Each year, nearly 300,000 Americans are injured in DUI related accidents and some 10,000 are killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics. Driving while drunk or under the influence of drugs carries the potential for serious penalties. Driving drunk could lead to DUI charges, but you could also face far more severe charges if you injure or kill someone while driving drunk. Our Phoenix DUI accident attorneys explore the penalties for a DUI involving an accident and your best defense below.
Penalties for a DUI with Injuries
A DUI without bodily injury will generally be charged as a misdemeanor. However, if an accident was involved, the crime could become a felony. A DUI could become a felony if you cause an accident that results in bodily harm to another person or property damage to the other vehicle. If someone was severely injured or killed in the accident, you could even be charged with assault or vehicular manslaughter if your behavior is shown to have been reckless or intentional.
A felony DUI charge could lead to several months or even many years in prison, depending on the extent of the injuries to the other person and the exacerbating circumstances. Fines may be in excess of $5,500 and you could lose your license for three years or more. You will be required to have an ignition interlock installed in your vehicle, and could be required to complete drug and alcohol counseling. Your driving record will be forever marked, and your permanent record will reflect a felony conviction, which could greatly impede your job prospects.
Defending Against a DUI with Accident Charge
There are several avenues for attacking a charge of a DUI involving an accident. Your attorney will closely review the accident and the evidence of your intoxication to determine your best defense. You may potentially attempt to demonstrate the accident was not caused by you. Perhaps another driver was involved or external factors like poor road conditions caused the crash.
Your defense could instead involve an attack on the evidence of your intoxication. Blood and breath tests can be flawed, as can field sobriety tests. Your defense attorney will be in the best position to evaluate the case and make a determination as to your strongest defense.