A Seattle driver faces a decade or more in prison if she is found guilty of a fatal hit-and-run in which she fled the scene with the victim's shopping cart stuck in the grille of the car.
The 62-year-old victim was pushing the cart across the street shortly before 7 p.m. earlier this month when a 27-year-old woman driving an SUV is accused of hitting her. The driver stopped briefly to ask a witness if the victim was dead, before speeding away, according to court documents. After driving for another mile or so, she pulled over to call her boyfriend to pick her up and take her home. Instead, the man brought his girlfriend back to the scene of the crash. The pedestrian, who suffered severe head injuries, died at the scene.
The woman told police she had been working at a bar and had a drink before driving home. Police officers smelled alcohol on the woman's breath while speaking with her. Suspecting she was impaired, they obtained a warrant for a blood test. The results are pending. Under Washington's implied consent law, any person who operates a motor vehicle is deemed to have given consent to have their breath or blood tested for the presence of alcohol or drugs. If the driver refuses to take the test, his or her license will be revoked for at least a year and the refusal will be admitted at a criminal trial.
However, even if the driver submits to the test, his or her license will be suspended, revoked, or denied for at least 90 days if the driver is age 21 or older and the test results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more, or if the driver is age 20 or younger and the test results indicate an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or more.
The driver was charged with vehicular homicide and felony hit-and-run in connection with the woman's death. The suspect was held in county jail for almost two days before posting a $200,000 bond. In 2012, according to court documents, the suspect was arrested for driving under the influence, but the charge was later changed to first-degree negligent driving.
A driver involved in a crash resulting in the injury to or death of another person is required, by law, to immediately stop at the scene and report the incident to law enforcement. The driver also is required to render aid to the injured. Failure to do so makes the driver guilty of a Class B felony, punishable by up to a decade in prison, or a $20,000 fine, or both.
When the death of any person ensues within three years as the result of injury proximately caused by a driver, the motorist is guilty of vehicular homicide if he or she was driving under the influence or operating the vehicle in a reckless manner with disregard for the safety of others. The law refers to the proximate cause, because in order to be found guilty, it must be shown that the driver caused the death. The proximate cause in this case could mean that a foreseeable consequence of driving under the influence was striking and killing another person. Vehicular homicide is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison, or a $50,000 fine, or both.
If you or a loved one struggles with substance abuse and has been arrested for driving under the influence or other driving-related felonies, you need the best defense available. In Washington state, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.