Vehicular Assault Charges in Seattle, WA
Vehicular assault is a felony in Washington, and it needs to be addressed with the help of experienced Seattle vehicular assault lawyers. If you are up against vehicular assault and/or DUI charges, do not hesitate to call our criminal defense attorneys at Emerald City Law Group.
If you were in an accident that caused another person injuries in Seattle, and you are being blamed for what happened, then you face significant civil and criminal consequences. On the civil side of the situation, other individuals involved in the crash may file third-party insurance claims against your auto insurance policy or file a personal injury lawsuit. On the criminal front, prosecutors could charge you with vehicular assault.
We understand how difficult it can be to handle the aftermath of an accident, particularly when facing criminal charges. Let us protect your rights and fight for your freedom. Call 206-973-0407 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.
Washington Vehicular Assault
The offense of vehicular assault is described under Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 46.61.522. You can be found guilty of vehicular assault if you operate or drive any vehicle:
In a reckless manner and cause another person substantial bodily harm,
While under the influence of alcohol or drugs, as defined by RCW 46.61.502, and cause another person substantial bodily harm, or
With disregard for other people’s safety and cause another person substantial bodily harm.
To fully understand when you can be charged with vehicular assault, you must understand the state’s definition of the various terms the statute contains. Recklessness is more than negligence, which is often described as a level of carelessness. Instead, driving or operating a vehicle in a reckless manner means to do so with willful and wanton disregard for other people’s safety.
You should also note the statute says “operate or drive.” You can be charged with vehicular assault if you were driving the vehicle or if you were operating it in some way other than driving.
What is Substantial Bodily Harm?
While the term “substantial bodily harm” might make you think of severe injuries that result in permanent disfigurement or disability, it actually refers to slightly lesser harm. According to RCW 9A.04.110(4)(b), substantial bodily harm means any physical injury that involves:
- A temporary yet substantial disfigurement,
- A temporary yet substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ, or
- A fracture of any bodily part.
You can be found to have caused substantial bodily harm if you cause a broken bone, large lacerations, or a concussion. So long as the alleged victim has more than a few bumps or bruises, the prosecution may argue you caused substantial bodily harm and can be charged with vehicular assault.
Statutory Penalties For Vehicular Assault
Vehicular assault is typically charged as a Class B felony in Washington and is punishable by up to 10 years’ incarceration and a fine up to $20,000. However, with the help of an experienced attorney, you can minimize the potential incarceration. If you have a clean driving record, we may be able to fight for three to nine months in jail. If you do have a prior felony or DUI, we can fight to keep your imprisonment to one year or less. You may also face years of probation in addition to imprisonment.
Additionally, based on RCW 46.61.524, the Washington Department of Licensing (DOL) will revoke your driver’s license if you are convicted of vehicular assault. Typically, you will lose your license for one year. However, you may be eligible to get your license back earlier with the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle you drive if your vehicular assault offense involved drugs or alcohol. You may also be required to complete drug or alcohol counseling before your license can be reinstated.
The Potential Collateral Consequences of Conviction
Your true punishment for a vehicular assault conviction will extend far beyond incarceration, a fine, or probation. There are many potential collateral consequences to a felony conviction, which you may have to deal with for years down the road, including:
- Difficulty obtaining or moving up at a job
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- Difficulty gaining admittance to or remaining in college
- Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
- Changes to your child custody or visitation rights in the other parent’s favor
- Effects on your immigration status, including the denial of a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship
- Difficulty traveling abroad, including to Canada
- Ineligibility to own or possess a firearm
Defending Against Vehicular Assault Charges in Seattle
Getting into an accident is scary, whether the crash involved another vehicle, property, or a pedestrian. If the police believe alcohol or drugs were involved, you may also face DUI charges in Seattle. You may feel alone and be unsure what to do. Located in King County, our Seattle vehicular assault lawyers at Emerald City Law Group are here to help. We will thoroughly investigate the accident and analyze all of the evidence available. We will then determine the strongest possible defenses for your case, which may include challenging:
- The true extent of the alleged victim’s injuries,
- The allegations that you were driving recklessly or with disregard for other people’s safety,
- Accusations that you were under the influence of or impaired by drugs or alcohol,
- The outcome of standardized field sobriety tests, or
- The accuracy and reliability of any blood or breath tests.