In Arizona, drivers involved in accidents have legal responsibilities. In accidents involving damage to another vehicle, the driver must stop the car at the scene of the accident, or as close as possible to the scene of the crash, and must avoid obstructing traffic during this maneuver. The driver must give his or her name, address, license information and car registration number to anyone involved in the crash. Failure to fulfill these requirements makes the driver guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor. This can mean up to four months behind bars.
In cases where a person has been injured in an accident, the driver’s compliance with these guidelines is even more important. The driver must also give assistance to any injured person. This includes helping the injured person gain access to a doctor or hospital.
Failure to comply with these legal requirements comes with serious consequences. Severity of the crime is proportionate to the severity of the victim’s injuries. A “serious physical injury” is defined in A.R.S. 13-105 as an injury that creates a risk of death, or causes permanent disfigurement, chronic health impairment, or the loss of a limb or organ’s function. In the case where the victim’s injury is not serious and the driver involved in the accident leaves the scene, neglects to present his or her license, and doesn’t give help to the victim is guilty of a class 5 felony. This carries a minimum jail sentence of 9 months.
Should the victim receive a serious physical injury or die in the accident, failure to comply with the rules makes the driver guilty of at least a class 3 felony. This carries a minimum sentence of 2.5 years. If the driver caused the accident and flees the scene, this is a class 2 felony. The minimum sentence is 4 years.
Drug or alcohol impairment makes sentencing more severe. Any felony convictions as a result of failing to help the injured victims of an accident run consecutively with other charges resulting from the incident. The driver in any of these cases will be stripped of his or her license. For accidents resulting in serious injury, the driver’s license will likely be revoked for 5 years. For fatal accidents, the driver will be without a license for 10 years, not inclusive of any prison time the driver serves. After this time, the guilty party may apply for restricted driving privileges.
Driving a vehicle recklessly is illegal, regardless of whether an injury or accident occurs. Vehicular endangerment is defined as a driver recklessly endangering another person, offering a high risk of physical injury or death. If the risk is determined to involve a substantial risk of death, vehicular endangerment is a class 6 felony. Should it only be providing a risk of physical injury, serious or otherwise, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. A class 6 felony carries a minimum sentence of 6 months. A class 1 misdemeanor carries the same minimum sentence.
Driving under the influence in any of these cases results in mandatory drug testing, as well as more severe penalties that escalate with the consequences of the driver’s actions. Getting in an accident is stressful and frightening, but it is imperative to comply with the legal responsibilities of a driver involved in an accident. Failure to do so leads to severe legal penalties. The Stewart Law Group can get you through any incidents involving vehicular endangerment. Contact Our Office today to get started on your defense.