Causing Injuries as a Result of Drunk Driving in Arizona: What Consequences to Expect
When you get behind the wheel after you’ve had a glass or two, you’ll probably fail realizing the actual scope of risk involved. Intoxication can easily contribute to a traffic accident that will jeopardize your own life and those of others. In the unfortunate event of causing injuries as a result of drunk driving, you should be prepared for the consequences. Depending on the severity of the situation, these could be life-changing.
Statutes and Regulations
In Arizona, there isn’t a specific legal provision for injuries as a result of drunk driving. The assault statutes in Arizona are the ones used to determine the consequences of committing DUI that injures somebody.
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1204 states that anyone who uses an instrument or a deadly weapon to harm another person will be charged with aggravated assault. For the purpose, the prosecution will have to demonstrate that the defendant caused the injury intentionally, knowingly and recklessly.
The operation of a vehicle while intoxicated itself is considered reckless behavior. Even if the driver isn’t aware of the extent of their intoxication and the degree to which they’re impaired, the rule will remain valid.
The definition of dangerous instrument is very broad in Arizona, which is why drunk drivers could be charged with aggravated assault. A deadly weapon is anything that can be used to cause harm to another person, including a car or another motor vehicle.
Criminal Charges and Penalties
Aggravated assault is a criminal offense in Arizona. If the prosecutor can prove intentional reckless behavior on behalf of the driver, the defendant will face serious consequences.
Aggravated assault that’s caused by a vehicle driver will typically lead to Class 3 felony charges. Whenever the victim is under the age of 15, the defendant will face Class 2 felony charges.
The minimum imprisonment for a Class 3 felony is 2.5 years and the maximum prison sentence is seven years. The driver will also have to deal with the DUI penalties that could include fines, license suspension, counseling, the installation of ignition interlock device (IID) and vehicle impoundment.
People Injured in DUI Crashes can Seek Compensation
Apart from the criminal charges, a drunk driver who injures another traffic participant should be prepared for the fact that the injured party could seek financial compensation.
A person that’s injured by a drunk driver could potentially seek damages for medical costs and loss of wages, additional therapies, future medical care, loss of employment and permanent disability, pain, suffering and loss of companionship.
It’s easy to see that these damages could potentially add up to a hefty sum.
Depending on the scenario, the injured party could also be eligible to pursue punitive damages. The aim of punitive damages is to punish the person that committed the DUI and to prevent them from engaging from such reckless behavior in the future.
For punitive damages to be pursued, a conscious understanding of the risk on behalf of the drunk driver will have to be established.
If you cause a traffic accident while intoxicated and you injure someone, you should remain at the scene and assist the other party (if possible). The next thing to do will be to call your lawyer in order to get a better idea about what you need to do when police officers arrive.
An attorney can pursue several defense scenarios. Proving that intoxication wasn’t the cause of the accident is one (usually for people who have a low BAC reading or in the case of a false positive result).
Attorneys will examine other factors that could have potentially contributed to the collision. They will also work on establishing the fact there was no intent or knowledge/understanding of the fact that the driver’s behavior was risky.