If you are facing a DUI charge, you should be aware that the penalties in the event you are convicted will be life-altering. A conviction can affect your present job and future employment possibilities. How will you get to work, keep appointments, drive children and family members to school and other activities, go shopping, etc.? And what about the serious financial ramifications of fines and insurance surcharges? Finally, you may also be subject you to jail time, which would completely turn your life upside down.
What is DUI in Arizona?
The offense of DUI includes driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle:
- While under the influence of liquor or any drug, or a combination of the two, if you are impaired to the slightest degree; or
- If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more (0.04 in the case of commercial drivers); or
- While there is any drug (as defined in the statute) in your system.
Simple DUI, without more, is a class 1 misdemeanor, but as pointed out below, there are numerous situations that can affect the severity of the charge against you, and the potential penalties if you are convicted.
What are the Various DUI Offenses and the Possible Penalties?
The penalties for DUI vary depending upon a number of factors, including you prior driving history, your BAC, whether you were in an accident that caused an injury, and other factors. The following is a list of some of the possible circumstances, and the potential penalties, in the event you are convicted:
- First Offense (Misdemeanor) DUI. If have no prior DUI convictions within the past seven years (including out of state convictions for what would be DUI in Arizona) you are considered a first time offender. Note that the dates of the offenses, and not the convictions, are determinative in measuring this period. Provided there are no other aggravating factors in your case, such as an injury, a high BAC, or other circumstance, then you can generally expect a minimum 10-day jail sentence, although up to nine of those days can be suspended if you complete an alcohol/drug treatment, education or screening. You can also expect fines and assessments in the neighborhood of $2,000, as well as a surcharge on your insurance premiums. Your driver’s license will be suspended, probably for 90 days; it might be possible to obtain restricted driving privileges, which would require installation of an ignition interlock device in your car.
- Multiple DUI. If you have one or more prior conviction or convictions for DUI during the “lookback period” (84 months), the potential penalties will increase. For a second DUI, you can expect a year’s license suspension, jail time of 90 days (with a suspension of a portion of that time possible), and fines of perhaps $3,000. You will also be on probation for up to five years. If this is your third or subsequent DUI within seven years, you have moved from misdemeanor to felony DUI. This means that you can expect to spend months in state prison, and be susceptible to a three year license suspension, probation, increased fines and assessments, and other penalties.
- Extreme DUI. The range of penalties can be affected not only by your prior driving history, but also by your BAC. In Arizona, the law specifically addresses cases in which your BAC is 0.15 or more (about twice the legal limit) but less than 0.20 (extreme DUI) and cases in which your BAC is 0.20 or more (super extreme DUI). For an extreme DUI conviction, you will generally receive a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 30 days, with the possibility of the suspension of 21 of those days. You may be able to serve a few days of the balance in home detention, but you will spend a minimum of about six days in jail. Increased fines and other penalties will also apply. For super extreme DUI (a BAC of 0.20 or more), you will generally be subject to at least 45 days in jail, a treatment program (alcohol and/or drugs), additional fines and assessments, community service, and other penalties.
- DUI with Injury. If you are convicted of DUI, and your actions caused an injury to another person, you can be charged with a felony, with similar penalties as aggravated DUI (see below).
- DUI with Child Passenger. If you drive while you are impaired, have drugs in your system, or if you are over the legal limit for alcohol, and you have a passenger in your vehicle under the age of 15, you will be charged with a class 6 felony, and the presumptive sentence for the charge will be six months of incarceration.
- Aggravated DUI. The law in Arizona specifies that certain DUI offenses are felonies, and they are referred to as “aggravated DUI.” These offenses include DUI while (a) there is a minor passenger (under 15 years of age) in your vehicle, (b) you are under an order to have your vehicle equipped with an ignition interlock device, (c) this is your third or subsequent DUI conviction within the lookback period, or (d) your license is suspended, revoked, canceled, or otherwise restricted due to a prior DUI. These are class 4 felonies (except DUI with a minor passenger, which is a class 6 felony).
- Commercial DUI. If you are driving a commercial vehicle and are charged with DUI, the standard for a per se violation based upon your BAC is decreased from 0.08 to 0.04. This means that even without proving that you were impaired, a reading of 0.04 will constitute proof that you have violated the DUI law relating to commercial drivers. A conviction will, of course, subject you to many of the same penalties as any DUI conviction. However, you will also lose your commercial driver’s license for at least one year. For a second conviction, your CDL will be revoked for life!
- Underage DUI. The law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 in Arizona from driving a vehicle while there is any liquor in their body. So if you are a minor, and you have even a trace of alcohol in your system, you can be found guilty of underage drinking and driving without any evidence that you were in the least bit intoxicated.
- Boating Under the Influence. The offense of operating a motor craft involving alcohol or drugs (also known as operating under the influence, or OUI), is covered under a different set of statutes than DUI, but the nature of the offense, and the penalties, are largely the same. As with drugged and drunk driving cases, your case will be affected by factors such as whether you are charged with having a high BAC or prior convictions.
In addition to the penalties mentioned above, you may also be subject to community restitution, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, probation, alcohol monitoring and other sanctions.
Do I Need A Phoenix DUI Attorney?
If you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI, there are certain fundamental aspects of the process that you should understand. While every case is to some extent unique, remember that you are not required to speak to police officers or other law enforcement personnel. Nor are you required to consent to field sobriety tests. The question of whether to refuse a chemical test involves factors that go to the issue of probable cause, and that again is something that must be viewed on a case by case basis. However, if officers do have probable cause, and you refuse a chemical test, you are subject to what is known as an “implied consent” suspension or a suspension of your driving privilege for one year. During that year, you may be eligible for a restricted permit with breathalyzer for all but 45 days.
The most important thing you can do, however, if you are facing a DUI charge, is to contact an experienced lawyer. At the Law Offices of David A. Black, we represent clients charged with all types of DUI offenses on a regular basis. We understand the law, our experience in the area is significant, and as a former prosecutor, Mr. Black is uniquely situated to analyze the prosecutor’s case and to find weaknesses that he can exploit for the benefit of his clients.
Contact the DUI lawyer who has provided expert assistance to so many people charged with drunk and drugged driving. Help is only a phone call away. Call our office today at (480) 280-8028 for a free, confidential consultation regarding your case.February 21, 2013