Is an Arizona DUI Car Accident a Misdemeanor or Felony?

free case review

Fill out the form below, or call us at
(602) 560-7408.

practice areas



Recent Blog Posts

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs that cause impairment is illegal in Arizona, even including recreational marijuana. These Arizona DUI laws are taken seriously because driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs increases the risk of being involved in a motor vehicle accident.

While most DUIs are Class 1 misdemeanors under ARS 12-1381, you can be charged with a felony DUI if you cause an accident in which someone is injured or killed while you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If you face DUI car accident charges, you should consult an experienced Arizona DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.

Potential Types of Charges for a DUI Car Accident

If you cause a drunk driving accident, you might face the following types of charges, depending on the circumstances:

Endangerment can be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor; however, it can also be charged as a Class 6 felony when you are alleged to have placed someone else at imminent risk of serious injury or death. This means that you could face felony endangerment charges if you have a single-car accident with a passenger, even if no one was seriously injured, based on the risk of serious injury or death.

Following DUI accidents, aggravated assault, negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter, and second-degree murder charges are felony offenses carrying lengthy prison sentences.

If you caused a DUI car accident in which someone was seriously injured or killed, you would likely face one or more of these types of charges in addition to your DUI charge. Since vehicles can be considered dangerous weapons in criminal charges involving DUI accidents, the cases can be classified as dangerous felony offenses.

In Arizona, a dangerous felony conviction requires a mandatory prison sentence without the option of probation.

How much prison time you might face for a felony charge following a drunk driving accident will depend on multiple factors. These factors include the specific offense of which you are convicted, the victim’s age, whether you have prior felony convictions, and whether the prosecutor alleged the offense as a dangerous felony.

DUI Accident with Injury

Blood Alcohol Concentration Levels in Arizona

Arizona has threshold levels for DUIs. If you are involved in any type of DUI car accident, including a DUI single-car accident, the police might ask for a blood or breath sample if they suspect you might be under the influence.

If your blood alcohol concentration exceeds a threshold, it can impact whether you are charged with a DUI and which type.

The threshold BACs are listed in the table below.

Per se DUI threshold BAC CDL DUI threshold BAC Extreme DUI threshold BAC Super-extreme DUI threshold BAC
0.08 to 0.149 BAC 0.04 BAC 0.15 BAC 0.20 BAC
If you are a minor or were driving a public transportation vehicle, such as a school bus, and caused a DUI accident, you could face charges if you had any amount of alcohol in your system.

DUI accident in school zone

DUI Car Accident and Endangerment

If you are involved in a first-time DUI with an accident while under the influence when no one was injured, including a single-car accident with a passenger in your vehicle, you could be charged with DUI and endangerment. Endangerment can be charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor or a Class 6 felony.

However, endangerment is charged as a felony in many DUI accident cases. A felony endangerment conviction can result in a prison sentence of four months up to two years, a fine of up to $150,000, and a three-year probation term.

Speak to Arizona Defense Attorney Arja Shah Now

We are Open and Available to answer any questions. Free consultations by phone or video chat.
Shah Law has successfully defended over 3,000 clients. We are on your side!

What Does DUI with Injury Mean?

If you caused an injury accident while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you could face aggravated assault charges. Aggravated assault can be charged under ARS 13-1204 whenever you cause an accident that injures someone since a car is considered a dangerous instrument when used in such a way that it is capable of causing serious injuries or death under ARS 13-105 (12). This crime can also be charged as a dangerous offense.

If you are charged with DUI aggravated assault as a dangerous offense, you could face from seven to 21 years in prison as a Class 2 felony. If you are charged with aggravated assault based on a temporary impairment or disfigurement as a dangerous offense, it is a Class 3 felony carrying from five to 15 years in prison.

DUI Car Accident Resulting in Death

You can face several charges for a drunk driving accident resulting in death in Arizona. All of the potential charges you might face are felony offenses.

You can be charged with a serious felony offense whenever someone dies in a DUI car accident, including unborn babies.

The type of charge you might face will be based on the circumstances.

Negligent Homicide for a DUI Car Accident Resulting in Death

Negligent homicide can be charged if you were criminally negligent while operating your vehicle and caused someone else’s death. This offense is a Class 4 felony in Arizona. Criminal negligence is when you do not perceive the substantial, unjustifiable risk of what might happen under the circumstances. The penalties for negligent homicide include from one to 3.75 years in prison and a fine of up to $150,000.

Manslaughter Charges for a DUI Car Accident Resulting in Death

If your actions are deemed reckless in a drunk driving accident that resulted in someone else’s death, you can be charged with DUI vehicular manslaughter. This is a Class 2 felony and is more serious than a negligent homicide charge.

The potential penalties for a Class 2 felony range from a mitigated three years up to an aggravated 12.5 years. However, if you are convicted of a dangerous felony, you could face a mandatory minimum of seven years up to 21 years in prison.

Second-Degree Murder Charges for a DUI Car Accident Causing Death

You can be charged with second-degree murder for a drunk driving accident resulting in death when you acted recklessly in such a way that you created a significant risk that would subsequently kill another person. The prosecutor would need to prove that you showed extreme indifference to life.

Second-degree murder is a Class 1 felony with a potential sentence range of mandatory prison from a mitigated sentence of 10 years up to an aggravated sentence of 25 years. However, if the victim was younger than age 12, they could face up to life in prison.

Defenses to DUI Accident Cases

DUI accident charges are serious. However, it is still possible to defend against them even if someone was injured or killed. Your attorney will review the facts and evidence to identify potential defenses. If you were charged with a simple misdemeanor while under the influence of marijuana, there are ways to defend against the charges, and if convicted, even file for a marijuana expungement and sealed record.

Some possible defenses include the following:

  • You were not at fault for causing the accident.
  • The police or prosecutor engaged in misconduct.
  • You were not driving, operating, or in actual physical control of your vehicle at the time of the accident.
  • You were not under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • The breathalyzer or blood test results were inaccurate.
  • The breathalyzer was administered improperly.
  • There was a problem in the chain of custody for blood test results.

Speak to an Experienced Phoenix DUI Accident Lawyer

Best DUI Lawyer in Phoenix Ranked by If you are facing criminal charges following a DUI accident, you should seek legal help immediately. The potential consequences can be very severe and result in a lengthy prison sentence. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the evidence in your case and work to build the strongest possible defense strategy.

Call Phoenix DUI Lawyer Arja Shah today at (602) 560-7408 to schedule a consultation to learn more about your options.

we are here to help

Fill out the form below, or call us directly at (602) 560-7408 to schedule your free, one-on-one consultation. There is no obligation and all consultations are strictly confidential.


“I was totally impressed and grateful for the expertise and successful case Arja handled for me. She answered my calls immediately and saved me a lot of professional and personal heartache. Arja did a great job refuting the State’s evidence and convinced the Prosecutor that my chewing tobacco was a major issue in the case that the officer did not check.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Thomas - Super Extreme DUI
Argued Police Stop Protocols and Reduced to a Fine

“Arja represented me for a DUI case in Scottsdale. I met with her immediately after being charged and she very quickly was able to speak to the prosecutor and get my charges reduced after my initial hearings. She was attentive and easy to talk to. She gets results.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Jason - Scottsdale DUI
Felony Charges Reduced to Reckless Driving

“Arja was extremely knowledgeable and kept us up to date on the entire case. I would hire her and recommend her to anyone- although I hope I never need her help again! But if a problem arises I would be sure to call her!!”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Maggie - Mesa Super Extreme DUI
Super Extreme DUI Reduced to First Time Regular DUI

“Ms. Shah got my charges completely dismissed. She worked hard, was thorough, and took care of all the details. Seriously, hire her. It’s a complete piece of mind.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
R. Aguilera - Attempted Murder
Attempted Murder Charges DISMISSED

“During my recent DUI case and time spent working with Arja Shah, I can say I had an absolute positive Experience. She was there to represent me and handle my questions and concerns with ease. Thank you.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Michael - Phoenix DUI Arrest
Felony DUI Charge Reduced to a Fine

“I endorse this lawyer. She is knowledgeable as well as up-to-date on the latest case law. She is one of the very few attorneys I would recommend to family or friends.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Michael Pittman (Attorney Peer)

“First, Arja is a superb and energetic attorney who is always willing to listen and help out in client cases. Second, she works hard for your case to minimize or eliminate penalties for the charges you are facing. She has a good analytical mind and presents your case successfully. Third, she is approachable even outside work hours if the situation calls for it. Always punctual for meetings. Lastly, she is an affordable attorney in comparison to some big-name law firms where personalized and flexible service is almost impossible. The above review is based on my experience derived from her working on my case.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
T. McCarty- Extreme DUI Charge Possible 30 Days Jail
Reduced to Reckless Driving and a Fine

“Attorney Arja Shah took the time to compile letters from family members and show the Prosecutor that they lacked evidence to move forward with my case. Arja did what she said she would do and was there to help me. Outstanding Attorney.”

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Andrea- Disorderly Conduct and Domestic Violence
Charged Dismissed

Considering the amount of charges I was facing I ended up with the minimum charges I could have received. If it wasn’t for Ms/Mrs. Shah, I would have had to given up everything. I will forever recommend to anybody in need…

Arja Shah Law Firm Reviews
Tyler Goodwill - DUI
Charges Reduced to Minimum
Click Here to Call Now