KING COUNTY, Wash. — Felony traffic cases in King County are increasing at an alarming rate.
In the last four years, traffic felonies have doubled, almost triple the number. The King County Prosecutor’s Office told us, “We’ve charged and are working on more of these cases this year in King County than we ever had before.”
In January 2023, King County’s Prosecuting Attorney, Leesa Manion announced the start of the Felony Traffic Unit. The unit handles cases related to vehicular homicides, vehicular assault, hit-and-run deaths, and felony DUI’s.
Data we received is data, “from all of the 39 law enforcement agencies in King County,” said Director of Communications for the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Casey McNerthney. “The largest ones are Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s office.”
In 2022, the Washington Traffic Safety Commission revealed in its preliminary report that Washington State saw the most traffic deaths (745) for the first time since 1990. The report also mentions, “impairment by drugs and alcohol is involved in more than half of fatal crashes.”
“It really is tragic knowing how preventable these crimes are and having to see firsthand the consequences these crimes have,” said the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Felony Traffic Unit, Adam Eucker.
Since January, the Felony Traffic Unit has seen anywhere from 120 to 150 cases every month. Together Eucker and his supervisor Amy Freedheim are doing what they can to prevent more tragedies and cases heading to their office. Starting with reducing the state’s blood alcohol concentration levels.
“There is data that shows collisions and deaths will decrease if the legal limit is lowered from .08 to .05,” said Eucker.
Adding that the research suggests over 1,700 deaths and collisions could be avoided annually across the country.
While there is no obvious or apparent reason for the uptick in felony traffic crimes, one thing was made abundantly clear by the King County Prosecutor’s office; “We’re certainly not forgetting about these crimes and the creation of the Felony Traffic Unit shows how important this is to try and prevent more victims from being hurt,” said McNerthney.
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