DUIs Resulting in Injuries to Others

Arizona views instances of DUI as extremely serious matters, as do all other states. The penalties for drunk driving or driving under the influence can be severe. When a drunk driver causes a traffic accident or injures another person, the penalties become more severe. Also, the driver may face substantial civil liability in a personal injury lawsuit. Hiring an Arizona DUI criminal defense attorney as soon as possible may help the driver mitigate some of the potential liability and penalties for a DUI accident.

DUI Accidents and Aggravated Assault Charges

When a drunk driver causes injury to another motorist, passenger, pedestrian, bicyclist, or another individual, the driver may face a related criminal charge in addition to being charged with a DUI offense. A driver who causes injuries while driving under the influence can be charged with assault. The charge is referred to as Vehicular Aggravated Assault or DUI-Aggravated Assault.

Aggravated Assault is defined as committing assault under one or more circumstances. Three of those circumstances can relate to a DUI accident:

  • Committing an assault while using a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon
  • The assault results in serious physical injury to another individual
  • The assault results in a fracture; temporary but substantial disfigurement or, temporary but substantial impairment or loss of any body organ.

Because the driver chose to operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated, the driver’s behavior meets the “reckless” element of a basic assault charge. The criminal charge is elevated to “aggravated” because a vehicle is considered a dangerous instrument or deadly weapon in Arizona. A DUI accident can also result in an Aggravated Assault charge because of the injuries sustained by accident victims at the hands of the drunk driver.

Penalties for a DUI Aggravated Assault Charge

Vehicular Aggravated Assault is a Class 3 Felony. The penalties for the aggravated assault charge is in addition to any other penalties the driver might face for a DUI offense.

The penalties for DUI Aggravated Assault charge include a:

  • presumptive prison sentence of 7.5 years
  • minimum prison sentence of 5 years with a maximum prison sentence of 15 years
  • fine of up to $150,000

If the DUI accident victim is under 15 years of age or a police officer, the charge is a Class 2 Felony. The presumptive prison sentence increases to 10.5 years, and the minimum/maximum prison sentence increases to 7/21 years. A past criminal history could increase the maximum sentence for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon as could other mitigating factors.

Contact an Arizona DUI Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Potential Defenses

You may have one or more valid defenses to your criminal charges. An attorney investigates the circumstances surrounding the accident and your arrest to determine if your legal rights were violated. Potential defenses that may be available include:

  • Proving the DUI accident was not your fault
  • Suppressing evidence because your legal rights were violated
  • Challenging forensic evidence, including field sobriety tests, breathalyzers, urine analysis, and blood testing
  • Issues regarding the chain of custody for evidence
  • Rising BAC levels because of a delay in testing

An arrest for DUI Aggravated Assault or Vehicular aggravated assault does not equal a conviction. An Arizona DUI criminal defense attorney can help you develop a defense strategy that gives you the best chance of a dismissal or acquittal of the criminal charges.

If you cannot avoid a conviction, your attorney can help negotiate a fair sentence based on the facts and circumstances of your case. Having an Arizona DUI criminal defense attorney on your side gives you a much better chance than facing a DUI accident charge on your own. Contact us today for a free consultation.