A hit-and-run can occur in the heat of the moment – you panic, you get scared about the consequences and you simply leave the scene of an accident. How bad is it to leave the scene of a DUI accident in Arizona? Fleeing the scene of an accident is a crime and it can make the situation a lot worse for you.
Arizona Hit and Run Regulations
Leaving the scene of a DUI accident is a crime described in Arizona Revised Statutes 28-661 and 28-662.
Whenever a driver causes death of serious injuries and fails to stop, they will be charged with a Class 3 felony. A driver who causes physical harm without death and who fails to stop will be charged with a Class 5 felony.
Whenever a driver participates in an accident that causes damage to another vehicle or property, they are obliged to stop at the scene. Whenever the driver flees the scene of the accident, they will be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor.
The penalties for hit and run can be quite severe.
Whenever there’s a failure to stop and there’s a death, the driver will face anywhere between four and 10 years in prison, as well as license revocation for a period of 10 years. Hit and run causing serious physical injury will result in a prison sentence of four to 10 years, as well as a license revocation for five years.
Hit and run in the case of property damage comes with a maximum imprisonment of four months. There will also be fines in all of the scenarios, community restitution, and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) in the vehicle.
Possible Defense Scenarios
Arizona is one of the states that have the strictest punishments for DUI violations. To leave the scene of a DUI accident in Arizona is an aggravating factor that can contribute to a harsher sentence. If you ever find yourself in such a situation, it will be of paramount importance to immediately contact an experienced DUI attorney.
After acquainting themselves with the case, a lawyer will propose the best line of defense that is based on the specifics of the violation.
For a start, an attorney may challenge the procedure and the evidence. Blood alcohol content (BAC) tests aren’t always accurate and they may be administered by an inexperienced police officer. Such procedural errors could have contributed to evidence of DUI in the case of an innocent driver.
Lack of knowledge is another possibility. The burden of proof falls on the prosecutor and they’ll have to establish the fact that the defendant knew they were involved in an accident. Circumstantial evidence will typically be sufficient but an experienced DUI attorney can build a case this way.
Lack of criminal intent is another possible line of defense. In the case of hit and run, there has to be a willful failure on behalf of the defendant to perform their duties as described in the Arizona Revised Statutes. This means that the driver should have left an accident scene knowingly. A person who moves their vehicle to a safe location before returning to the accident scene, for example, can’t be charged with a hit and run.
Safety concerns that create a necessity to leave the accident scene are also a plausible line of defense. An attorney may also establish to prove that no substantial injuries have occurred in a felony prosecution or that a mistake of fact occurred and the driver didn’t know they had hit a vehicle or a person.
Depending on the situation, a lawyer could also push for a misdemeanor compromise – a settlement out of court. If such a settlement can be reached in a misdemeanor case, the charge will be dismissed.