be able to establish three elements before you can be convicted for negligent driving-

  1. You were the operator of the motor vehicle at the time of the incident
  2. The manner in which you were operating the vehicle must have been negligent and likely to endanger another person or property and
  3. You were exhibiting the effects of having consumed alcohol, drugs, or another intoxicating substance.

An experienced University Place criminal defense lawyer can formulate an aggressive defense around the facts of your case. We can help you avoid the severe penalties that come with a conviction of negligent driving. The charges can be confusing, and people do not always know their rights. Having the right legal representation is important. Contact our Pierce County Criminal Defense attorneys today. We offer a free initial case evaluation for each prospective client. We can help you fight the charges you are facing and will explore all options to help you protect your rights.

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