Whenever you get in a car accident that causes property damage and you’ve been drinking or using drugs, you would potentially be charged with two separate things – driving under the influence and criminal damage in Arizona. For the second charge to hold, the prosecutor will have to demonstrate that the property damage resulted from reckless behavior on your behalf.
Arizona Criminal Damage Regulations
Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1602 is the legal provision that highlights the definition and the consequences of criminal damage in Arizona.
According to the statute, criminal damage is the reckless defacing or damaging of somebody else’s property. Tampering with the property to cause a reduction in its value or functionality also falls under the definition of criminal damage in Arizona.
Depending on the specifics of the offense (the value of property damaged, whether there were any aggravating factors) the perpetrator will face criminal charges. A standard criminal damage offense is classified as a Class 4 felony. The sanctions are probation with up to one year in jail. Second-time and repeat offenders could potentially face up to 15 years in prison.
If the property damage is below 10,000 dollars, the charge will be a Class 5 felony. The expected punishment is probation with up to one year in jail. Once again, the sanctions will become more severe for repeat offenders.
DUI and Criminal Damage
In Arizona, no intent is required for a person to commit DUI. Even if a person believes that they’re not impaired and are perfectly capable of operating a vehicle, the BAC regulations in the state will remain valid.
While no intent is required, committing DUI is often considered proof of negligence or recklessness. Thus, driving under the influence charges could be seen as an aggravating factor whenever a person is charged with criminal damage.
Still, the recklessness elements don’t indicate a person knew that getting behind the wheel was dangerous or that they were in a full state of awareness. As already mentioned, criminal damage charges are based on the recognition of reckless behavior and malicious intent on behalf of the perpetrator.
Regardless of this fact, prosecutors in the state are still capable of moving forward with the criminal damage charges. There’s a reason why and this reason is explained in Arizona Revised Statutes 13-503.
According to the section, the voluntary consumption of alcoholic beverages cannot be used as a defense scenario by people committing a criminal act. Just because a driver isn’t aware of their impeded condition doesn’t mean they should be absolved from responsibility for a crime committed while intoxicated.
The attorney should be capable of identifying another reason for the driver to be unaware of their impediment. Alcohol and drugs cannot be used as a line of defense in such criminal cases.
Hit and Run – A Much Graver Offense
Whether a drunk driver hits a fence, another car, or a house, they are required to remain at the scene until police officers arrive.
Due to their impairment and sometimes in a state of panic, intoxicated drivers may decide to abandon the scene. This is a very poor decision that will lead to additional hit-and-run charges.
Arizona Revised Statutes 28-662 makes it mandatory for drivers involved in an accident that causes damage to stop as soon as possible. Hit and run is a criminal offense that can be added on top of the other charges.
The sanctions will vary but generally speaking, hit and run is a Class 2 felony. Because the charge is a serious one, the defendant will not be eligible for probation. Depending on the severity of the offense, a person that commits hit-and-run faces up to five years in prison on this charge alone.