A crash in Pinal County, AZ has led to a charge of driving under the influence for a Mesa woman. The report on the incident contained only a small number of details about the accident that led to her arrest.
Police say that the woman was driving in Sun Tan Valley last week when her car struck a minivan with two young girls and a 20-year old man as passengers. The head-on collision left the four people in the minivan injured, along with the Mesa woman, although none of the injuries were life-threatening. As of the date of the article, blood test results were not in, although police say that there were signs of impairment, and that they found an almost empty bottle of liquor in her vehicle.
The suspect faces a number of possible charges in addition to drunk driving, including aggravated assault and endangerment. She also reportedly has a prior conviction for aggravated DUI and that at the time of the recent accident her license had not been restored.
There are several reasons why a simple (misdemeanor) DUI could become a felony, and one of them is contained in A.R.S. 28-1383A1. That subsection provides that a conviction for driving under the influence (or driving under the extreme influence of intoxicating liquor) while your license is revoked or suspended for a prior drunk or drugged driving conviction constitutes aggravated DUI, in this case a class 4 felony with a mandatory minimum of four months in prison. Additional penalties include alcohol/drug screening or an educational or treatment program, fines, and surcharges, among others. Additional penalties, including more jail time, are possible if the other charges are filed.
An interesting side note in the case is that the revocation of the suspect’s license apparently took place as the result of an aggravated DUI conviction in April 1999, almost 14 years ago. Aggravated DUI is known as a “forever prior.” It can be alleged in any subsequent felony case to support an enhanced penalty no matter how long ago the prior conviction took place.
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