Vehicular Assault, including hit and run, is a serious crime and comes with potentially severe penalties. Under Washington State Law, Vehicular Assault in Washington State is classified as a class B felony and can result in a $20,000 fine and a prison sentence up to ten years.
Under RCW 46.61.522, a person is guilty of Vehicular Assault in Washington State if he or she operates or drives any vehicle:
- In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502, and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
- With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another
- “Substantial bodily harm” is defined under RCW 9A.04.110
In addition to prison time and heavy fines, a conviction of Vehicular Assault results in a felony criminal record. This could impact employment, access to housing, or disruption of other major life events. A Vehicular Assault conviction may also involve license suspension or revocation, probation, loss of right to vote and or carry firearms, and mandatory drug/alcohol treatment.
Under Washington State law, a homicide charge may be brought upon an individual who causes another person’s death through the operation of a motor vehicle, either negligently or intentionally. This is common in the case of drunk drivers who cause an accident resulting in death(s). The majority of Vehicular Homicide cases do arise from driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, as opposed to reckless driving.
According to RCW 46.61.520, when a death of any person ensues within three years as a 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:
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, as defined by RCW 46.61.502; or
- In a reckless manner; or
- With disregard for the safety of others
Vehicular Homicide is a class A felony, punishable by lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines, moreso than Vehicular Assault. In cases that involve alcohol or drugs, sentencing is generally even more severe. In addition to prison sentences and substantial fines, a conviction would lead to a permanent felony conviction on your criminal record, as with Vehicular Assault. These are life-changing consequences that are likely to impede future opportunities and infringe on personal freedoms.
Given the severity of the consequences involved, you will need immediate counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are charged with either Vehicular Assault or Vehicular Homicide. It is essential to work with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who will analyze the situation carefully and fight for the best possible outcome in your case. These are significant charges and you should not try to tackle them without experienced counsel to advise you appropriately and advocate on your behalf.