This DUI Task Force didn’t have to travel far to make this arrest.
It was just an ordinary evening on Sunday in Casa Grande, Arizona for the Pinal County Sheriff’s deputies who were working the DUI Task Force at Pearl Road. The officers were in the process of making one DUI arrest, when a car driven by Amanda Leyvas smashed into the side of their stopped patrol car. Leyvas, police say, narrowly missed hitting two other marked patrol cars, as well as two officers who were standing in the roadway. There was an officer in the car that was struck, and he apparently suffered minor injuries. Police say that Leyvas and her passenger were unhurt. Both were believed to be drunk. Ultimately, Leyvas was arrested and charged not only with DUI, but also with aggravated assault and criminal damage. Her passenger was taken into custody on an outstanding warrant.
Sources report that a total of 16 people were arrested during the Task Force operation.
We thought this would be a good opportunity to examine one of the charges against Ms. Leyvas, namely, aggravated assault. Specifically, how can a DUI support an aggravated assault charge? Our first stop is A.R.S. 13-1203, which says that misdemeanor assault includes the intentional, knowing, or reckless causing of a physical injury to another person. If someone is driving under the influence, and they cause an accident that results in an injury, most people would agree that, other things being equal, an assault may be an appropriate charge. Aggravated assault, however, is a felony that requires something more. That something can be any one of numerous circumstances, among which are assault using “a deadly weapon or a dangerous instrument.”
In order to qualify as a deadly weapon, an item (in this case an automobile) would have to have been designed for deadly use, and a car simply does not fit into that definition. A dangerous instrument, on the other hand, can be anything that “under the circumstances in which it is used” is readily capable of causing serious injury or death. In this sense, a car being driven by a person (allegedly) under the influence of alcohol certainly can fit the bill. Obviously, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is another matter entirely.
Nevertheless, this is another example of how a drunk or drugged driving incident can reach well beyond intoxicated driving itself.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004