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DUI In Arizona

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What is a DUI in Arizona?

In Arizona, the term DUI means "Driving Under the Influence". It refers to the offense of controlling a motor vehicle or driving while impaired by alcohol or other intoxicating substances. A DUI is deemed a serious offense according to the Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381. Being in physical control of a vehicle while impaired puts both the motorist and the other road users at risk.

The use of drugs, alcohol, or other vapor-releasing substances is likely to intoxicate or set a motorist's blood alcohol concentration over the prescribed Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit. Courts in Arizona penalize motorists found guilty of violating the state's road traffic laws. The penalties ascribed to offenders may include jail time, fines, and license suspension. Additionally, DUI charges are included in Arizona criminal records and may hinder the offender's attempts to find employment or access selected social services.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Arizona?

In Arizona, DUI means "Driving Under the Influence," while DWI stands for "Driving While Intoxicated". They are both criminal offenses that put road users at risk and have more similarities than disparities. The Arizona Revised Statutes do not distinguish between them or refer to DWI's as a separate offense.

Operating vehicles and related machinery while impaired by an intoxicating substance is regarded as a DUI in Arizona. The primary distinction between both offenses is that a DUI refers to a person's behavior evidenced by physical symptoms, driving manner, or even verbal admissions. The proof of a DWI usually lies in the blood alcohol content of a person.

Arizona DUI Laws

Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) 28-1381, otherwise called the Arizona DUI Statute, governs impaired driving in the state. According to this section, it is unlawful for a motorist in Arizona to drive or control a vehicle under the following conditions:

  • If the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a drug, or any vapor releasing substance that contains a toxic substance.
  • If the motorist has a 0.08% alcohol concentration or more within two hours of controlling the vehicle. The alcohol consumption here must result from alcohol that the person consumed either before or while driving
  • If cannabis, cocaine, or any other drug described in ARS 13-3402 is present in the body of the motorist operating the vehicle
  • If the person is a commercial driver and has an alcohol concentration of 0.04% or more

However, if the ingested substance is legal per state law and has been prescribed by a licensed medical practitioner, the motorist may be deemed not guilty of a DUI.

The Arizona Department of Transportation is responsible for issuing penalties for road traffic offenses. These penalties are often severe, depending on the gravity of the crime, and they include impounding vehicles, license renewal denial, or imposing hefty fines. Common offenses which the department issues punishment are:

  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license
  • The failure to pay fines for a traffic citation or appear in traffic court
  • Driving with a fictitious, canceled, or altered license
  • Refusal to stop at an accident scene

Individuals may also contact the department with further questions on actions that may amount to traffic offenses.

DUI Penalties in Arizona

In Arizona, DUI penalties primarily depend on the nature of the offense and the motorist's DUI or criminal history. DUI charges are also considered in categories including; DUI, Extreme DUI, and Aggravated or Felony DUI.

Regular DUI/DWI: For a regular DUI charge to stick, the driver must have a BAC of 0.08% - 0.149% or 0.04%+ for a commercial license. A person convicted of a DUI may, under the Arizona DUI Statute, face the following penalties for a regular DUI charge:

  • The convict shall serve a minimum jail sentence of one to ten days and is not eligible for the suspension of the sentence or probation.
  • The convict may be fined a minimum of $250
  • The court may order the convict to carry out community restitution.
  • The convict may be required to deposit an additional $500 with the State Treasurer in the Prison Construction and Operations Fund and $500 to the State Treasurer in the Public Safety Equipment Fund.
  • If the DUI involved intoxicating liquor, the law demands the installation of a certified Ignition Interlock Device in the culprit's vehicle. The device will stay in the vehicle for more than a year after the culprit completes alcohol, drug screening, education, or treatment program
  • The offender may be required to attend an approved Traffic Survival School

Extreme DUI: According to ARS 28-1382 a motorist is charged with extreme DUI if they have a BAC of 0.15 or higher. The minimum penalties for an extreme DUI are:

  • A minimum jail term of 30 days. There is no option of probation or suspended sentence for the convict
  • The convict will pay a minimum fine of $2,500
  • Compulsory alcohol screening/education/treatment
  • An order for the convict to perform community service
  • A mandatory ignition interlock device fitted on any vehicle that the convict operates

If the convict commits a second or subsequent extreme DUI offense, they may face the following penalties:

  • A minimum fine of $3,250 and a jail term of at least 120 days
  • The revocation of the convict's license for a year
  • Compulsory alcohol treatment, education, or screening
  • Compulsory community service and an order to install an IID in any vehicle the convict operates

Aggravated DUI: In Arizona, the provisions for an aggravated felony DUI are outlined in ARS 28-1383. A motorist charged with a felony DUI if:

  • They commit the DUI with a suspended, revoked, or canceled license
  • They commit at least 3 DUI's in 84 months
  • If the offense is committed with a passenger below 15 in the vehicle
  • If they refuse to submit to a BAC test while under an IID requirement

The penalties for an aggravated DUI in Arizona are:

  • A minimum prison sentence of two years
  • License revocation
  • Community service, the installation of an IID, and compulsory alcohol screening, treatment, or education

The Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is a breath alcohol testing device connected to the convict's vehicle ignition and power system. The convict blows into the device before trying to turn the ignition. If the alcohol level is more than a certain percent, the vehicle will not start. Also, such convicts will have to blow into the device at random intervals while driving. Interested persons may find more information on this device on the DOT website.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Arizona?

The State of Arizona uses the official term "Driving Under the Influence" (DUI) and not "Driving While Intoxicated" (DWI). While some states use both terms interchangeably, the Arizona Revised Statutes make no separate provisions for DWI.

What Happens When You Get a DUI for the First Time in Arizona?

When a motorist is apprehended for a DUI in Arizona, they are ticketed or arrested and taken into custody. Usually, the arresting officer conducts a breath or urine test to confirm the alleged drunkenness of the motorist before further action.

Every motorist with an Arizona driver's license consents to this urine, breath, or blood test under the Arizona Implied Consent Law. These tests determine the level of intoxication and, consequently, the severity of the offense. The first consequence of a first-time DUI offense in Arizona is a 90-day license suspension under ARS 28-1385. Refusal to take the sobriety test leads to steeper fines and longer jail terms.

Following the arrest, the officer makes an official report stating the grounds for the arrest and the test results. Also, the officer will serve an order of suspension on the driver requiring the driver to submit a license or permit to drive. The accused driver may then request a hearing to contest the charges. An individual charged with a DUI in Arizona has a right to a jury trial. If the person forgoes the right to a jury trial, a judge will hear the matter.

When charged with a DUI in Arizona, the defense may argue that the offender was using the vehicle for shelter or sleep. Alternatively, the driver may establish they were not physically controlling the vehicle. However, the jury ultimately determines if the driver posed a threat to the public. Other possible defenses include:

  • To contest whether the sobriety testing is a reliable one
  • A claim of abuse of due process, right to counsel, and violation of Miranda rights

It is essential to get an attorney skilled in handling DUI charges to suggest the best defenses or handle the case.

What is the Penalty for a Second DUI in Arizona?

A person has a second DUI in Arizona when the person commits a DUI within seven years of the first offense, even if the first DUI was in another state. In Arizona, a second DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor and attracts the following penalties under ARS 28-01381(K):

  • The convicted driver nay serve a minimum of 90 days in jail
  • The driver may pay a minimum fine of $500
  • Court-mandated community service, minimum of 30 hours
  • Revocation of driving privileges for one year
  • If the violation involved intoxicating liquor, the driver must install an IID.
  • Payment of a $1250 assessment each to the Prison Construction and Operations Fund and the Public Safety Equipment Fund
  • An approved Traffic Survival School Course under the Department of Transportation

What Happens After a Third DUI in Arizona?

If a person commits a DUI within seven years of two prior DUI offenses, it is a third DUI offense. Third-time offenders may risk a 3-year driver's license suspension per ARS 28-1385. Other penalties for a third DUI in Arizona are:

  • A compulsory prison sentence for four months
  • A minimum of $4000 in fines
  • The installation of an IID for two years
  • Traffic Survival School Course and compulsory alcohol and drug screening, education or treatment

A third-time DUI offender may request a hearing with the Arizona Motor Vehicles Department (MVD). Winning this hearing is one way to avoid the license suspension, but the hearing is more complex to win than the criminal case. As such, offenders are advised to seek the services of experienced legal counsel to reduce or dismiss the DUI charge.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Arizona?

In Arizona, a DUI conviction remains on a person's criminal records for life. A DUI appearing on a person's record may pose a problem with job or apartment search, getting professional certificates or licenses.

Two DUI records may result from a conviction. They are the Criminal Justice Record in the court system and the Department of Public Safety, available to the public. The other record is with the Motor Vehicle Department, which insurance companies use to determine rates. A DUI conviction stays on the MVD records for five years before it falls off.

In between, a person cannot remove or delete a DUI record with the MVD. Yet, a person may expunge DUI records at the courts using the "setting aside" procedure.

DUI Expungement in Arizona

ARS 13-907 allows eligible DUI offenders to set aside their DUI conviction. Interested persons may file an Application to Set Aside a Prior Conviction in the court where the case occurred. There are no filing fees or waiting periods attached.

After applying, the court may schedule a hearing on the matter and shall consider the following factors:

  • The details of the DUI charge and if the defendant complied with probation
  • The criminal history and prior DUIs of the defendant
  • If the defendant has paid the required restitution
  • The age of the defendant at the time of the conviction

Only persons who have completed the conviction can apply to the court to set the conviction aside. If the court grants the application, it dismisses the initial case. As a result, the DUI conviction will not appear on background checks. However, these records remain with the MVD. Also, government employers and professional licensing boards for legal and medical professions have access to expunged records. Hence, DUI records do not entirely go away.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Arizona?

Jail time after a first DUI in Arizona is very likely. Under the Arizona Revised Statutes, a person convicted of this offense will spend ten days in jail. The court may reduce this jail term to a day if the convict completes a mandatory drug and alcohol screening, education, or treatment.

DUI laws in Arizona are some of the most rigid DUI laws in America. So, the driver will spend more time in jail for repeat offenses or more serious DUI offenses.

What is the Average Cost of DUI in Arizona?

A DUI conviction results in about $2,500 in fines, depending on the kind of charge. The compulsory screening tests and counseling classes can run up to $500 or more. Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device also attracts a running and maintenance cost of $1,000, and the cost depends on how long the device will stay in the vehicle.

A driver will also have to show proof of SR-22 insurance payments for three years to reinstate the driver's license. This type of insurance is expensive in Arizona and can climb to about $2,000 or more per year.

There are also legal fees to consider; depending on the attorney's expertise, these can cost $4,000 to $10,000. These may be more, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.

How Much is Bail for a DUI in Arizona?

Most DUI charges in Arizona are misdemeanors and do not require a bond. In the circumstances where a misdemeanor DUI charge requires a bond, it only costs around $100. The reason for a bond is if there is a fear that the defendant will not show up in court.

Most times, bond applies to felony DUIs which range from $1,000 to $3,000, based on the judge's discretion. So, it may also go higher than that in certain circumstances.

How to Get My License Back After a DUI in Arizona?

In Arizona, a person may get a suspended license for various reasons, some of which are:

  • Committing a DUI offense
  • If there are eight or more points on the driver's record
  • If a motorist drives a vehicle without insurance
  • Failure to appear in court over a DUI charge
  • If a motorist drives recklessly

To reinstate a suspended driver's license, a person will pay a $10 reinstatement fee and a $25 application fee, depending on the driver's age. The driver will undergo driver improvement training for offenses like aggressive driving or running a red light.

A person that drives with a suspended license may receive a $2,500 fine, face an extra year of suspension, or up to six months in jail. Interested persons may visit the MVD to initiate the process.

Such a process involves filing an SR-22 form and paying specific fees. Using a credit card, an individual may pay the fees online through the Arizona Driver License Reinstatement page.

How Does a DUI Affect Your Life in Arizona?

Getting a DUI in Arizona has serious consequences. Offenders may be charged hefty fines, which may adversely impact the individual's finances. In addition, having a DUI record may impact the offender's chances of landing a job or obtaining a professional license.

Landlords may also refuse to rent property to persons convicted of a DUI charge. The car insurance rates offered to a DUI offender may be at least double the average cost of vehicle insurance in the state.

Can You Get Fired for a DUI in Arizona?

Yes, a DUI conviction can get a person fired in Arizona. While an individual's privacy is a protected right under state laws, certain circumstances demand that an employer be aware of an employee's DUI conviction.

If a person is a company driver, salesperson, or in charge of a company vehicle, the company needs to know of the charge. Most companies have policies that demand this disclosure in the employment contract and employee handbook. Non-disclosure can attract grave consequences.

If a company has a zero-tolerance policy for criminal offenders, the offender may get fired for having a DUI conviction. Also, some professions require a fingerprint clearance card that shows that an employee has no criminal record. If the individual commits a DUI, that clearance card may get restricted, which will inadvertently have drastic consequences for the person's career.

How Do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Arizona?

DUI, sobriety, or mobile checkpoints are legal in Arizona. They are police traffic stops set up at different locations to stop and identify motorists driving under the influence of alcohol or other controlled substances. These checkpoints also identify violators of other traffic offenses, like persons driving with a suspended or invalid license.

The police officers detain drivers passing through the checkpoints to search for signs of intoxication. These signs are if the driver's eyes are bloodshot, if the driver has slurred speech or shows a lack of coordination. The officer may also conduct a field sobriety test, or a breathalyzer test, using a handheld breathalyzer.

A driver with BAC above the legal limit may be charged with a DUI. Since state law demands that law enforcement publicize these checkpoints ahead of time, members of the public may find the specific locations of these checkpoints online.

Which is Worse, DUI vs. DWI?

In Arizona, a DUI and DWI are terms used to describe the same criminal offense. They refer to the offense of driving under the influence or while intoxicated with inebriating substances.

DUI and DWI in Arizona have the exact charges and carry identical punishments. However, the penalties ascribed to an offender may be impacted by the motorist's blood alcohol level and prior convictions.

If an adult driver has a BAC of 0.08% and above or 0.04% and above for commercial drivers, the driver will face the standard DUI charges. However, if a driver controls a vehicle using a defective license, drives with an underage passenger, or commits a third DUI offense, the driver will face aggravated DUI/DWI charges. An aggravated DUI is the most severe of all DUI offenses in Arizona.