A suspected drunk driver who crashed his car four times in Seattle on the afternoon of Dec. 31 before finally being arrested, has been charged with vehicular homicide and two counts of hit-and-run.
The 23-year-old man admitted to police he had been drinking at a bar when he got into his SUV at about 4 p.m. on New Year's Eve. Soon after leaving, he rear-ended a car driven by a 57-year-old woman, then sped away. The woman called police and gave them the driver's license plate number and vehicle description.
After the first crash, witnesses reported seeing the SUV driver operating the vehicle erratically and speeding. At an intersection where a car was stopped for a red traffic light and a motorcyclist was stopped behind the car, the reckless driver plowed into the motorcyclist before smashing into the car. The motorcyclist, a 22-year-old University of Washington graduate, was thrown from his bike and died at a hospital two days later.
But even that catastrophic crash did not stop the driver of the SUV. He sped away from those two crashes and was finally stopped a few blocks later when he slammed into a utility pole and disabled his vehicle. It was then he got out of his SUV, walked back to the scene of the motorcycle crash and called police. Yet, even after officers arrived and the driver admitted his involvement in the crashes, he still ran away, forcing officers to chase him down.
Because the driver showed signs of intoxication, officers took a sample of his blood for evidence. Washington has an implied consent law, meaning anyone who drives a vehicle is deemed to have given consent to have their breath or blood tested. If the driver refuses to take the test, his or her license can be revoked for at least a year and the refusal will be admitted at a criminal trial.
The driver was booked into county jail, where he remained until posting $250,000 bail.
A person is found guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or operating a vehicle in a reckless manner with disregard for the safety of others when they hit someone and the person they injure dies within three years as the result of injury. In legal terms, if there is a lag in time between the injury and the death, the car crash is considered the proximate cause. In order to be found guilty, a prosecutor must show 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, such as the motorcyclist. Vehicular homicide is a Class A felony punishable by up to life in prison, or a $50,000 fine, or both.
In addition to a charge of vehicular homicide, the driver is facing charges of hit-and-run. The Class B felony is punishable by up to a decade in prison, or a $20,000 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.