Being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or DUI, is never something you plan for. It can be a scary and confusing time, especially if you have criminal charges brought against you. You may wonder if you will be able to move forward from this or if it will ultimately cause irreversible damage to your life. You might be concerned about how it could affect your family, your career, or your freedom. Penalties for DUI vary by state, and by the number of infractions an individual has incurred in the past. If you’ve been recently charged with a DUI, you should be informed of the possible repercussions you could face.
DUI In Arizona
In Arizona, any individual 21 or older found to be operating a motor vehicle with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) higher than .08% is considered to be driving “under the influence.” If operating a commercial vehicle, that percentage drops to .04%. You may also be charged with DUI if a chemical test is completed and the results show that a drug is in your system. For any individual under 21, Arizona has a “zero tolerance” policy for underage drinking and/or drug use.
If law enforcement suspects you are driving impaired, they will complete field sobriety testing. Based on their judgment, a chemical test may be administered. If you refuse to take the chemical test, several things may occur: if this is your first offense, you may be facing a suspension of your license for a year or more; if this is your second or third offense, the length of suspension could be several years. This is due to Arizona’s “implied consent” law, which prohibits refusal of a blood, breath, or urine test by a driver when lawfully arrested for driving under the influence.
#1 – Fines
The first penalty you can expect to face if charged and convicted of DUI are a multitude of fines and fees. The specific amount you might be ordered to pay will vary based on your BAC at the time of the arrest, as well as the number of offenses committed previously. If a guilty verdict is reached, the defendant could be fined thousands of dollars, which is only one area of monetary consequence. If the person charged also damaged property while they were driving impaired, this can be an additional cost. In total, the financial strain a DUI charge can put on an individual or family can be devastating. This is an area where the use of a DUI attorney could be especially beneficial, as they work aggressively to dismiss or reduce those fines and fees.
#2 – License Suspension
Upon arrest for DUI in Arizona, your driver’s license will be suspended immediately unless you act fast. A license suspension prohibits you from driving for a temporary period. The arresting officer who found you to be driving impaired will serve an order of suspension, which will effectively suspend your license after 15 days unless you challenge it. This requires you to request a hearing with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). If you do not request the hearing in a timely manner, the suspension will move forward. It will last for 90 days if it is the first DUI offense, or up to 1 year if this is the second. This is another area in which a knowledgeable attorney can assist you in filing the appropriate motions at the correct times.
#3 – Jail Time
Perhaps the most anxiety-inducing penalty of being charged with a DUI is serving jail time. Each DUI case is different, based on the number of violations already committed, as well as the type of DUI, as seen below:
- A traditional DUI (BAC from 0.08% to 0.149% or driving with any impairment whatsoever) carries a penalty of 10 days in jail for the 1st offense, or 90 days for the 2nd offense in 7 years
- An Extreme DUI (BAC from 0.15% to 0.199%) carries a penalty of 30 days in jail for the 1st offense, or 120 days for the 2nd offense in 7 years
- A Super Extreme DUI (BAC 0.20% or higher) carries a penalty of 45 days in jail for the 1st offense, or 180 days for the 2nd offense in 7 years
A traditional DUI, Extreme DUI, and Super Extreme DUI are all class 1 misdemeanors, and as such, the punishments grow with each successive charge. If a person with two prior DUIs within the last 7 years is charged with a 3rd, this becomes an automatic class 4 felony charge. Among other negative consequences, this carries a penalty of a minimum sentence of 4 months in prison.
How An Attorney Can Help You Avoid Or Lessen Penalties
An exceptional DUI attorney with a substantial record of favorable outcomes for their clients should be able to help avoid or lessen these penalties in most cases. There are several ways this can be accomplished, such as agreement to employ an ignition interlock device (IID), complete alcohol or drug education, or traffic survival school.
In addition, there are a number of defenses to a DUI charge that can be presented in court to get charges dismissed. First, the attorney will determine whether or not your constitutional rights were violated during the traffic stop or arrest, such as your right to remain silent or right to an attorney. Next, they may examine the police officer’s reasoning for completing the traffic stop in the first place. What evidence did they have to suspect that you were driving impaired, and is it reasonable? Lastly, a DUI attorney may have access to analyze the results of the field sobriety or chemical test to determine if they were completed correctly and the results had no possible error or misread.
Why Choose Alatorre Law?
If you’ve been charged with a DUI, all of the penalties listed here are to be expected if a strong case is not presented on your behalf. The outcome of your case will be affected by the capabilities of your DUI attorney. Lead attorney Javier Alatorre has over 17 years of personalized experience in criminal defense and a record of favorable outcomes for clients. In any DUI case, time is an especially important factor in getting the best results. By calling today, you can schedule your free and confidential initial consultation.