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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Man facing felony drunk driving charges after fatal crash

A 27-year-old professional skateboarder has been charged with vehicular assault and vehicular homicide in connection with an August 2017 car accident in Washington state. The crash claimed the life of one of the man's passengers and left the other severely injured. Police say that the man was traveling at highway speeds in an area with a posted speed limit of 15 mph when he lost control of his vehicle on a curve.

According to official reports, deputies from the King County Sheriff's Office were detached to the vicinity of Thorson Road and Southwest Bank Road on Vashon Island at approximately 10:14 p.m. on August 30 after a resident called 911 to report an accident. Reports suggest that the man's vehicle came to a rest after striking two trees. A 46-year-old man who had been sitting in the front-passenger seat of the car was pronounced dead at the scene. A 26-year-old man who had been sitting in the rear of the vehicle was transported by helicopter to a trauma center in Seattle.

Deputies say that they began to suspect that alcohol may have played a role when they noticed several empty beer cans on the back seat of the man's badly damaged vehicle. Deputies obtained a search warrant to draw blood from the man after a roadside breath test allegedly revealed his blood alcohol level to be .10 percent. The legal driving limit in Washington is .08 percent. The man is said to have admitted to deputies that he was speeding and had consumed one beer earlier in the day.

Felony drunk driving charges can have severe consequences in Washington, and prosecutors may be hesitant to show leniency when lives have been lost. However, arguing cases before juries always involves at least some risk, and this is especially true in criminal cases when guilt must be established beyond any reasonable doubt. Experienced criminal defense attorneys may bring these points up during plea discussions and encourage prosecutors to mitigate their risks by entering into a plea agreement.

Source: KOMO News, "Skateboarding star charged with vehicular homicide in deadly Vashon Is. crash", KOMO staff, Feb. 9, 2018

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