DUI and Fleeing or Evading Police
When intoxicated drivers notice a police car with its lights on behind them, some of them may panic about getting charged with a DUI. They may not be thinking carefully and try to avoid a ticket by speeding away from the police. Drivers should realize that fleeing or evading the police is a serious crime that is punished more harshly than a first offense DUI. If you are charged with DUI and fleeing or evading police, Phoenix DUI attorney James E. Novak can protect your legal rights. Arizona prosecutors take these charges seriously and you will need a seasoned advocate.DUI and Fleeing or Evading Police
You can be charged with fleeing the police under Arizona Revised Statutes section 28-622.01. For a conviction, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you (1) willfully fled or attempted to elude (2) an official marked law enforcement vehicle (3) that was pursuing you (4) with its lights or siren engaged. You may also be convicted for fleeing an unmarked vehicle if you knew or admitted to knowing that the vehicle was an official law enforcement vehicle.
If the police stop you and have probable cause to believe you were driving drunk, you can also be arrested and charged with a DUI. Sometimes DUI and fleeing the police result in a collision or crash that injures other drivers, passengers or pedestrians. You’re likely to face very serious charges if someone was injured or killed as a result of your DUI and flight from the police.Sentencing for Fleeing and DUI
Fleeing an officer is a class 5 felony, which may be punished with fines and imprisonment. The presumptive sentence for a class 5 felony is 2 years. If at least two aggravating circumstances exist, you could face 2 years and six months. For example, if the crash inflicted a traumatic brain injury on a victim and also damaged property, you could face an aggravated sentence.
Sometimes sentences for crimes are imposed consecutively, meaning the sentences will run one after another. If you face 2 years for a class 5 felony fleeing charge and 6 months for a misdemeanor DUI, you might have to serve 2 ½ years in total. You could face additional years in prison if you caused death or physical injuries to a victim.
The court may choose whether to impose sentences that run consecutively or concurrently. While there is no presumption favoring consecutive sentences, when the judge does not expressly order otherwise, the sentences will run consecutively.Defenses for DUI and Fleeing or Evading Police
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to raise reasonable doubt against charges of DUI and fleeing the police so that the prosecution cannot meet its burden of proof. For example, it may be possible to show that you didn’t “willfully” flee or that the prosecutor cannot establish you willfully fled beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, if you did not hear the siren because you were playing music too loud, you may have been unaware the police were in pursuit and your failure to stop may not have been willful flight or evasion. Depending on the circumstances, it may be possible to argue that you did not stop because you had no safe place to pull over or that you mistakenly believed that the officer was pursuing another driver. In other cases, there may be more technical defenses, like showing that the police did not activate the sirens or switch on their lights.Retain a Phoenix Attorney
Every criminal case involves different circumstances, which is why consulting and retaining a lawyer can best protect your rights. If you are charged with DUI and fleeing or evading the police, you should discuss your situation with James E. Novak, who has years of experience representing people charged with DUI and drug possession in Phoenix along with Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.