There are different types of DUI charges in Arizona. These types include standard DUI, repeat DUI, DUI involving drugs, extreme DUI, super extreme DUI, and aggravated DUI. DUI with injury is a form of aggravated DUI. If you have been convicted of DUI with injury, you are bound to face severe consequences. This is because Arizona courts take this offense seriously, and it is categorized as a felony.
At an accident scene, the investigating officer may subject you to a chemical breath test or a field sobriety test. If you fail these tests or show any signs of physical impairment, the police officer may put you under arrest for DUI with Injury.
If you or your loved one has been charged with DUI with Injury in Arizona, you will require the services of a competent and reliable criminal defense attorney for you to obtain the most favorable outcome. An experienced DUI attorney will help you protect your legal rights, ensure the Arizona Criminal Justice System treats you fairly, as well as do anything possible to make you win your case.
We at the Phoenix Criminal Attorney understand the serious nature of DUI with injury charges. Over the years, we have gathered extensive experience in helping DUI defendants obtain acquittals, dismissals, or reduced charges. Get in touch with us for a comprehensive discussion about your case.
Overview of Arizona DUI Laws
The Arizona Department of Prosecution can charge an individual with various types of DUI charges, such as standard DUI, repeat DUI, aggravated DUI, extreme DUI, or super extreme DUI. The penalties upon conviction for these charges vary. Standard DUI has the least severe penalties.
Just like any other state, Arizona has a prescribed BAC limit. This limit is 0.08%. Therefore, if you drive with a BAC that is or above 0.08%, you may be arrested for DUI.
According to Arizona’s DUI laws, it is unlawful for an individual to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. You can still be arrested for DUI if the police officer believes that you are physically impaired, regardless of whether or not you have exceeded the BAC limit.
You will be charged with repeat DUI if you have any prior drunk driving convictions. If your BAC exceeded 0.08%, you might be charged with extreme DUI or super extreme DUI.
Various situations can result in aggravated DUI charges. One of these situations is causing an injury to another person while drunk driving.
The Legal Definition of DUI with Injury
According to Arizona's DUI laws, it is unlawful to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs and, subsequently, cause a bodily injury to someone else. DUI with injury is classified as a felony.
Therefore, a police officer can arrest you for DUI with injury in the following circumstances:
The investigating officer believes that you were physically impaired while driving and, as a result, caused bodily injuries to someone else.
Your BAC level was or above 0.08%, while driving and an accident occurred, resulting in the injuries of another person.
You hold a commercial driver's license, and your BAC was, or above 0.04%, at the time you drove and subsequently caused injuries to someone else.
What the Prosecutor must prove for the Jury to convict you of DUI with Injury
For you to receive a conviction of DUI with injury, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:
You were driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or both.
While driving, you failed to observe a traffic law or acted in a negligent or reckless manner
Your negligent, reckless, or unlawful act resulted in another person’s injuries
Let’s discuss each of these elements comprehensively:
Driving while under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, or Both
The Arizona Department of Prosecution must prove that you were physically impaired while driving. This means that the prosecutor must show the court how your mental or physical abilities were incapacitated.
The Arizona Department of Prosecution typically proves physical impairment using three ways:
By demonstrating that you exhibited particular signs and symptoms of intoxication
By asserting that you failed a field sobriety test
By asserting that your BAC exceeded the prescribed legal limits
When an investigating officer is at an accident scene, he/she may notice you exhibiting certain physical signs and symptoms of intoxication. Some examples of physical signs of impairment include slurred speech, flushed face, and red eyes. Also, a police officer may discover that you are in possession of alcoholic containers or drugs. In some situations, you may unknowingly incriminate yourself by admitting to the police officer that you are intoxicated. If the police officer notices these physical signs, he/she may arrest you for DUI or subject you to a field sobriety test or chemical breath test.
In a field sobriety test, the investigating officer will instruct you to perform various acts, to determine whether or not you are sober. The most common field sobriety tests in Arizona include the horizontal gaze nystagmus, walk and turn, and the one-legged stand. You will be arrested for DUI if you fail the sobriety test, and evidence of how you performed in the test will be used against you during the trial.
The investigating officer may also request you to take a chemical breath test. If you blow over 0.08%, you will be put under arrest. Moreover, you may also be subjected to a blood test while at the police station. Note that you can also be charged with the criminal offense of DUI with injury if you were under the influence of drugs, including prescription medicine or over-the-counter painkillers.
Failing to Observe a Traffic Law or Acting in a Negligent or Reckless Manner
According to Arizona’s DUI laws, for the jury to convict a suspect of DUI with injury, the prosecution must prove that the suspect failed to observe a traffic law or acted negligently or recklessly while driving. For instance, maybe the accused person was speeding or failed to yield to the right of way.
When a person is physically impaired, he/she has poor judgment, visibility, concentration, and coordination, as well as slow reaction time. Therefore, this person will be unable to exercise reasonable care and caution while driving, increasing the risk of a crash.
The prosecutor must establish a link between the act of intoxicated driving and the negligent or reckless act with the victim’s injuries. For example, he/she can assert that you had poor visibility due to intoxication, which made you veer into the oncoming motorcyclist, and subsequently, injure him/her.
If the prosecution doesn’t adduce sufficient evidence to show that your drunk driving act resulted in the victim’s injuries, you will receive an acquittal or a dismissal. Take note that the standard of proof in Arizona DUI cases is beyond a reasonable doubt.
The Penalties for DUI with Injury
Since the criminal offense of DUI with injury is classified as a felony, it has grievous penalties. The crime of DUI with injury is a type of aggravated DUI. The term ‘aggravated DUI’ refers to extremely severe DUI criminal offenses because of how they were committed. Generally, the penalties for aggravated DUI include lengthy jail terms, hefty fines, and extended probation periods.
As per ARS section 28.1383, the criminal offense of DUI with injury is a class 4 felony. A first-time offender for DUI with injury may receive an imprisonment sentence of 1.5 – 3 years or be ordered to pay a fine not exceeding $150,000. A second-time injury DUI offender could face imprisonment for 2.25 – 6 years. The court may order an individual who has been convicted for DUI with injury for the third time to serve an imprisonment term of 8 – 15 years. Other penalties for injury DUI in Arizona include:
Revocation of the convict’s driver’s license for a minimum of three years
Mandatory alcohol/drug counseling and screening
An order to install an ignition interlock device inside your vehicle
Points on your driving record
Moreover, if you have been convicted of DUI with injury or any other criminal offense, you will receive a criminal record. This record will prevent you from accessing various opportunities such as jobs, scholarships, bank loans, and university admissions. You may even be unable to find decent housing too.
Legal Defenses to DUI with Injury
To defend against the criminal charge of DUI with injury, your attorney may use the same tactics utilized when defending any other DUI charges. Basically, your defense attorney will use all means to prove that you were not intoxicated, or your BAC didn't exceed Arizona's legal limits.
Moreover, your attorney will ensure that law enforcement adhered to all the required procedures during the investigation, BAC testing, and arrest. If your lawyer finds out that law enforcement didn’t do so, he/she can use these issues to fight your charges.
Additionally, your criminal defense attorney may decide to focus only on the crash, and the alleged injury. He/she can hire accident reconstruction experts who will help evaluate whether you should be fully responsible for the accident and its subsequent injury, or if the accident was caused by another person or due to a completely different reason.
The reconstruction expert will ‘reconstruct’ the accident scene, while considering various factors, including the following:
Motor vehicle damage
Typically, when a law enforcement officer arrives at an accident scene and learns that one of the motorists had been drinking, he/she may automatically assume that the drunken motorist is responsible. Then, he/she will write his/her report based on this presumption.
In most instances, it may be quite easy for the prosecutor to prove that you were intoxicated. But, the prosecution may find it challenging to demonstrate how the act of drunk driving caused the accident and the subsequent injury. In such a situation, your attorney can adduce evidence showing that something else resulted in the victim’s injuries.
Below, we discuss the most common legal defenses to DUI with injury in Arizona:
The inaccuracy of the BAC Breath Test
Various errors can occur when you are being subjected to a chemical breath test, including the following:
External environmental factors
Chemical breath tests are not always accurate, despite them being utilized as the primary method to measure BAC. This is due to the fact that they do not directly measure how much alcohol is present in your bloodstream. Instead, they measure the percentage of alcohol present within your breath, which is converted to determine how much alcohol is contained in your blood. In most cases, chemical breath tests usually generate falsely high readings. You can use this reason as a basis for your defense strategy.
Mouth alcohol is a common DUI defense in Arizona. A breath testing instrument is specifically manufactured to capture breath samples from an individual’s deep lung tissues, also commonly referred to as ‘alveolar air.’ But, this instrument may capture ‘residual mouth alcohol,’ especially in the situations listed below:
You are suffering from heartburn, acid reflux, or GERD
Presence of alcohol-soaked food within your teeth
You have utilized a breath spray or mouthwash that contains alcohol
You have utilized chewing tobacco
In the above-listed situations, the breath testing kit may record a falsely high reading. For you to be acquitted, you will have to discredit the test results by asserting that the testing instrument captured mouth alcohol in lieu of alveolar air.
Low-carb diet plans are the in-thing in our society today. Currently, the most popular types of low-carb diets include the Atkins diet, Paleo diet, and the Keto diet. People may opt for low-carb diets for various reasons, such as to lose weight or protect themselves from lifestyle diseases.
When you are on a low-carb diet, your body will rely on ketones as a source of energy instead of glucose. These ketones normally convert into alcohol before they are excreted from the body system. Moreover, your body may also rely on ketones for energy if you have diabetes.
A breath testing kit may record a high reading due to the alcohol excreted by ketones. Therefore, if you are on a low-carb diet or you have diabetes, you can explore this defense to become acquitted.
Rising Blood Alcohol
When you take alcohol, it will be absorbed into your bloodstream within 50 – 180 minutes. Let us say you immediately start driving, presumably for a short distance, after you have finished drinking. While on the road, you accidentally hit a pedestrian. Law enforcement officers arrive at the accident scene and put you under arrest. Then, you are subjected to a blood test, whose results indicate a high BAC.
In this situation, you can explain to the jury that your blood-alcohol was on the rise when you were arrested. If you have rising blood alcohol at the point of arrest and you are subjected to a blood or breath test after some time, the results will indicate a high BAC.
Remember that your BAC when you were tested is irrelevant. What the jury will consider is your BAC when you were driving.
Inaccurate Blood Tests
The possibility of errors in BAC blood tests is also another popular Arizona DUI defense. Various factors can result in inaccurate BAC blood tests, including the following:
Blood sample improper storage
Your defense attorney can conduct a private investigation to learn how the blood test was administered to you and how law enforcement stored it. If your lawyer finds out that the investigating officers didn’t observe the proper procedures when conducting the blood test, he/she can file a motion to exclude the blood test evidence. This way, the prosecution will be left with insufficient evidence, and the judge will dismiss your case.
Other Aggravated DUI Charges
Besides DUI with injury, there are other aggravated DUI charges in California. These charges include the following:
Driving under the influence with a suspended, revoked, or restricted license
Being convicted for third time DUI within 84 months (seven years) from the date of conviction of the previous offense
Intoxicated driving with a child who is below 15 years old
Just like DUI with injury, these charges bear grievous consequences upon conviction. Therefore, it will be in your best interest to hire a competent DUI attorney with effective legal representation.
Find a Phoenix DUI Attorney Near Me
Being convicted of DUI with injury will make you face long-lasting consequences. In addition to serving a jail and probation term, you may be required to pay a hefty fine. Moreover, an injury DUI conviction can make you miss out on various opportunities, as well as continuously deal with societal stigma. You should look for robust legal representation to avoid or reduce the potential penalties. We at the Phoenix Criminal Attorney are ready to offer you excellent DUI defense services. Call us today at 602-551-8092 for a free case evaluation.