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Washington State Penitentiary Nurse Sentenced for Vehicular Assault by Driving Under the Influence

Posted by Aaron J. Wolff | Feb 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Washington State Penitentiary Nurse Rebecca Anne Smylie Groom pleaded guilty to a felony charge of Vehicular Assault by Driving Under the Influence on January 19.  According to a police report, Groom was operating a 2009 Toyota Corolla in the early evening on September 4 when her vehicle veered from the road, ran through a field, and crashed into the southwest side of the home owned by Eduardo Lagunas.  

Lagunas was seated on his recliner in the living room area of his home when Groom's vehicle crashed through the wall, punching Lagunas from his recliner, and causing him to hit the north wall of his home.  Lagunas suffered broken ribs from the incident, while two other residents escaped without injury.

Groom was sentenced to the minimum amount of county jail time of three months on Monday, February 23.  Notably, Groom expressed deep apology for her action in front of Judge Scott Wolfram, and the Deputy Prosecutor, Kelly Stevenson, argued for the ninety-day minimum sentence, referring to Groom's lack of criminal history and her genuine desire to take the situation seriously by making positive changes in her life.  At the moment, Groom is on unpaid leave from her nursing position at the State Penitentiary, and her nursing license could be at risk of revocation.  Nonetheless, Judge Wolfram is providing her the opportunity to serve her time on partial confinement for work release if, by chance, her job were reinstated while she is in jail.  Continue reading to learn more about Vehicular Assault by DUI in Washington.

Vehicular Assault by Driving Under the Influence in Washington

Washington State Vehicular Assault occurs when a driver hurts another person while driving in a reckless manner, with disregard for the safety of others, or while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  The Revised Code of Washington (RCW) -- the permanent laws currently in effect in the state -- describe when a person is guilty of vehicular assault, by stating:

A person is guilty of vehicular assault if he or she operates or drives any 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, as defined by RCW 46.61.502, and causes substantial bodily harm to another; or
    3. With disregard for the safety of others and causes substantial bodily harm to another.

Vehicular assault is a class B felony punishable under chapter 9A.20 RCW.  As a class B felony, Vehicular Assault can lead to a maximum fine of $20,000 and a maximum prison sentence of ten years. In addition to fines and jail time, a Vehicular Assault conviction may also include driver's license suspension, probation, drug or alcohol treatment, and even the loss of the right to vote and carry firearms.

Vehicular Assault cases are different than an ordinary DUI case. If the police have probable cause that you were drinking after a car accident that causes substantial bodily harm to another person, they can bring you to the hospital for a blood test regardless of whether you consent or not. Typically, with an ordinary DUI, it is possible to refuse such a test, albeit with severe consequences.

Seattle DUI Defense Attorney Aaron Wolff Can Help You Navigate the Washington Criminal Justice System

Vehicular Assault by DUI charges are a serious matter in Washington. Learning about the consequences of such a charge and acting quickly can make a difference in your case. A knowledgeable DUI Defense Attorney will review the facts of your case and develop a strategy for your defense.  At Wolff Defense, I have represented thousands of clients in DUI cases in the greater Puget Sound area.  Feel free to call or send me a message to learn more about how I can help you approach your DUI and other alcohol-related driving offenses.

About the Author

Aaron J. Wolff

A former DUI prosecutor, Aaron Wolff has over 16 years of experience in representing people accused of DUI and is recognized as one of the leading defense lawyers in Washington State. His relentless and passionate advocacy has lead to superb ratings and outstanding reviews from former clients.

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