Aggravated DUI Resulting in Death in Arizona

Arizona DUI Homicide or Manslaughter

Driving impaired, even if only slightly, and causing the death of someone else is a serious offense. This could be the death of someone in your vehicle or in another vehicle that you collide with.

Drunk driving charges will be elevated to a much more serious offense if you cause a death. But what you also need to know is that killing someone while driving impaired could also lead to vehicular assault or manslaughter charges. Arizona does pursue these charges if a DUI leads to the death of another person.

Depending on the events leading up to your accident and the accident conditions themselves, the state might pursue manslaughter, negligent homicide, or even second-degree murder in these cases.

Having a skilled criminal defense and Arizona DUI attorney on your case is essential to protect your way of life and your good name. We’ll analyze the various conditions and situations where you could face these serious charges if you cause a death while under the influence behind the wheel of a car.

Sentence for DUI Causing Death in Arizona

Drunk driving charges are elevated to an even more significant offense if the driver in question causes a crash that takes a life. Even if the driver is only slightly drunk or high after using alcohol or drugs, there is the potential for the DUI-related death to spur a charge of manslaughter, second-degree murder, or negligent homicide. Let’s take a closer look at the state’s laws pertaining to deaths related to DUI crashes.

Arizona is somewhat unique in that it does not have a vehicular manslaughter law or a vehicular assault law on the books. However, as noted above, a DUI-related death can be elevated to a charge such as a manslaughter. To be more specific, the relevant law is manslaughter as described in the state’s Revised Statute §13-1103(A)(1). Such a charge is applicable when the driver allegedly caused another individual’s death in a reckless manner.

Keep in mind, driving while drunk or high is an inherently reckless act. It can be argued drivers who drive drunk knew the risk of doing so, meaning they understood driving while inebriated can lead to a fatality yet decided to drive anyway. Such behavior is clearly reckless. Reckless actions are legally defined as those in which an individual is aware of the unjustified risk and subsequently disregarded that risk. Such risk qualifies as a significant deviation from the standard of conduct of a reasonable individual. Manslaughter is considered to be a Class 2 dangerous felony in the state of Arizona, carrying a penalty ranging between four years and a decade in prison.

Manslaughter charges in connection with a DUI

Arizona law 13-1103 classifies manslaughter as “Recklessly causing the death of another person.” Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol could be classified as recklessly endangering the life of another person.

You’re at risk of causing a serious driving accident. While you have no intentions of harming another person, your poor judgment in choosing to get behind the wheel of a car is what causes that person’s death.

Reckless actions are generally classified as something that a person knows is an unjustifiable risk. But that person decides to disregard the risk and still continue on with their actions.

Manslaughter is a class 2 felony and could mean that you spend up to 10 years in prison.

Arizona DUI and negligent homicide

Alternatively, you could face negligent homicide for driving in a criminally negligent manner. The courts generally classify this as someone not perceiving that their actions pose an unjustifiable, yet substantial risk. In this case, a person deviates from what a reasonable person would see as good conduct.

In this case, you could face a class 3 felony and one and a half to four years in prison.

Second-degree murder for causing DUI-related death

An individual who intentionally causes another’s death without premeditation can be charged with second-degree murder in accordance with the state’s Revised Statute §13-1104. However, in order to prove the defendant’s guilt, the prosecution is required to show the defendant was aware of the fact that the action in question would lead to death and that those actions were reckless. Second-degree murder is categorized as a Class 1 felony. Such a felony is punishable by a decade to 25 years in prison.

When you intentionally cause the death of another person but did not premeditate the crime at all, you could be guilty of second-degree murder. Arizona law 13-1104 outlines what could be classified as second-degree murder.

The most important aspect of this type of murder is that it is not premeditated. But for the courts to succeed in prosecuting someone for second-degree murder, they’ll need to prove that the defendant knew that their actions would cause the death of someone else. The courts also must prove that your actions were reckless.

This charge is a serious one and would be a class 1 felony. You’d face 10 to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Negligent Homicide in the Context of a DUI Crash

The charge of negligent homicide is centered on causing another’s death when driving in a manner that is criminally negligent. This charge is defined as the failure to perceive an unjustifiable act and substantial risk. The conduct is a significant deviation from what a reasonable individual would have done in the situation. Such is the basis for criminality in the context of a DUI crash. Negligent homicide is considered a Class 3 felony. This felony carries a penalty between 1.5 years and four years in prison.

Other charges related to a DUI

There are a few other charges that the prosecution could pursue in relation to a DUI charge. These charges include the following.

  • Endangerment: this is a class 6 felony. It shows that you knew you were putting someone at imminent risk of death.
  • Hit and run: if you leave the scene of an accident, you could face a class 2 felony. Sometimes this happens because the alcohol or drugs in your body impair your judgment. You could face an aggravated felony in these cases though.

Why Felony Convictions are a Problem

If you are found guilty of a felony, your life will never be the same. A felony conviction has ramifications that last for the remainder of your life. Penalties range from years in Arizona state prison to fines of $10,000 on up, an extended probation period, and the requirement to meet with a probation officer at specific points in time. Furthermore, if probation is violated after a felony conviction, there is a good chance the felon will be sent back to prison.

Add in the fact that felons are barred from voting in elections and holding public office and there is even more reason to do everything in your power to prevent such a conviction. In fact, those with felony convictions lose their Second Amendment right to own a firearm. Furthermore, felony records are available when background and employment checks are conducted. In fact, a felony can even cause you to be expelled from an academic institution and preclude you from qualifying for an apartment lease. Felonies can even lead to the revoking or suspension of a professional license such as those obtained by nurses, teachers, and insurance agents.

No matter what charges you’re facing in connection with your DUI charge, you need a reputable attorney to guide you through court proceedings. You do not need to feel the pressure to plead guilty to the charges against you.