What to Know About Negligent Driving 2nd Degree in WA State

Washington Negligent Driving 2nd Degree Attorney

Negligent driving in the second degree is a civil traffic infraction that can have severe consequences if left unresolved. If you’ve recently received a ticket for this offense, you may be concerned about the impact on your driving record, insurance rates, and overall financial well-being. However, it’s important to understand that you have options. With the help of an experienced Washington negligent driving in the second-degree attorney at Garguile DUI & Traffic Lawyers, PLLC, you can build a defense that works and successfully fight the charge in court. Whether you’re dealing with a one-time mistake or have a history of traffic offenses, it’s essential to take proactive steps to secure the best possible outcome. By educating yourself on the legal system and working with a trusted legal professional, you can overcome this challenge and confidently move forward.

Negligent Driving 1st Degree versus Negligent Driving 2nd Degree?

Negligent driving in Washington State is always a serious offense. However, it is essential to distinguish between the two types:  Negligent 1st Degree and Negligent Driving 2nd Degree. Negligent Driving in the 1st Degree (Neg 1) is a criminal offense that carries up to a maximum of 90 days in jail and a 1,000.00 fine.  The definition of Negligent Driving in the First Degree (RCW 46.61.5249) is

A person that 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.

Negligent Driving 2nd Degree (Neg 2) is a civil traffic infraction, and while there is no possibility of jail, the costs can be substantial.  There are also two types of Neg 2 offenses: Standard Negligent Driving under RCW 46.61.525 and Negligent Driving Involving a Vulnerable User under RCW 46.61.526. Neg 2 involving a Vulnerable User has more severe financial penalties than a criminal, infraction-including a fine of up to $10,000.00, and can result in a license suspension, unlike the criminal charge of Neg 1 or the standard civil infraction of Neg 2.  But most Negligent driving offenses fall into the regular Neg 2 category, which is this page’s focus. 

The definition of Negligent Driving in the First Degree (RCW 46.61.525) is:

A person who operates a motor vehicle in a manner that is both negligent and endangers or is likely to endanger any person or property.

Negligent” means the failure of a driver to exercise ordinary care, which means that the driver did something on the roadway that a reasonably careful person would not do under the same or similar circumstances. Also, a driver can be negligent by failing to do something a reasonably careful person would do under similar circumstances. 

In Washington State, you could find yourself accused of negligent driving because of accidentally crossing over the yellow line, forgetting to use a turn signal, speeding, falling asleep at the wheel, or simply not paying attention to the conditions of the road. In Washington, the citation can also stem from an automobile accident – even if the officer did not witness it!  Cases sometimes also involve an allegation that a person drove too fast on rainy or snowy and icy roads during winter. If officers see a driver committing multiple traffic infractions, like speeding, running a red light, or making several lane changes at once, they usually cite the driver for negligent driving. An officer may also escalate a regular ticket to a Neg 2 citation if other cars or people are around.

Negligent driving differs from the more severe charge of reckless driving because reckless driving is when a driver shows malicious disregard for other people or property. In contrast, negligent driving is merely perceived carelessness. Unfortunately, defining an action as “negligent” comes with some gray areas as there is a lot of subjectivity in assessing what is “negligent,” and the officer’s judgment plays a large part in whether they cite someone for negligent driving. 

Penalties for Negligent Driving 2nd Degree in Washington State

The maximum penalty for Negligent Driving 2nd Degree (not involving a Vulnerable User) is a fine amount of $559 ($250 plus court costs and fees).  But the costs don’t stop there if the Neg 2 goes on your record.  A traffic offense such as Neg 2 will stay on your record for three years. Washington is not a “points” state like many others.  Instead, Washington’s department of licensing distinguishes between moving and nonmoving violations, moving violations having consequences on insurance and your driving record. If you have an out-of-state license, points are highly likely attached to the infraction if you received the Neg 2 in Washington State. 

Having a moving violation or receiving points from a Neg 2 on your record will result in a significant insurance increase for the three years it is on your record. A fine for Negligent Driving 2nd Degree is $559.00, but the insurance company will raise your rates by an average of 20 to 25%. If you pay around $150 a month for insurance, it could go up to about $30 each month, which will be around a $1,000 increase in three years! In Washington State, the law prohibits insurance companies from making any distinction on a driver’s record between the different degrees of negligent driving. As a result, insurance companies do not always understand the differences between the two offenses and treat a civil traffic infraction the same way they treat a criminal charge. 

A  Neg 2 will NOT suspend your license EXCEPT if you were cited for RCW 46.61.526 involving a vulnerable user. Which, if not handled correctly, can suspend your license for 90 days. 

Finally, A Neg 2, aside from the court and insurance costs, can also cost you future job opportunities.  A Neg 2 is one of the worst, if not the worst, civil traffic infractions you can get.  

For any type of Negligent Driving ticket, as you can see, simply paying for the ticket isn’t a good option. Many drivers don’t want to deal with going to court over a traffic ticket and taking time off of work, so they just pay the fine. But the truth is, if you just send the ticket in with a check or pay it online, it will be much more costly than paying for an attorney to handle it.

When you get the citation from the officer, you have three options under Washington State Law:

  1. Pay the ticket in full: You agree that you committed the offense, and the ticket goes on your record. ONCE A TICKET GOES ON YOUR RECORD, IT IS VERY HARD TO UNDO.  You must talk to a local traffic ticket attorney before responding to the court to thoroughly review your options. 
  2. Request Mitigation: This option allows you to explain your circumstances in front of a judge who can reduce your fine, but you still admit that you committed the violation, and the ticket goes on your record. Consulting with an experienced traffic ticket lawyer can be more beneficial in the long run than simply having the fine lowered on the ticket. If you only pay the fine, you may still face the costs of increased insurance rates and have the ticket on your record for three years.
  3. Contest the Ticket: Here, you are saying that you either did not do what the officer said you did or want them to prove that you did by fighting in court. You can check the appropriate box and mail the ticket back to court, and you will get your day in front of a judge. This is where an experienced local traffic ticket attorney, such as Garguile Law, will advocate for you and present all defenses and issues in your case. 

What if I Just Ignore the Negligent Driving 2nd Degree Ticket?

Ignoring the ticket is a terrible option! The court will suspend your license and send your ticket to a collection company. You will have to pay all the collection and late court fees and the original fine to get your license back. Contact an attorney as soon as possible after receiving a Neg 2 ticket to have them evaluate your case.  

What do I do if I don’t respond to my ticket, and it’s been a while?

If you fail to respond, don’t let things get any worse. If you missed your court date, did not respond to the ticket, or have received letters from the court, collections, or the department of licensing, contact an experienced attorney, such as Garguile DUI & Traffic Lawyers, PLLC, immediately. Often, we can still help you. 

Fight your Negligent Driving Second Degree citation today! Contact us now for a free case evaluation to help keep it off your record and avoid expensive fines and insurance hikes. Don’t delay; act fast, and remember you only have 30 days!