Learn about the Penalties for Felony DUIs in Arizona from Our Phoenix Drunk Driving Defense Lawyers
Aggravated DUI is a felony offense in Arizona, and a felony is much more serious than a misdemeanor. There are two types of aggravated DUI charges: The first involves driving under the influence at a time when you have a child under 15 years old in the vehicle with you. This is a Class 6 felony, which is the lowest level of felony in Arizona, and the penalties are very similar to the penalties for a misdemeanor drunk driving offense. The only differences are that (i) your offense starts off as a felony, and under some circumstances, you have to “earn” a misdemeanor through successful completion of probation; and, (ii) for any type of felony DUI, there is a mandatory 12-month revocation of your Arizona driving privileges.
Then, there is the most serious of the DUI charges, and that is a Class 4 felony aggravated DUI. You will be charged with a Class 4 felony for a DUI for any of the following: it is your third DUI offense within a seven-year period, if you are arrested for DUI while your privilege to drive is suspended, canceled, or revoked, if you were driving the wrong way, or if you were required to have an ignition interlock device in the vehicle and did not. If convicted of a Class 4 aggravated DUI, the legislature has built-in a mandatory minimum period of probation, and you are supposed to serve four months in prison at the state department of corrections. A Class 4 felony DUI also carries a mandatory revocation of your Arizona driving privileges, fines, and fees.
However, what makes these Class 4 felony DUIs particularly unfortunate is that they are classified as “forever felonies” under Arizona law. This means that they can be used to enhance or aggravate another felony offense if you are ever arrested again for any reason.
What about a DUI Involving Serious Injury or Death?
What about a DUI where one causes serious injury or death to another? Some states have enhanced levels of DUI for accidents involving serious or fatal injuries, but these cases are still ultimately prosecuted as DUI offenses. In Arizona, that is not the case.
Under Arizona law, you can either be charged with a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI. If you cause an accident while you are driving under the influence, then the prosecutor’s office will file aggravated assault charges. If someone dies as a result of the accident, you can be charged with varying degrees of homicide (including negligent homicide, manslaughter, and second-degree murder) depending upon what the state can prove, and homicide charges carry mandatory prison sentences even for first-time offenders. The mandatory prison sentence starts at two-and-a-half years and goes up very quickly, depending upon the severity of the crime.
What Are the Collateral Consequences Associated with a DUI Conviction in Arizona?
In addition to the potential for probation, fines, fees, loss of driving privileges, and jail time, there are various collateral consequences associated with DUI convictions in Arizona as well. Some examples of these collateral consequences include:
- Immigration Consequences – If you are not in the United States legally, a DUI conviction could lead to removal or deportation. The more severe the offense of which you are convicted, the more likely this is to happen. Misdemeanors are not as likely to have adverse immigration consequences, but with a felony DUI, this is a genuine possibility. Lawful permanent residents and visa holders can face immigration consequences due to DUI convictions as well.
- Restrictions on Travel to and from Canada – If you are a U.S. citizen and you get any type of DUI conviction, Canada will not let you in for at least five years, and it is very difficult to ever restore your ability to travel to Canada. As our colleagues in Canada tell us, any form of DUI in Canada is very serious and akin to a felony. That is why the restrictions are so harsh for Americans trying to go into Canada with a DUI. We also represent Canadians who get arrested for DUI while visiting Arizona. While they can go back to their native Canada, trying to revisit the U.S. can be a big challenge.
- Professional Licensing Action – There are also collateral consequences for licensed professionals. The Arizona medical board, nursing board, state bar, real estate board, and other professional licensing authorities will take their disciplinary action in addition to whatever punishment the court imposes, up to and including permanent license revocation. We have represented many doctors, nurses, lawyers, and realtors in Arizona DUI cases, and we are intimately familiar with the licensing implications of DUI convictions as well as the defenses that are available.
- Temporary or Permanent Loss of Commercial Driver’s License – If you drive for work, a felony DUI conviction could prevent you from earning a living. For example, delivery truck drivers, postal service drivers, long-haul truckers, and other professional drivers can face serious collateral consequences due to DUI convictions. In Arizona, a DUI conviction will result in the loss of your commercial driver’s license (CDL) for one year. If you get two DUIs in your lifetime, then you will lose your CDL eligibility permanently. Pilots can face threats to their careers as well, and we often associate with attorneys who deal exclusively with the FAA to make sure that our clients meet the minimum sanctions possible and can continue to work in aviation.
Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with DUI Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
For more information about Arizona’s penalties for aggravated DUIs and the potential collateral consequences of a DUI conviction, schedule a free initial consultation at The Weingart Firm. Our DUI attorneys have decades of experience handling DUI cases throughout Arizona. To speak with one of our experienced Phoenix DUI defense lawyers in confidence, call 480-405-7922, contact us online now. We are available 24/7.