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Understanding Arizona DUI Laws: What Are Your Legal Options After Being Arrest?
Being arrested for DUI is never a good thing, and it can be even more stressful if it happens in Arizona. Phoenix is governed by Arizona DUI laws, which many consider to be the strictest in the nation. Among hefty fines, community service, driver’s license penalties, and orders to use an ignition interlock device, a DUI conviction in Arizona also comes with mandatory jail time. The steps you take after your arrest are crucial in reducing the amount of penalties you face. For most people charged with DUI, one of these steps is finding a skilled, dependable defense attorney. While you will be appointed a public defender by the court if you wish, you also have the right to seek out your own legal counsel. For your free consultation with our experienced Arizona DUI lawyers, call 480-833-8000 or click here.
Many states have a clear-cut legal limit for alcohol while driving, which is measured by BAC, or blood alcohol content. In Arizona, the legal limit varies based on certain factors. One of these is if you are of legal drinking age. If you are under the age of 21, the legal limit in Arizona is 0.00. You can be charged with an underaged DUI if you have even trace amounts of liquor in your system. While you might not have to go to jail if convicted of an Arizona “baby” DUI, your driver’s license could be suspended for 2 years if convicted. For some, this could be a harsher penalty than a night or two in jail. A “baby” DUI should be taken just as seriously as a standard one.
If you have a CDL and are driving a commercial vehicle in Arizona, the legal limit is .04. Many people assume otherwise, the legal limit in Arizona is .08. However, that is only the BAC at which you are presumed to be under the influence. If your BAC reads between .04 and .079 and the officer determines that you are under the influence, you can be arrested and charged with DUI in Arizona.
You will face heavier charges- and penalties- if you are arrested with a particularly high BAC. You will be charged with Extreme DUI if your BAC is .15-.19 at the time of arrest. If you are arrested with a BAC of .20 or higher, you will be charged with Super Extreme DUI. These charges come with increasingly harsher penalties than a standard DUI conviction.
Arizona DUI Penalties
A DUI conviction in some states may hardly have any impact on your life. That’s not the case in Arizona. For a first-time standard DUI, the minimum jail sentence is 10 days (but up to 9 can be suspended). Your fines will be at least $1,250, you will need to install an ignition interlock device (IID), and complete drug and alcohol screening and treatment as well as community service. For an Extreme DUI, the penalties are upped to 30 days in jail and at least $2,500 in fines. You can expect even higher penalties for a first-time Super Extreme or Aggravated DUI conviction in Arizona.
You will face even harsher penalties if you are convicted a second, third, etc., DUI in Arizona. For a second standard DUI conviction in Arizona, the minimum jail sentence is 90 days, and the minimum fine is $3,000. Your driver’s license will also be revoked for 12 months. If you are convicted of a second or subsequent higher-level DUI, the minimum jail sentence is 120 days, or 4 months. The fines for this conviction will start at $3,250. For more information about Arizona’s DUI penalties, click here.
What Are My Options When Facing An Arizona DUI?
Arizona DUI charges aren’t a problem you can just run away from. After your arrest, you’ll need a plan of action. Some of your options include:
- Pleading no contest: Nolo contendere, or no contest, essentially means you are choosing not to fight the charges against you. It has the same result as a guilty plea.
- Pleading guilty: If the evidence against you is stacked, it may not be worth it to take your case to trial. A guilty plea helps you avoid the time and stress of trial, and the judge might be more lenient with your penalties for not wasting court resources.
- Pleading innocent: Going to trial can be risky, but given the right facts and evidence, can be worth the risk. Your defense attorney will let you know the possible outcomes based on your specific circumstances.
- Plea bargaining: Sometimes, a defense lawyer can strike up a deal with prosecution regarding their client. This involves the defendant pleading guilty to charges that are less serious than those they already face.
Should I Accept a Plea Bargain?
We can’t say for certain whether you should accept a plea bargain without detailed information about your case. The prosecutor could actually be offering you a plea bargain because they don’t have confidence in the evidence they have against you. Your plea bargain may not be that advantageous given your previous convictions or lack thereof. You should always review a plea bargain with a qualified defense attorney before signing.
There are several advantages to taking a plea bargain. Knowing which consequences you will endure can make the whole process less stressful. It can also speed up the process, and reduce the amount of hearings and other court functions that you must attend. This can be especially useful when you have to wait in jail until your next hearing. It is also useful if you are paying your defense attorney by the hour. Some plea bargains truly allow you to reduce the severity of your charges and penalties. For example, pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge when facing a felony could be hugely beneficial. Not only does pleading guilty to a misdemeanor save you jail time and fines, but it can preserve your civil rights as well. Pleading guilty to a misdemeanor rather than being convicted of a felony allows you to retain your right to vote, run for office, own a firearm, and more.
There can also be cons to plea bargaining with prosecution. As mentioned earlier, prosecution may be offering you a deal because their case is weak. Pleading guilty to a crime that you would’ve been found innocent of at trial will leave a permanent mar on your criminal record. It could even jeopardize your career and driver’s and professional licensure. Review the potential for plea bargaining in your case by calling our Phoenix DUI team at 480-833-8000.
Arizona DUI Expertise With Payment Plans Starting As Low As ZERO DOWN
The initial savings of defending yourself against a DUI using a public defender (or even representing yourself) could cost you far more in the end, both financially and otherwise. Our Phoenix DUI team has helped countless Arizona DUI defendants go up against serious charges and come out on the other side with a favorable outcome. Whether we negotiate you an advantageous plea bargain or take your case all the way to trial, you can be sure that our entire team will be there with you every step of the way. To get started with your FREE and confidential initial consultation, call our office at 480-833-8000.
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