On June 7, a new Washington State DUI law went into effect that will target impaired drivers suspected of vehicular homicide.
The new law doubles the possible sentence for people convicted of vehicular homicide. In the past, the sentence for vehicular homicide for people convicted of a Washington State DUI was between two-and-a-half and three-and-a-half years in prison. With the new law going into effect, someone convicted of the same charge faces anywhere from six-and-a-half years to eight-and-a-half years in prison.
In addition, another Washington State DUI law that went into effect on the same day adds a 12- month enhancement for those who had a child under the age of 16 in the vehicle at the time of the collision.
Coincidentally, on the same day that the new Washington State DUI laws went into effect, 31-year-old Federal Way woman was in an accident. It is believed that Michelle Dittamore of King County is to be the first person charged under the new law. Prosecutors allege that Dittamore was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs when she was in a three-car collision and hit another car head-on, killing one driver and causing minor injuries to the other. At the time of the collision, Dittamore's 4-year old son was in the car.
As the first person to be charged under the new Washington State DUI laws, Dittamore faces extended prison time. She has pleaded not guilty to charges of vehicular homicide and will be in need of a competent Seattle DUI attorney. She is being held on $250,000 bail.
"It is never a good day to be an impaired driver,” King County prosecutor Dan Satterberg said, "but last Wednesday (June 6), these two new laws that went into effect make this tragic and preventable crime a much more serious offense in our state.”
"Vehicular homicide is now on par with first-degree manslaughter,” he added, "and driving impaired with a child in your car will earn an additional year sentence for the impaired driver who kills.”
According to reports, Dittamore told police on the scene that she had had "one tumbler of pink champagne" and had also taken Klonopin, which can cause drowsiness, about two and half hours prior to the accident.
Seattle DUI attorneys, especially those found at Wolff Defense, are aware of the changes in the new Washington DUI laws and can act accordingly to help with all aspects of the justice process.