Arizona Defendant in Aggravated DUI Case Loses Appeal

In a recent DUI case coming out of an Arizona court, the defendant’s appeal of his guilty conviction was unsuccessful. The defendant had originally pointed out on appeal that the police officer who arrested him did not have his body camera turned on, and he argued that the trial court should have instructed the jury as to the officer’s error. The higher court concluded that the jury instruction was ultimately unnecessary and that the defendant’s conviction should be affirmed.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was driving his Dodge Charger when he rear-ended another car, which pushed it into a nearby wall. A witness who had witnessed the accident followed the defendant, watching him as he drove into a nearby parking lot. The witness inquired as to whether the defendant was going to check on the driver of the second car. The defendant said yes and promptly headed back to the scene of the accident.

By the time the defendant returned to the collision site, a police officer was at the scene. This officer observed that the defendant had watery and bloodshot eyes, as well as that he smelled of alcohol. Approximately one hour after the accident, the defendant submitted to a blood draw, which revealed a blood alcohol concentration of .164 percent. Around that time, the defendant admitted to the officer that he had rear-ended the second car and that he was alone in his Dodge Charger.

The Decision

The defendant was charged with two counts of aggravated DUI and one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in vehicle damage. At trial, the defendant offered testimony that conflicted with his original testimony, as he claimed that his friend was driving the Charger when the accident happened and that the friend was the one who left the scene of the accident. On cross-examination, the defendant did admit that his testimony conflicted with what he told the officer on the day of the accident.

Once the defendant was found guilty of aggravated DUI, he appealed, arguing that the fact that the officer did not have his body camera turned on during the interaction was detrimental to his case. According to the defendant, the officer had failed to turn on the body camera, and the trial court should have explained to the jury that the State was in the wrong to not include video evidence of the interaction.

The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately decided that the defendant was not entitled to any explanation from the trial court that the State should have recorded the interaction. Even though the defendant argued that the missing recording might have validated his testimony (that his friend was the person involved in the accident), the court ruled that because an eyewitness was present to confirm that the defendant was alone, the body camera footage was indeed unnecessary.

Given this fact, the court denied the defendant’s appeal and affirmed his conviction.

Are You Facing DUI Charges in the State of Arizona?

At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we understand that facing DUI charges in Arizona can feel daunting. We also understand that dismissals don’t just happen – they are won. We are prepared to fight for your rights and defend what matters most to you. For a free and confidential consultation, give us a call at 480-413-1499.

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