Drinking and driving is not only illegal but incredibly dangerous. When drivers choose to ignore the law their actions can result in deadly consequences. In Seattle, Washington 27-year old Chase Washatko is unfortunately learning this lesson the hard way after a deadly accident in March of 2016.
Washatko was drinking at the 13 Coins restaurant before getting behind the wheel to head to his mother's house. Along the way, Washatko got lost. He was spotted speeding and weaving by a police officer who was going the opposite way from Washatko. The officer made a U-turn but lost sight of him. Washatko then turned down James Avenue going "freeway speeds." He ran a red light and crashed into 61-year old Gibrel Mohammed who was driving a Toyota Prius. Both cars careened into an ambulance, but no one was injured in the ambulance. Sadly, Mohammed was killed in the accident.
According to the Seattle Times, the ambulance captured footage of the incident. After the accident, Washatko tried to run from the scene but he was stopped by a witness. The witness was a homeless man who had been sleeping in a nearby parking lot entrance. Police arrived moments later and found that Washatko was clearly intoxicated. Washatko allegedly told the police "he shouldn't have been driving." Blood tests showed that his blood alcohol content was "more than double the legal limit," at 0.20. He was charged with vehicular homicide and reckless driving. He is considered a "flight risk" and is being held on a $750,000 bond.
Vehicular homicide and reckless driving are both very serious charges that can result in very serious consequences.
Under RCW 46.61.500, Reckless driving is defined as follows:
(1) Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving. Violation of the provisions of this section is a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to three hundred sixty-four days and by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars.
Vehicular homicide is defined under RCW 46.61.520 as:
(1) When the death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or
(b) In a reckless manner; or
(c) With disregard for the safety of others.
Vehicular homicide is a Class A felony. Under Washington law, Class A felonies are punishable by up to life in prison and a maximum fine of $50,000. In addition, RCW 46.61.520 adds additional time can be added on to a defendant's sentence if a defendant is convicted of vehicular homicide while under the influence if they have prior offenses under RCW 46.61.505.
Attorney Coleen St. Clair has extensive experience representing defendants in criminal cases. If you or a loved one have been charged with driving under the influence, reckless driving, or vehicular homicide, please do not hesitate to contact the St. Clair Law Offices for a free consultation.