Driving under the influence

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Driving under the influence or DUI is often not regarded as a serious offense. This opinion changes instantly after hearing the charges you might face if caught behind the wheel with alcohol in your system. The state of Arizona has zero tolerance for DUI crimes and the consequences can be much more serious than you would imagine if you are not well-informed on the subject.

The legal upper limit for blood alcohol content in Arizona is set a 0.08. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the legal limit is 0.04.

While the majority of DUI offenses are classified as misdemeanors, there are some cases when the offense can be classified as a felony – if the blood alcohol content exceeds 0.15.

Misdemeanor Charges for DUI

In cases when a person is caught driving under the influence of alcohol with a blood alcohol content of over 0.08, jail time is on the table. The offenders are usually given 90 days in prison, yet after serving six days they are eligible for home detention instead. The fines for standard DUI can go up to $2500, with an additional $80 monitoring fee and the jail or home detention costs. The driver’s licence will also be revoked for a year and consequently, an interlock device will be installed on the vehicle that the offender will need to pay $1000 for. Screening and counseling sessions will be required, as well as 30 hours of community service.

First-Time Offenders

Luckily, for standard DUI there are some exceptions in the law that allow a DUI offender to face a lesser sentence. First-time standard DUI offenders can get 10 days in prison, a $250 fine, a $500 fine to the prison construction and operation fund and $500 to the public safety equipment fund. The interlock device will still need to be installed on the vehicle and counseling sessions and screening are mandatory. If the counseling sessions and the screening are satisfactory, the court might decide to drop all the charges, yet the convict will need to serve at least a day in prison.

Extreme DUI Charges

In Arizona, extreme DUI cases are defined as a person caught driving under the influence of alcohol and their blood alcohol concentration are over 0.15 for or over 0.20 which is classified as a more serious extreme DUI offense.

A person charged with DUI who had a blood alcohol content above 0.15 but below 0.20 can face a minimum of 30 consecutive days in prison. They are not eligible for parole or a suspended sentence. The fines are set at minimum $250, yet it is likely that they will be much higher than that. Jail costs are applicable as well. After the initial fine, you would also need to pay an additional $250 to the city or the state treasurer. You will be required to have an interlock device installed on your vehicle which you will have to pay $1000 for and your driver’s licence will be suspended for 90 days. Counseling and screening sessions will be required and it is likely that you will be asked to do community service as well.

A second such DUI offense will result in a much more serious punishment – 120 days in jail, a year revocation of the driver’s licence and even higher fees.

In cases where the blood alcohol content exceeds 0.20, the charges are greater, even if you are a first time offender. The Arizona laws state that a person charged with one such felony can face 45 days in prison without the possibility for parole or a suspended sentence. The minimum fine is $500, yet it is possible for it to be much higher. The convict will need to pay $1000 for an interlock device to be installed on the vehicle which will need to be active for 18 months, as well as additional $250 to the city or state treasurer and the jail costs.  The driver’s licence will be suspended for 90 days and the individual would need to do community service.

If the person commits a second such extreme DUI offense, then they are looking at 180 days in prison, driver’s licence revocation of one year, an interlock device on the vehicle for 4 months and 30 months of community service. (See also: [Infographic] How Much Does Blood Alcohol Concentration Impact Your Driving?)

Aggravated DUI

An aggravated DUI is considered a felony in the state of Arizona. The punishment for one such offense is high – 8 months in prison, an initial fine of $250, $1500 to the city or state treasurer, an additional minimum fine of $750 and driver’s licence suspension for a year.

A DUI is classified as aggravated if:

  1. A child under 15 was in the vehicle
  2. The individual has two previous DUI offenses in the last 7 years
  3. They didn’t use the interlock device as per the court order
  4. The person was driving under the influence while their driver’s licence was under a suspension

It is obvious that DUI is not taken lightly in Arizona. If you are arrested for DUI, it is best to use your right to remain silent and get in contact with a criminal defense attorney immediately. To make your situation as favorable as possible, remain calm and follow the instructions from the officers and help your defense by not saying anything. A criminal defense attorney can do the talking on your behalf to ensure you get the best out of the situation.

About The Author:

Liz S. Coyle is the Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. She also serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department. She is responsible for internal and external communications for the firm.

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