DUI & DWIClients’ ChoiceAward 2012-2018

Felony DUI

Normally DUI is not a felony. However, under certain circumstances a DUI charge is a class A felony. There are certain prerequisites in order for of a DUI to become a felony charge.

Felony DUI Circumstances

  • You have four or more prior DUI offenses within ten years of a 5th charge; or
  • You have ever previously been convicted of: vehicular homicide while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug OR vehicular assault while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug and are arrested again after this conviction; OR You have been convicted of an out-of-state offense comparable to vehicular homicide or vehicular assault while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug;
  • You are arrested for DUI at the scene of an accident where another person is seriously injured (vehicular assault) or has died (vehicular homicide) as a result of the accident, and proper blood alcohol testing shows your blood alcohol concentration as .08 or more.

Other methods of Felony DUI come about by death or injury to another.

Vehicular Homicide (RCW 46.61.520)

Vehicular homicide is among the most serious of crimes and as a result, it is class A felony. The statute criminalizes vehicular homicide in 3 different ways with the most common cause resulting from DUI. The statute states that when the death of any person, within three years, is a result of injury caused by the driving of any vehicle by any person, the driver is guilty of vehicular homicide if the driver was operating a motor vehicle:

  1. Under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug; or
  2. In a reckless manner; or
  3. With a disregard for the safety of others.

The range of punishment for vehicular homicide is largely determined by the driver's "prior" history and the circumstances leading up to the death of another person. A mandatory two years is added to each prior offense, if any, when vehicular homicide is committed by a driver who is DUI, punctuating the seriousness of the offense.

As vehicular homicide is among the most serious of alcohol related crimes, consent is not needed for a breath test or blood draw. As a result, the review of blood evidence requires a keen eye of an experienced DUI attorney and a dedicated defense team.

Vehicular Assault (RCW 46.61.522)

Much like the more serious crime of vehicular homicide, vehicular assault also criminalizes behavior under 3 different scenarios. The statute states that a person commits vehicular assault when s/he operates or drives a motor vehicle:

  1. In a reckless manner and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
  2. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drug, and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
  3. With a disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another.

"Substantial bodily harm" means bodily injury which involves a temporary but substantial disfigurement, or which causes a temporary but substantial loss or impairment of the function of any bodily part or organ, or which causes a fracture of any bodily part.

Since death is not a result, yet there is serious bodily harm to another, vehicular assault is a class B felony. Serious bodily injury can be something as minor as a large bruise (temporary disfigurement), damage to internal organs (impairment to function of any body part), or even a broken finger or leg.

Like vehicular homicide, vehicular assault is among the most serious of alcohol related crimes and consent is not needed for a breath test or blood draw. As a result, the review of blood evidence requires a keen eye of an experienced DUI attorney and a dedicated defense team.

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