Moving Violations Causing Serious Injuries or Death in Phoenix, AZ

by Aaron Black • April 19, 2019
Cracked up windshield after a crashArizona drivers who violate traffic laws and in so doing seriously injure or cause the death of someone can be prosecuted for a class 3 misdemeanor, the least serious offense in the state’s criminal classifications.

Unlike the other misdemeanors, causing harm stemming from a moving violation gives the prosecution two years to bring the charge beginning from the time this offense was made known. Charges for other misdemeanor offenses must be brought within one year of the event.

Arizona law defines a serious physical injury under Arizona Revised Statute §13-105(39) as causing a reasonable risk of death, permanent disfigurement, and serious impairment of health or impairment of any organ or limb.

Specific Traffic Laws for Moving Related Offenses

Civil traffic citations become a criminal offense under Arizona Revised Statute §28-672.

This law applies specifically to these 10 traffic civil offenses:
  • Failing to stop for a red light
  • Dangerously changing lanes, violating lane direction signs or committing a similar driving lane violation
  • Failing to yield the right of way at an intersection
  • Failing to yield the right of way when making a left turn at an intersection
  • Not stopping at a stop sign
  • Violating school crossing laws
  • Not yielding, slowing down or stopping as appropriate at a crosswalk
  • Failing to exercise due care and caution shown to pedestrians
  • Failing to show due caution for incapacitated persons or children on the roadway
  • Improperly overtaking or passing a school bus
Traffic officers are watchful to prevent serious injuries and deaths on our roadways and are particularly on the lookout for intoxicated and aggressive motorists.

According to statistics from 2017, compiled by the Arizona Department of Transportation, 1,000 people were killed in crashes that year with two-thirds of those involving more than one vehicle. Injuries numbered 55,474.

Ramifications of a Conviction

Under Arizona law a conviction for a class 3 misdemeanor can mean serving time in county jail up to 30 days and fines can be imposed. A conviction for a first-time offense may also mean a suspension of the defendant’s license to drive for causing a serious injury. Subsequent violations of this law extend the duration of the suspension.

Besides suspending the driver’s license, the law calls for the defendant to attend and successfully finish traffic survival school, which is designed to improve safety and the driving habits of offending motorists. The court may order the defendant to perform community restitution too. Failing the class can mean license suspension until the defendant successfully completes the survival school or completes the community restitution.

The Arizona Court of Appeals in 2017 ruled that this offense falls under strict liability and doesn’t warrant a jury trial. Strict liability cases don’t have a state-of-mind element to prove.

Avoiding the Serious Injury Charge

Arizona law §28-672(F) does allow a way to avoid a conviction, but it all depends upon the serious physically injured person in the case. If that person goes into court at any time before the defendant’s trial is set to begin and tells the judge that he or she has accepted payment for the cost incurred, then the court shall “order that the prosecution be dismissed and the defendant be discharged.”

The amount of restitution under this law can’t be more than $100,000 and seriously injured crash victims also have a recourse to recover damages under civil law.

Building a Strong Defense

The key to developing a thorough defense is to reconstruct the collision that brought about the criminal charge. Vehicle crash reconstruction investigators are thorough in determining exactly what happened and why.

Every situation is unique – time of day, road conditions, condition of the vehicle. That’s just a few. There’s a lot of variables that can be discovered that may be able to prove that the alleged victim was actually at fault. For example, I had a client who was charged under this statute in which the other party was killed. We proved that the other party had caused the crash and was not fit to drive because of intoxication.

If you choose to have me, Aaron Black, defend you I will do everything to win the case. You’ll also have my personal attention at every step of the process and I’ll keep you informed of how the case is proceeding. I arrange my case load so that each client has my full attention and commitment.

The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. I know from years of experience ways to establish a reasonable doubt.

As you’ve learned here a jury won’t be hearing your case, just the judge. That means a strong defense based on proof without personality entering into it.

Should the state have a strong case and offer a plea arrangement, I will negotiate with the prosecution to make that offer better for you.

Free Legal Advice

If you, a loved one, or a friend find themselves charged with this class 3 misdemeanor due a moving violation, act quickly to learn what your options are.

Contact Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney Aaron Black or call (480)729-1683 for a free telephonic consultation.