Written by Stryder Wegener
If you have been arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs in Washington, you need to contact a DUI lawyer right away. Hiring a defense attorney serves multiple purposes. Firstly, an attorney protects your rights during an investigation. Whenever you speak to the police about the incident, you should have an attorney by your side. This reduces the chance of the police becoming overly aggressive and you saying something that could come back to haunt you.
Your attorney will investigate the charges against you and analyze your best options for moving forward. It may be that you have a strong defense. Your attorney may feel confident in the charges being dropped by the prosecutor, dismissed by the judge, or in obtaining an acquittal at trial. However, if there are enough facts against you, then your DUI lawyer may recommend negotiating a lesser sentence.
In Washington, if you are charged with a DUI, there may be an opportunity to have the charges lessened to either reckless driving or negligent driving. This often requires the skill of an experienced DUI lawyer. If you are interested in getting DUI charges dropped or reduced, contact us at Emerald City Law Group at 206-973-0407 or reach out to us online to schedule a free consultation.
Reckless Driving Charges
Under the Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.500, reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor. If you are found guilty, you can go to jail for up to 364 days and fined up to $5,000. You may also receive a 30-day license suspension and be required to install and use an ignition interlock device.
Obtaining a reckless driving charge instead of a DUI can be beneficial. A reckless driving conviction carries less stigma than a DUI on your record. It gives you the power to say you have not been convicted of a DUI. However, a reckless driving conviction is not much better in terms of criminal sanctions. If you were facing a first-time DUI that did not involve a higher blood alcohol concentration, then this is also a gross misdemeanor. That being said, a skilled DUI lawyer will fight for you to receive a minimal penalty.
Negligent Driving Charges
Instead of pursuing a reckless driving charge, your DUI attorney may strive to have a DUI reduced to a negligent driving charge. Under RCW 46.61.5249, you can be charged with negligent driving in the first degree if you operated a vehicle in a manner that was negligent and endangered other people or property, and if you exhibited the effects of having consumed liquor, marijuana, or another drug. This is often referred to as “Neg 1.”
Negligent driving is a misdemeanor offense. The longest you can be sentenced to jail is 90 days, and there is no mandatory minimum term of incarceration. You can also be fined up to $1,000. The conviction does not require a suspension of your driver’s license or installation of an ignition interlock device.
Fighting for a negligent driving charge is often a good idea. In this case, you receive a misdemeanor on your record instead of a gross misdemeanor. There will be far less stigma attached to a negligent driving offense than a DUI. And, compared to the potential sanctions for a DUI, a negligent driving charge is treated leniently.
Whether the DUI charges against you can be reduced to a Neg 1 depends on many things, including the amount of alcohol or drugs in your system, whether you caused an accident, whether you have previous DUI charges or convictions on your record, the prosecutor’s willingness to negotiate, and your attitude. If this is a first-time charge within minimal alcohol or marijuana involvement, and you did not cause anyone harm, then your DUI lawyer has a lot to leverage in asking for the charges to be reduced. However, the more serious the incident, the less likely a prosecutor may be to agree to reduced charges.
Emerald City Law Group Can Help After Being Charged With a DUI in Washington
Our legal team at Emerald City Law Group understands how difficult it is to face a DUI charge in Seattle, and we don’t want you to go through this alone. To discover your options when facing DUI charges, call our DUI lawyers right away at 206-973-0407. You can reach out to us online to schedule a free, initial consultation as well.