A female motorist was recently sentenced to 12 years in prison for a drunk driving accident that occurred in October of 2015. The accident occurred because the woman drove the wrong way on Interstate 90, which resulted in the death of a Spokane man. The court room where the decision was made included the man's wife and older brother who witnessed the accident. While the deceased man's family asked for a stricter penalty, the family of the woman who caused the accident requested leniency. In addition to 12 years in prison, the responsible motorist will also be required to attend treatment to help her chemical dependency. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that more than 29% of all DUI convicted drivers receive more than one conviction for DUI. In 2016, the state of Washington passed a law that was specifically designed to increase penalties for individuals who receive several DUIs in an effort to decrease the risk of these activities.
New Washington DUI Law
The state of Washington recently changed its DUI law. Previously, a DUI conviction would result in felony charges if the person being charged had four or more DUIs within a period of 10 years. Under this law, the fifth DUI conviction received by that person resulted in a Class C felony.
In 2016, however, Washington legislatures passed House Bill 2280 which greatly increased the penalties faced by individuals who are convicted of felony DUIs. This law is specifically designed to address repeat DUI offenders who have been convicted of DUI more than four times in a period of 10 years. Receiving a fifth DUI conviction within a period of 10 years results in a person facing a Class B felony instead of a Class C felony. Individuals who are convicted under this law face a prison term of 10 years and a fine of up to $20,000.
The Physical Control Element of Washington DUI Law
A special note should be made that in the state of Washington, a person can be convicted of a DUI even if that individual is only under physical control of the vehicle. Many individuals who have received multiple DUIs think that it is a valid defense to a DUI charge that the person was not actually driving the vehicle but that the automobile was stopped at the time that the citation was received. In the eyes of the law, this difference is irrelevant, and there are many cases of drivers who have received multiple DUI charges while simply sitting inside of a vehicle. The best word of advice for motorists to respond to this law is to simply never enter the driver's seat of a vehicle while they have been drinking.
Contact an Experienced Spokane Accident Attorney
Because accidents involving motorists who are under the influence of alcohol can result in very severe injuries, the state of Washington has very strict penalties against individuals who are found to be in violation of the law. If you are involved in a DUI accident, it is absolutely imperative that you contact a knowledgeable attorney at West Law Office today to make sure that your case resolves in the best possible manner.
(image courtesy of Carlos Alberto Gomez Iniguez)