Suspect in deadly crash charged under new, tougher DUI laws

Suspect in deadly crash charged under new, tougher DUI laws

Suspect in deadly crash charged under new, tougher DUI laws

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by TRAVIS PITTMAN / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on June 14, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Updated Thursday, Jun 14 at 10:15 AM

SEATTLE – A Federal Way woman has been charged under tougher vehicular homicide laws that went into effect the same day as the deadly crash she is accused of causing.

King County prosecutors say Michelle Dittamore, 31, was responsible for the head-on collision that killed Jana Lynne Berry, 48, in Federal Way on June 7. Dittamore’s 4-year-old son was in the car.

Police say Dittamore was driving her Honda S2000 on Pacific Highway South with her headlights off just before midnight. She allegedly crossed into oncoming traffic and hit Berry’s Honda Civic, causing the Civic to spin around and hit a Honda Accord.

Berry died at the scene. Dittamore’s son and the driver of the Accord had non life-threatening injuries.

Police say Dittamore showed signs of being under the influence of drugs. Her speech was slowed, thick-tongued and slurred and she kept stopping mid-sentence.

According to probable cause documents, Dittamore told police she had consumed “one tumbler of pink champagne” and the drug Klonopin about two hours before the crash.

Dittamore also allegedly became argumentative when she was told her son was in the car. She insisted that the boy was with his father.
 
The accident happened the same day as HB 2216 took effect. Under the new law, the sentencing range for DUI Vehicular Homicide is 6 ½ to 8 ½ years in prison, up from 31 to 41 months.

HB 2302 also went into effect. It enhances the sentence for DUI Vehicular Homicide and Assault and felony DUI when a child younger than 16-years-old is in the vehicle.

“Vehicular homicide is now on par with first degree manslaughter," said King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg," and driving impaired with a child in your car will earn an additional year sentence for the impaired driver who kills."

Prosecutors are asking for a 7 ½ to  9 ½ year sentence for Dittamore if convicted.

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