What Happens When You Get a DUI in Arizona
Getting charged with DUI can set you back financially and professionally. However, getting arrested for DUI/DWI is not the end of the story. A strong criminal defense can get you out from under a drunk driving arrest and back to life as usual.
What Are the DUI/DWI Laws in Arizona?
DUI laws in Arizona are extensive and clear. In every case, the state takes DUI offenses seriously and applies significant penalties against those convicted of an offense. DUI meaning in Arizona classifies blood alcohol content (BAC) levels of .08% or higher as guilty of the offense. From there, offenders charged with a DUI in Arizona may face elevated charges for higher BACs or being repeat offenders.
Offenses you may be charged with after getting a DUI in Arizona include:
- Misdemeanor DUI: BAC .08%
- Misdemeanor Extreme DUI: BAC .15%
- Misdemeanor Super Extreme DUI: BAC .20%
- Aggravated DUI: Driving while license suspended or three DUIs in seven years, or driving with a child in the car with a BAC of .08%
If you have a DUI arrest and are charged with an aggravated DUI, you will face a felony charge.
What Happens When You’re Convicted of Driving under the Influence?
What happens if charged with DUI depends on many factors. For example, a first-offense DUI is likely to be viewed as less serious than a second or third DUI charge. Additionally, getting a DUI may result in significant negative consequences if there are aggravating factors, such as injury to other parties.
If you are caught driving under the influence, you will likely be arrested. However, the police officer must have probable cause before you can be arrested and charged with DWI.
Probable causes for a DUI arrest can include:
- Confessing that you were drinking or are drunk
- Slurred speech
- Failing a field sobriety test
- Having open containers in plain view
- Failing a breath test
You can also be arrested for refusing to take a chemical test because Arizona is an implied consent state.
Appearing in Court
After your arrest, you must attend a court date to enter a plea. Before going, you should consider speaking with an experienced DUI attorney. They will be able to inform you of the consequences you might face in court, such as the imposition of bonds or restrictive driving conditions. Your lawyer may also be able to appear on your behalf.
Losing Your Driver's License
If you are convicted of DUI, you will lose your driving privileges. In fact, if a chemical test reveals that you are over the legal BAC limit, your license will likely be suspended on the spot. If you are later convicted of DUI, you will face a license suspension from 90 days to a year or longer.
The fines that go along with a DUI conviction are significant. First-time offenders can expect to pay $1,250 in fines and costs if convicted of a basic DUI. If you are a first-time offender and are convicted of extreme DUI, the amount you must pay doubles to $2,500.
Second offenses for DUI and extreme DUI penalize drivers with substantial increases in fines and costs to $3,000 and $3,250, respectively.
If you are convicted of aggravated DUI, you will most likely be placed on probation after serving at least four months in prison.
Probation can last up to ten years and can be extremely burdensome and invasive. Conditions of probation require you to abstain from driving and consuming alcohol. You are also subject to random breathalyzer testing, even in your own home.
Undergoing Alcohol Evaluation Program
If you are convicted of a DUI in Arizona, you must participate in an alcohol screening program. It consists of a 15-30-minute evaluation and discussion with a professional alcohol counselor.
After your evaluation, the counselor will develop a treatment plan you must follow. If completed in a timely manner, you may be able to reduce your driving ban to 30 days of no driving and 60 days of restricted driving.
Paying for Auto Insurance
After a DUI conviction, you must get SR-22 insurance in order to get your license back. SR-22 insurance demonstrates that you have the requisite financial responsibility to have your driving privileges reinstated.
One of the main consequences of having to obtain SR-22 insurance is a spike in your insurance premiums. However, this is not always the case.
Installing an Ignition Interlock
An ignition interlock device (IID) is a mechanism that prevents you from driving drunk. It is equipped with a breathalyzer-type device that locks your ignition when you blow over a certain limit.
The minimum time you must use an IID is 12 months as a first-time misdemeanor offender. Extreme and super extreme convictions of DUI require 18 months of IID use, and felony DUI mandates at least 24 months.
What to Do When You Get Pulled Over for DUI in Arizona?
If you suddenly see the flashing lights of a state trooper in your rearview mirror, don’t panic, regardless of whether you think they suspect you of being a drunk driver. Drivers have a fair bit of control when a trooper stops a drunk driver and can take steps that will ultimately make their lives easier, considering the circumstances.
Find a Safe Place to Pull Over
The officer ordering you to pull over will be closely observing how you execute traffic moves. Navigating to a safe place before pulling over is a point in your favor, as it demonstrates you have the capacity to drive safely.
Properly identifying yourself is also a type of test that can demonstrate your competency to drive. Fumbling and other difficulties with documents could lead an officer to believe you have been drinking.
Avoid Making Any Sudden Movements
Staying calm will prevent you from doing anything that might flag your behavior as suspicious, such as making sudden movements. Once you make a sudden movement, an officer will likely elevate the intensity of the investigation.
In all cases, it is best to maintain a respectful attitude in the face of an officer’s investigation. Failure to control your demeanor can be used as evidence of alcohol use when paired with other evidence.
Refuse the Field Sobriety Test
You have the right to refuse a preliminary breath test (PBT) and the movement tests typically administered. However, if you refuse to take these tests, you will likely be arrested and forced to take a more accurate breath test or chemical test, which you cannot refuse without losing your license for a year.
Although the police don’t read you your rights until you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent when they begin questioning you right there on the highway. Once you are arrested and demand a lawyer, their questioning must cease.
Take the Chemical Test
Since you have given your implied consent to submit to a valid BAC test, it is in your best interests to take the chemical test, which will happen once you have been taken into custody. If you refuse to do so, you will immediately have your license revoked.
Write Down the Details of Your Arrest
If you are arrested for driving under the influence, there will be a police report, but you should also have your version of events in writing. As soon after your arrest as possible, write down as much as possible about the stop and arrest, including what you were doing before and while driving.
Refuse a Vehicle Search
“Do you mind if I search your vehicle?” You should never consent to this request. However, there are circumstances when an officer can search your car without consent, such as when they see an illegal object in plain view.
Contact a DUI Lawyer
Prosecutors in Arizona go hard against suspected drunk drivers and have various options for punishments. An experienced DUI lawyer also has a list of defense options that can reduce penalties or suspension time and even a dismissal of charges. As soon as you are charged, contact a lawyer to fight the charges against you.
Penalties and Consequences of DUI/DWI in Arizona
What happens when you get a DUI in AZ? If you have been arrested for a DUI, you will face at least one day behind bars and significant fines and costs, which only rise the more often you receive a DUI conviction or the higher your BAC.
Penalties for DUI in Arizona:
- First-Time Offender, BAC .08%: Jail time, $1,250 fine, license suspension, IID
- First-Time Offender, BAC .15%: Jail time, $2,500 fine, license suspension, IID
- First-Time Offender, BAC .20%: Jail time, $3,250 fine, license suspension, IID
- Aggravated DUI: Prison, license revocation, fines, IID, probation
Second-offense penalties include license suspension plus augmented fines. For any of these offenses, you may also face:
- Negative employment consequences
- Criminal record
- Higher insurance costs
If you are facing any of these DUI consequences, a DUI defense attorney can be instrumental in changing your situation and potentially getting your charges reduced or dismissed.
Don’t Face DUI Charges Alone
A DUI is a life-changing event. However, there is much that a DUI defense attorney can do between arrest and conviction. Contact Law Office of Brandon White for a vigorous DUI defense if you are facing a DUI charge. Let us put our unique experience of being former State Police Officers and Prosecutors to work for you in your case. Contact us, we’re here to help!
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