According to statistics released by the Arizona Governor’s Office, there were more than 14,000 DUI (driving under the influence) arrests in Arizona in 2009. Of those arrests, more than 900 involved motorists with blood-alcohol contents (BAC) greater than .15, considered an extreme DUI under state law. In Arizona, a DUI conviction can result in severe penalties, including fines, suspension of driving privileges, court-mandated alcohol or drug counseling and even jail time. In addition, having a DUI conviction on your criminal record could bar you from getting certain kinds of employment and traveling to other countries.
A DUI is defined as operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol at intoxication levels measuring higher than the legal limit (.08 in Arizona). There are several levels of Arizona DUI charges, including:
- DUI (misdemeanor) – blood-alcohol contents of .08 or greater within two hours of driving.
- Extreme DUI (misdemeanor) – blood-alcohol contents of .15 or greater within two hours of driving.
- Super-extreme DUI (misdemeanor) – blood-alcohol contents of .20 or greater within two hours of driving.
- Aggravated DUI (felony) – A DUI may be considered aggravated if the motorist is driving drunk on a suspended or revoked driver’s license, with a passenger under the age of 16 in the car or had two prior DUI convictions within the last seven years.
Punishments for first-time offenders convicted of a DUI can include up to six months in jail, up to $2,500 in fines and surcharges, a 90-day driver’s license suspension and alcohol counseling. In addition, those convicted of a DUI must have a device installed in their car that locks the ignition if alcohol is detected in their system. Those convicted of an extreme DUI, a super-extreme DUI or an aggravated DUI or multiple-time offenders are likely to face more severe legal repercussions, depending on the circumstances.
Commercial drivers, even first-time offenders, can face stiffer penalties than non-commercial drivers. For those operating a commercial vehicle with a BAC higher than .04, the legal repercussions can include up to 90 days in jail, a $500 fine, a one-year driver’s license suspension and community service. Many commercial drivers with DUI convictions may be terminated from their jobs.
Motorists under the age of 21 convicted of driving with any alcohol in their system are subject to DUI charges, and face a $250 fine, community service and a two-year suspension of their driver’s license.
The first step in any DUI defense is to request a hearing with the Arizona MVD. This hearing must be requested within 15 days of being charged with a DUI to avoid automatic driver’s license suspension.
If you are currently facing DUI charges in Maricopa County, Josh Blumenreich, a former prosecutor, can advise you on the next steps and provide you with the aggressive legal counsel you need. Contact us for your free initial consultation.