Arizona DUI (Driving Under the Influence)
Arizona DUI Types and DUI Questions
Under Arizona law, a person may be charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”) if they are driving or in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. (It is also illegal in Arizona to drive while under the influence of drugs, but drug DUIs are not covered in this article.)
A prosecutor may prove that a person was driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle in a variety of ways. Specific factors that may contribute to a finding of actual physical control of a vehicle include the location of the vehicle itself; the location of the vehicle’s keys; the person’s location within in the vehicle; whether the ignition was on; and whether the person was awake or asleep. In other words, you can get an actual physical control DUI even when you’re not actually driving the vehicle.
In Arizona there are four main types of DUI charges: DUI, extreme DUI, super-extreme DUI, and aggravated DUI.
DUI (Impaired to the Slightest or Above 0.08%)
A “regular” DUI charge is the lowest DUI charge within Arizona. Even though a regular DUI charge is the lowest, there are mandatory minimum sentences. A a conviction will lead to fines and surcharges over $1,250; community service obligations; a 90-day driver’s license suspension; ignition interlock device installation for one year; substance abuse screening; and up to ten days in jail (nine of which may be suspended upon completion of counseling).
In Arizona, prosecutors have two different ways to prove a regular (lowest) DUI, but the two potential charges – (1) impaired to the slightest degree or (2) having a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08% of higher – are punishable by the same legal penalties if you are convicted.
A regular DUI can be charged if your BAC is 0.08%, or if your BAC is 0.04% or above if you have a commercial driver’s license. If you are found driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and your BAC is 0.08% or above, the prosecution does not need to prove that you were actually impaired (i.e. that alcohol was actually affecting your bodily functions); a BAC of 0.08% or above, by itself, establishes a legal presumption of impairment even if you were driving safely and following the rules of the road.
A regular DUI can also be charged if you are driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while “impaired to the slightest degree.”
First time DUI convictions in Arizona are class 1 misdemeanors unless aggravating circumstances are present, such as a DUI with a child under age 15 in the vehicle, or a DUI while driving on the wrong side of a highway.
In Arizona, a person driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while having a BAC of 0.15% of or higher (but below 0.20%) is typically charged with extreme DUI, which is a class 1 misdemeanor.
There are mandatory minimum sentences for this offense. An extreme DUI conviction will result in fines and surcharges of $2,500 or more; suspension or revocation of your driver’s license; ignition interlock device installation for one year; substance abuse screening; a traffic survival course; and a mandatory 30-day jail sentence (21 of which may be suspended upon successful completion of counseling).
Super Extreme DUI
A super-extreme DUI is typically charged in Arizona when a person is driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while having a BAC of 0.20% or above. There are mandatory minimum sentences for this offense. A super-extreme DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor and will result in fines and surcharges of $3,300 or more; suspension or revocation of your driver’s license for a year or more; ignition interlock device installation for two years; substance abuse screening; a traffic survival course; and a mandatory 45 days (31 can be suspended with completion of alcohol counseling)
Aggravated DUI, or felony DUI, is the most severe drunk-driving offense in Arizona. Aggravated DUI is not based on BAC, but rather on the presence of additional aggravating circumstances such as driving drunk with a passenger under age 15 (class 6 felony); driving drunk while having a suspended or revoked driver’s license (class 4 felony); driving drunk while having two or more DUI convictions within the seven years before the current DUI charge (class 4 felony); driving drunk while having an ignition interlock (class 4 felony); or driving drunk while also driving the wrong way on a highway (class 4 felony). A class 4 felony DUI is minimum sentence of 4 months, so if you are convicted then the judge must sentence you to at least four months in jail with a maximum sentence of 3.75 years in prison.
If multiple aggravating factors are present, such as driving drunk while having a suspended license and having a passenger under age 15 in the vehicle, then a person may be charged with multiple counts of aggravated DUI.
In some aggravated DUI cases, offenders can have their driver’s license completely revoked or be sentenced up to 10 years of probation. Violating the terms of probation can lead to more jail time and harsher sentences.
Admin Per Se
Arizona police officers must give an "admin per se" warning when asking for blood or breath evidence during an investigation. This warning is extremely similar to Miranda warnings. If the officer gives you an admin per se warning and you refuse to take the tests, then the Arizona MVD will suspend your driving privileges for an entire year.
You can ask for a hearing regarding the license suspension, however, this is not part of the criminal case. It is a separate civil case with the MVD where you are only entitled to notice and an opportunity to be heard. Frequently, in these types of hearings, if the officer shows up to testify at the hearing, the year-long suspension will be upheld.
Frequently Asked Questions – Arizona DUI
What is considered a DUI in Arizona?
According to the laws of the state of Arizona, a driver is typically “under the influence” if they have a blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) of 0.08% or more while driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle; however, a driver with a commercial driver’s license may be considered under the influence with a BAC of 0.04% or more.
What will happen to my driver's license?
This depends on what happens during the investigation of the DUI and which charge you are convicted of if found guilty. If you refuse admin per se, your license will be automatically suspended for a year. Simple DUIs usually result in only a 90-day suspension that typically happens shortly after the officer cites you for the DUI. More serious DUIs such as extremes, super extremes, and aggravated DUIs result in suspensions that require getting ignition interlock devices. The MVD will not reinstate your license without proof that you’ve complied with and completed the ignition interlock requirements.
Is DUI a felony in AZ?
Most of DUIs in Arizona are misdemeanors, but aggravated DUIs is a felony. Aggravated DUI means the presence of aggravating factors while driving drunk, such as having a passenger under age 15; having a suspended or revoked driver’s license; having two or more DUI convictions within the seven years before the current DUI charge; having an ignition interlock (class 4 felony); or driving the wrong way on a highway.
Is jail time mandatory for DUI in Arizona?
In Arizona, all DUIs carry mandatory jail time. Regular (0.08% or impaired-to-the-slightest) DUIs require a 10-day jail sentence (although 9 can be suspended); extreme DUIs (0.15% or higher) require a 30-day jail sentence (although 21 can be suspended); super extreme DUIs require a 45-day jail sentence (although 31 can be suspended); and aggravated DUIs require a prison sentence of four months to 44 months.
Can I get rid of a DUI in Arizona?
Within the state of Arizona, DUI convictions can never be expunged. However, you can ask the court to “set aside” your case once it is closed. A DUI conviction which has been set aside will appear on background checks, but the set-aside indicates that you have completed all punishments imposed by the court. Arizona DUI convictions that are set aside remain on the defendants’ criminal record forever.
A person with a DUI conviction may also be eligible for sealing the records surrounding the arrest and conviction after a statutorily allowed period of time. For more on set asides and sealing records please view our blog on Expungements, Set Asides, and Sealing of Records.
Does a DUI affect my insurance? If so, how does a DUI affect my insurance?
Within the state of Arizona, insurances have a “look-back period” of 84 months (7 years). If you have a DUI within the 7-year look-back period, it may affect your auto insurance rates.
What is an underage DUI or “baby DUI?”
Arizona has zero tolerance when it comes to underage drinking and driving. Underage DUI is sometimes referred to as a “baby DUI.” A baby DUI happens when someone under age 21 has a BAC above 0.00% within 2 hours of being in control of a vehicle. Underage DUIs carry different penalties than a regular DUI. An underage DUI conviction has a minimum jail time up to 24 hours and maximum of 10 days in jail, fines up to $1,600, license suspension of 90 to 360 days.
Can The 928 Law Firm help with an Arizona DUI?
Every DUI case is different, and the penalties described above are based on first-time (non-repeat) offenders. If you have prior DUI convictions, then a new DUI charge may result in significantly harsher penalties.
Schedule a free DUI defense consultation with The 928 Law Firm. Our experienced attorneys will fight for you, whether you are facing misdemeanor DUI or felony DUI charges.