Two Washington state women were involved in separate drunk driving crashes resulting in multiple injured passengers over a two-day period earlier this month.
In one incident, a 22-year-old Spokane Valley woman was driving under the influence when she ran a red light and hit an SUV with five occupants, injuring all of them. The intersection was blocked for five hours while Washington State troopers investigated. The drunk driver was charged with DUI and vehicular assault.
In another incident, a 34-year-old Blaine woman was charged with vehicular assault while driving under the influence after she crossed the centerline on State Route 531 and hit another car head-on. The drunk driver and her passenger, who were not wearing seat belts, were taken to a local hospital for treatment along with the driver of the other car. State troopers found open containers of alcohol and drug paraphernalia in the Blaine woman's car.
A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she operates any vehicle:
- In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
- With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another.
Substantial bodily harm refers to bodily injury which involves a temporary, but substantial disfigurement or substantial loss or impairment of the function of any body part or organ, or which causes a fracture of any body part.
Vehicular assault is a Class B felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a $25,000 fine or both.
In Washington, a person is guilty of driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug if the person drives a vehicle within the state:
- And the person has, within two hours after driving, an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's breath or blood; or
- The person has, within two hours after driving, a THC concentration of 5.00 or higher as shown by analysis of the person's blood (tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects); or
- While the person is under the influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana or any drug; or
- While the person is under the combined influence of or affected by intoxicating liquor, marijuana and any drug.
Although a driver may have a prescription for the drug they are using, it is not a defense against the charge of DUI.
If found guilty of DUI, a driver faces up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. For a first offense, their license can be suspended for a year. For a second offense, their driver's license can be suspended for up to 30 months. And, if found guilty for a third time, they can lose their license for up to four years.
In all instances, a defendant who is found guilty must have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle at their own expense.
A charge of driving under the influence should not be taken lightly. Any driver arrested for DUI has the right to a quality legal defense. If you have been arrested in Washington State, call Coleen St. Clair at St. Clair law offices (206) 578-2200 or contact her online.