There are numerous crimes involving motor vehicles that can be charged under Arizona law. Collectively, these types of crimes are referred to as vehicular crimes. In Maricopa County, these cases are reviewed by the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Vehicular Crimes Bureau. The Bureau prosecutes crimes involving motor vehicle collisions; driving under the influence (DUI); and incidents in which drivers are found to be driving recklessly.
The bureau also prosecutes drivers who illegally leave the scene of an accident involving injury or death. According to the Maricopa County Attorney’s website, the bureau reviews 3,000 to 4,000 cases a year, and assigns as many as 1,300 cases for prosecution.
In some instances, a vehicular crime qualifies as a “dangerous offense.” This is because a motor vehicle is considered a “dangerous instrument” under Arizona’s penal code. A “dangerous instrument” means anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used or threatened to be used is readily capable of causing death or serious physical injury. (A.R.S. 13-105(12)). A person convicted of a “dangerous” offense is not eligible for probation, and is subject to an increased prison sentence.
Examples of Common Vehicular Crimes in Arizona
Negligent Homicide A.R.S. § 13-1102
In Arizona, a driver that acts with “criminal negligence” and causes the death of another person can receive charges of negligent homicide. Acting with “criminal negligence” means that the driver failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk; and the failure to perceive that risk was a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would have observed in the situation.
Negligent homicide is a class 4 felony, and if the crime involved the use of a motor vehicle the prosecutor can allege that the crime is dangerous.
Aggravated Assault A.R.S. § 13-1204
In short, vehicular aggravated assault is an assault that is committed with the use or threatened use of a motor vehicle. For example, if a driver intentionally tries to run a person over with their vehicle and that person is placed in reasonable apprehension of imminent physical injury; the driver can be charged with aggravated assault. Also, if a driver causes serious physical injury to another person he or she can be charged with aggravated assault.
Endangerment A.R.S. § 13-1201
Arizona’s Endangerment statute seeks to punish drivers whose driving behavior creates a dangerous situation on the road. A driver can be held liable for Endangerment if he or she “recklessly endangers another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury.”
IMPORTANT NOTE: For an endangerment charge, no one needs to be actually injured as a result of the alleged conduct. Rather, the victim need only be placed in a position of substantial risk of injury. For this reason, the burden of proving an Endangerment charge is fairly low.
Endangerment involving a substantial risk of imminent death is a class 6 felony. In all other cases, it is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident A.R.S. § 28-661
In Arizona, if you are part of an auto accident that involves injury or death and knowingly fail to remain at the scene and give reasonable assistance or provide information required by law, you can be charged with a felony.
If the accident results in death or serious physical injury, the driver can be charged with a class 3 felony; except that if a driver caused the accident the driver is guilty of a class 2 felony. Additionally, the driver’s license or permit to drive can be revoked.
If the accident results in a minor injury, the driver can be charged with a class 5 felony.
Vehicular Crimes Attorney
The penalties for a conviction of a vehicular crime can be significant. This is why you need to choose an experienced vehicular crimes defense attorney to represent you in your case. Our firm handles all types of vehicular crimes, both felony and misdemeanor. Arrested for or charged with a vehicular crime? Contact the Lerner and Rowe Law Group today to schedule a free consultation. We will discuss your case, and let you know your options and also, what defenses may be available.
So, call us today at 602-667-7777, or fill out the online intake form. Our skilled criminal defense attorneys have experience handling cases in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, Gilbert, Glendale, and also other cities across Arizona.