A Gig Harbor man who drove drunk in Seattle and killed another driver was sentenced to more than seven years in prison this month.
The 27-year-old pleaded guilty last month to charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving in the March late-night crash. At the time of the deadly crash, his blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was more than double the legal limit.
A Seattle police officer on patrol saw the man speeding by him at about midnight. The officer turned on his lights and made a U-turn to follow, but he lost the vehicle. Soon after he came across a three-vehicle crash involving the drunk driver.
The 61-year-old victim had entered an intersection on a green light. The drunk driver ran his red light and struck the other driver. Both cars then careened into an ambulance. None of the five people in the ambulance was injured, but the driver of the car was killed instantly.
The drunk driver ran from the scene, but was stopped by a homeless man and held him until police could take him into custody.
Alcohol is involved in about 40 percent of the traffic collisions in which someone is killed, according to the Washington State Department of Licensing.
A driver may be charged with DUI if the results of a breath or blood test show the amount of alcohol in the driver's blood to be:
- .08 or higher for adults age 21 and older,
- .04 or higher for commercial vehicle drivers,
- .02 or higher for minors younger than 21.
A driver also can be charged with DUI if he or she is found to be driving a vehicle while affected by alcohol, any drug, or a combination of alcohol and drugs, regardless of the concentration of alcohol in their breath or blood samples. In 2012, the definition of a drug was expanded to include any chemical inhaled or ingested for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.
Even if no one is injured during a drunk driving incident, an arrest can have a life-long impact. Alcohol and drug-related offenses appear on a motorist's driving record for life. A first conviction can result in a sentence of up to a year in jail, a fine of up to $5,000, and a license suspended for up to two years.
Prior convictions of alcohol violations can result in additional penalties, including 150 days of home detention and license suspension or revocation of up to four years. Other possible penalties include:
• Required proof of insurance
• License reapplication, testing and fees,
• Seizure and loss of the defendant's vehicle, and
• Use of an ignition interlock device for 10 or more years, installed at the driver's expense.
Additional penalties apply if the driver has a passenger in the vehicle who is younger than 16.
Per the Revised Code of Washington a person found guilty of a DUI faces up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine. For the first offense, their driver license can be suspended for a year. For a second offense the license can be suspended for 30 months. For the third offense, it is suspended for four years. In all instances, a defendant found guilty must have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle at their own expense.
No matter the the circumstances, a person arrested for driving under the influence has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been arrested, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.