An ambulance driver under investigation for reckless driving when he was taking a patient to a hospital, recently had his credentials suspended by Washington state health officials.
The former North Kitsap Fire & Rescue EMT is suspected of driving recklessly last year while transporting a patient who may have suffered a stroke.
According to a Washington State Department of Health investigation, the EMT was transporting the patient to a hospital when another driver abruptly cut into the lane in front of the emergency vehicle. Reportedly frustrated, the EMT began to follow and tailgate the other vehicle, while improperly using the ambulance emergency overhead lights. The Department of Health determined the EMT's actions were unsafe and caused a delay in treatment for the patient.
The EMT, who had worked for the department since 1994, ended his employment in March. In May, the Department of Health issued its statement of charges against the EMT, and in late June, his license was suspended.
The EMT's actions could be considered “road rage.” According to the Washington State Patrol, road rage is described as "an assault with a motor vehicle or other dangerous weapon by the operator or passenger(s) of one motor vehicle on the operator or passenger(s) of another motor vehicle caused by an incident that occurred on a roadway.” Whereas aggressive driving is “"the commission of two or more moving violations that is likely to endanger other persons or property, or any single intentional violation that requires a defensive reaction of another driver."
Aggressive driving, according to the State Patrol, includes:
- Following too close.
- Weaving in and out of traffic.
- Speeding up to beat a traffic light.
- Cutting between vehicles to change lanes.
- Using the horn excessively.
- Flashing headlights excessively at oncoming traffic.
- Braking to get others to back off your bumper.
- Passing another driver, then slowing to teach them a lesson.
Washington does not have an aggressive driving law, however motorists can be charged with reckless driving. Though it is a misdemeanor, the penalty can be severe. According to the Revised Code of Washington (RCW 46.61.500): “Any person who drives any vehicle in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”
Reckless driving is a gross misdemeanor in Washington State, punishable by up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. If an angry driver causes injury or death, the punishments can increase to years prisons and thousands more in court fees and fines.
No matter the crime or the circumstances, every defendant has a right to representation by a qualified attorney. If you have been charged with reckless driving, or if you have been falsely convicted, call the Seattle law office of Steve Karimi at (206) 621-8777 or contact him online.