Criminal charges involving motor vehicles are fairly common, but each situation can be drastically different. In some cases, there may just be property damage. In others, physical injuries may have occurred. Some individuals who are in an accident get frightened and flee the scene out of fear.
Driving Under the Influence of alcohol or drugs is a misdemeanor offense which carries a maximum punishment of 6 months jail, a $2,500.00 fine and up to five years of supervised probation. It becomes a class four felony of aggravated DUI if the driver’s license is suspended, a minor aged 15 years or under is in the car, or there are two prior DUI convictions within 84 months of the offense date. Aggravated DUI convictions require prison time. Plea agreements can avoid prison time as can finding problems with the state’s case.
A misdemeanor DUI exposes a person to certain minimum penalties. The State cannot and will not waiver from minimum mandatory penalties absent some legal or factual deficiency in the State’s case. The minimum penalties correlate the person’s blood alcohol concentration or BAC. The legal limit in Arizona is .08. If the BAC is alleged to be .08-.15, the charge is considered a regular, non-extreme DUI and the person is likely offered a plea to one day in jail, a fine of about $1,500.00, substance abuse screening and counseling and attendance at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) victim panel. If the BAC is .15-.20 the charge is an extreme DUI and a plea will likely be 5-10 days in jail with increased fines. The counseling and MADD requirements are the same. A .20 and above are called “super extreme” DUIs. The minimum jail time is 14 days and fines are about $4,000.00. Generally, plea offers include less jail time and fewer fines. That is the “bargain” in the plea, that is, to get less than the minimum under the law.
There is a driver’s license component to a DUI charge. A person’s license to drive is subject to suspension even if the person is not yet found guilty in criminal court. There is a mechanism to challenge this and it is a Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) hearing in an MVD court with an MVD judge. These hearings allow an accused to make some very limited arguments. Each case is different and there may be advantages and disadvantages to requesting and having a hearing. It is best to discuss this with an experienced lawyer.
Speeding, Reckless Driving, Aggressive Driving are all charges that can potentially put points on your license and trigger some kind of license suspension, not to mention giving you a criminal conviction on your record. Yes, these traffic offenses are considered misdemeanor criminal offenses and can keep you from getting where you want to go in life. Don’t just accept a plea to these charges thinking it is no big deal. It is a big deal due to the conviction. Talk to a lawyer and see if something better can happen.
Attorney Janet Altschuler is a distinguished trial lawyer, whose confidence and experience in a wide range of criminal proceedings help individuals who have been charged with crimes protect their rights and reduce the effects and consequences of a criminal record.
It is important to get skilled legal representation as soon as possible if you have been questioned about, accused of, arrested for or charged with a crime, such as:
- Aggravated assault with a vehicle
- Hit-and-run accidents
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Property damage with a car
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- Criminal Speed
- Driving on Suspended License