Phoenix DUI Attorney

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Arizona law takes driving under the influence seriously. Drunk drivers could find themselves in jail, paying steep fines, and stripped of their driving privileges. On top of all that, a DUI conviction leaves drivers with a criminal record, making it hard for offenders to find employment or housing.

If you face a DUI charge, you should understand Arizona DUI laws. The more you know about your charges, the better you’ll navigate the legal process ahead of you. Also, just because you received a charge doesn’t mean you will automatically get a conviction. You could hire an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney to help you build a defense. Read on to learn more about the state’s DUI laws.

Phoenix DUI Lawyer

What Is a DUI in Arizona?

You could face charges for driving under the influence (DUI) if you have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 while operating a vehicle. Most people understand this aspect of the law.

However, you could also receive a DUI charge under other circumstances, including:

  • Driving with any signs of impairment from drugs or alcohol.
  • Driving as a commercial driver with a BAC of 0.04 or higher.
  • Driving as a minor (under age 21), and having any amount of alcohol in your system.
  • Simply sitting in the driver’s seat and having the capacity to drive while impaired or with a BAC of 0.08 or higher (or being impaired while in actual physical control of the vehicle).

Arizona lawPhoenix DUI attorney says that these violations could result in a class 1 misdemeanor. However, you may face more enhanced charges and penalties if you have a record of DUI convictions, have an especially high BAC, or commit other criminal violations.

You could get charged with a DUI if you violate any of the above BAC limits within two hours of driving. So, if you receive a blood test after a DUI arrest within two hours of being behind the wheel, you could face charges if your test results confirm your impairment or an illegal BAC.

Classes of DUI Charges

Not all DUI charges are the same. Instead, DUIs fall into three classes:

  • Ordinary DUI: A BAC of at least 0.08 but less than 0.149.
  • Extreme DUI: A BAC of at least 0.15 but less than 0.199.
  • Super Extreme DUI: A BAC of 0.20 or more.

Aggravated Charges

You could also receive enhanced charges and penalties in other situations, including:

  • Felony Aggravated DUI: State law says you could also receive an aggravated DUI for impaired driving under several conditions. This includes when you have certain driving restrictions, such as when you need to use an ignition interlock device or your license is suspended, canceled, or revoked. You could also receive an aggravated DUI for driving while impaired with someone under 15 in the vehicle, among other situations. A conviction for aggravated DUI could result in a felony.
  • Aggravated Assault or Manslaughter: When you drive while impaired and cause an accident resulting in injuries or fatalities, you could receive more than a DUI charge. You could also face manslaughter or aggravated assault charges. A conviction for either of these charges could lead to a felony.

Common Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Arizona

As noted by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), you could face the following fines and penalties if you receive a DUI conviction:

  • DUI – First Offense: You can receive a minimum $1,250 fine and ten days in jail. You may also be required to use an ignition interlock device and undergo community service.
  • DUI – Second Offense: You may need to pay at least $3,000 in fines and serve 90 days in jail. You’ll need to use an ignition interlock device and perform community service.
  • Extreme DUI – First Offense: This offense entails at least $2,500 in fines and 30 days in jail. Ignition interlock device use will be required along with community service.
  • Extreme DUI – Second Offense: Expect to pay at least $3,250 in fines and spend at least 120 days in jail. Use of an ignition interlock device and community service is required.
  • Aggravated DUI – First Offense: You could spend up to two years in prison with one-year license revocation. You’ll also need to use an ignition interlock device and perform community service.

You may face many other penalties for a DUI, including a license suspension, probation, points on your license, and mandatory substance abuse education. Again, your specific penalties typically depend on the severity of your offense.

If you face a license suspension, you can request an administrative hearing to review the suspension. However, you have a limited window to make this request, so you should act promptly.

Other Penalties for Repeat DUI Offenders

Drivers who commit more than one DUI often see the harshest consequences. One reason for this is that the state wants to reduce the likelihood that drivers will drive drunk again in the future.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety notes that repeat DUI offenders may face several unique consequences to deter them from future DUI offenses. Some of these approaches may provide alternatives to jail time for certain offenders.

They could include:

  • Vehicle Impoundment: If the police believe you could cause other drivers injury or death, they can impound your car. They can also do so if you need to drive with an ignition interlock device, but don’t have the device installed in your car. Research shows that impounding a vehicle can reduce the recurrence of a DUI offense by 38 percent.
  • Ignition Interlock: You may need to have an ignition interlock device installed after a DUI or repeat DUI. These devices require that you give a breath sample before you can turn on the vehicle. Violating an ignition interlock device requirement can lead to additional penalties, such as a longer period in which you must drive with the device. Requiring drivers to use these devices for a year after a DUI conviction can reduce the likelihood of a repeat DUI by 75 percent.
  • Probation Supervision and Treatment: Some repeat offenders will serve jail time, while others may receive alternative options. Intensive probation strategies attempt to address the root cause of an offender’s drinking problem and offer a combination of counseling and monitoring. Through this approach, repeat DUIs can be reduced by 48 percent.
  • Electronically Monitored House Arrest: In some cases, people with a DUI conviction can remain at home under house arrest instead of jail time. This approach requires that offenders wear a device on the wrist or ankle to transmit their location data. They may also need to take a breath test at certain intervals as prompted by a phone call. House arrest strategies can reduce the chances of another DUI by 31 percent.

Building a Defense Against a DUI Charge in Arizona

If you find yourself facing a DUI charge, you may not know what steps to take next. After all, the legal process is often intimidating. However, know that you could have options to build a defense.

Because of the serious penalties related to these crimes, you might want to consider hiring an attorney. A DUI lawyer understands the laws regarding drunk driving offenses in the state, and they know how to build a case in your defense. They could comb through the existing evidence against you and refute the prosecutor’s claims.

Some common defenses in DUI cases include:

  • Illegal Stop or Arrest: An officer may only require you to stop your vehicle if they have probable cause that you violated a law. In this case, they could pull you over for weaving or reckless driving, causing them to suspect you were impaired. However, they cannot pull you over for no reason and then charge you with drunk driving. Similarly, they cannot arrest you unless they have probable cause to believe you drove under the influence.
  • The Test Contained Errors: Any test could come with the possibility of error. A breath, blood, or urine test each entail unique sample collection and processing methods, and those who conduct these tests must do so according to strict guidelines. They must also ensure devices such as breathalyzers remain in good functioning order. A lawyer may find that your case’s evidence suggests your test had errors.
  • Not Enough Evidence: The prosecutor must have sufficient evidence to show that you violated DUI law. However, a lawyer can work to show that this evidence is not sufficient to convict you. For instance, you could have pulled over to nap after realizing that you had too much to drink. The prosecutor may argue that you had actual physical control of the vehicle even during your nap, but your lawyer could show that you did not have such control of the car.
  • Violations of Your Rights: You have rights during interactions with the police and throughout the criminal legal process. For example, if you faced an arrest for a DUI but did not receive a warning of your Miranda rights, this could constitute a rights violation. Also, if you did not receive notice of your right to an administrative hearing, you could argue that your rights were violated.

A lawyer could take other approaches to a DUI defense beyond those listed above and could work to show that you do not deserve a conviction.

Other Ways a Lawyer Can Help With a DUI Charge

During a criminal case, your DUI lawyer can:

  • Review and Investigate Your Case’s Evidence: A lot of evidence goes into any legal case. A lawyer can sift through it all. They can identify where the prosecution’s case may prove weaker and gather additional evidence to challenge their claims.
  • Use Their Knowledge of Arizona DUI Laws: Just because an officer believes you drove while impaired doesn’t mean you will get a DUI. The prosecution must make their case based on state law, and a lawyer can use their knowledge of the law to defend you.
  • Help You Navigate the Court System: Courts in Arizona operate based on strict procedures. They may also require that you submit certain paperwork by certain times, appear for hearings and trial dates, and otherwise comply with court orders. A lawyer can ensure you navigate the courts smoothly.
  • Negotiate to Reduce Your Penalties and Charges: A DUI defense lawyer can work with the prosecutor to reduce the potential consequences you face. They could help you lower your fines, reduce your charges, or even see the charges dropped.
  • Represent You at Trial: A DUI lawyer can help you through every step of the legal process, including trial. They can work to protect your rights, cross-examine any witnesses, make statements on your behalf, and handle other matters during the trial.

A lawyer can also handle many other tasks related to your case, including the day-to-day business related to paperwork, communications with other parties, document management, and other matters.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Regarding Arizona DUI Laws

Getting a DUI is often overwhelming, and the idea of receiving a DUI charge is just as alarming. Consider these answers to some common DUI-related questions:

How Do the Police Know if I Am Too Impaired to Drive?

As the Arizona Department of Public Safety points out, drinking alcohol quickly leads to impairment. After a 120-pound person drinks just two 5-ounce glasses of wine or 12-ounce glasses of beer, they could have an elevated BAC to the point that an officer may see them as possibly impaired.

Unfortunately, alcohol can also impair your decision-making, so drinking can also make it harder to know when you shouldn’t get behind the wheel.

Can I Get a DUI for Drug Impairment?

Yes, you could get a DUI if you drive under the influence of drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines, heroin, or other illegal substances. This also includes vaping devices or other vapor-releasing products that cause intoxication.

You could also receive charges for driving under the influence of controlled substances. Drivers should know that impairment by prescription medication may still constitute impairment and can lead to a DUI charge. Be careful with any over-the-counter or prescription medicines that could make you unfit to drive. Some of these drugs cause drowsiness, slowed movement, blurred vision, and other issues.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some medications that can affect your driving include:

  • Opioids
  • Drugs with codeine
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Anti-anxiety drugs
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • Antidepressants

What Happens if I Drive Another Car Without an Ignition Interlock?

You may need to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle after a DUI conviction, and if you do, you must only drive in a vehicle with the device installed. If you fail to do so, you could see your original timeframe for using the device extended by one year.

Even if you don’t own the vehicle that you drive, you need to have the device installed if you intend to get behind the wheel. For instance, if you drive your partner’s car, you need to install an interlock device on their vehicle.

A Drunk Driver Hit Me. What Can I Do?

If a drunk driver caused your accident, they could bear liability for your injuries and damages. While the criminal case may punish the driver, you can also bring a separate civil case to seek compensation from that party. Through a claim or civil lawsuit, you could recover compensation for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and other accident-related losses.

What a DUI Criminal Defense Attorney Might Do

Phoenix dui lawyerWhen you work with an Phoenix defense attorney experienced with Arizona DUI Laws, he or she might help by doing the following things:

  • Explain the laws, potential penalties, and court procedures
  • Engage in plea bargaining to try to get a reduced charge or sentence
  • File evidentiary motions to seek the suppression of some or all of the evidence
  • Appear on your behalf in court
  • Fight for your rights up to and through a jury or court trial

Working with an experienced defense attorney might make it much likelier that you will obtain a favorable outcome in your case. To learn more, contact us today to schedule a consultation.

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