A 19-year-old Centralia woman recently walked away from a car accident early one morning and into a waiting police cruiser.
What was supposed to be an exciting evening for the two women turned into an accident that could have killed the driver and her passenger. Instead, she faces a felony charge of vehicular assault and felony DUI after the vehicle she was driving veered off the road and turned over, injuring herself and her 20-year-old passenger. None of the injuries were life-threatening. Washington State Patrol officers closed the road to make way for further investigation.
As in most states, driving under the influence in Washington is regarded as a misdemeanor unless certain circumstances come into play. A misdemeanor can be elevated to a felony DUI charge if a driver has had four or more offenses in the previous 10 years. A felony DUI can also be levied if the intoxicated driver is a juvenile, if there is a minor in the vehicle or if an accident injures or kills someone. In this case, injuries to the woman's friend led to the felony charge.
Anyone accused of felony drunken driving faces an array of legal sanctions. The most severe criminal consequences include a lengthy prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000.
Less severe penalties can include license suspension, vehicle forfeiture or the installation of an ignition interlock system that can cost several hundreds of dollars. In addition,
To avoid such dire outcomes, it's imperative that anyone accused of a felony DUI be aware of his or her rights, including the right to legal representation, to draft the best possible defense. Depending on the case and the experience of the attorney, a plea deal may be possible under certain circumstances, or the charges could be dropped entirely.
Source: King5.com, "DUI suspected in SR 101 crash; driver arrested," June 08, 2013