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Negligent Driving 1st Degree

Negligent Driving

In Washington State, Negligent Driving in the First Degree is a criminal traffic offense. The citation (ticket) you received needs to be fought to prevent a conviction from going on both your criminal record and driving record. 

Can I go to Jail for Negligent Driving?

Yes, Negligent Driving 1 is a misdemeanor charge that can result in jail time as well as the following consequences:

  • Jail time of up to 90 days
  • $1000 fine
  • Alcohol/Drug treatment requirements
  • Loss of employment
  • Ignition interlock requirement
  • Probation

What is the Definition of Negligent Driving 1st Degree? (RCW 46.61.5249)

Negligent is defined as a failure to exercise ordinary care. According to Washington State law, a person is guilty of Negligent Driving 1 if that person operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, while exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor, drugs, or any intoxicants (legal or illegal). 

Why did I get a Negligent Driving Ticket?

We find that many people ticketed for Negligent Driving in WA State were originally pulled over on suspicion of DUI. If the police officer does not have enough evidence for a DUI arrest (usually because of a low breath test result) a criminal citation or arrest is sometimes made for 1st Degree Negligent Driving.

Accusations such as crossing over a solid road line or failing to use a turn signal, coupled with evidence of alcohol or drug consumption can result in a First Degree Negligent Driving ticket.

Unfortunately, you can be arrested even if you are under the legal limit (.08) for alcohol consumption. Alcohol or drug use can also be determined from odor, impairment of coordination or speech, and from paraphernalia in the car (open container or pipe). 

How do I Beat a Negligent Driving Charge?

To prove a charge of 1st Degree Negligent Driving, it must be shown that you were:

  1. Operating a vehicle negligently (by failing to exercise ordinary care) AND
  2. That you endangered or were likely to endanger a person or property AND
  3. You exhibited the effects of consuming intoxicants.

A skilled Negligent Driving attorney can raise arguments that range from a lack of probable cause to pull you over to a failure to produce sufficient evidence that you were exhibiting the effects of consuming an intoxicant. 

A good lawyer should do an independent investigation to uncover evidence that can be used to negotiate a full case dismissal or a reduction to a non-criminal traffic infraction. If that's not possible, you always have the option to try your case at trial. Your Negligent Driving lawyer should go over the risks and the strength of your case before you decide on this option.

At Beckwith Law, we have a proven track record for winning criminal traffic offense cases in the courtrooms of King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, & Kitsap County, including the cities of Tacoma, Seattle, Everett, Puyallup, Kent, Olympia, & Bellevue, WA. 

We have offices in Seattle and Tacoma and can be called for a free consultation any day of the week (including after-hours).