Every day, 29 people across the United States die in a motor vehicle crash that involves a driver who was impaired by alcohol. Drinking and driving-related motor vehicle crashes in general account for 28% of all traffic-related fatalities in our country. Each state is responsible for creating its own laws for DUI’s. With national statistics like these, no wonder states like Arizona have cracked down on drinking and driving-related crimes. Especially for cases like extreme DUI’s. It has been a combined effort at the federal and state levels. Including nonprofits and citizen advocacy groups, to reduce the threat of impaired driving on our roadways.
Arizona has some of the toughest laws in the nation when it comes to driving under the influence of crimes. For example, the DUI charge stays on your driving record. The punishments are strong, designed to deter everyone from drinking and driving by letting the public know that if they are found guilty of breaking the law, a harsh punishment awaits them. In fact, because of the state DUI laws, Arizona is No. 1 in the nation for criminal penalties and No. 2 in DUI prevention among the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The Difference Between DUI, Extreme & Super Extreme DUI Arizona
Getting a driver’s license is considered a privilege – meaning it is not something you are entitled to or guaranteed. To get a driver’s license in Arizona, you have to apply. On the application form, you say you agree (consent) to a test for blood alcohol concentration or drug content (BADC). Especially, if you are arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This is known as the Implied Consent Law. It is held against you in criminal court and also administratively if upon arrest you do not consent to the tests the officer requests you submit to.
Like many crimes, there are tiers of severity for drinking and driving laws. We’re here to break it down and help you make sense of the complexities of Arizona DUI laws:
Driving Under the Influence to the Slightest Degree
Many people think .08 is the legal limit in Arizona and if they are under that, they cannot be found guilty of a crime. That is not always the case. Driving Under the Influence to the Slightest Degree fills what would otherwise be a loophole – it applies when someone refuses an alcohol test so there is no reading or when the alcohol concentration is under .08.
The crime is driving while alcohol impairs your normal coordination to even the slightest degree so if there are indicators that show alcohol is impairing that (slurred speech, difficulty standing or walking, erratic driving, the odor of alcohol on your breath, inability to perform standardized field sobriety tests the officer administers on the side of the road, etc.) then a judge or jury can still find you guilty. Additionally, if someone is under 21 years old, it is illegal for them to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. Period.
Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
If you are caught driving with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more then you can be convicted of DUI. This is known as the “legal limit.” As we said above, that technically, is not the cut off. If you are impaired even the slightest degree by drugs or alcohol, you can still be convicted of DUI. If you drive a commercial vehicle the threshold is even lower, at .04. Which makes sense, because driving a large truck is even more of a threat to public safety if someone is under the influence.
Extreme DUI is the next tier in severity for drinking and driving crimes. To be found guilty of extreme DUI, your alcohol concentration is .15 to less than .20 while driving a motor vehicle.
SUPER EXTREME DUI
Super Extreme DUI – sounds intense, right? That is because it is. If you are found to have an alcohol concentration of .20 or more while driving a motor vehicle, then you can be convicted of Super Extreme DUI.
Criminal & Administrative Penalties
What many people do not realize is that when they are arrested and charged with DUI, there are actually two separate proceedings: (1) criminal court where they face jail time and fines and (2) administrative hearings where they face additional fines and suspension or revocation of their drivers license and installation of ignition interlock in their car. We will start with the criminal charges and the potential penalties you face when charged. Then, we’ll explain the administrative side. Each case is different so the penalties imposed depend on the circumstances surrounding each case. The following information is a general guideline of what you are facing if you are found guilty of DUI.
DUI Penalties DUI
For a first offense where there is an alcohol concentration of .08-.10. There is a mandatory minimum of 10 consecutive days in jail, 9 months suspended (not active jail time but if you violate probation you are facing 9 months in jail) and a minimum fine of $1,600. Arizona is one of a few states that has a mandatory minimum for first-time offenders. This means if you are found guilty, a judge will send you to jail for at least 10 consecutive days. Plus, you’ll have to pay fine of at least $1,600. Harsh? Yes. The judge can give you more than that too, but that is the minimum you will be faced with.
Additionally, you will have to have a substance abuse screening (SAS), attend a substance abuse education and treatment program, and potentially be ordered to complete court-ordered community service. For a second offense or more, there is a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail, 90 days suspended,l and a minimum fine of $3,500, SAS, and perform more court-ordered community service. Again, the judge can give you more, but that is the minimum you will have imposed.
For a first offense, you will be required to have an ignition interlock installed in every vehicle you drive for 1 year. Ignition interlock is a breath alcohol measuring device that requires you to blow into it before your car will start. If it detects alcohol, your car will not turn on and you will not be able to drive. If you are later found driving a car without it installed and it was ordered to be installed, you will be criminally and administratively charged.
A mandatory 90-day suspension of your license occurs and if you refused an alcohol test, it is a 1-year suspension. This is often one of the most difficult penalties people face because if your license is suspended, you are not allowed to drive. Losing the ability to drive makes life extremely difficult. For example, how do you pick up your children from school, get to and from work, run errands, etc?
Penalties for Extreme DUI
For a first offense where your alcohol concentration is .15-.20. You will be ordered to serve a minimum of 30 days in jail and to pay a fine of at least $2,800. You will be required to complete SAS, education, and treatment, and potentially court-ordered community service. Again, the judge can give you more, but that is the minimum you will have imposed. For a second or subsequent offense, the mandatory minimum jail time is 120 days and a fine of at least $3,800.
Administrative Penalties: You will be required to install an ignition interlock on all vehicles you drive for 1 year. For a second or subsequent offense, you will face administrative hearings where you will have your license revoked for up to 12 months.
Penalties for Super Extreme DUI
If you are convicted of a Super Extreme DUI, meaning your alcohol concentration is over .20, you will be ordered to serve a minimum of 45 days in jail for a first offense. In addition to that, you’ll pay a fine of $3,300. You will be required to complete alcohol screening, education, and treatment, and potentially court-ordered community service. Again, the judge can give you more, but that is the minimum you will have imposed. For a second or subsequent offense, the imposed mandatory jail time increases to 180 days in jail and a minimum fine of $4,700.
Administrative Penalties: You will be required to install an ignition interlock on all vehicles you drive for 18 months. For a second offense, you will be required to install an ignition interlock for 2 years. Your license will be suspended and for a second or subsequent offense, you will face administrative hearings where you will have your license revoked for up to 12 months.
AZ Aggravated DUI – A Felony
Until now, we have been analyzing Arizona’s misdemeanor DUI laws. But there are actually some felony drinking and driving laws on the books in Arizona as well. Aggravated DUI is when someone:
- Commits a DUI while their license is suspended, revoked or canceled;
- Commits a third or more DUI within 84 months;
- Commits a drinking and driving-related crime with a child in the car, which is defined as 15 years old or under; or
- Commits a DUI while going the wrong way.
For a first offense, you will be ordered to serve up to 3 years in prison and a fine of at least $4,500. Other penalties include the potential of court-ordered community service, and rehabilitation through alcohol screening, education, and treatment. For second or subsequent offenses the potential penalties increase in severity.
Administrative Penalties: For a first offense, your license will be revoked for at least a year and you will be required to have an ignition interlock installed on all vehicles you drive for at least 2 years.
Consult with a DUI attorney in Flagstaff (Northern Arizona)
If you are charged with a DUI in Flagstaff, AZ, you need a DUI law attorney. An attorney who knows the ins and outs of criminal proceedings and administrative proceedings. If you are charged with driving while drunk in Flagstaff, you need to hire an experienced DUI attorney. Arizona is one of the toughest states on DUI in the nation so please take it seriously if you are charged. A DUI conviction can impact your life for years; a second conviction can be even worse. Jail time, heavy court-ordered fines, paying for alcohol screening/education/treatment, fees imposed administratively, paying for ignition interlock, loss of your license, and also car insurance rates going up or even potentially becoming uninsurable. The list goes on and on.
Charged With A DUI?
Just because you have been charged with a DUI, does not mean you will be convicted of the crime. Depending on the circumstances of your case, it may be possible to prevent a conviction. Even if you are convicted, a DUI lawyer can help you present yourself to the court. The best opportunity for getting fines reduced, jail time suspended, less time on probation, and more.
Do You Need a DUI Lawyer?
Do you need a DUI lawyer? Yes. The worst thing you can do is try to represent yourself. You may be thinking that you don’t want to spend money on a lawyer when the DUI charges are adding up. But a DUI lawyer can help you by potentially getting the charges acquitted. In addition to advising you on how to dress and act while in court in the best light possible.
Get the Defense You Deserve
The courts have little sympathy for people convicted of DUI in Flagstaff, AZ. With Uber and Lyft, they find there is little excuse for getting behind the wheel while impaired to any degree. The Arizona penalties for impaired driving are meant to be tough to deter people from committing crimes. Similarly, the punishment is meant to deter a repeat offense if you do break the law. Your best course of action is to be responsible. Always have a designated driver or call a taxi or other rideshare company to take you home safely.
We get that things happen in life, so if you are charged with DUI, the attorneys at the law office of Antol & Sherman are here to help you. We are committed to fighting for the rights of people accused of drunk driving in Flagstaff, Arizona. Our trial attorneys have significant experience representing those charged with DUI and we are where to fight for you. Contact us for a free consultation and we will get to work on your case!