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.