Although driving is an activity many of us undertake on a daily basis, it can be a dangerous one. To encourage public safety, the state of Arizona punishes certain types of dangerous driving through statutes such as A.R.S. §13-1201, which subjects a driver to liability if the driver “recklessly endangers another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury.” This is commonly known as reckless endangerment or vehicular endangerment.
Endangerment is quite different from mere aggressive driving; a prosecutor will typically allege the defendant’s driving indicated an “extreme indifference” to human life. Many times, the prosecutor will add this charge onto an arrest in which the defendant is also charged with an Aggravated DUI. The reason? An Aggravated DUI is a class four felony and punishable by mandatory prison time, while an Endangerment charge is a class six felony, a lower-degree charge that can carry with it only jail time, not mandatory prison time. The difference is that prison requires confinement around the clock, while jail requires only confinement 12 hours per day, so you can still work to earn a living while serving the sentence. This difference often serves as an enticement for defendants to plead to an Endangerment charge rather than the Aggravated DUI charge.
While Endangerment may be a lower felony than an Aggravated DUI, it is still a felony and a very serious charge. You experienced legal representation! Call DM Cantor for a free consultation; we are available 24 hours a day at 602-737-2812 or use our secure, confidential contact form.
Penalties for Vehicular Endangerment in Arizona
Endangerment is a serious crime, but the outcomes of courtroom proceedings indicate that it is charged against defendants too frequently. The primary issue is that actions that properly constitute reckless driving are charged by officers as vehicular endangerment. What they may not realize is that the standard of “reckless” driving is a high one. To constitute “reckless” driving, the defendant must have been aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a dangerous result would occur or that a dangerous condition existed, and the defendant consciously disregarded that risk.
And the risk isn’t just any risk; it must be of such a nature that it is a “gross deviation” from the type of action that would be acceptable as the standard of care a reasonable person in the same situation would undertake. In other words, the driving must have put others in an unreasonably high risk of danger through actions an everyday, responsible driver would not have taken.
To try to meet this standard, the prosecutor will offer a variety of justifications, such as that the defendant was using drugs or alcohol, speeding, or driving erratically. Faced with these charges, we use forensic investigation and logical legal arguments to defend you from these allegations. When the state seeks to use forensic evidence against you, including blood tests, urine tests or breath tests, we can point out any potential inaccuracies or circumstances indicating unreliability. Likewise, we can look to the totality of the situation and note that you were not putting anyone at a risk of danger if, for example, no one was walking on the adjacent sidewalk or traveling along the same stretch of road as you were.
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Potential Defenses for Vehicular Endangerment in Arizona
Our office can also use plenty of irrefutable evidence, such as nearby security camera footage, or data from your car’s Statistic and Diagnostic Module, commonly referred to as the car’s “Black Box.” This device demonstrates the RPM and speed history of your vehicle, so we can show that there were no sudden accelerations or high speeds preceding your traffic stop. That type of evidence shows you did not endanger others with your driving.
Through our extensive experience defending DUI and Endangerment claims, DM Cantor has obtained much insight into what additional defenses to use in such cases. Our attorneys may also try to assert a defense such as “denial of the right to counsel,” if your request for a lawyer was not responded to within a reasonable amount of time. Additionally, a “Miranda rights violation” occurs when you were tricked or intimidated into making a statement indicating your guilt by police. Another potential defense is that the police report is inaccurate or misleading, which is often the result of improper crime scene reconstruction, misstatements, photo line-up problems, or other sloppiness.
With life-changing consequences in the balance, it’s important to have the best lawyer available. DM Cantor has been awarded the AV rating by Martindale Hubbell®, the highest possible rating for firms. David Michael Cantor is also an Arizona Board-certified Criminal Law Specialist, and all of the lawyers in the firm are featured in the Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers®. With many former prosecutors on staff, the firm is well-versed in DUI and criminal law and can use that insight to your advantage.
For a free consultation, call 602-737-2812 at any time, or contact us online so we can help you.