Negligent Driving – First Degree

What is Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

Negligent Driving in the First Degree is also known as Negligent Driving 1 or “Neg 1”.

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 marijuana or any drug or exhibits the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects (See RCW 46.61.5249). (link)

In Washington State, Negligent Driving 1 is a misdemeanor criminal traffic offense.

How is “Negligent” defined?

According to RCW 46.61.5249 (link), the term “negligent” means “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.”

How are alcohol or drug use determined?

Alcohol or drug use may be determined from a variety of observations including: odor, speech or coordination impairment, behavior, appearance, or paraphernalia in the car.

An admission of consumption or usage of alcohol or drugs may also be critical to the case and can even lead to a DUI arrest. Do not make these admissions to law enforcement and help them build a case against you. If you are asked about consumption of alcohol or drugs, politely decline to answer any questions and ask to speak to an attorney before answering any questions.

What are the differences between Negligent Driving 1 and DUI?

Both Negligent Driving 1 and DUI are criminal driving offenses that include alcohol or drugs, but there are significant differences.

One may be convicted of Negligent Driving having consumed any amount of alcohol or drugs; it is not dependent on quantity or breath or blood test results. In other words, you can be arrested and charged even if you are under the legal limit of consumption for DUI (.08 for those over 21).

Also, there is no need to prove a causal connection between the alcohol or drug consumption and the negligent driving. It is not uncommon for one to be charged with Negligent Driving when there is not enough evidence to support a DUI charge. It is also not uncommon for Washington State DUI charges to be reduced to Negligent Driving in the First Degree during the negotiation process of DUI charges.

What are the penalties for Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

Though it is a lesser charge than a DUI, Negligent Driving 1 is a serious charge and can result in significant consequences.

Some of the penalties for Negligent Driving in the First Degree may include:

  • Fines up to $1000
  • Jail time up to 90 days
  • Loss of employment
  • Requirement of Alcohol/Drug Treatment
  • Ignition Interlock requirement
  • Probation up to two years
  • Long-term impacts of a criminal record

Legal Representation:

Consequences of Negligent Driving 1 are significant and potentially life-changing. An experienced and knowledgeable attorney will conduct a thorough investigation and look at the possibilities of negotiating a dismissal of charges or a reduction to a non-criminal traffic infraction. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.