For those facing Arizona DUI charges, it is crucial to understand what they are up against before deciding how to proceed. An Arizona DUI conviction can carry severe penalties, including jail time. These penalties can increase significantly based on the existence of certain aggravating factors. The following article provides an overview of the potential short-term and long-term legal consequences of a DUI conviction.
First DUI Offense
As with every other state, it is unlawful for an individual under the influence of a controlled substance (i.e., alcohol or drugs) to operate a vehicle in Arizona. To determine whether someone suspected of a DUI is actually under the influence, law enforcement will test his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Generally, if a driver’s BAC is measured at 0.08 or greater, they are considered to be guilty of driving under the influence. However, if the driver is under the age of 21, they may be found guilty of a DUI if there is any alcohol in their system.
If convicted, a first time DUI offender faces a penalty of at least ten days in jail, and a fine of no less than $1,250. In addition, the driver will have their driving privileges suspended for 90-days. To have driving privileges reinstated, the driver may have to undergo alcohol screening, education and treatment plans, and have their vehicle equipped with a certified ignition interlock device. On top of that, a person may also be required to perform community service. This may sound severe, but keep in mind that this is only for a first-time offense with no aggravating circumstances.
Certain factors increase the severity of potential penalties for a DUI conviction. The first of these is whether the driver has past DUI offenses on their record. An individual with a prior DUI conviction will face a minimum of 90 days in jail and a $3,000 fine. A conviction would also result in a 12-month revocation of their driving privileges. Furthermore, the driver may still be required to complete classes, have an ignition interlock device installed in their car, and complete community service hours.
Another factor increasing potential DUI penalties is the BAC of the driver at the time of the incident. If the driver’s BAC is measured at 0.15 or higher, they may be charged with an extreme DUI. Someone accused of an extreme DUI faces a minimum of 30 days in jail and a minimum fine of $2,500. These penalties also increase if the driver has past DUI offenses on their record. Each subsequent extreme DUI offense carries with it a potential minimum sentence of 120 days in jail and a $3,250 fine.
Finally, another category of DUI offense is an aggravated DUI. This category applies where any of the following was true when the offense occurred: (1) the driver’s license is suspended or revoked at the time of the offense; (2) it is the driver’s third DUI offense in seven years; (3) a person under the 15 was a passenger in the vehicle; (4) the person was under an ignition interlock device requirement. An aggravated DUI carries the most severe incarceration penalty — up to two years in state prison. That is in addition to license revocation for 12-months, and any of the other potential punishments and requirements listed above.
The punishments imposed by a court are not the only negative consequences of a DUI conviction. The stigma of a criminal conviction is also likely to have a lasting effect on anyone found guilty of a DUI. This stigma can lead to the loss of opportunities for employment, housing, and even community involvement. While the punishments handed down by the court will end, these consequences will last as long as the record does.
Are You Facing a DUI charge in Tempe?
If you are facing an Arizona DUI case, it is crucial to understand what is on the line. Arizona drunk driving convictions can carry significant consequences that can potentially follow you for life. Attorney James E. Novak is a former prosecutor and one of Tempe’s highest-rated DUI attorneys. He uses his decades of experience to ensure that your interests are protected at every step of the process. Call 480-413-1499 today to schedule a free consultation.