Tacoma was recently the site of an unfortunate alleged drunk driving incident. In the late hours, a family was asleep in their own home, when suddenly the home was struck by not one, but two cars. A 21-year-old driver failed to stop at a nearby stop sign and collided with a car passing through the intersection at about 30 miles per hour. Both of the cars careened into the side of a nearby house. The house belonged to local resident Nikki Smith. Smith was a mother, and hosting a slumber party for her daughter and three friends. Luckily for the family, no one was harmed, however the house suffered damaged, and the cars were destroyed.
While some passengers were stuck in the vehicle when first responders arrived on scene, the driver who ran through the stop sign had already begun to leave the scene. A bystander, a limo driver with prior first responder experience, dropping off passengers in the neighborhood arrived on scene to attempt to assist the other responders. However, before he could lend his assistance he noticed a young man looking disoriented and disheveled, who then "took off running" away from the scene. The limo driver, Paris Rutledge, decided to follow the young man as he notified authorities. The young man, unnamed in the news story, was later arrested and now faces charges of vehicular assault and hit-and-run. The incident is suspected to be the result of intoxicated driving, though no details regarding the driver's impairment have been released.
The Driver's Charges
Vehicular assault is defined in RCW 46.61.522:
"(1) A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she operates or drives any vehicle:
(a) In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
(b) 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
(c) With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another."
The driver likely faces these charges regardless of whether or not he was under the influence, because the accident caused harm to the other car. Vehicular assault is a Class B felony. Class B Felonies are punishable by up to 10 years in state prison, fines up to $20,000, or possibly both.
The driver in the incident also faces hit-and-run charges. Hit and run is instead covered under RCW 46.52.020, which articulates what a person's duty is in the event of an accident causing harm or injury to another. Fleeing an accident resulting in injury to a person is a Class C felony charge, which is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and $10,000 in fines, or both.
Impaired driving can lead not only to charges of driving under the influence, but much more serious charges as seen in this Tacoma case. If you or your loved one is currently facing DUI or related charges, contact us today at (206) 504-2500.