Most car accidents are truly accidental. Even if the at-fault driver was negligent, a collision does not mean a crime was committed. However, there are some vehicular crimes that you could face charges for, depending on the specific circumstances. If this is the case, hiring a criminal defense attorney can help you understand the factors that influence your case.
Here are some possible charges for vehicular crimes:
Someone can make a mistake while driving without this being a crime. However, there is a difference between an honest mistake and reckless driving, which is a criminal offense. Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-693 defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle in a way that demonstrates a lack of regard for the safety of people or property. Some examples can include excessive speeding, cutting other drivers off, and following too closely behind another vehicle. This is a class 2 misdemeanor.
It is important to comply with law enforcement officers at the scene of an accident. If you do not, this can be a criminal charge under ARS 28-622.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense in Arizona. If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that one of the drivers involved in an accident is intoxicated, they may conduct field sobriety tests or check that driver's blood alcohol content (BAC). ARS 28-1381 outlines what DUI is and possible penalties. A standard first-offense DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor. Other statutes apply for extreme, super extreme, or aggravated DUI.
After an accident, you have a legal obligation to remain at the scene and exchange information with other drivers and/or law enforcement. If you do not do this, you can be charged with leaving the scene, more commonly known as hit and run. This ranges from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 2 felony, depending on whether anyone was injured and if you caused the accident. ARS 28-661, ARS 28-662, and ARS-663 all describe this crime.
If you caused a car accident that resulted in serious physical injury, you could face aggravated assault charges. This is because a vehicle qualifies as a dangerous instrument under ARS 13-1204, which defines aggravated assault. This charge might apply if the accident meets the other qualifications for an assault charge, namely that you caused the injury through recklessness (ARS 13-1203).
Causing an accident that leads to the death of another individual could result in a manslaughter charge. This is described in ARS 13-1103. Like aggravated assault, the prosecution must prove that the defendant acted "recklessly" in order to make a conviction.
In many cases, you can face more than one criminal charge due to a car accident. This can make your case even more complicated. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the complexities of your specific situation.
Our law office handles criminal cases, including crimes related to motor vehicle accidents.