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Frequently Asked Questions About Negligent Driving in the First Degree RCW 46.61.5249

The following is a list of common questions we have received on negligent driving in Washington State.  Answers are based on the Revised Code of Washington (RCW), the compilation of all laws current in force in Washington.

Q: What is the RCW section that governs Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

A: RCW 46.61.5249.

 

Q: What are the elements of Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

A: The elements of Negligent Driving in the First Degree are: 1. Operates a motor vehicle, 2. In a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property, 3. And exhibits the effects of having consumed liquor or an illegal drug.

 

Q: Is there an affirmative defense (An affirmative defense is a complete or partial defense to a civil lawsuit or criminal procedure that affirms the complaint or charges but raises facts other than those alleged by the plaintiff or prosecutor which, if proven by the defendant, would defeat or reduce a claim even if the allegations alleged are all proven.) to Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

A: 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 (The standard is met if the proposition is more likely to be true than not true. Effectively, the standard is satisfied if there is greater than 50 percent chance that the proposition is true), that the driver has a valid prescription for the drug consumed, and has been consuming it according to the prescription directions and warnings.


 

Q: Is Negligent Driving in the First Degree a Felony, Gross Misdemeanor, or Misdemeanor?

A: Negligent driving in the First Degree is a misdemeanor.

 

Q: What does negligent mean under this statute?

A: "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.

 

Q: What does "Exhibiting the effects of having consumed an illegal drug" under this statute mean?

A: "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.

 

Q: What does "Exhibiting the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects" under this statute mean?

A: "Exhibiting the effects of having inhaled or ingested any chemical, whether or not a legal substance, for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects" means that a person by speech, manner, appearance, behavior, or lack of coordination or otherwise exhibits that he or she has inhaled or ingested a chemical and either: (i) Is in possession of the canister or container from which the chemical came; or
 (ii) Is shown by other evidence to have recently inhaled or ingested a chemical for its intoxicating or hallucinatory effects.


 

Q: What is an Illegal Drug under this statute?

A: "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 not have a valid prescription or that is not being consumed in accordance with the prescription directions and warnings.

 

Q: What is the possible punishment for Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

A: Negligent Driving in the First Degree is a Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, and a $1000 fine.

 

Q: Is it possible to be required to have an ignition interlock license as punishment for a Negligent Driving in the First Degree?

A: You could be required to have an interlock license if: 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.

 

Q: What is the definition of Negligent Driving First Degree under the Washington Pattern Jury Instruction?

A: WPIC 96.01 states: A person commits the crime of negligent driving in the first degree when 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 he or she exhibits the effects of having consumed [liquor] [or] [an illegal drug].

 

Q: What are the elements of Negligent Driving in the First Degree Under the Washington Pattern Jury Instructions?

A: WPIC 96.02 states:

To convict the defendant of negligent driving in the first degree, each of the following elements of the crime must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That on or about __________, the defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  2. That the defendant operated the motor vehicle in a negligent manner;
  3. That the defendant operated the motor vehicle in such a manner as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property;
  4. That the defendant exhibited the effects of having consumed [liquor] [or] [an illegal drug]; and
  5. That any of these acts occurred in the [State of Washington] [City of ] [County of ].

If you find from the evidence that each of these elements has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, then it will be your duty to return a verdict of guilty.

On the other hand, if, after weighing all the evidence, you have a reasonable doubt as to any one of these elements, then it will be your duty to return a verdict of not guilty.

 

Q: What is the definition of Negligent under the Washington Pattern Jury Instruction?

A: WPIC 96.03 states: 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.

 

Q: Did the Negligent Driving Statute abolish negligent homicide?

A: No, the enactment of the negligent driving statute did not abolish the felony crime of negligent homicide. State v. Forler, 38 Wn. 2d 39, 277 P. 2d 727 (1951).

 

Q: Is Negligent Driving in the First Degree a lesser included offense of Reckless Driving?

A: Yes, Negligent Driving in the First Degree is a lesser included offense. State v. Travis, 1 Wn. App. 971, 465 P. 2d 209 (1970).

 

Q: Is the officer required to arrest me if I am accused of negligent driving?

A: No. A police officer has discretion as to whether make a custodial arrest for negligent driving. City of Bellevue v. Redlack, 40 Wn. App. 689, 700 P. 2d 363 (1985).

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