Thinking about drinking or taking drugs and driving? Be careful. Arizona has strict laws against “driving under the influence,” or “DUI,” so that you could face very serious consequences. Very often out-of-town visitors have surprises from Arizona’s strict DUI laws when arrested for having too much fun in Old Town Scottsdale or while visiting for spring training in the Phoenix metro area.
Below, we’ll discuss the laws – and consequences of – driving under the influence or while intoxicated in Arizona. These are things an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer at Lerner and Rowe Law Group will have detailed knowledge of too.
What Is the Difference Between a DUI and DWI?
Arizona is what’s known as a “zero tolerance state.” Which means that in Arizona, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs in any fashion. A DUI doesn’t require a specific BAC, or blood alcohol level, but simply proof that you are “impaired to the slightest degree” by the drugs or alcohol.
The law once stated that your ability to drive had to actually be impaired, but that’s no longer true. Now even the slightest impairment can result in a DUI. To make an arrest, all the officer has to do is have a reasonable belief you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
A DWI (driving while intoxicated) differs from a DUI in that a driver is found to be operating a vehicle while having a BAC (blood alcohol level) that is over the legal limit. Legal blood alcohol levels differ depending on the age of the driver in question.
How Does Age Factor into a DUI or DWI?
Drivers under 21
If you are under 21, it does not matter how much or how little you’ve had to drink. You’re at risk for receiving DUI charges. Here’s why: While technically, the legal BAC limit for “under 21” drivers is .02 percent, that constitutes one drink for a 160-pound person. While an experienced underage DUI attorney can certainly represent you in court if you’re charged, it’s best to avoid the consequences altogether.
Adults over the Age of 21
The BAC limit for adults over the age of 21 is .08 percent (or .04 percent for commercial drivers). Remember that you can receive a DUI if the arresting officer thinks you’re impaired “to the slightest degree.” It doesn’t matter whether your BAC level actually exceeds the legal limit.
Here is a summary of Arizona’s has several classifications of DUI offenses:
DUI Slightest Degree: generally categorized as impaired to the “slightest degree” within two hours of actual physical control of a motor vehicle. (§ 28-1381) A first offense DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor.
DUI 0.08% or more: This charge involves having a BAC of 0.08 percent if you’re 21 or over. The legal limit lowers to 0.04 percent if you’re driving a commercial vehicle and 0.00 percent if you’re underage.
Extreme DUI: You can receive an “extreme DUI” if caught driving with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. An extreme DUI charge Click here for more information on Extreme DUI.
Super extreme DUI: You can be charged with “extreme DUI” if you have a BAC of 0.20 percent more. Click here for more information on Extreme DUI.
Aggravated DUI: In Arizona, Aggravated DUI is a felony. There are four “aggravators” that can turn a misdemeanor DUI into a felony DUI.
This includes committing:
- A DUI with a suspended or revoked driver’s license, a class 4 felony;
- Your third or more DUI within 84 months (7 years), a class 4 felony;
- A DUI while legally obligated to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle; a class 4 felony;
- A DUI with a child age 15 or younger in the vehicle, is a class 6 felony.
What Happens Once You Receive DUI or DWI Charges?
The final outcome is based on the weight of the evidence and your BAC. Aside from fines, jail time, potential job loss from missed time at work and also mark on your driving record, a DUI or DWI charge can affect your life and your families in other ways. Our Phoenix and Scottsdale DUI Lawyers and skilled criminal defense team will analyze all the facts of a DUI case and lessen the charges when possible to minimize any negative ripple effects.
Penalties for First Offense
Whether charged with a DUI or DWI with a BAC less than 0.15 percent, you will generally:
- Serve at least 10 days in jail (up to six months);
- Incur fines and costs of $1250 or more;
- Have an Ignition “breathalyzer” lock on car for 12 months;
- Have your driver’s license suspended; and,
- Have an “ignition interlock device” (ignition “breathalyzer” lock) or IID on your car for 12 months.
Additional ramifications include:
- Vehicle impoundment;
- Loss of commercial license if found to be under the influence as a commercial driver;
- Community service; and,
- Requirement for SR-22 insurance.
Penalties for Second Offense (within seven years of first offense)
Whether charged with a DUI or DWI with a BAC less than 0.15 percent, you’ll usually face:
- Probation up to five years;
- 90 days in jail;
- Fines and costs of $3000 or more;
- License revoked for a year;
- Ignition “breathalyzer” lock on car for 12 months after license reinstatement;
- Possible vehicle impoundment;
- Permanent loss of commercial license if found to be under the influence as a commercial driver; and,
- At least 30 hours of community service.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test?
You can, but it probably won’t do you any good. The arresting officer can issue an “admin per se” or “implied consent” license suspension lasting for one year if you refuse a breathalyzer or blood test. The suspension can last up to two years if you refused a breathalyzer or blood test within the past seven years. If you refuse, an officer will then request a search warrant from a judge to obtain a sample of your blood or breath to determine your BAC. It usually takes less than an hour to receive the warrant. Our Phoenix and Scottsdale DUI lawyers can assist you with the collateral consequences with MVD should you be issued an order of suspension following your DUI arrest. Click here for more information regarding MVD hearings.
Charged with a DUI or DWI? Let Our Experienced Phoenix and Scottsdale DUI Lawyers Help!
There’s help. Contact an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney immediately. We offer you a FREE consultation, and also affordable payment plans. We handle cases in Mesa, Chandler, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria and also all across the state of Arizona. Our legal team is available 24/7 to take your call at 602-667-7777. So, call now!