What Happens if You Destroy Property While Operating a Vehicle Drunk?

Driving under the influences carries certain risks. If you get pulled over by police officers, you will be sanctioned for the consumption of alcohol or other intoxicating substances. If you damage property while operating a vehicle under the influence, you will also be charged with criminal damage and face even more serious penalties.

Criminal Damage in Conjunction with DUI Charges

According to Arizona Revised Statutes 13-1602, criminal damage is committed whenever a person does at least one of the following:

  • Defacing (recklessly) or damaging the property of another person
  • Tampering with the property of another person in a reckless way and to a degree that causes impairment or damage
  • Recklessly damaging utility property
  • Intentionally tampering with utility property

As you can see, a few of these conditions can be applicable to an accident that occurs whenever a person is driving under the influence.

Criminal damage is a Class 4 felony whenever the property damage is worth 10,000 dollars or more. Whenever the damage falls in the 2,000 to 10,000-dollar range, the criminal damage will be classified as a Class 5 felony. Class 6 felony charges will be faced whenever the damages are worth anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars.

The value of damaged property will be calculated by summing up the cost of repair and replacement. The amount that a person or an entity will have to spend on bringing the property back to its original state will be the one that will determine the scope of criminal damage.

Class 4 felony charges carry a sanction ranging from probation to 3.75 years in prison. People who have committed a felony in the past could face a prison sentence of up to 7.5 years. A fine of up to 150,000 dollars and surcharges could also be imposed.

Class 5 felonies carry a prison sentence of up to 2.5 years. Those who have previous felonies could see an increase in the prison term to 3.75 years. The fine is the same as in the case of a Class 4 felony.

The Class 6 felony carries a sentence of up to two years in prison. First-time offenders may get off with just probation. The sanction will once again be in the range of up to 150,000 dollars and surcharges.

For smaller damage, the person will face either Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor charges. These come on top of the criminal charges and the sanctions that an individual will face for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The Reckless Clause: How Is It Proven?

You probably have noticed that for criminal damage to occur, recklessness on behalf of the perpetrator will have to be established.

criminal damageMany people who operate a car under the influence of alcohol or drugs do not recognize the fact that they are impaired. The drinker’s ability to assess their intoxication and its effects will be diminished significantly.

The prosecution, however, can still establish recklessness via driving under the influence. A clause that prosecutors rely on in such situations is Arizona Revised Statutes 13-503. According to the clause, temporary intoxication is not a defense for a criminal act.

The fact that a driver does not recognize their impairment is not a defense for the damage of property in the case of DUI. To prove the fact there isn’t recklessness, the DUI attorney will have to look for another reason contributing to the fact that the vehicle operator did not recognize their impairment.

In most cases, a DUI will be recognized as a per se reckless behavior. Thus, the prosecutor will not have to work beyond proving driving under the influence in order to justify the criminal damage charges.