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Arizona  DUI Laws and Defense

After a few alcoholic beverages, many people feel falsely confident that they are sober enough to drive home. This creates unnecessary danger on the road, which is why Arizona has strict laws against drinking and driving. However, anyone arrested for DUI in Arizona is still entitled to zealous advocacy when it comes to their legal defense. For thorough and compassionate lawyers with the experience to render a favorable outcome in your case, call 480-448-9800.

What is the Legal Definition of a DUI?

DUI stands for driving under the influence, and is sometimes used interchangeably with DWI, or driving while intoxicated. DUI doesn’t just apply to alcohol- a person can be arrested for driving under the influence of any intoxicating substance in Arizona, including legal substances like marijuana and some prescription medications.

Many people assume the legal limit is .08, like in many other states. However, there are some intricacies to how the legal BAC (blood alcohol limit) limit works while driving in Arizona. A driver under 21 years old can be arrested for any trace amount of liquor in their system while driving. The legal limit for a CDL, or commercial driver’s license (while operating a commercial vehicle) is .04. In Arizona, you can also be arrested and charged with DUI- impaired to the slightest degree if you have a BAC between .04 and .079 and the officer perceives you to be too intoxicated to operate a vehicle.


DUI attorney answers Frequently asked questions

ANSWER: A DUI, or driving under the influence, is also commonly referred to as a DWI in Arizona. In Arizona, if your BAC (blood alcohol content) is above .08%, you will presumed to be intoxicated. For a BAC between .04% and .079%, the officer can use their discretion to decide if the driver was intoxicated. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04%, and drivers under the age of 21 can be arrested for any BAC above 0.

ANSWER: There are three types of DUI: DUI, Extreme DUI, and Aggravated DUI. A DUI is categorized as extreme if the driver’s BAC was 0.15% or higher. The minimum penalties for an Extreme DUI are much higher than a normal DUI- for example, the base fine for a normal DUI is $1,250 while the base fine for an Extreme DUI is $2,500.

There are four situations in which you can be charged with Aggravated DUI: (1) You are arrested for DUI while driving on a suspended, revoked, etc. license; (2) There is someone under the age of 15 in the vehicle with you; (3) it is your 3rd DUI in 84 months; and (4) if you refuse to submit to blood testing while driving with an interlock device. The penalties for an Aggravated DUI are even stricter than those for an Extreme DUI.

ANSWER: Going with a court-appointed public defender works for some people. If you are worried about how a DUI will affect your job, jail time, the fines, or restrictions on your driver’s license, hiring an attorney is the best way to ensure that your case goes as smoothly as possible.

ANSWER: While you are driving, officers may look for signs of intoxication such as swerving, speeding or driving too slow, failing to use turn signals or headlights, sudden braking, etc. If you are pulled over, the police offer will likely be eyeing you for slurred words, red eyes, and alcoholic odor. At this point, the officer will likely ask you to take a field sobriety test.

ANSWER: Be sure that you understand the difference between a field sobriety test and a blood/urine test. Field sobriety tests include standing on one leg, walking in a line, saying the alphabet backwards, etc. You can politely refuse to take one of these tests with no consequences. However, refusing to take a blood test can result in serious consequences. Even if you are acquitted at trial, the DMV can suspend your license for one year if you refuse to take a blood test.

ANSWER: The cost of hiring an attorney will vary on the jurisdiction, the severity of your charges, and other factors that apply on a case-by-case basis. If you want to hire a private attorney while remaining on a budget, you should seek out attorneys that offer free consultations, affordable retainers, and payment plan options. Don’t let the cost of hiring an attorney deter you- you may save the cost of the attorney or more if they are able to negotiate down your fines.

ANSWER: When you are arrested, the police are supposed to read you your Miranda Rights (“You have the right to remain silent…”). Your case will not automatically be dismissed if the arresting officers fail to read you your Miranda Rights. However, evidence such as statements made to police after your arrest may be excluded from trial.

ANSWER: You can choose to represent yourself, use a court-appointed public defender, or hire a private attorney. If you choose to represent yourself, you will save money on a retainer but may not be able to negotiate down your charges as an attorney would. Attorneys may also find defenses based on procedural errors in your case of which you might not have been aware. You should schedule a consultation to discuss your case with an attorney and learn the variety of options available to you.

ANSWER: Arizona has the strictest DUI penalties in the nation. Arizona is one of the only states that has mandatory jail time for all, even first time, DUI arrests. Your license will be suspended, there are mandatory base fines that increase based on circumstances, and you will have to have an interlock installed on your vehicle’s ignition.

ANSWER: Your license will be suspended for at least 90 days, and up to a year, after your first DUI offense. Subsequent arrests carry a mandatory one year license suspension.

ANSWER: If the police determine that you have intent to drive, you can be arrested for DUI even in a parked car. This doesn’t just apply to someone sitting in the car outside the bar deciding if they should drive or call an Uber. You can also be arrested for sleeping in your car if you are intoxicated.

ANSWER: Yes. The DUI laws in Arizona are written to include any intoxicating substance, not just alcohol. This means you can be arrested for non-alcoholic drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines. You can also be arrested for DUI for prescription medications, even if you are prescribed by a doctor, if they affect your ability to drive.

ANSWER: Driving a vehicle is a privilege, not a right. When you applied for a received your driver’s license, you gave implied consent to be tested to prove your sobriety while on the road. While there are constitutional restrictions on what a police officer can and can’t do during a DUI checkpoint, they aren’t unconstitutional by nature.

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What Kind of Conviction is a DUI?

Most DUI convictions in Arizona are misdemeanors. Don’t let this fool you- a misdemeanor is still a serious conviction to have on your record. A misdemeanor can result in jail time, and in fact is mandatory for a DUI conviction. There are also certain circumstances that could elevate your arrest to felony DUI charges. Consulting with an attorney experienced in Arizona DUI law is crucial when facing a conviction. An attorney at our top rated law firm can provide you with legal options and advice for your specific case.

The factors that aggravate a DUI into a felony in Arizona are:

· Driving the wrong way down a freeway

· Having a passenger under 15

· 3rd DUI charge in 7 years

· Driving on a license that is suspended, revoked, or canceled

· Driving with ignition interlock device installed (or ordered to be installed)

How Does Plea Bargaining Work?

In some DUI cases, there are one or more strong defenses available that can get evidence excluded, which could lead to a case dismissal or a not guilty verdict. In other instances, the evidence in your defense may not be so convincing. Here, it may be advantageous for your defense lawyer to negotiate with prosecution for a plea deal.

In a plea bargain, you will plead guilty to a lesser charge. This usually involves lower penalties and certainty about them, and the possibility of avoiding jail time. Oftentimes, our lawyers will negotiate for our clients’ DUI charges to be reduced to reckless driving charges. While still a serious traffic offense, this conviction doesn’t come with mandatory jail time and is far less damaging to your record.


What is the Difference Between a Dismissal and a Not Guilty Verdict?

Many of our clients come to us with the goal of a dismissal or a not guilty verdict. They will impact your life similarly but are technically two different things. A dismissal is when prosecution drops the charges against you or stops pursuing criminal charges. A not guilty verdict is obtained when your case goes all the way to trial. You will be declared not guilty if the prosecution can’t get all 12 jurors to agree that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If you plead guilty at your arraignment, you won’t be able to pursue a not guilty verdict at trial. Before making any pleas or deals with prosecution, have them first reviewed by an experienced Arizona defense attorney. Call 480-448-9800 for your free consultation today.

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Arizona DUI Court-Appointed Programs

Beyond the standard jail time, fees, and other penalties you will face if convicted of a DUI in Arizona, there are also some court-appointed programs you will need to complete. Anyone convicted of DUI in Arizona will need to complete drug and alcohol screening and treatment. A DUI conviction will also mean at least 8 points on your driving record, which necessitates defensive driving school. You will also need to complete community service- the court typically orders at least 30 hours. Depending on the specific circumstances of your case, you may also be attended to order courses such as anger management or

parenting classes. Enrolling in these programs of your own volition can sometimes be used as a factor for leniency in your penalties.

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