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Pleading Guilty to a Washington State DUI Doesn't Always Mean You Have to Pay Restitution

Posted by Unknown | Jul 21, 2012 | 0 Comments

Washington State DUI suspects have the right to a fair trial. Even pleading guilty to a Washington State DUI does not necessarily mean having to pay restitution for anything and everything, if you have a qualified DUI attorney.

The following case is an example of a man who pleaded guilty to a DUI in Washington State but avoided having to pay excessive Washington State DUI penalties to the victim, based on the facts of his individual case.

In the case of the State vs. Oslakovic, an appeals court ruled in favor of Charles Peter Oslakovic. Oslakovic pled guilty to one charge of driving under the influence and another of leaving the scene of an accident in a case that took place back in November 2009. After pleading guilty to the charges under Washington State DUI laws, the court ordered Oslakovic to pay over $94,000 to an accident victim as restitution for her injuries. Oslakovic argued that this was unreasonable and he shouldn't have to pay restitution, but the trial court disagreed. After appealing the restitution in Appeals Court, the Court of Appeals sided with Oslakovic and vacated the restitution award, saying the lower court erred when it said that was a causal relationship between Oslakovic’s DUI and the woman’s injuries.

The end result was that Oslakovic did not have to pay restitution, despite having pled guilty to the Washington State DUI charges. So now you're probably wondering, how did he get the Court of Appeals to side with him? By looking at the circumstances surrounding Oslakovic's individual case.

Oslakovic was driving a sports utility vehicle on April 3, 2008, traveling between 70 and 75 miles an hour on Interstate 5 in Tacoma, with a female in the front passenger seat. After receiving a call on her cell phone, the passenger then unaccountably and without explanation, opened the SUV’s door and climbed out onto the running board, while the vehicle was still in motion. After attempting to roll down the passenger window and trying to talk to the woman, she either fell or jumped from the running board, sustaining significant injuries. Oslakovic then continued down the interstate, passing the next exit and getting pulled over before the following one. After being pulled over, Oslakovic was questioned and eventually tested for alcohol intoxication. Testing revealed that Oslakovic's blood alcohol level was .09, which is above the legal limit of .08.

So, although Oslakovic was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol according to Washington State DUI laws, and pled guilty to the charges, it did not make him responsible for paying for the passenger's injuries. Restitution in drunk driving cases is often part of the outcome when the offender causes harm to another individual. However, the victim's actions also play a part in awarding restitution. In the case of the State vs. Oslakovic, this is the victim deciding to suddenly exit a vehicle traveling at high speeds.

In the end, the Superior Court dismissed the vehicular assault charge due to lack of evidence.

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