Articles Posted in Auto Accidents

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona drunk driving case, discussing the defendant’s challenges to certain statements admitted at trial. Ultimately, the court held that, while the statements should not have been admitted, the defendant failed to show that admission of the statements constituted a “fundamental error.”

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, witnesses watched as a car drove into their driveway and crashed into their vehicle. There were three people in the car, the defendant, his girlfriend, and another male. One of the witnesses identified the defendant as the driver. However, in the witness’ statement to the police, the description of the driver matched both the defendant as well as the other male in the car.

When police arrived, the witness again identified the defendant as the driver, as did several of the witness’ housemates. The defendant was arrested and charged with DUI. He then told police that he had been drinking, he was driving at some point, but he did not get into an accident. His defense at trial was that he was not the driver.

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Late last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona DUI accident case discussing the defendant’s motion to suppress an identification made by witnesses to the accident. Ultimately, the court determined that the witnesses’ identification was not unduly suggestive, and even if it was, the defendant could not show that he was prejudiced as a result of the identification. Thus, the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a car crashed into a tree right outside of a school. Two school employees were notified of the crash, and walked outside to see the defendant inside the car in the driver’s seat. The witnesses saw the defendant try to drive away, but when he couldn’t’ get his car to move, he exited the vehicle. The witnesses told the defendant to stay on the scene, but he walked away towards a nearby convenience store.

One of the witnesses left briefly to get his car keys. He located the defendant a short time later, and called 911. The witness told police that the driver of the car had on jeans and a dark T-shirt. Not long after the 911 call, an officer stopped the defendant because he matched the description. The officer noted that the defendant appeared to be intoxicated. As the officer was waiting for the witness to come to make an identification, the defendant admitted to being the driver. When the witness showed up, he identified the defendant as the driver, and the officer arrested the defendant. Another witness provided police with photographs and a video of the defendant leaving the scene of the accident.

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When the government brings a criminal case against a citizen, it is the government’s burden to prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Specific to Arizona DUI cases, the prosecution must prove that the defendant was intoxicated and that they were in physical control of a vehicle. This second element was the recent focus of a state appellate decision.

According to the court’s opinion, a family was traveling northbound on Interstate 17 when the driver saw headlights drifting off and on the road. A few moments later, the driver could see that the headlights sharply veered off the road and it appeared as though the vehicle was rolling. The driver made a U-turn to see if anyone needed help.

One of the family members in the vehicle saw the defendant about ten feet away from a damaged pickup truck. When the family stopped, the defendant approached them and asked them not to call the police. The defendant asked for a ride to the next exit, assuring the family that he was not in need of medical attention. However, the defendant was bleeding, and the family called an ambulance.

In the vast majority of Arizona DUI cases, the applicable law that governs the case is that of the jurisdiction where the offense occurred. However, in very rare circumstances, another state’s laws may apply. This puts state courts in the difficult position of applying a foreign jurisdiction’s law. In a recent Arizona DUI case, the court explained why the defendant’s motion was properly denied under Nevada law by the trial court.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant’s vehicle swerved into oncoming traffic, colliding with another vehicle. The defendant suffered serious injuries in the accident. While police were investigating the accident, they noticed that the defendant smelled of alcohol. A helicopter took the defendant to a hospital in Nevada.

While in the hospital, Arizona law enforcement called the Nevada hospital and requested they draw the defendant’s blood. The requesting officer did not discuss whether a warrant was necessary, but later testified that he did not believe it was his responsibility to obtain a warrant. The hospital complied with the request without obtaining a warrant. At the time, the defendant was unconscious. The sample was given to a Nevada law enforcement officer. The test results revealed that the defendant had a blood-alcohol content of .21, well over the legal limit of .08.

Anyone who has ever been arrested for an Arizona DUI knows that the criminal justice system treats driving under the influence very seriously. Over the years, legislatures across the country have continued to enact stricter penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence, even for first-time offenders.

When someone is arrested for an Arizona DUI, it is often the first time they have faced criminal charges. This can be a very stressful and traumatic experience because defendants rarely know what punishment they could face if they are found guilty, and they often have no idea about how to go about contesting the charges.

While some Arizona DUI cases are best settled before trial, there are a number of cases in which the prosecution cannot meet their burden to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, police officers overstep their authority by stopping motorists, searching their cars, or asking them to take blood- or breath-tests. The fact is, Arizona DUI charges can be fought, and won, in many cases.

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When you or someone that you care about is involved in a drunk driving arrest, it can be a very taxing time. This is why it's so important to seek legal assistance. DUI attorneys will provide you with strong counsel and peace of mind, helping you make sound decisions about all of your legal options. This will be especially crucial if the drunk driving arrest involves a motor vehicle collision or any kind of injury accident. Let's take a brief moment to consider these kinds of accidents right now.

Auto Accidents Caused by Drunk Driving

Drunk driving always has to be taken seriously. According to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, there were 31,263 drunk driving arrests in the state of Arizona in 2012. There were a total of 227 alcohol-related driving fatalities in that year.

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