- Education and Science
Arizona DUI Penalties 2013
Arizona is known for having some of the toughest DUI laws in the United States. The conservative population has historically voted in favor of increasingly strict laws with regards to driving under the influence of alcohol which has allowed politicians to pass a series of new bills of the course over the last several years. Being charged with an alcohol-related offense in the state of Arizona is serious business and can have far-reaching consequences for your career, insurance premiums, and your driver's license.
Chances are that if you are reading this article, you, a friend, or a family member who charged with driving under the influence. The information below represents a summary of the current Arizona laws in 2011 at the time of this writing and will give you a general idea of what penalties are in place. Each individual case is different and you should direct specific legal questions to an experienced AZ attorney.
DUI with BAC Over .08 or Impaired to the Slightest Degree
There are several levels assigned to offenses that involve operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of of alcohol in Arizona and many people are confused by what each one means. The first level of DUI is assigned to people with a blood alcohol content above a .08 or those who are considered "impaired to the slightest degree". For those of you who are paying close attention, you may have already realized that it is possible to get a DUI in the state of Arizona even if your blood alcohol content falls below the published legal limit. If that point alone isn't enough to convince you that you should never operate a motor vehicle in Arizona after having consumed even the smallest amount of an alcoholic beverage, you will definitely want to read further.
The penalties for a first time offense on the charge above includes a minimum of ten days in jail with the possibility of as many as 180 and a twelve month mandatory ignition interlock device in your vehicle. In addition to the jail time, fines of up to $2,000 plus the cost of any jail time assigned are assessed. You read that correctly, you are required to pay the cost of your own incarceration! The penalties don't stop there either, after all is said and done; you will still be facing a 90 day driver's license suspension from MVD as well. If you happen to have multiple offenses, be prepared for a minimum of 90 days in jail and almost double the fines!
Arizona Extreme DUI
While many states don't divide cases into multiple classifications, Arizona has penalties that differ based on the amount of alcohol in your system when you are arrested. If you were caught driving a motor vehicle while seriously impaired (what most people traditionally consider drunk driving), the penalties increase sharply. The state classifies an Extreme DUI as a case where the accused individual has a blood alcohol content between a .15 and a.199. These cases have a more severe set of penalties including anywhere from 30 to 180 days in jail, a mandatory ignition interlock device after driver's license reinstatement, and fines that start at $3,000.
Arizona Super Extreme DUI Cases
This is considered to be one of the most severe cases of DUI assigned to drivers who are seriously impaired at the time of arrest. This class of offense in AZ is reserved for those whose blood alcohol content comes back higher than .20. The penalty currently involves between 45 and 180 days in jail, an interlock device for 18 months, $3250 fines plus the cost of your own jail, and a 90 day driver's license suspension. This is an extremely serious charge and one you will want to make sure you have adequate legal representation for as a good attorney can make the difference between several weeks and well over a year of potential jail time.
If you have two or more DUI convictions within the past seven years or you happen to get charged with a new offense while driving on a suspended license, you need to be concerned with a potential Aggravated DUI. A conviction for this type of infraction is classified as a felony and carries a penalty of 4 months prison, up to $150,000 in fines, a 3 year license revocation, and up to 5 year probation. An individual could also end up facing an Aggravated DUI charge if caught driving under the influence of alcohol while transporting a child under the age of 15 in your vehicle.
What to do if you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol in Arizona?
With the current AZ DUI laws and penalties being as complex as they are, it is important that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you in your case. This is a valuable step that will help minimize any damage that is done to your career or personal reputation. Not all DUI attorneys are created equally! There are some law firms that specialize in alcohol-related cases while others take on cases in a variety of different areas.
As a general rule, it is a good idea to select an attorney that spends the majority of his or her time working with Arizona cases. Be sure to look at track record as well. You want to make sure that the attorney or law firm you are considering has a positive track record of success in similar cases. Be realistic about your expectations! Don't expect that a law firm will promise that you can go to trial and be found not guilty or have your case dismissed. If the state has a strong case against you, your best option may be to have your attorney negotiate a plea offer or mitigated sentence that will limit your exposure. The reputation of the law firm you choose should be the number one factor in making your decision.
A conviction is a very serious matter and this is not the time to sacrifice quality in favor of saving a few dollars. Most lawyers charge similar fees for representation on cases that involve driving under the influence of alcohol. Price should only play a role in your decision if you are evaluating two attorneys with very similar reputations. As a final thought, be sure to ask plenty of questions and make sure you understand exactly what is included when a DUI attorney gives you a price quote. Be sure to ask if the fee includes going to trial if it becomes necessary and handling your MVD matters such as driver's license reinstatement.
Don't be afraid to speak with several different law firms before you make a hiring decision. If a lawyer will not take the time to discuss your case while you are shopping around, move on to the next one as it is usually a sign that the person is either overloaded with business or does not take your case seriously. Both of these situations should be red flags in your search for quality representation. A great attorney will take the time to learn about your case, and seek the best possible outcome for you and your family.