Vehicular Endangerment in Arizona
All drivers are subject to traffic rules. Violate any one of them, and you get caught, you are bound to suffer the penalties attached to those regulations. Many of these traffic violations, like going over the speed limit, for instance, typically earn you nothing more than tickets. But if the cop that pulled you over decided to add vehicular endangerment to the charges against you, then you might be in big trouble.
Vehicular endangerment is a serious offense in Arizona. According to Arizona Statute 13-1201, a person can be charged with vehicular endangerment if he or she puts another person at substantial risk of physical injury or imminent death while behind the wheel. When a driver exhibits behavior that manifests “extreme indifference” to human life while driving a vehicle, he or she will most likely be on the receiving end of a vehicular endangerment charge, regardless of whether or not anyone got injured or killed.
More often than not, vehicular endangerment is associated with DUI offenses, although any of the following may also lead to a vehicular endangerment charge:
- Street racing
- Hit and run accidents
- Severe car accidents
- High-speed chase while fleeing from police
- Vehicular assault
- Vehicular manslaughter
Penalties for Vehicular Endangerment in Arizona
The penalties for a vehicular endangerment conviction will depend on how the charge is classified. If there was a clear and direct threat to the life of a victim, then the charge will be a class 6 felony in Arizona. For first-time offenders, a vehicular endangerment conviction could mean a 2-year prison sentence. The driver’s license may also be revoked, and his or her insurance rates will certainly go through the roof. Repeat offenders, on the other hand, are going to be handed down more severe sentences, as the criminal justice system in Arizona ensures harsher penalties for those who have prior criminal history.
Vehicular endangerment may also be reduced to a class 1 misdemeanor, but only if the other party was never at risk for imminent death, or if only injury was imminent at the time of the incident. A class 1 misdemeanor vehicular endangerment conviction carries a fine of up to $2,500 and a sentence of up to six months in jail.
For those who are facing aggravated DUI charges, a vehicular endangerment charge—even when it’s classified as a class 6 felony—can prove to be a more enticing option. You see, a class 6 felony vehicular endangerment charge is a much lower offense than aggravated DUI. Since aggravated DUI is classified as a class 4 felony in Arizona, it follows that the penalties are more severe, which is why a vehicular endangerment charge will always be a more palatable choice for those charged with aggravated DUI.
Police officers typically push for vehicular endangerment charges
To say that vehicular endangerment is a frequently-charged crime in Arizona would be an understatement. More often than not, the incidents are only cases of reckless driving, which can either be a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor in The Grand Canyon State. However, police officers typically try to upgrade the charges to vehicular endangerment. The officers and eventually, the prosecutors, will then seek to substantiate these accusations by proving that the driver had very high blood alcohol content (BAC) levels, or had been speeding excessively, or had been driving erratically at the time of the arrest. These claims aim to establish that the driver knowingly and grossly disregarded the safety of others while behind the wheel, and that could lead to a vehicular endangerment conviction.
Defend yourself against vehicular endangerment
As stated above, vehicular endangerment is a serious offense, especially if it’s classified as a felony. A conviction means you are going to have a criminal record, and that could ruin your life in so many ways. Fortunately, vehicular endangerment charges can be refuted in court.
So if you are facing a vehicular endangerment charge, you must have a skilled vehicular endangerment attorney by your side. And if you need an experienced vehicular endangerment lawyer in Arizona handling your case, you don’t have to look further than the attorneys of the Arizona DUI Team.
The Arizona DUI Team is composed of lawyers who have an extensive experience in handling DUI and vehicular and endangerment cases. They know all possible defenses against such charges, and they know the system well. Contact the Arizona DUI Team now, and they will work to get the best possible result for you.