In Washington State a driver can be charged with negligent driving in the first degree or second degree.
First Degree Negligent Driving
First degree negligent driving charge is a low-level misdemeanor and can carry a fine of $1,000 and a jail term of 90 days. To be convicted of the charge, the prosecutor must prove that the person:
- 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.
This charge is almost always used in conjunction with a DUI charge or used in a plea deal for a person charged with a DUI.
Second Degree Negligent Driving
Second degree negligent driving is the same as a first degree charge without the requirement of showing the person was exhibiting any effects of impairment. This charge is not a misdemeanor but is a traffic infraction.
Will I Lose my License?
Getting a conviction of first degree negligence does not carry a suspended license by itself, but it is usually accompanied by a charge of DUI which will result in a suspension. Also, if you have a past alcohol-related conviction, you will have to install an ignition lock on your vehicle.
If you get a ticket for second degree negligent driving, you will also not lose your license just for getting the ticket, however, it does count as a moving violation which can bring you closer to a suspension. The DMV will suspend a person’s driver’s license if the person receives two moving violations while on driving probation.
To be on driving probation, a driver must have:
4 moving violations in 12 months,
5 moving violations in 24 months.
Then once on a 1-year probation, if the driver gets 2 moving violations, his or her license will be suspended.
Don’t Pay That Ticket!
If you are given a negligent driving first degree charge, you will have to appear in court as it is a criminal charge, so you won’t have the option of just paying the ticket. You should consider being represented by an attorney if you are charged with any crime.
For a second degree negligent ticket, just paying the ticket isn’t a good option. Many drivers don’t want to deal with going to court over a ticket, so they just pay the fine. However, the truth is, if you just send the ticket in with a check or pay it online, it will be much more costly than paying for an attorney to handle it. This is because of the increased cost to your insurance.
A fine for a second degree negligent driving ticket can be $250 plus court costs but then the insurance company will raise your rates by an average of 20 to 25 percent. If you pay around $150 a month for insurance, then it will go up around $30 each month which will be around a $1,000 increase in a three-year period.
The worst thing to do is to just pay the ticket. When you get the citation from the officer, you have three options under Washington State Law:
- Pay the ticket in full: By doing this, you agree that you did the offense and the ticket goes on your record.
- Request Mitigation: This option allows you to explain your circumstances in front of a magistrate who can reduce your fine, but you are still admitting that you committed the violation, and the ticket goes on your record.
- Contest the Ticket: Here you are saying that you did not do what the ticket says and you want to fight it in court. You can check the appropriate box and mail the ticket in or you can call the number on your ticket. If you choose this, you will be given a pre-hearing settlement conference where you will talk to someone from the prosecutor’s office. Then if you don’t like what they are offering, you will get your day in court in front of a judge.
What if I Just Ignore the Ticket?
Ignoring the ticket isn’t such a great option either as the court will send your ticket to a collection company, and when you go to renew your license, you will have to pay all the collection fees and other assessments. Then your rates will go up anyway, and it will cost you even more.
What do I do if I didn’t respond to my ticket, and it’s been a while?
Don’t let thing get any worse. An experienced attorney can still help you out. Don’t make things worse by continuing to ignore the letters and notices.
What About a Deferment?
In Washington, each driver can do one deferment for a moving violation and another for a non-moving violation every seven years. If you qualify, the court may require you to:
- Pay a deferral fee of $150 (average).
- Take a driving course (at court’s discretion).
- Ticket probation for up to a year.
Qualifications for Deferral:
- Must have a currently valid driver’s license,
- Must not have had a previous deferral in the last 7 years,
- Must not have a commercial driver’s license.
If you stay clean, then the probations goes away, if you get another ticket during that period, then your other ticket could be reinstated and become an automatic conviction on your record plus you will have to deal with the new ticket.
Spokane Negligent Driving Ticket Lawyer
While you can usually get a deferral just by asking for one, it’s best to at least talk to an attorney because many times, he or she can help you not to waste your deferral until you’ve exhausted all other possibilities. At at Crary, Chuang & Domanico, P.S, we have an experienced traffic and criminal attorney who can help you avoid getting an increase in your insurance and losing your license.
Here’s why you should talk to one now:
- Go to work, not to court: Let us go to court for you so you don’t have waste hours in court.
- Do what’s best for you: We are not a ticket mill, and you are not just a number. We can look at your current charges and your record to see which option is best for you.
- Get peace of mind: Just send us the ticket and we take care of the rest. Spend your time doing important things and we will take care of you.