What is an Arizona Reckless Driving Charge?

Reckless driving is one of the more serious misdemeanor offenses in Arizona.  The crime can be either a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor.  When charged as a first time offense, as a class two misdemeanor, the statute has a maximum penalty of four months in jail and $750.00 fine.  Moreover, there are some additional consequences to a person's driver's license.  Reckless Driving is considered a serious moving violation and places 8 points on a person's driver's license.  This in turn, requires the person to complete Traffic Survival School. 

The crime of Reckless Driving is codified in section 28-693 of the Arizona Revised Statutes.  The statute states: 

A. A person who drives a vehicle in reckless disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.

B. A person convicted of reckless driving is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

C. In addition, the judge may require the surrender to a police officer of any driver license of the convicted person, shall report the conviction to the department and may order the driving privileges of the person to be suspended for a period of not more than ninety days. On receipt of the abstract of conviction and order, the department shall suspend the driving privilege of the person for the period of time ordered by the judge.

D. If a person who is convicted of a violation of this section has been previously convicted of a violation of this section, section 13-1102 or section 13-1103, subsection A, paragraph 1, in the driving of a vehicle, or section 28-708, 28-1381, 28-1382 or 28-1383 within a period of twenty-four months:

1. The person is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

2. The person is not eligible for probation, pardon, suspension of sentence or release on any basis until the person has served not less than twenty days in jail.

3. The judge may require the surrender to a police officer of any driver license of the person and shall immediately forward the abstract of conviction to the department.

4. On receipt of the abstract of conviction, the department shall revoke the driving privilege of the person.

E. The dates of the commission of the offense are the determining factor in applying subsection D of this section. A second or subsequent violation for which a conviction occurs as provided in this section does not include a conviction for an offense arising out of the same series of acts.

F. On pronouncement of a jail sentence under this section, and after the court receives confirmation that the person is employed or is a student, the court may provide in the sentence that if the defendant is employed or is a student the defendant can continue employment or schooling for not more than twelve hours per day nor more than five days per week. The defendant shall spend the remaining days or parts of days in jail until the sentence is served and shall be allowed out of jail only long enough to complete the defendant's actual hours of employment or schooling.

In sum, the crime of Reckless Driving can carry some very onerous consequences including jail, fines, traffic school and a driver's license suspension.  However, unlike a DUI conviction, jail is merely discretionary.  Thus, a person convicted of Reckless Driving does not necessarily have to serve a term of jail.

The DUI Accident Where There Are No Injuries - Endangerment

I see the following scenario commonly in my practice.  My client is responsible for causing a low impact accident.  No one from either automobile was injured.  However my client had consumed alcohol, and a blood test confirmed he was over Arizona's legal limit of .08.  What charges may he be facing?

Obviously he is facing a misdemeanor DUI.  And more troubling, he may also be facing an Endangerment charge.  Under section 13-1201 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, a person commits Endangerment by:

  • Recklessly endangering another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury.
  • Endangerment involving a substantial risk of imminent death is a class 6 felony. In all other cases, it is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Moreover, since a car was involved (a dangerous instrument under Arizona law) my client may be facing a mandatory prison term.  This can happen if it is proven that he placed the other driver in a substantial risk of imminent death.  While most low impact accidents do not expose a person to such a risk, prosecutors often charge these cases with the attitude of "just leave the decision to the jury".  Meanwhile the client has now been exposed to a serious risk, of a long period of prison, because the State has not taken the time to properly and correctly evaluate the case.  These cases cannot be taken lightly.  Every effort must be made to show the true nature of the impact.  That is, there was no risk of "imminent death."  This may require the use of both an accident reconstructionist and bio-mechanical engineer.  In any event, these types of  cases must be proactively handled as soon as possible.

 

ARIZONA DUI LAWS PROHIBIT IMPAIRED DRIVING, NOT JUST "DRUNK DRIVING."

It is commonly believed that “drunk driving” is the reason for a DUI charge. However, DUI stands for “driving under the influence” of alcohol or drugs. Under Arizona law, you do not have to be “drunk” to be convicted of DUI. Rather, the law requires only that your driving be impaired by alcohol; Arizona law provides that you cannot drive if your ability to do so is impaired to any degree.

When you are arrested for DUI, you generally receive two types of charges. The first alleges that you were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs to at least “the slightest degree.” Thus, to violate the statute, you do not have to be falling-down drunk. Rather, a slight impairment of your ability to drive, due to alcohol, violates the law.

The second type of charge you receive when arrested for DUI relates to your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC). For a basic DUI allegation, you’re charged with having a BAC greater than .08 percent within two hours of driving. If your BAC is greater than .150, you may receive an additional charge of Extreme DUI (or if above .200 a "super-extreme DUI.")  These are sometimes referred to as “per se” charges, meaning that if the State can prove your BAC is above a certain limit, that alone proves a violation of the DUI statute.

Many “per se” violations are defended on the grounds that the means used to determine one’s BAC have a large range of accuracy. That is, even if the device used to test your breath or blood was working perfectly, your BAC may actually be lower than indicated. The State concedes that this range of accuracy exists. However, the real debate is over the extent of this range.

Let’s assume that an argument exists that expands this range of accuracy, or that some other flaw occurred in the testing process, that puts your BAC results below the per se limit of .08 percent. Does that mean the State cannot proceed with the DUI case? The State may still be able to prosecute the case, but it will be forced to rely on the charge that you were impaired to the slightest degree.

In practical terms, it would be very difficult for the State to proceed with the case if it cannot prove that your BAC was greater than .08. Moreover, there are certain legal presumptions regarding a person’s BAC that could further complicate the State’s case. However, the above situation illustrates a crucial point: You do not have to be drunk to be charged with DUI.

While I cannot remember a DUI client who was convicted with a BAC of less than .08, drivers should know that they do not have to be “drunk” to be charged with DUI. In addition, if you do get charged with DUI and end up beating the charge, the entire process will be costly and fraught with risk.

Thus, before you drink and drive, do not ask yourself “Am I too drunk to drive?” Rather, the question should be “Will the alcohol at all impair my driving?” Asking – and honestly answering – this question may keep you out of my office.

Services

Lawrence Koplow defends all types of DUI and vehicular crimes cases, including:

Mr. Koplow also defends traffic crimes and driver's license issues such as driver's license suspensions, speeding tickets and photo radar tickets.  Mr. Koplow and his firm have extensive experience resolving issues with the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the Arizona Department of Transportation.  This area of his practice includes the following types of cases:

As a former a vehicular crimes prosecutor Mr. Koplow has unique experience defending felony vehicular crimes charges.  Vehicular cases, such as drunk-driving accidents, are the most challenging types of criminal case and require extensive training and experience.  Mr. handles the following types of vehicular crimes cases:

Mr. Koplow also represent defendants in appeals and / or post-conviction relief motions for all of the above charges.  Mr. Koplow may handle other types of cases for his clients, however, these cases are accepted on a case-by-case basis.

PUBLICATIONS AND PRESENTATIONS

  • Accreditation, Lies, and ISO Standards:  The Continuing Scottsdale Saga, 27th Annual Aggressive Defense of the Accused Impaired Driver conference, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Tucson, Arizona, May 10, 2014.
  • Winning a Blood Case When They Say Everything Looks Perfect, June 26, 2014, APDA Statewide Conference, Tempe, Arizona, June 27, 2013.
  • Daubert and the Scottsdale Crime Lab: Separating Science from Science, 2013 APDA Statewide Conference, Tempe, Arizona, June 27, 2013.
  • Trial Tactics that Work, 25th Annual Aggressive Defense of the Accused Impaired Driver Seminar, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Tucson, Arizona, May 2012.
  • Prosecutor and Defense Professionalism, Maricopa County Attorney Office Training and Development
  • Civil Aspects of Impaired Driving Cases, The Arizona Association of Civil Defense Attorneys
  • Impaired Driving Investigations for Law Enforcement, The Northern Arizona Police Department 
  • Challenging Blood Alcohol Measurements, In Vehicular Homicide Cases (Chapter), Defending DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases, Aspatore Publishing, 2015 Edition.

AWARDS

Lawyer Of The Year For Outstanding Contribution To DUI Defense Award, May 1, 2015, by Arizona Attorneys For Criminal Justice.

For Additional Information or Case Review:

Contact Lawrence Koplow online or call him at his office at (602) 494-3444.  Mr. Koplow and his firm will be available to help you solve your legal problems.

 

Lawrence Koplow, Aggressive Driving Attorney / Lawyer, Phoenix, Arizona

It is unusual to find someone charged with the crime of aggressive driving in Arizona.  The primary reason is that the statute is complicated and requires several different traffic violations.  

ELEMENTS OF AGGRESSIVE DRIVING (A.R.S. §28-695)

In Arizona, a person commits the crime of aggressive driving if both of the following occur:

During a course of conduct the person commits a violation of either section 28-701, subsection A or section 28-701.02 and at least two of the following violations:

    • Failure to obey traffic control devices as provided in section 28-644. 
    • Overtaking and passing another vehicle on the right by driving off the pavement or main traveled portion of the roadway as provided in section 28-724.
    • Unsafe lane change as provided in section 28-729.
    • Following a vehicle too closely as provided in section 28-730.
    • Failure to yield the right-of-way as provided in article 9 of this chapter.                                    

The person's driving is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle. 

For the purposes of this statute "course of conduct" means a series of acts committed during a single, continuous period of driving.  Moreover, the statute requires some type of speed violation when it refers to a violation of sections 28-701, subsection A or section 28-701.02.

PENALTIES FOR AGGRESSIVE DRIVING

A person convicted of aggressive driving is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.  As a class 1 misdemeanor, the maximum penalty is a six month jail term and maximum fine of $2500.00.  However, there is not a minimum jail or fine requirement.  The aggressive driving statute does have the following additional penalties:

  • A person convicted of a violation of this section shall attend and successfully complete approved traffic survival school training and educational sessions that are designed to improve the safety and habits of drivers and that are approved by the department.                    
  • The court shall forward the abstract of conviction to the department and may order the department to suspend the person's driving privilege for thirty days.

If you are facing an aggressive driving charge then feel free to contact Lawrence Koplow online, or call him at his Phoenix / Scottsdale area office at  (602) 494-3444  to discuss your legal options.