Negligent Driving in the First Degree

Negligent Driving Attorney


Negligent Driving in the First Degree is a misdemeanor traffic charge defined in RCW 46.61.5249 as

A person is guilty of negligent driving in the first degree if he or she 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 an illegal 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 similar to a DUI in that it is a crime of driving after having consumed alcohol.  Unlike a DUI, there is no per se amount of alcohol that must be proven to convict under this charge.  The police officer does not need a breath test to prove this charge, only proof of some alcohol or drug needs to be established.  Also, the State only has to show that the driving was negligent, such that it likely endangered persons or property.  For a DUI charge, the standard the State needs to prove is that the driver was impaired by alcohol.  Therefore, it is generally easier to prove a Negligent driving charge than a DUI.

Consequences of a Negligent Driving Conviction

This charge is a misdemeanor under Washington law, which means that the maximum penalty is 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.  There is no mandatory minimum jail time, unlike a DUI conviction.  There is no court ordered license suspension or Ignition Interlock requirement.  However, the Department of Licensing may still suspend your license and require you to obtain an Ignition Interlock Device.
If you are convicted of an amended charge from DUI to Negligent Driving in the First Degree, the conviction will still count as a prior conviction for DUI within seven years.