Call it what you want — DUI or DWI — driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Arizona puts you at risk of some serious legal repercussions. Rack up multiple DUIs and you’ll find yourself in even more hot water, as the penalties get progressively harsher with each offense.
What’s more, Arizona’s strict DUI laws mean you can get a DUI without actually driving your vehicle (more on that later).
Whether you’re facing your first, second, or umpteenth DUI charge, the criminal defense team at Jackson White Law is here to help. Our seasoned attorneys have decades of experience defending Arizonans against DUI charges in Mesa and the greater Phoenix area, so they know how to aggressively work your case to produce the best possible outcome.
DUI Laws in Mesa, Arizona
Before we get into the consequences of DUI charges in Arizona and how to defend yourself against them, it helps to have a firm understanding of the local laws. Here’s a quick overview of Arizona’s DUI laws and how they may pertain to your situation.
Driving Under the Influence
There are four scenarios that may merit DUI charges in Arizona. According to ARS 28-1381, a person cannot drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle under any of the following circumstances:
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, or a vapor-releasing substance containing a toxic substance, if the person is impaired to the slightest degree
- The driver has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle
- A commercial vehicle operator has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more
- The driver has an illicit drug or its metabolite in their body
Note that while the law explicitly lists an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more as qualification for a DUI charge, there’s a surprising amount of wiggle room within the notion of being impaired to the slightest degree or simply having an illicit drug in your system. That means you can technically be charged with a DUI in Arizona even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is under 0.08.
In addition to Arizona’s standard DUI laws, the state allows even harsher penalties for extreme DUIs. To qualify for an extreme DUI, your blood alcohol concentration must be 0.15 or higher.
Arizona’s “Not a Drop” law
Arizona’s “Not a Drop” law — sometimes referred to as a “Baby DUI” — is intended to curtail underage drinking and driving. The law states that a driver who is younger than 21 can be charged with a DUI for having any trace of alcohol in their system.
In addition to the stricter regulations, a Baby DUI results in a mandatory two-year license suspension. The class 2 misdemeanor is only punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $750 (both of which are much less severe than a regular DUI), but the two-year suspension makes this one a seriously costly penalty for juveniles.
Can you get a DUI in Arizona without actually driving?
Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes. The law’s inclusion of “being in actual control of a vehicle” means that you can get a DUI before you even leave your parking spot.
Penalties for DUI convictions in Arizona
Arizona’s criminal code considers DUIs and extreme DUIs a class 1 misdemeanor. The good news is that it means you’re not facing the harsher penalties of a felony crime, but the bad news is you’ll still be looking at some stiff repercussions — especially if this isn’t your first DUI in the last 7 years.
Penalties for first-time DUIs
DUI convictions in Arizona always come with four penalties: jail time, fines, a suspended license, and an ignition interlock device. The severity of these four penalties depends on your blood alcohol concentration, which you’ll find summarized in the following table:
BAC: 0.08 – 0.14
BAC: 0.15 – 0.19
|Jail||10+ days*||30+ days**||45+ days***|
|License Suspension||90+ days||90+ days||90+ days|
|Ignition Interlock Device||1+ years w/ possible 6-month reduction||1+ years||1+ years|
If those jail sentences are making you sweat, here’s some good news: the judge has a fair amount of leeway to suspend the majority of your jail time for first-time offenders. For a standard DUI, all but 24 hours of jail time may be suspended once your alcohol screening is complete. For extreme DUIs, the judge can suspend all but 9-14 days depending on your BAC if you install an ignition interlock device in your car.
Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders
As is the case with most criminal convictions in Arizona, repeat offenders can expect harsher penalties for multiple DUI convictions within a rolling seven-year period. Here’s what the minimum sentencing guidelines look like for your second, third, and subsequent DUIs:
BAC: 0.08 – 0.14
BAC: 0.15 – 0.19
|Jail||90+ days||120+ days||180+ days|
|License Suspension||1+ years||1+ years||1+ years|
|Ignition Interlock Device||1+ years||1+ years||1+ years|
As with first-time DUI offenders, there’s a bit of leeway with the jail sentence — though it’s significantly less in this case. In standard DUI cases, the judge may suspend all but 30 days of the jail sentence, which must be served consecutively. In extreme DUI cases, the judge may suspend all but 60-90 days of the jail sentence, which must also be served consecutively.
Mesa DUI Criminal Defense Lawyers
DUI convictions are no laughing matter in Mesa, Arizona. Drunk drivers can expect little sympathy from criminal court judges in Maricopa County, so you’ll need an experienced attorney at your side to ensure you’re not unfairly punished or convicted.
While Arizona’s DUI laws are quite strict, the good news is that the same laws provide ample opportunities to defend yourself in court. Many DUI cases can result in the charges being dropped with the assistance of a seasoned attorney, and those that can’t be dropped can at least expect their attorney to minimize the penalties significantly.
In short, you may not need an attorney to represent yourself in a DUI case, but if you want the best shot at dropping the charges, striking a deal, or successfully defending the case in court, you’ll need an experienced criminal law attorney who’s willing to aggressively work your case.
Free DUI Case Reviews in Mesa
If you’re facing DUI charges in Mesa and the greater Phoenix area, we invite you to schedule a free, confidential case review with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.
During your case review, our seasoned attorneys will listen to your concerns, ask questions to understand the specifics of your case, and explain how the legal process will work in the course of defending your case. We’ll explain the laws and penalties that your case is subject to, discuss potential paths forward, and provide recommendations for your defense.
Jackson White Law serves Arizona residents with multiple offices across the Phoenix metro area. At our Mesa office, we handle all types of criminal defense offenses, including domestic violence, theft crimes, violent crimes and more. Visit our practice areas page to learn more.
Address: 40 N. Center St, Mesa, AZ 85201
Phone number: (480) 372-9090
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