Vehicle Manslaughter in Arizona and DUIs: Laws and Penalties
Driving under the influence creates the prerequisites for a major accident to occur. Unfortunately, people can lose their lives in such crashes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,912 people were killed in Arizona DUI crashes from 2003 to 2012. In 2016, DUI crashes represented four percent of all fatal collisions, the Arizona Department of Transportation reported. If you commit vehicle manslaughter in Arizona while driving under the influence, you will face serious penalties. Arizona is one of the states that have the harshest sanctions for DUIs. When a person dies on the road in such circumstances, general manslaughter laws may be applied.
Vehicular manslaughter and its consequences are defined in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1103. According to this section, vehicle manslaughter in Arizona refers to recklessly causing the death of another person through the use of a vehicle. It can occur whenever two vehicles crash or if a car is in an accident with a bicyclist, motorcyclist or a pedestrian.
When a person who commits a DUI is found guilty of this charge, they face a prison sentence in the range from seven to 21 years.
For a manslaughter charge to stand, however, the prosecution will have to prove that an individual has knowingly committed a deadly crime. A lot of work will go into the process, which is why these cases typically unfold over a long period of time.
Other Possible Convictions
Vehicular manslaughter isn’t the only charge to worry about in the case of a DUI accident that causes the death of a person on the road. Depending on the specifics of the case, the prosecution may pursue two other convictions – negligent homicide and second-degree murder.
Negligent homicide refers to committing an act of criminal negligence that has contributed to the death of the victim. Both carelessness and willful neglect could contribute to such a sentence.
Second-degree murder is the harshest sentence of them all. This is a Class 1 felony that occurs whenever a person knowingly commits an act that will lead to the death of another person. Second-degree murder charges in DUI accidents are not common because the prosecution will have to prove intentional actions. This charge is typically associated to extreme and super extreme DUIs.
Possible Defense Scenarios
Causing the death of someone while drunk driving will have both emotional and legal consequences. This is the worst possible crime you can commit while intoxicated. It’s imperative to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
A lawyer that specializes in the field of DUI defense will examine the case, the circumstances that led to the fatal collision and the possible defense scenarios. Even if dropping the charges is not possible, a reputable lawyer may be capable of reducing the sentence.
Proving that the accident occurred because of the other person’s actions is one possible line of defense. For this to happen, however, an attorney will need to reconstruct the events that led to the collision accurately. Alternatively, a lawyer may attempt to prove that the collision between the two vehicles did not cause the death of a person.
A lawyer will also work on showing that the defendant’s actions do not meet Arizona’s criteria for reckless behavior. This way, the eventual sentence could be reduced.
Finally, the lawyer can challenge the results of a blood alcohol content (BAC) test or a field sobriety test. Procedural errors could also be addressed to strengthen the defense.
If you are charged with driving under the influence and killing another person, you will have to face the life-altering consequences of this occurrence. In Arizona, this is a criminal offence that comes with a felony conviction. You face years in prison if found guilty, which is why you have to look for the best DUI defense attorney to represent you.