Around the holidays, it's always best to take a taxi on your evening jaunts. Or, if you know that you may be drinking, having a designated sober driver may be the way to go. Unfortunately, even if we play it safe and abide by the rules, we can't control the choices that others make. In one such tragic example this week, a 20-year old woman is dead after a DUI-related crash in Spokane County, Washington. The woman's passenger was also seriously injured when a 41-year old man in a pickup truck crossed the center of the line and hit their car. The driver was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger and the pickup driver were taken to the hospital to have their injuries treated. State troopers have determined the cause of the crash to be DUI and the driver of the pickup truck is facing charges of vehicular homicide.
Vehicular Homicide in Washington State
The 2016 Washington State Traffic Safety Annual Report lists the number of fatalities involving drug or alcohol-impaired driving from 2010 to 2015. The numbers of fatalities for each respective year are as follows:
- 2010 – 244
- 2011 – 214
- 2012 – 215
- 2013 – 229
- 2014 – 229
- 2015 – 259
Serious injuries that took place involving a drug or alcohol-impaired driver between 2010 and 2015 carry much higher numbers but begin to show a rate of decline in 2013.
- 2010 – 470
- 2011 – 479
- 2012 – 501
- 2013 – 412
- 2014 – 375
- 2015 – 367
In 2015, specifically, “36.4 percent of fatalities involved a drug positive driver and 19.9 percent involved an alcohol-impaired driver,” but many drivers were impaired by both drugs and alcohol.
Vehicular Homicide Law in Washington
It is no secret that a DUI can lead to serious penalties; however, those penalties can be even more severe when a motor vehicle accident is involved. Perhaps it goes without saying that the most serious offenses are when injury or death takes place during a DUI-related auto accident. In Washington, this is called vehicular homicide. A person is guilty of vehicular homicide “if a death occurs due to injuries sustained in an auto accident that they caused under specific conditions. These conditions include the following:
- The driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs under RCW 46.61.502,
- The driver operated the vehicle in a reckless manner, and/or
- The driver operated the vehicle with a disregard for the safety of others.”
Maximum penalties for a vehicular homicide conviction are life in prison, a fine of up to $50,000, probation, installation of an ignition interlock device, or any combination or all of the above.
Fighting Washington Vehicular Homicide Charges
In vehicular homicide cases, there are a few defense options that can be employed to avoid the steepest of penalties. However, if you are facing vehicular homicide charges you need the help of an experienced and dedicated DUI defense attorney now. Defense attorney Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who now fights for the rights of those accused. Mr. Karimi is highly skilled and fully dedicated to helping you get the results you want. If you or a loved one is facing felony DUI charges in the Seattle area, contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.