Lawhon wins acquittal in negligent driving case
Attorney Andrew Lawhon won a trial in Clark County District Court this week for a client charged with negligent driving in the first degree.
In November, his client was driving on Northeast 117th Street in Salmon Creek in the middle of the night when she lost control of her vehicle on a curve and hit a fence. She knocked on the door and spoke to the homeowner, who has lived at the residence for 50 years.
The homeowner testified at the Aug. 31 trial that there have been many such accidents in that same spot, and when she heard the noise she knew immediately what had happened and got up and called 911.
A responding deputy with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office noted that the driver “had a mild odor” of intoxicants, but the homeowner testified she didn’t smell any alcohol on the driver and the driver didn’t appear to be impaired.
The deputy sheriff had the driver do field sobriety tests, but she didn’t show enough clues to warrant a DUI charge.
The 20-year-old client had no criminal history and would have been eligible for a diversion program for first time offenders, but that option was shut down by a deputy prosecuting attorney who believed the driver was lucky that she wasn’t charged with DUI.
Negligent driving in the first degree is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. A conviction can also affect insurance rates for years.
Lawhon argued to jurors that speed alone doesn’t constitute negligent driving and that the four hours that the client waited after drinking did not fit the requirement under the law that the drinking be recent.
Jurors deliberated less than 30 minutes before returning the verdict of not guilty.