Attorney Jocquese Blackwell comments on news item in www.AZFamily.com About Drunk driver ran stop sign, T-boned minivan in Laveen.
There are a myriad of legal issues surrounding the Laveen, Arizona automobile accident that took the life of Elizabeth Valenzuela, 44. First the driver of the Crown Victoria will be charged with vehicular homicide which in his case will most likely be deemed Manslaughter under Arizona Revised Statutes, A.R.S. 13-1103 because he chose to drive under the influence of alcohol. Manslaughter is a class 2 felony under Arizona Law. Under this statute, a person can be charged with Manslaughter by recklessly causing the death of another. To recklessly cause the death of another, means the person was aware of and consciously disregarded a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur, or that the circumstances exists. The risk must be of such nature and degree that to disregard such a risk constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation. A person who creates such risk but who is unaware of such risk solely by reason of voluntary intoxication also acts recklessly with respect to such a risk. The penalty for manslaughter for a first time class 2 felony conviction is between 7 and 21 years in the Arizona Department of Corrections.
The presumptive sentence which is the midway point is 10.5 years. If the driver already had a felony conviction, he would face between 14 and 28 years in prison with a 15.75 year presumptive term. If he had two prior felony convictions he would face between 21 and 35 years in prison, with a presumptive term of 28 years. Lastly, because the driver of the Crown Victoria was found to have a blood alcohol content (“B.A.C.”) of .20 he will likely face a substantial number of years in prison. His attorney may be able to defend him by arguing that there was either a “superseding” or “supervening” cause which may mitigate his time but, I doubt seriously that any such argument will help this guy. It’s a tragic accident and we at Blackwell Law Office, PLLC offer our deepest condolences to the family of Elizabeth Valenzuela.