As the chief budget writer for the Washington House of Representatives, Timm Ormsby is familiar with crafting laws for the State of Washington. Now having pleaded guilty to an alcohol-related reckless driving charge, Ormsby has also admitted to violating those laws. Luckily for the state representative, his lack of prior convictions and his experienced legal counsel were able to plead a potential drunken driving charge down to reckless driving.
The charge stemmed from an incident in February. Ormsby was driving home after meeting a lobbyist during a February evening when he was involved in a one-vehicle accident where his Jeep Cherokee struck a culvert and rolled.
Upon arrival, law enforcement determined that Ormsby might be intoxicated. The state representative admitted to having two beers before driving, and two earlier in the day. Ormsby, who has already filed for re-election, failed field sobriety tests and was arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence. Ormsby also registered a .11 on a field sobriety test, which is above the Washington legal limit of .08.
The plea agreement takes advantage of a Washington law designed to show leniency for first-time DUI offenders. Ormbsy was able to avoid a DUI conviction but was required to pay a fine of $1,100. He has also been required to attend an impact panel with victims of drunken driving. In an interview after the hearing, Ormsby told reporters he “wanted to own responsibility for my mistake” and that he had given up drinking after the arrest.
Reducing a DUI to Reckless Driving in Washington State
If you have been arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, you were almost certainly charged with a DUI by the arresting officer. Luckily, if this is your first DUI arrest an experienced DUI defense attorney may be able to help you negotiate the DUI charge to the less-severe reckless driving charge. Known in some Washington courts as a “wet reckless,” these charges don't carry the same penalties or stigma as a DUI arrest. They also can't be used to enhance the punishment of a future conviction.
Whether or not your charge can be reduced to reckless driving is up to the prosecutor. However, your defense attorney plays a major role in that process. Prosecutors hate losing DUI cases, and if your attorney is able to highlight the weaknesses of the State's case, you are more likely to receive a favorable plea deal.
Reckless Driving Penalties in Washington State
The consequences for reckless driving are notably less severe than those for a first DUI offense. However, a so-called “wet reckless” is still a serious charge that can carry a real impact. Reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor that carries the following penalties:
- A maximum of 364 days in jail
- A maximum fine of $5,000
- A minimum 30-day driver's license suspension
- The potential requirement of an ignition interlock device
Getting the Best Possible Outcome
Hiring an attorney with the right experience in criminal defense law can make the difference between having a DUI conviction on your record or not. If you have been charged with DUI in the Seattle area, contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi for your free consultation.