Lots of people visit Arizona every year. Whether you flew into Phoenix for business, to drive to Flagstaff or Sedona, or to drive to the Grand Canyon, it is important to know that you are subject to the state’s laws just like full-time residents.

This includes the state’s DUI laws.

Getting a DUI in Arizona is a serious matter—more serious than getting a DUI in many other states. The penalties for a conviction are substantial, and they include possible jail time even for a first-time offense. If you get a DUI while visiting Arizona, these penalties apply even though you live out-of-state, and you will need to hire an in-state defense attorney to help you fight your Arizona DUI by all means available.

What To Know if You Got an Out-of-State DUI While Visiting Arizona

There are some additional facts you need to know if you got an out-of-state DUI while visiting Arizona as well. For example:

1. It Doesn’t Matter that You Live In Another State

First and foremost, you need to know that it doesn’t matter that you live in another state. The judge isn’t going to go easy on you because you were traveling for business or on vacation. Everyone who drives in Arizona needs to obey the law, and those who don’t can face swift and severe punishment.

This also means that you will need to return to Arizona to defend against your DUI charge in court in most cases. If you don’t appear in court, the judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest—and this warrant can be sent to local law enforcement in the state where you live. Additionally, if you are sentenced to community service or jail time (or both), you will have to serve your sentence in Arizona unless your defense lawyer is able to successfully petition the court to have your sentence transferred to your state.

2. Arizona Law Establishes Several Different DUI Offenses

While most states have one main DUI offense, the Arizona Revised Statutes establish several different DUI offenses. So, you could be facing a DUI, or you could be facing an “aggravated” or “extreme” DUI. Aggravated DUIs involve additional risk factors such as having a minor in your vehicle. Extreme DUIs involve driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.15 percent or above.

Arizona law also establishes a “super extreme DUI,” and this is one of the most-serious DUI charges you can face in Arizona as a first-time offender. You can be charged with a super extreme DUI if your BAC is 0.20 percent or above.

3. The Penalties for a DUI in Arizona Are Substantial

We mentioned this already, but it bears repeating: In Arizona, the penalties for a DUI are severe. For a “standard” first-time offense (not an aggravated DUI or extreme DUI), the potential penalties include over $1,000 in fines and surcharges, mandatory substance abuse screening, loss of your driver’s license, and up to 10 days in jail.

If you are being charged with an aggravated, extreme, or super extreme DUI, the penalties you are facing are significantly greater. All of these charges carry significantly more financial liability as well as a longer jail sentence.

Additionally, if you have a prior DUI on your record from your home state (or from any other state), this can lead to being prosecuted as a repeat offender in Arizona. If your out-of-state DUI charge is prosecuted as a second or subsequent offense, this will increase the penalties that are at stake regardless of the specific type of DUI charge you are facing.

4. Some DUI Charges in Arizona Are Felonies  

While a “standard” DUI is a misdemeanor in Arizona, some DUI charges are felonies. For example, aggravated DUI is a felony offense under Arizona law. In addition to carrying enhanced penalties, felony convictions also carry a variety of other significant and long-term consequences.

5. You Could Face Consequences in Your Home State As Well

Along with facing fines, jail time, and other penalties in Arizona, you could also face consequences in your home state. For example, while the Arizona courts do not have the authority to suspend a driver’s license issued in another state, judges can (and will) have defendants’ DUI records transferred to their home state’s department of motor vehicles. As a result, you could still face a driver’s license suspension (in most states), and the transfer of your DUI conviction could lead to employment, professional licensing, and other consequences as well.

6. There Are Several Ways to Fight a DUI Charge in Arizona

While a DUI conviction in Arizona can have several consequences, there are also several ways to fight an Arizona DUI. When you hire a defense lawyer in Arizona to represent you, your lawyer will examine the facts of your case to determine what defenses you have available. Your defense lawyer should examine all potential defenses, including (but not limited to):

  • Lack of reasonable suspicion
  • Lack of probable cause
  • Lack of “actual physical control” of a vehicle
  • Improper administration of the field sobriety tests (FSTs)
  • Inaccurate breath or blood test results

7. Your Case Will Move Quickly, So You Need to Act Fast

Whether you are still in Arizona or you are back home from your business trip or vacation, you cannot afford to wait to deal with your DUI. In Arizona, DUI cases move quickly, and it is important that you start working on your defense right away. Defense attorney Mark N. Weingart is a former city court judge who previously presided over DUI cases, and he previously served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Arizona as well.

Schedule a Free Arizona DUI Defense Consultation at The Weingart Firm

If you are an out-of-state resident facing a DUI charge in Arizona, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To arrange a free initial consultation with DUI defense lawyer Mark Weingart, please call 480-405-7922 or tell us how we can reach you online today.