In Arizona, a routine drunken driving charge in and of itself can be a scary proposition to face. Any DUI attorney in this state will tell you with certainty that, if convicted, you are guaranteed some steep penalties including heavy fines, license suspension and at least some period of jail time. However, if the impaired driver causes injury to another person, the charges automatically become an aggravated felony.
When a DUI charge is raised from a misdemeanor to a felony, a defendant stands to face much stiffer penalties. Traffic accidents where the impaired driver caused serious physical injury is usually charged as aggravated assault, a class 3 dangerous Felony. Unfortunately, the range of sentences is between 5 to 15 years. Serious injuries include broken bones, damage to internal organs, or any other injuries that represent a serious threat to the life of the victim.
Arizona’s DUI causing injury offense isn’t out of the ordinary, but it does include three elements worth noting:
It’s important to note that the violation of law must be a statute other than the drunken-driving statute. In most cases, the violation will be a low-level traffic offense like speeding or running a traffic light.
The bodily injury, therefore, must be proximately caused by the violation of the statute. That is to say, the injury was caused in part by the driver’s speeding or running of a red light, not just the driver’s intoxication.
Prosecutors may be out of luck if there’s possibly an independent source of causation. For example, if the drunken driver’s passengers weren’t wearing seatbelts and that somehow led to the DUI crash, that could negate the causation element.
Still, DUI defendants may have a number of defenses available to use against a felony DUI charge resulting from an injury. These can include standard DUI defenses like not actually being under the influence or a faulty Breathalyzer or blood test, as well as a Miranda violation.
But there’s an additional approach that can be used when there’s a DUI accident involving an injury. This can include an accident reconstruction expert who can evaluate whether the driver’s actions caused the injury. A reconstruction expert examines a number of factors such as the weather, road conditions, damages to the car(s), among other considerations. A reconstruction report can then be used to counter the police officer’s traffic investigation report. DUI cases that result in injury revolve around the causation element.
If you find yourself in a bad situation and would like to speak with a DUI attorney by phone, give Alcock & Associates a call today. We are happy to answer any questions that you have. Our free informational line is 602-989-5000.
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Alcock & Associates P.C.
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Phoenix AZ 85004