A local defense attorney was charged this month with vehicular assault after hitting a bicyclist in Olalla while allegedly driving drunk in November.
Jeniece L. LaCross, 36, who practices law in Kitsap County, was arraigned in Pierce County Superior Court Feb. 8 on one count of vehicular assault and three counts of reckless endangerment.
According to the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office incident report, LaCross was driving Nov. 8 with her three young children in the car around 5 p.m. on Peacock Hill Road near Nelson Road when she apparently struck a 23-year-old Olalla man riding a bicycle.
When deputies arrived on scene, they found the injured victim and a “mangled” bicycle lying on its side.
They also contacted two women standing nearby, one of them later identified as LaCross.
At the time of the incident, her children aged 4, 7, and 9, were with her, and she said she needed to take one of them to play practice.
After finally agreeing to stay and describe the incident to a deputy, LaCross said she wasn’t sure what had happened, but she saw something and stopped and backed up.
As she was talking, the deputy noted a strong odor of alcohol on her breath and that she was slurring as she spoke. When he asked how much she had had to drink, she said she had “one beer earlier.”
The deputy then walked over to her black Volvo parked nearby and, seeing a handprint on the hood of the car and scratches down the right side, began to suspect that she was driving the car that hit the victim.
LaCross was then detained, given field sobriety tests and eventually placed under arrest for driving under the influence. The deputy contacted the suspect’s sister, who arrived to pick up her children.
The suspect was later transported to Kitsap County Jail and booked for DUI.
However, after deputies learned that the victim had sustained fractures to his face as well as lacerations and abrasions, the charge was changed to vehicular assault and the bail set at $15,000.
Given that LaCross is a defense attorney — contracted with the county through 2008 to provide legal representation to indigent persons charged in Kitsap County Superior Court — she was charged in Pierce County.