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Initially when the police come to the scene of an accident, they would try to find out who was involved in the accident, who were the drivers of the vehicles involved, whether there were any injuries and whether they needed to call out emergency personnel. After they established who was involved in the incident, they may also look around for witnesses to see if anyone else had observed the accident prior to it taking place, or whether there was someone who came to the scene or noticed anything after the accident had occurred.
They would also keep an eye out to look for any signs of impairment of the drivers involved in the accident. They would try to notice if anyone had bloodshot and watery eyes, if they smelled an odor of alcohol, if they had a flushed face, slurred speech, if the person was swaying while standing still, and any other outward appearances to show any type of impairment based on alcohol, drugs, or medications.
When police come to the scene, they are usually only aware there had been some sort of accident, so they would not necessarily suspect it was a crime until they started looking at the evidence before them. Most police agencies would have a vehicular crime unit that would be called in when any sort of vehicle related crime was suspected that involved accident or death.
The police would want to investigate and see what witnesses were available. They may seek out videotape evidence as well as get down witness names and statements. They may take some measurements, look into the angles that the vehicles may have been involved in the accident and they would see whether there were any skid marks. They would want to take down as much information as they could so they could potentially do an accident reconstruction to determine speed, whether someone was impaired, whether someone was reckless, and sometimes even whether someone intentionally caused an injury to another person involving a vehicle.
In Arizona, we do not really have DUI with an injury or DUI with a death, although we do have vehicular injury and vehicular deaths. Other than that we have aggravated assaults and manslaughter. Arizona does not specifically talk about DUIs with an accident, because they would not fall under Title 28 offenses, which involve vehicular crimes. This is unfortunate because something involving driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs that involved a physical injury or death would be placed by the prosecutors into the category of aggravated assault, manslaughter, negligent homicide, or first or second degree murder.
If it fell under general crimes as opposed to vehicular crimes, then it would become an issue when talking about some sort of vehicular death or vehicular injury, because of the simple fact that a vehicle was used. The prosecutor would often allege that the vehicle was a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument, and this would lead to the requirements of having to do prison time as opposed to probation and this would usually lead to a number of years of prison being the minimum sentence available if convicted at trial.
An example would be if someone was driving under the influence of alcohol and then knocked over someone who was walking across the crosswalk, so the person fell down and sprained their wrist. The driver of the vehicle may end up being charged with aggravated assault dangerous and would be looking at 5 to 15 years in prison.
The starting point would be seven and a half years in prison if that person was convicted of the entire charge of aggravated assault dangerous, and the allegation of dangerousness would be because the person was using a vehicle and the prosecutors would allege that a vehicle is a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument in and of itself. The punishments for these sorts of crimes are terribly harsh in the State of Arizona.
For more information on First Steps After a DUI Accident, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you’re seeking by calling (480) 442-8343 today.