The Washington State vehicular homicide law is very strict. Passed with the obvious goal of reducing DUI deaths, it imposes stiff penalties for those convicted of killing someone while driving under the influence or driving recklessly. RCW 46.61.520 states:
(1) When the death of any person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury proximately caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:
(a) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or
(b) In a reckless manner; or
(c) With disregard for the safety of others.
Vehicular homicide is a class A felony, punishable by substantial time served in prison, fines, and the imposition of many harsh lifestyle restrictions like license suspension, alcohol treatment and travel restrictions.
It is difficult to give a thorough explanation of the many penalties and jail time that comes from a vehicular homicide conviction because it can vary so widely, depending upon a person’s criminal and DUI history as well as any other charges that arise out of the same incident. However the minimum prison sentence if you are convicted of vehicular homicide is 15-20 months.
Most vehicular homicide cases arise from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and not reckless driving. Vehicular homicide in Washington is a little different than a DUI in that, if you are involved in a collision involving injury or death and police believe that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they can take you to the hospital and draw your blood, whether you agree or not. In a DUI case, most of the time you have the right to refuse the test, but in a vehicular homicide investigation, you do not.
If you find yourself in an accident and injuries or a death are involved, whether it is in another vehicle or your own, and police are investigating you for DUI, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. A Washington State vehicular homicide charge is much more serious than a DUI and can change your life forever. Getting an attorney involved early can make a big difference for you and your case.
Similar to a DUI, your best defense is often to challenge the results of the blood test. That means scrutinizing how the blood was drawn, how it was handled, the testing process itself, as well as the results. Make sure that your attorney is well aware of the laws surrounding the blood test and is well versed in its intricacies. Of course, there are other defenses to explore. Sometimes that means visiting the crime scene, hiring investigators and experts, and reenacting the events that led up to the incident.
The government aggressively prosecutes any individual that drives a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs and causes the death of another. If you are facing a vehicular homicide charge, you need immediate legal counsel. If you have questions about your particular case, please call 206-849-0519.