There is no doubt that driving under the influence (DUI) is dangerous. The risk of a car accident increases tremendously if you are impaired by alcohol or drugs, which is why Payson prosecutors are tough on DUI cases that involve accidents.
A DUI offense is usually a class 1 misdemeanor. But if it involves an accident in which someone is killed or injured, then you can be charged with a felony.
Although Payson only has a population of around 15,000 residents, it still sees a significant number of alcohol-related accidents every year. The kinds of DUI charges in Payson that you could face following an accident depend on the circumstances of the accident. The possibilities include:
Endangerment, Aggravated Assault, Manslaughter and Second-Degree Murder can be included in DUI cases involving a collision.
A felony charge involving a car accident is also often charged as a “Dangerous” offense in Arizona because a vehicle is considered readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. If you are convicted of a dangerous felony offense, then you will be sentenced to time in prison. Probation is not available for a dangerous felony conviction.
The amount of potential prison time for a felony charge stemming from a DUI involving an accident depends on many case specifics. These include the type of charge, the age of the victim, whether there is a “Dangerous” allegation, and whether you have any prior felony convictions.
The short answer is yes.
Many people who are arrested for DUI are shocked when they look at their paperwork and realize that they have been charged with Endangerment in addition to the DUI charges. The confusion often comes from the fact that no one was injured because of that person’s driving under the influence.
In Arizona, you can be charged with Endangerment if you recklessly endanger another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury.
It is common for someone to be charged with Aggravated Assault if that person causes serious physical injury to another person because of a DUI-related car accident. This is typically charged as a Class 3 dangerous felony.
What this means is that if you are convicted as charged, then you face a mandatory prison sentence ranging from 5 to 15 years even if you are a first-time offender with no prior criminal history or traffic violations. Additionally, you can face a 3-year driver’s license revocation.
If you are involved in a car accident and the police took a blood sample or you completed a breath test, you should contact a lawyer immediately.
In these situations, due to the chaos involved in a car accident, DUI investigation, and subsequent arrest, many people can be unaware if anyone was injured in the accident. Further, you may have been taken to a hospital for injuries that you sustained, with a nurse taking your blood and providing a sample to law enforcement.
In many cases, the police will contact the other people involved in the accident to determine whether they have any serious injuries because of the collision. Some internal injuries may not be immediately apparent, and testing your blood for alcohol or drugs can take months, so just because you were not charged with Aggravated Assault on the date of the incident does not mean that charges are not coming. By contacting an experienced DUI lawyer right away, you can make sure that your rights are protected.
Without question, a fatal DUI accident in Payson is everyone’s worst nightmare. These cases are most often charged as Manslaughter in Arizona, but in some circumstances, they may be charged as Second-Degree Murder.
Second-Degree Murder is defined as a killing showing an extreme indifference to human life, by recklessly engaging in conduct posing a grave risk of death – and death in fact occurs. This is a class 2 felony punishable by a range of prison time from 10 to 25 years.
The more commonly charged vehicular Manslaughter does not require an “extreme indifference to human life.” Rather, it only requires a showing that a person recklessly caused the death of another person. In the context of vehicular Manslaughter, “recklessly” means that a person is aware of and consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a death may occur. In a situation where DUI is involved, unawareness of the risk of death because one’s voluntary intoxication is not a defense.
Vehicular Manslaughter is a Class 2 dangerous felony punishable by a range of prison from 7 to 21 years for a first-time offender.
If you are involved in an accident involving the death of another driver, you should immediately seek legal representation. In the days, weeks, and months after the accident it is important to make sure that any possible exculpatory evidence is documented and preserved.
Exculpatory evidence is evidence that may point toward your innocence. In these cases, it is often necessary to work with experts in forensic toxicology, accident reconstruction, and medicine. An aggressive yet methodical approach may lead to defenses based on a lack of impairment, a supervening cause of death or a violation of your constitutional rights.
These cases are very complex, so there are countless seemingly small errors that may be made during an investigation that can lead to serious problems with the state’s evidence. A knowledgeable attorney is your best line of defense.
When you are facing serious penalties, like years in prison, there is no time to waste in preparing your defense. The Rosenstein Law Group has years of experience in handling DUIs and Aggravated Assault cases.
We work with expert witnesses in the fields of forensic toxicology, accident reconstruction, and medical care. It may also be necessary to document the scene of the accident and the condition of the vehicles involved before key evidence is destroyed, so having an attorney early on, even before charges are filed, is often your best course of action.
Contact the Rosenstein Law Group any time at 480-248-7666 or online for a free consultation.