Driving under the influence of alcohol can have dire consequences for drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and anyone else on the road. Understandably, law enforcement has cracked down on alcohol-related offenses in recent years, assigning fines, license suspension, and ongoing consequences that scale with the severity of the offense. While it’s good that our community is discouraging reckless driving habits, responsible drivers in the Phoenix area may get unjustly charged with a DUI offense and thus may face immediate license suspension. Even a first-time offense can carry serious implications, including license suspension and a criminal record. Rather than facing the consequences of a crime you did not commit, it’s best to seek the counsel of an experience DUI defense lawyer.
DUI Offenses in Arizona
Like many states, Arizona has a strict policy regarding the use of one’s license following a DUI conviction. In most cases, a first-time DUI conviction carries a sentence including the suspension of one’s license for at least 90 days. Depending on the circumstances of the charges, this suspension may continue for up to a year.
Moreover, and perhaps more concerning, is the fact that a driver does not even need to have his or her blood alcohol content (BAC) proven in order to be charged with a DUI. If someone refuses to take a BAC test, or if someone is simply suspected of driving under the influence, that person may have his or her license suspended before a conviction even takes place. This is because the state of Arizona treats driving as a privilege and not a right, and this “implied consent” gives officers the right to charge a driver with DUI in lieu of hard evidence. This can create a grey area when it comes to DUI charges, necessitating a solid defense in cases where drivers are wrongly accused and suspension is issued imprudently.
Circumstances of License Suspension
First-time DUI convictions tend to result in license suspension for at least 90 days when a driver shows a BAC level of .08 or above. This charge can also result in fines of at least $250, the installation of an ignition interlock device, alcohol education or treatment classes, and a criminal record. For drivers under the age of 21, these charges may apply if he or she shows any BAC level whatsoever.
While it may seem that refusing a BAC test is an exercise of one’s rights, it can actually result in even greater consequences when the police officer strongly suspects him or her of driving under the influence of alcohol. By refusing a test, drivers may face license suspension for up to a year.
When a driver’s BAC test reveals a BAC of .15 or higher, the charges are especially severe. Drivers will most likely face a month of jail time and a fine of at least $2,500 in addition to license suspension. Needless to say, subsequent DUI offenses carry increasingly serious consequences.
Can a Suspended License Be Appealed?
Because licenses are often suspended immediately as soon as the paperwork clears, there is little if any due process. Therefore, it is certainly possible to challenge a suspension via court hearing. With an experienced DUI defense lawyer, you stand a good chance of overturning unfair charges against you, especially if your BAC was misrepresented or if your charges are based purely on speculation.
Challenging suspensions can be tricky, however, as there are two sides to the coin. Even if drivers can convince a judge to drop their DUI charges due to a lack of evidence, a civil violation may arise if that person refused to cooperate with law enforcement, possibly leading to additional charges. This makes it all the more necessary to rely on a tactful attorney who will can represent your interests.
Keep Your Driving Privileges
There is no reason a responsible, law-abiding driver should have to face license suspension on false pretenses. If you are facing DUI charges and want to ensure you are fairly represented in court, contact our office to speak with James E. Novak, DUI and criminal defense attorney.