Accident DUI Based on Alcohol and Drugs
In most cases, DUIs are misdemeanors. The penalties for misdemeanors are not as harsh as those for felonies. If you have been arrested for an accident DUI based on alcohol and drugs, you may be looking at one or more felony charges. The charges will be more severe if the accident resulted in death or serious injuries. James Novak is a skillful Phoenix DUI attorney with years of experience handling drunk driving cases. He uses insights gleaned from his time as a prosecutor to develop defense strategies and fight for the futures of his clients.Accident DUI Based on Alcohol and Drugs
First time DUIs are usually misdemeanors, but accident DUIs may result in felony charges, even for a first offense. Accidents sometimes result in injuries or deaths, and so you can face not only a felony DUI charge, but also felony charges related to the injury or death, such as aggravated battery, aggravated assault, or manslaughter. When drugs are involved, you may also face drug crime charges.
Often, an ordinary DUI charge is coupled with an endangerment charge when there is an accident arising out of alcohol or drug use. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 13-1201, you perpetrate endangerment by: (1) recklessly endangering someone else (2) with substantial chance of physical injury or imminent death. In most cases, endangerment is a class 1 misdemeanor. However, endangerment is a class 6 felony in Arizona when it involves a significant chance of imminent death.
A common charge that is tacked onto a DUI charge when there is an accident involving alcohol or drugs is enumerated under A.R.S. section 13-1204, which addresses aggravated assault. You can be charged with aggravated assault if you intentionally, recklessly, or knowingly utilize a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument to inflict serious injuries. Cars can be considered deadly weapons or dangerous instruments when a driver is drunk or under the influence of prescription drugs or controlled substances. So, for example, if you were high on cocaine and sped down the highway and crashed into another car, causing the occupants to suffer broken bones, disfigurement, and internal injuries, you could be charged under section 13-1204.
In the same scenario, if you had drugs in your system and an accident DUI resulted, you could also be charged with drug possession or other drug crimes. Drug possession charges carry different penalties depending on the substance and how much was involved. Cocaine possession may be charged as a felony if you possessed at least 10 grams. For example, if you had 11 grams of cocaine in the car with you and were high when you got into an accident, you may be charged with a drug DUI as well as cocaine possession.
There are situations in which you can move to suppress drug evidence in your case. However, when there are accidents, the state can argue that the accident gave rise to probable cause to search your car. A knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer can look at all aspects of your case to figure out whether there are other constitutional or procedural violations that may serve as a basis for excluding incriminating evidence. Perhaps your blood was drawn or analyzed inappropriately, or perhaps a key piece of evidence involves something you said during a custodial interrogation, and you weren’t read your Miranda warnings.Sentencing
In Arizona, you can face either consecutive or concurrent prison terms for felony charges associated with an accident DUI. Consecutive sentences are those that you serve one after another. For example, if your sentences were 3 years and 5 years, you would serve eight years altogether. Concurrent sentences are those that are served all at once, so that you just serve the longer sentence. In the prior example, you would serve 5 years. The rules around sentencing are complex. Generally, terms of imprisonment run consecutively when there are at least two crimes charged. However, there is often wiggle room in this area, and a skillful attorney may be able to convince the judge to sentence using concurrent sentencing.DUI Defense Attorney Serving Phoenix Area Residents
If you have been charged with an accident DUI based on alcohol and drugs, a dedicated criminal defense lawyer can assess your case and help you protect your rights. Mr. Novak represents defendants charged with accident DUIs and other crimes in the Phoenix area, including in Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and throughout Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact us via our online form.