Locating A DUI In The State Of Arizona

Candace Lightner and Senator Michael Barnes
Candace Lightner and Senator D- MD Michael Barnes. Candace Lightner worked with Michael Barnes and other legislators to change drunk driving laws countrywide. Lightner lost her daughter, Cari, to a drunk driver that had just been released from his 4th offense, and hit Cari as she was walking to a church event.

A DUI, defined as the criminal act of operating a vehicle while “under the influence of liquor or any drugs,” is a serious offense in the state of Arizona. Police reports generated during the arrest,court records that result in conviction, and arrest records of the resulting incarceration are all a matter of public record. Searching for, obtaining, and studying these records are a public right under Arizona’s Public Records Law, and can be easily obtained through a number of arrest and criminal record search websites.

DUIs in Arizona cover multiple categories of infractions. A DUI can occur when a driver operates a vehicle while under the influence of either drugs or alcohol, and a test results in a blood alcohol concentration or drug content level (BADC) of .08 or higher. Drivers with a Commercial Drivers License face more stringent laws, and can incur a DUI with a BADC of just .04. Minors can also be charged with impaired driving while any alcohol or drugs are detected in a BADC.

If charged with a DUI, a driver may face penalties that aim to prevent them from driving while intoxicated. Arizona divides DUIs based on the seriousness of the offense, and the penalties also vary.

Ronald Reagan and Michael Jackson launch a drunk driving campaign in 1984
Standard DUIs BADC higher than .08 but lower than .15

First time offenders can expect to be jailed for a minimum of 10 consecutive days and fines up $1,250 and up. They are also required to undergo alcohol screening, education, and treatment. In addition, their vehicle will be fitted with a certified ignition interlock device, and be ordered to serve a certain amount of community service. They also face a license suspension for up to 90 days.

For second time or repeat offenders, the penalties increase sharply. Jail time increases to 90 days minimum with an option for home detention, fines of $3,000 or more, and a license revocation for one year. Alcohol screening, education and treatment all apply, as does the ignition interlock device.


Extreme DUIs apply when BADC is higher than .15

First time offenders face jail time of 30 consecutive days or more with no option for probation or suspended sentence. Fines will start at $2,500, and offenders must participate in drug and alcohol screening, education, and treatment. Extreme DUI offenders must also perform community service, and submit to the installation of an ignition interlock device.

For second or subsequent offenses, offenders are jailed for a minimum of 120 days, fined a minimum of $3,250, and face license revocation for one year. Alcohol screening, education, and treatment programs still apply, as does the mandatory installation of a ignition interlock device and community service time.


Super Extreme DUIsexist in Arizona, and are for offenders with a .20 blood alcohol content.

Offenders in this category face 18 months with an ignition interlock device, a minimum of 45 days in jail, mandatory inclusion on a public list of DUI offenders and criminal record databases, all in addition to the penalties that accompany the type of DUI committed.


Aggravated DUI is a final, special, category of DUIs in Arizona.

Punishments for this level of DUI are jail of up to two years, license revocation for one year, alcohol screening, education, and treatment, mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device, community service, and any other penalties associated with the type of DUI committed. They apply under special circumstances such as:

  • – If the offender commits a DUI while their license is suspended, revoked or cancelled.
  • – If a person commits a third DUI within 84 months of the first DUI.
  • – If a person commits a DUI while a person under the age of 15 is in the vehicle.
  • – If a person commits a DUI after refusing to submit a blood alcohol content test to their certified ignition interlock device.
  • – If, due to certain circumstances (such as injuring another person or motorist), the judge decides to include aggravated DUI as part of the sentence.


President Ronald Reagan signs legislation to change the national drinking age from 18 to 21
President Ronald Reagan signs legislation to change the national drinking age from 18 to 21.
Candace Lightner shares the story of the creation of MADD, arguably the most influential anti-drunk driving organization.

Arizona has infamously, and famously enacted some of the harshest anti-drunk driving laws in the country, and regularly doles out heavy fines and mandatory jail time, occasionally even for first time offenders.

The goal of this, according to attorneys operating in the state is to deter potential drunk drivers with the harsh laws. According to the personal-finance website WalletHub, Arizona is number one for criminal penalty severity for DUI offenders, and number 2 in DUI prevention. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation, the state experienced nearly 5000 alcohol related crashes in 2015, with 266 fatalities relating to those crashes. From the total 811 fatal crashes in Arizona in 2015, DUI related fatalities accounted for 33 percent.

From 1981 to 1986, under pressure from such advocacy groups as the Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Arizona’s legislature passed over 50 pieces of legislation to make DUI laws much harsher than they had been for over 70 years. Besides raising the minimum drinking age to 21, the two biggest changes that were enacted were that now DUI offenders would be prosecuted with the intent to convict, and that blood alcohol content (BADC) tests would determine if a driver was intoxicated, rather than the loose definition that had existed up to the point. Even determining a driver’s BADC was difficult initially. The first portal device to see field use was called the “drunkometer” and consisted of a rubber balloon filled with reactive chemicals that would change when coming into contact a drunk driver’s breath. This would finally be replaced by the more standard Breathalyzer in 1954.