Negligent Driving In The First Degree And Ignition Interlock Requirement
Did you know that obtaining a 'Negligent Driving in the First Degree' is usually an excellent plea alternative to a DUI? However, along with a Reckless Driving plea after an initial DUI charge, Negligent Driving in the First Degree shall lead to an ignition interlock requirement.
RCW 46.61.5249 and 1997 c 66 s 4 are each amended to reads as follows:
A person is guilty of negligent driving in the first degree if he or she operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, and exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug.
It is an affirmative defense to negligent driving in the first degree by means of exhibiting the effects of having consumed an illegal drug that must be proved by the defendant by a preponderance of the evidence. that the driver has a valid prescription for the drug consumed, and has been consuming it according to the prescription directions and warnings. Negligent driving in the first degree is a misdemeanor.
Negligent means the failure to exercise ordinary care, and is the doing of some act that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances or the failure to do something that a reasonably careful person would do under the same or similar circumstances.
Exhibiting the effects of having consumed liquor means that a person has the odor of liquor on his or her breath, or that by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise exhibits that he or she has consumed liquor, and either:
(i) Is in possession of or in close proximity to a container that has or recently ad liquor in it; or
(ii) Is shown by other evidence to have recently consumed liquor.
Exhibiting the effects of having consumed an illegal drug means that a person by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, lack of coordination, or otherwise exhibits that he or she has consumed an illegal drug and either:
(i) Is in possession of an illegal drug; or
(ii) Is shown by other evidence to have recently consumed an illegal drug.
Illegal drug means a controlled substance under chapter 69.50 RCW for which the driver does not have a valid prescription or that is not being consumed in accordance with the prescription directions and warnings, or a legend drug under chapter 69.41 RCW for which the driver does to have a valid prescription or that is not being consumed in accordance with the prescription directions and warnings.
Any act prohibited by this section that also constitutes a crime under any other law of this state may be the basis of prosecution under such other law notwithstanding that it may also be the basis for prosecution under this section.
My Legal Commentary
Obtaining a Negligent Driving in the First Degree is usually an excellent plea alternative to a DUI. However, along with a Reckless Driving plea after an initial DUI charge, Negligent Driving in the First Degree shall lead to an ignition interlock requirement. Moreover, if the person is later charged with another DUI, the prior reduced pleas of Reckless Driving and Negligent Driving 151 Degree are resurrected as DUIs for purposes of mandatory minimum sentencing. Such sentencing requires substantial jail time. Remember, this scenario evolves if all the offenses took place within 7 years.
There is some consolation because the charge of Negligent Driving 151 Degree does not arbitrarily penalize a person who takes prescription drugs for valid medical purposes. Dismissal may be possible if the medicated person strictly follows prescription instructions. The proof required is not overwhelming and medical testimony should add credibility to this defense.
A person convicted of negligent driving in the first degree who has one or more prior offenses as defined in RCW 46.61.5055 (14) within seven years shall be required, under RCW 46.20.720, to install an ignition interlock device on all vehicles operated by the person.
Under the above circumstances, a continuance without findings to a Negligent Driving 2nd Degree (civil infraction, not a crime) could be crafted for handling the Negligent Driving First Degree charge. However, prompt action and proper behavior by the charged person must be taken for the continuance to be accepted by the Prosecutor. Then, an ignition interlock requirement might be avoided.