If a DUI driver causes an accident that results in bodily injury, they can be charged with aggravated assault, a class 3 dangerous felony. This is an extremely serious charge that, upon conviction, carries a mandatory prison sentence between 5 and 15 years. To prove this type of aggravated assault at trial, the State must prove that the defendant used a dangerous instrument, such as a motor vehicle, in a reckless manner. They must further prove that the reckless act at issue, such as driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, caused physical injury to another person. It is crucial to speak with a Phoenix DUI lawyer as soon as possible if you or a loved one is arrested under suspicion of DUI following an accident-causing injury. The criminal defense lawyers at Stone Rose Law can be reached 24/7 by calling (480) 498-8998.
In a prosecution for aggravated assault arising out of an accident where one of the drivers was DUI, the State must prove that the defendant engaged in reckless conduct. In Arizona, “reckless” conduct is defined as conduct evidencing a conscious disregard of a substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm. The State typically attempts to prove recklessness by showing that the defendant voluntarily drove while intoxicated, thereby disregarding the substantial and unjustifiable risk of harm that such conduct creates with respect to others on the roadway. To do this, they have to prove that the defendant was driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Thus, in an aggravated assault prosecution arising out of a DUI accident with injuries, the defendant can obtain an acquittal if he can successfully demonstrate reasonable doubt about whether he was impaired at the time of the accident. To do this, attorneys often rely on the testimony of expert witnesses, who, by pointing out the flaws in the State’s scientific evidence, undercut the basis for the argument that the driver was impaired at the time of the accident.
A defendant in a DUI accident case with injuries can also defend against the charge of aggravated assault by demonstrating that his conduct did not “cause” the alleged victim’s injuries. In Arizona, a defendant’s act causes an injury if it produces the injury, and the injury would not have occurred without the defendant’s act. To see this rule in operation, consider an accident whereby a DUI driver hits a jaywalking pedestrian in dark clothing on an unlit street at night. In this situation, defendant could retain a human factors expert to testify regarding the inability of sober drivers to perceive and react to jaywalkers under such circumstances. If, through such testimony, they can convince the jury that the accident would have happened regardless of whether he was driving DUI or not. In that case, they can obtain an acquittal on a charge of aggravated assault based upon the argument that his reckless act (i.e. driving while intoxicated) did not cause the alleged victim’s injuries.
If you are charged with aggravated assault arising out of a DUI accident with injuries, you must retain an experienced and aggressive Phoenix criminal attorney to represent you. The stakes are too high to go it alone. Stone Rose Law can help, so call now for a free consultation.