Understanding The Differences Can Be Crucial When Facing Either Charge
Because DUIs are taken so seriously in Arizona, many people assume that they are always felony charges. However, most DUI charges in Arizona are actually misdemeanors. While this may cause some people arrested for DUI to breathe a sigh of relief, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the charges against you seriously in Arizona. Arizona has strict penalty guidelines for both misdemeanor and felony DUI convictions. In fact, even first-time offenders will be sentenced to at least one day in jail if convicted of an Arizona DUI. But first-time offenders still have it easy compared to those who are facing a second, third, etc., DUI charge. Multiple DUI arrests can also create an opportunity for felony charges. Whether this is your first or fifth DUI, a misdemeanor or a felony, you need a skillful attorney to help mitigate any negative effects this will have on your life. To schedule your free consultation with our experienced Arizona DUI lawyers, call 480-833-8000 or fill out our online form.
Arizona DUI Classifications
There are five types of misdemeanor DUI in Arizona. These are:
Per se DUI
This is the charge for being arrested while driving with a BAC (blood alcohol content) of .08-.149. You will be fined at least $1,480 and your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 90 days. You will also need to keep an IID (ignition interlock device) installed in your vehicle for at least 6 months.
You will be charged with Extreme DUI if you are arrested while driving with a BAC of .15-.19. Your jail sentence will be at least 9 days, and your fines will be at least $3,000. Your license will be suspended for at least 90 days, and you will need to keep an IID in your vehicle for one year.
Super Extreme DUI
This charge represents a BAC at the time of arrest of .20 and higher. If convicted, you will spend at least 14 days in jail. You will be fined at least $3,250 and your driver’s license will be suspended for at least 90 days. One year of having an IID in your vehicle will be mandatory.
Impaired To The Slightest Degree
In Arizona, you are presumed to be intoxicated with a BAC of .08 or higher, but a police officer can use their discretion to decide if you are intoxicated if your BAC ranges from .04 to .079. While a conviction under this charge will show you were arrested at a low-level BAC, you will still face all the same penalties as a per se DUI.
In Arizona, the legal limit for anyone under the age of 21 is 0.00. Someone under the age of 21 can be arrested for driving with even trace amounts of liquor in their system. If they are arrested with a BAC of less than .08, they can qualify for baby DUI penalties. While there is no mandatory jail time for a baby DUI, the defendant will also face up to six months in jail. The fines will be up to $2,500, and the defendant’s driver’s license will be suspended for 2 years. The defendant will also be ordered to use an IID for 2 years.
There are certain factors that will increase misdemeanor charges to felony charges in Arizona. These include:
- Having a passenger under 15 years old with you when you are arrested;
- Being convicted of DUI 2 previous times in a 7 year period;
- Being arrested while driving with a suspended, canceled, restricted, or revoked driver’s license;
- Being arrested while under current orders to have an IID installed in your vehicle; and
- Being arrested while driving on the wrong side of the highway.
As you probably guessed, the penalties for felony DUI are much harsher than for misdemeanor DUI. The minimum prison sentence for a felony DUI is 4 months. Your driver’s license will be revoked for one year, and you will need to use an IID for 2 years. Your fines will be $4,000 at a minimum.
Multiple DUI Convictions
As you can see, being convicted of DUI more than once can put you at risk of facing felony DUI charges, especially if they happen within a short time frame. But even if your charges remain a misdemeanor, the penalty ranges will be increased for every DUI category. For a secondary DUI, the defendant will need to serve at least 30 days in jail, which will be increased by at least 30 days if the defendant doesn’t complete drug and alcohol screening and treatment. The fines will be at least $3,000. The driver’s license will be revoked for one year, but can be restricted after 45 days upon IID installation. The IID will need to remain installed for at least one year.
If the defendant is convicted of a secondary extreme DUI, the minimum jail sentence is 120 days with 60 days served consecutively. The minimum fine is $3,250, and all of the license and IID penalties are the same as for a secondary per se DUI. For a secondary super extreme DUI, the minimum jail sentence is 180 days with 90 days served consecutively. The license and IID penalties are the same.
The penalties for secondary felony DUI convictions in Arizona are even more severe. For a second felony DUI conviction, the prison sentence range is 2.25 to 7.5 years, with the average sentence being about 4.5 years. A second felony DUI conviction in Arizona usually results in a driver’s license revocation of 3 years, followed by IID usage for 2 years. For a third felony DUI conviction, the prison sentence will be 6-15 years, with most of those convicted facing about 10 years. These are serious charges that will earn you similar prison sentences to abusers, thieves, and pedophiles. You need to work diligently on your defense to alleviate how much this will affect the rest of your life.
Everyone knows you risk jail time and fines when you are convicted of a crime. However, there are consequences besides those that you will face if convicted of DUI in Arizona. Installing and maintaining an IID device in your vehicle can end up costing you thousands of dollars, depending on how long you are ordered to use it. You will also need to obtain and maintain high-risk, or SR-22, auto insurance that will cost thousands of dollars more than your usual policy. You will be ordered to complete upwards of 30 hours of community service. The defendant will also need to complete drug and alcohol screening and counseling. You may have to pay jailing fees and attorney’s fees, even if you use a public defender. And all of this pales in comparison to the effect a DUI will have on your permanent record. This can keep you from getting jobs, apartments, and even licensure in certain employment fields. Don’t let a DUI arrest in Arizona virtually ruin your life. Let an experienced private defense attorney negotiate a favorable plea deal on your behalf, or even get your charges dismissed. Our attorneys offer free, confidential DUI consultations by phone. If you decide to retain, we offer great rates with payment plan options. Call 480-833-8000 or use our online form to learn more today.