In Arizona, getting pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving can have several different consequences. The scope and severity of these consequences depend on the specific type of DUI you are charged with. Arizona’s DUI laws are unique; and, if you are awaiting trial following a traffic stop or an arrest at a sobriety checkpoint, one of the first things you need to know is: What type of DUI charge are you facing?
Types of DUI Charges Under Arizona Law
There are four main types of DUI charges under Arizona law. In order of severity (from least to most severe), these are: (i) DUI, (ii) extreme DUI, (iii) super extreme DUI, and (iv) aggravated DUI.
DUI in Arizona
An “ordinary” DUI charge is the lowest-level DUI charge in Arizona. However, a conviction can still lead to well over $1,000 in fees and surcharges, mandatory substance abuse screening, suspension of your driver’s license, mandatory ignition interlock device installation, and up to 10 days in jail. DUI charges, which many people do not understand, are that an arrest can be based on either evidence of impairment or a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above.
In pertinent part, Arizona’s DUI statute states:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances: 1. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree[; or,] 2. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle . . . .”
In other words, while blowing 0.08 percent or above on the breathalyzer is one way you can face a DUI charge, even if you refuse the breathalyzer (which is a violation of Arizona’s implied consent law), you can still be charged with DUI based on the arresting officer’s observation of your behavior. This includes your behavior behind the wheel, how you act during your traffic stop, and how you perform on standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs). An “ordinary” DUI charge is a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.
Extreme DUI in Arizona
An extreme DUI is a drunk driving charge based on a BAC of between 0.15 percent and 0.19 percent. While an extreme DUI is still a class 1 misdemeanor, the penalties for an extreme DUI are far more severe. In particular, under Arizona law, an extreme DUI carries a mandatory jail sentence. An extreme DUI conviction can also lead to penalties, including:
- Thousands of dollars in fines, fees, and surcharges;
- Community restitution;
- Mandatory attendance and completion of an approved traffic survival school course;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device in each of your vehicles; and,
- Driver’s license suspension (which occurs in an Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) hearing separate from your extreme DUI trial).
While it may be possible to serve up to 80 percent of your sentence on home detention, depending on where you live, this still means that you are facing close to a week in jail (in addition to the other penalties listed above). Although several potential defenses to an extreme DUI charge—including various ways to challenge your BAC reading—to assert these defenses effectively, you will need to hire an experienced Tempe or Phoenix DUI attorney.
Super Extreme DUI in Arizona
A super extreme DUI is still a class 1 misdemeanor, but the penalties are greater than those for an extreme DUI. Under Arizona law, you can be charged with a super extreme DUI if your BAC was 0.20 percent or above. In addition to the penalties listed above for an extreme DUI, the penalties for a super extreme DUI also include:
- Additional fines, fees, and surcharges; and,
- A potential jail sentence.
When facing a super extreme DUI charge due to blowing 0.20 percent or above, challenging the validity of your breathalyzer test result is one way to defend yourself. Still, it won’t necessarily be enough on its own. The prosecutor’s office may (and usually will) have additional evidence, and you may need to overcome this additional evidence to avoid a conviction for DUI.
Aggravated DUI in Arizona
An aggravated DUI is a felony offense. Depending on the circumstances involved, it can be charged as either a class 4 felony or a class 6 felony. Class 4 felony aggravated DUI charges include those for:
- Driving under the influence on a suspended, canceled, or revoked license;
- A third or subsequent DUI charge of any type within 84 months;
- Getting arrested for DUI while you are required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle; and,
- Getting arrested for DUI while driving the wrong way on the highway.
You can be charged with a class 6 felony aggravated DUI if you are stopped with a child under 15 in your vehicle.
As a felony offense, the penalties for aggravated DUI in Arizona are severe. These include substantial fines, prison time, loss of driving privileges, mandatory alcohol evaluation and treatment, and probation.
Keep in mind that the penalties listed above are all for first-time offenders (except an aggravated DUI charge based on your prior record). If you already have a DUI, extreme DUI, super extreme DUI, or aggravated DUI charge on your criminal record (or if you have multiple past convictions on your criminal record), then the penalties you face could be significantly greater.
Schedule a Free DUI Defense Consultation with Our DUI Lawyer in Tempe or Phoenix, AZ
If you face any DUI charge in Arizona, you must speak with a DUI lawyer promptly. To schedule a free and confidential consultation at The Weingart Firm, call us at 480-405-7922 or contact us online today.