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Vehicular Assault & Homicide

VEHICULAR ASSAULT

King County prosecutors aggressively go after those accused of vehicular assault. The King County prosecutors office has a "felony traffic" division that is led by a long-time prosecutor that is familiar and driven to prosecute these cases.  Unlike a DUI charge, vehicular assault is a felony. The main difference between a DUI and a charge of vehicular assault is that someone in the accident must have suffered "substantial bodily harm."  This is often a subjective term that is based on the perception of the officer.

In order to defend a charge of vehicular assault an attorney must have a solid foundation of DUI knowledge and a solid foundation of knowledge of alcohol breath testing and blood testing. Mistakes by poorly trained officers and medical personal are frequent and in these tests and finding their mistakes is sometimes the key to defending these cases.

I have an extensive knowledge of DUI law and vehicular assault defense. I have also been up against the King County felony traffic division prosecutors and know what to expect from them. If you are facing a charge of vehicular assault then you are facing up to 10 years in prison and need an advocate in your corner.

In Washington State RCW 46.61.522 governs vehicular assault:

(1) A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she operates or drives any vehicle:
(a) In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
(b) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502 and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
(c) With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another.
(2) Vehicular assault is a class B felony punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.
(3) As used in this section, "substantial bodily harm" has the same meaning as in RCW 9A.04.110.

 
 
Felony vehicular assault is an accusation of DUI or Reckless Driving with "substantial bodily harm to another."  The accusation of injuring another person turns the misdemeanor crime of DUI or Reckless driving into a felony and increases the chances of serious consequences like prison. However, even if you are accused of injuring another person while driving a successful defense is possible.
 
Factors in a vehicular assault case include:
 
1. How many people were injured?
2. The severity of the injuries to the other party(s).
3. The relationship that the injured party may have to the driver (note that they may have been riding in the defendants car).
4. The criminal history of the defendant.
5. Any prior DUI's that the defendant has been charged with.
6. The driving history of the defendant.
7. The defendants willingness to enroll in alcohol treatment.
 
Remember, a successful defense to the charge of vehicular assault is possible. Don't make any statements and don't talk to police. Additionally, if you are asked to sign any forms at the hospital that would release your medical records to police you should refuse and speak to an attorney.

 

VEHICULAR HOMICIDE

 Vehicular Homicide is a "Class A" Felony and punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Additionally, you may face a civil lawsuit against you for monetary damages. If someone has been tragically killed as a result of a accident then significant investigation must be done to determine if you are criminally liable for vehicular homicide. If you are facing a charge of vehicular homicide then you should meet with an attorney experienced in felony traffic defense and minimize the consequences. 

 RCW 46.61.520 Governs Vehicular Homicide

(1) When the death of a person occurs within 3 years and was caused by the driving of a person that was driving while:

(1) under the influence of alcohol or drugs
(a) driving in a Reckless manner; or
(b) with disregard for human life
 

VEHICULAR ASSAULT & VEHICULAR HOMICIDE SENTENCING ENHANCEMENTS

Prosecutors and the Washington State Legislature have worked together to create a myriad of "sentencing enhancements" for the charges of vehicular assault and vehicular homicide. Most of these factors add 12 - 24 months of prison time to a sentence when these factors are present.  These factors are governed by RCW 9.94A.533.

1. 24 months prison shall be added to the term of any vehicular homicide conviction if the defendant has prior convictions for DUI.
2. 12 months shall be added if the defendant committed the vehicular assault or vehicular homicide while trying to elude police.
3. 12 months shall be added to a conviction of vehicular assault or homicide if any passengers in the defendants car are under 16 years of age.

KING & SNOHOMISH COUNTY

King County: Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Sammamish, Bothell, Duvall, Woodinville, Mercer Island, Newcastle, Kent, Renton, Federal Way, Auburn, SeaTac, Kenmore, Tukwila, and more.
Snohomish County: Bothell, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Everett, Snohomish, Monroe

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