One of the main problems a lot of our Washington readers have with news reports is that they often do not provide readers with enough information necessary to see the entire case for what it is. We can see this exemplified by a case out of Bellingham where an auto-pedestrian accident begs the question: was the driver really intoxicated after accidently hitting four pedestrians?
The accident of which we are speaking is the one that was said to have been caused by a 27-year-old Washington man. According to reports, the man got behind the wheel of his pickup truck and was driving through an intersection in downtown Bellingham when he lost control of his vehicle. After colliding with four people, reports indicate that his truck was swarmed by a group of bystanders, which caused him to stop.
Because of the “heavy odor of intoxicants,” which was reported on by a lieutenant from the Bellingham Police Department, it's possible that the driver could be charged with drunk driving. But was he really intoxicated?
Reports indicate that the accident happened “just as bars started to let out” and that the man's truck was surrounded by bystanders who may have come from these bars. Because news reports do not indicate breath test or blood test results, one could argue that the “heavy odor of intoxicants” could have been coming from the bystanders who are said to have detained the man before police arrived. If this is the case, then he may not face drunk-driving charges, as were hinted at by other news sources.
What is for certain at this time is that the man is currently facing vehicular assault and homicide charges. This is because three people were injured in the accident and one man died. These alone are serious charges. But without a familiarity of criminal defense or the help of an experienced lawyer, the man could find himself with an inadequate defense against the harsh penalties that could follow.
Source: KIRO TV News, “Police: Suspected drunk driver hits four people, killing one,” Maria Guerrero, May 26, 2014