Recently, an Arizona appellate court affirmed a lower court’s convictions of a defendant in a DUI case involving a minor passenger. The defendant appealed the lower court’s decision, arguing that there was a fundamental error in the record. The appellate court found that there was no fundamental error because the court proceedings were properly conducted and afforded the defendant all of his constitutional and statutory rights. The appellate court affirmed the defendant’s convictions. Operating a vehicle while under the influence and with a minor present in the vehicle results in heightened penalties in the state of Arizona.
The Facts of the Case
On the night of the incident, a police officer was driving on a highway and observed a vehicle stopped on an exit ramp. The defendant was the driver, and his eight-year-old son was also in the car. According to the arresting officer, the defendant stumbled while getting out of the car and spoke with slurred speech, prompting the Arizona Department of Public Safety Troopers to investigate. The troopers observed the defendant’s bloodshot watery eyes and the smell of alcohol, and the defendant’s subsequent field sobriety tests indicated he may be under the influence of alcohol. The troopers administered a blood test, revealing the defendant’s blood alcohol content (BAC) to be 0.187, which is above the 0.08 threshold and thus indicates driving while impaired.
The defendant was convicted of aggravated DUI, which, in this case, involved driving a vehicle with a passenger under the age of 15 years old while under the influence of alcohol. The defendant appealed and argued that there was a fundamental error in the record, or in other words, errors were made that violated rights provided to him by the U.S. or Arizona constitutions or laws.
The appellate court did not find a fundamental error because the record indicated that the lower court gave the defendant all of his constitutional and statutory rights. Additionally, the appellate court found that the court proceedings complied with the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. The court explained that the defendant was present at all proceedings, represented by counsel at all proceedings, the jury received proper jury instructions and was properly comprised, and that there was no evidence of juror or prosecutorial misconduct. Additionally, the jury issued a unanimous verdict that, in the court’s view, was supported by the evidence.
This case highlights the heightened penalties for individuals who drive under the influence with minors in the car. Ultimately, the court affirmed the defendant’s convictions of aggravated DUI.
Have You Been Charged with a DUI Offense?
If you have been charged or arrested with a DUI offense in Arizona, contact the Law Office of James E. Novak today. Attorney Novak is a dedicated criminal defense lawyer who has extensive hands-on experience handling DUI offenses, drug offenses, weapons offenses, and all serious crimes. Attorney Novak has more than 20 years of experience and is ready to help you with your case in whatever way he can. Call the Law Office of James E. Novak at 480-413-1499 today to schedule a free consultation.