Arizona DUI Law

The Valley of the Sun is a perfect nickname for the capital city of Arizona. The warm, sunny days in Phoenix are an attraction to all, not to mention the bustling city life with exceptional restaurants and vibrant nightclubs. A night out with friends is not an uncommon thing in Phoenix. Unfortunately, if you make the wrong decision, the night can end with a DUI arrest or worse.

A DUI arrest can be daunting and leave you with many questions. What do I do now that I have a DUI charge? Can I get out of a DUI charge? What is Arizona’s law against DUI? Will I lose my job over a DUI? Will a DUI ever go away? Will a DUI ruin my life?

Arizona carries harsh penalties for those convicted of a DUI offense, even if it is your first offense. It’s important that you obtain the help of an experienced DUI attorney like Belén Olmedo Guerra of the Belén Law Firm if you ever find yourself in such a situation.

Below, we’ll explain more about first-offense DUIs in Arizona and the criminal penalties that one faces when charged.

What is Considered a DUI in Arizona?

Did you know that Arizona is one of the strictest states in regard to DUI laws? If you are found to be impaired to even the slightest degree, you may be charged with a DUI offense.

A DUI is defined as being under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An alcohol DUI means that your blood alcohol concentration, also known as BAC, is above the legal limit – 0.08%. (For a commercial vehicle requiring a commercial driver license, the legal limit is 0.04%.) In Arizona, it is also illegal to drive with any illegal drug or a variation of an illegal drug in your system. You can also be charged if you have taken prescription drugs if they impair your ability to drive.

There are several different types of DUI offenses a person may incur depending on the circumstances, many of which we’ll go into in further detail down below. These include:

Under Arizona law, when you receive a state driver’s license, you are giving implied consent to be tested for drugs and alcohol if you are pulled over with probable cause. If you refuse a breath test, field sobriety test, or any other DUI test, your license will be taken away immediately. You can also receive a DUI in Arizona even if you are not physically driving. That’s right…the car does not need to be moving for you to be arrested. You could be sitting in a car with keys in your hand, the car shut off, and still receive a DUI if you are found to have a BAC above the legal limit.

With so many legal nuances and complexities regarding DUIs in Arizona, it’s important that you get help from a skilled Phoenix DUI attorney who can help guide you through the process. At Belén Law Firm you will have a clear explanation of the law in terms that you will understand.

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What are the Penalties for a DUI in Arizona?

A DUI in Arizona is generally considered a misdemeanor in most cases. However, DUI penalties ultimately vary by the facts of the case, prior convictions, and the driver’s blood alcohol content. For example, a first time DUI punishment won’t as severe as a third DUI conviction. Also, as you can imagine, DUI offenders with a BAC of 0.15% will face harsher penalties than those with a BAC of 0.09%.

When you are arrested and charged with a DUI, your license will be taken and you will receive a temporary license that allows you to drive for 15 days. If you are under the age of 21 and you have any alcohol in your system, you may lose your license for at least two years, along with other punishments.

After you are arrested for a DUI, you will be taken to jail or to a crime lab to test further for drugs and alcohol. After this, you will typically be released for someone to pick you up. In more serious cases, you will be booked into jail. At the time of your DUI arrest, police will confiscate your license and issue you a temporary license, valid until your hearing date. Law enforcement will notify the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) of the arrest, which will initiate license suspension.

You will receive a notice of your arrest and order of suspension, which will include the date of your hearing and information about requesting a license suspension civil hearing. In Arizona, you only have 15 days to request this hearing. If you do not request this hearing, you lose your only opportunity to contest the suspension of your driving privileges. When your court date arrives, you will appear before a judge to hear a formal reading of your charge. Then, the judge will ask you how you would like to plead.

What Happens After a First-Offense DUI in Arizona?

Like we mentioned before, the penalty for a DUI varies based on the blood alcohol level and prior conviction. For a first-time offense with BAC between 0.08% and 0.149%, you will receive 1 to 10 consecutive days in jail. You may also pay a fine of no less than $1250, alcohol and drug screening/education/treatment, and the installation of a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate. You may also be ordered to do community service.

First-time DUI convictions can be more severe with the increase of BAC over 0.15%. For a BAC over 0.15% to 0.199% there is a minimum jail sentence of 30 consecutive days. Fines could reach up to $3000, and your driver’s license suspended for up to 90 days. There will be an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for one year.

For a BAC of at least .20%, there is a minimum of 45 consecutive days in jail. The fines increase to $3250, and a DUI of this kind also carries a 90-day license suspension.

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What if I Had a Prior DUI Charge?

Arizona punishes individuals with prior DUI offenses more harshly. For subsequent DUI convictions, each penalty increases. Second-time offenders may face jail time between 30 to 90 days and a fine, depending on your BAC at the time of the arrest. The state could also revoke your drivers license for one year.

A third DUI within seven years is a felony DUI in Arizona. It carries a mandatory prison sentence of at least four months, license revoked for one year, a two-year ignition interlock device requirement, and over $4000 in fines and assessments.

Elevated DUI Charges

Under Arizona DUI laws, DUI convictions are classified in four different degrees of offense. These include a general DUI charge as well as aggravated, extreme, and super extreme DUIs. The charges can be elevated from a regular DUI if the following apply:

  • Your BAC is above 0.15%;
  • Minor is in the vehicle;
  • You have prior convictions;
  • And many other conditions.

If you are under the age of 21 and you have any alcohol in your system, you may lose your license for at least two years, along with other punishments.

Aggravated DUI

An aggravated DUI is a felony. It is applied when a person commits a DUI when they have a suspended, revoked, or canceled license. A person can also be charged with an aggravated DUI if they’ve committed a third DUI in the span of 84 months or with an ignition interlock device requirement in place. Additionally, if you have an interlock device and refuse to submit a BAC or if you are driving under the influence with a minor in the vehicle, that is automatically an aggravated DUI.

The criminal penalties for an aggravated DUI in Arizona will include mandatory prison time for at least two years, your license revoked for a year, and an ignition interlock device being placed in your vehicle. You will also be required to do community service and alcohol or drug screening/treatment and education. For second or subsequent offenses, the potential penalties increase in severity. The Motor Vehicle Department can revoke a license for 3 years when a person has at least one aggravated DUI conviction in combination with any other DUI conviction.

Extreme DUI

An extreme DUI charge occurs when a driver is found to have a BAC of 0.15% or higher.

An extreme DUI is also a misdemeanor charge unless subsequent charges pile up within seven years. For a first-offense extreme DUI charge, you could face 30 to 45 days in jail, be required to pay fines of up to $2500, and Arizona could suspend your license for up to a year. Your vehicle will also be required to have an ignition interlock device. There will also be drug and alcohol screening and treatment, and you may be required to perform community service, as well.

Second time offenders may face extreme DUI penalties carrying a minimum jail sentence of 120 days to up to 180 days in jail. There will be fines of no less than $3250, the state may revoke your license for up to a year, an ignition interlock device will go on your vehicle, and the state will require you to attend alcohol treatment and education courses.

Super Extreme DUI

A super extreme DUI consists of a BAC of .20% or greater.

A first super extreme DUI charge requires the offender to pay a $3,250 fine, along with other fees and jail costs. A super extreme DUI penalty includes 6 months in jail, driver’s license suspension for at least a year,  and an ignition interlock device for at least 2 years.

A second super extreme DUI conviction, after any previous DUI conviction, carries a $3,750 fine along with other fees and jail costs. You will be given at least 6 months in jail and driving privileges will be suspended for at least a year. Additionally, an ignition interlock device will be installed for a minimum of 24 months.

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Do I Need a DUI Defense Lawyer for a First Offense DUI?

As you can see, Arizona’s DUI laws can be complex, and penalties for drivers convicted can be harsh–even for first-time offenders. A DUI conviction can not only impact your driving privileges, but it can also cause problems with your job and other personal areas of your life. Many factors will be taken into consideration by the judge or jury, so it’s important to have an experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney on your side to help tip the scales in your favor.

At Belén Law Firm, we have years of experience handling even the most complex DUI cases. Our DUI attorneys will review all the evidence in your case and work to build a strong defense for you. Call 602-715-0908 today or complete our online intake form to learn more and schedule a free consultation. Put your future into the right hands with Belén Law Firm.