Following a DUI arrest in Bellingham or anywhere in Whatcom County for that matter, one of the objectives of your attorney is to achieve the very best results possible. And while defendants and defense attorneys alike dream of dismissals, most cases do not end up being dismissed. As a result prosecutors and defense attorneys enter negotiation with the idea that perhaps some common ground can be met and a compromised reached that all parties can agree on. It is in times like these that DUI cases are often amended to the lesser offense of Negligent Driving in the First Degree.
Negligent driving first degree is a misdemeanor with a punishment of up to 90 days in jail, and $1000 fine. The advantages over a DUI conviction include no mandatory jail, no ignition interlock device, no SR 22 insurance, and a maximum of two years of probation. Most importantly a negligent driving first degree amendment is not a DUI.
Negligent Driving in the First Degree is defined in RCW 46.61.5249 as:
(1)(a) 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 an illegal drug or exhibits the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.
What is "Negligent" Driving?
According to RCW 46.61.5249 “"Negligent" means the failure to exercise ordinary care, and is the doing of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances or the failure to do something that a reasonably careful person would 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. Independent of an amendment from the more serious charge of DUI, in Whatcom County the charge of Negligent Driving in the First Degree often stems from an automobile accident, excessive speed, or poor driving in combination with the consumption of alcohol or an illegal drug. Surprisingly, such an offense by itself is not as easy to prove as many believe it is. Therefore the most likely use of this offense is when the Bellingham DUI is amendment during negotiations.
Negligent Driving and the Department of Licensing
The criminal conviction of negligent driving 1st degree as no license suspension, as already mentioned. However, if the resulting Bellingham conviction was amended from driving under the influence and your BAC was above 0.080 (or 0.02 for a minor) or a refusal of the BAC, you may still face a license suspension from the Department of Licensing.
For more information on your Whatcom County Negligent Driving First Degree consult with one of the Bellingham DUI Defense attorneys at the Law Firm of David N. Jolly.
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