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Federal Way woman could face 7 to 9 years for fatal DUI

A 31-year-old, Federal Way, Washington, woman has been charged in relation to a fatal car accident that killed a 48-year-old woman last week. The 31-year-old reportedly did not have her headlights on, and her 4-year old son was in the car, when she crossed into oncoming traffic on Pacific Highway South just before midnight.

She struck the 48-year-old woman's Honda Civic, which then spun out and struck a Honda Accord. The 48-year-old died at the scene. Police believed the 31-year-old driver, who suffered non-life threatening injuries was under the influence of drugs. The accident happened the same day that the state's new, tougher DUI laws went into effect.

Under the new driving under the influence statute, sentencing for DUI vehicular homicide has been increased to be closer to that for first-degree manslaughter. The DUI vehicular homicide sentence guideline has been raised from 31 to 41 months, to anywhere from six and a half to eight and a half years.

Additionally, the sentence is increased if a child younger than 16 is in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The driver in this case was reportedly confused when police told her that her son was in the car. She argued with them and told them that her son was with his father.

She also told authorities that she consumed a "tumbler" of pink champagne and took the drug Klonopin before driving that night.

If convicted of the charges, prosecutors will reportedly ask for a seven and a half to nine and a half year sentence. This, of course, will probably be of little consolation for the victim's family and loved ones. The victim's loved ones may also choose to file a wrongful death action to receive compensation for funeral expenses, loss of companionship and lost future earnings. Of course, none of this can lessen the emotional anguish that family members suffer after a fatal car accident; it is simply a means to secure a small amount of justice.

Source: King5.com, "Suspect in deadly crash charged under new, tougher DUI laws," Travis Pittman, June 14, 2012

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