Driving under the influence is one of the most common criminal charges in Arizona. In fact, according to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, more than 27,000 people are arrested for an Arizona DUI each year. While DUI arrests are relatively common, they are also very serious, and a conviction can turn your entire life upside down. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, our Phoenix DUI defense attorney has over two decades of experience aggressively defending clients charged with drunk and drugged driving offenses. We understand how these cases progress through the system and know what it takes to mount a successful defense to even the toughest cases.What Are Arizona’s DUI Laws?
In Arizona, the state’s DUI law is outlined in Arizona Revised Statutes § 28-1381. This statute provides that someone commits a DUI offense if they are operating a vehicle any of the following apply:
- The driver has a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more;
- The driver is “under the influence” of drugs or alcohol; or
- The driver has certain drugs in their system.
In terms of drug DUIs, you cannot be found guilty of driving under the influence of a prescription drug if you are taking the medication as prescribed by your physician.How Does the Government Prove Intoxication?
If the government brings DUI charges against you, prosecutors must prove every element of the offense before a judge or jury can find you guilty. Thus, the government needs to prove that you either had illegal drugs in your system, that your blood-alcohol content was .08 or more, or that you were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol.
In most Phoenix DUI cases, the government will use chemical test results when trying to prove intoxication. For alcohol DUI cases, police officers primarily use breath tests but occasionally use blood tests. However, only a blood test can determine the presence of drugs in a driver’s system.Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer or Blood Test During a DUI Stop?
Under Arizona’s implied consent law, by driving on a public road, you agree to provide a blood or breath sample if you are arrested for DUI. Refusing a test after an arrest will result in an administrative driver’s license suspension. However, the implied consent law only kicks in after you’ve been arrested. Thus, you can refuse a roadside breathalyzer test (also called a preliminary breath test) without fear of penalty. However, if you refuse a preliminary breath test, it may raise the officer’s suspicions, at which point they may decide to obtain a warrant. Once an officer has a warrant, you must comply and provide a sample, or your license will be suspended.What Are the Penalties for an Arizona DUI?
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can be either a misdemeanor or felony; however, most DUIs are class 1 misdemeanors. While sentences for a misdemeanor DUI vary, a typical sentence includes a mandatory ten days in jail, a fine of at least $250, $1,000 in various assessments, and mandatory traffic school. However, the judge has the discretion to suspend all but one day in jail if you agree to complete court-ordered an alcohol or drug screening, education or treatment program.
A DUI may be graded as a felony if any of the following apply:
- You have two prior DUIs within the past seven years;
- You caused a DUI accident resulting in injuries;
- A minor under 15 was in the car;
- Your license was suspended or revoked; or
- You were required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your car but failed to do so.
If you were recently arrested and charged with a DUI, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, but you cannot give up hope. There is almost always something an experienced DUI defense attorney can do to improve your situation, and you may be able to beat your case entirely. At the Law Office of James E. Novak, we offer free, no-obligation consultations to anyone arrested for an Arizona DUI. During your consultation, we will go over the process, answer your questions, and explain how we can help get you back on the road. To learn more, and to schedule your consultation today, call 480-413-1499. You can also reach out through our online contact form.