Arizona DUI Laws & Penalties

Rising road accidents and DUI deaths compelled Arizona to become zero tolerant to drunk driving. Arizona DUI laws are not only strict, but law enforcement is harsher. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Arizona, the prosecution will work hard to press charges and convict you.

What is an Arizona DUI offense, and how is it penalized?

Driving under the influence (DUI) is the act of driving a vehicle in an intoxicated (alcohol or substance induced) condition. Such driving becomes dangerous not only to the driver but also to the general public. Arizona DUI Laws consider DUI as a criminal offense. As a minor misdemeanor, DUI impose fines, license suspension, minimum jail sentencing, and alcohol/drug DUI Class attendance. DUI as a felony involves extended jail time, and vehicle forfeiture. Under Arizona Drunk Driving Laws, a vehicle ignition interlock device is mandatory in all DUI cases, even first offenses.

What are Arizona’s laws regarding alcohol limits?

The driver is “legally impaired” and unfit to drive if blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent or more. For commercially licensed drivers like truckers, the blood alcohol limit is 0.04 percent. Arizona DUI laws are toughest on young adults. If you are under 21 years or younger, even BAC well below 0.08 percent could get you arrested. The officer may determine that you are “noticeably impaired.”

How many drinks can you have before crossing the legal BAC limit in Arizona?

A standard drink is equal to a 12-ounce beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, or a single 1.5-ounce shot of 40 percent liquor. The average woman weighing 160 pounds could consume two drinks, and a man weighing 220 pounds could consume three drinks, and stay within the legal limit. But the strength of alcohol in the drink, the gap between drinking and driving, and the individual’s alcohol tolerance are factors that increase blood alcohol content. For underage people it is not worth taking the risk as under Arizona Drunk Driving Laws even a minor BAC reading could go against you.

DUI-banner-728x90_1.jpg

In Arizona, you need not drive to commit a DUI

The DUI offense sticks if you register 0.08+ BAC within two hours of drinking. If you feel tempted to sleep off your alcoholic haze in a car parked on the curb, that may not be a good idea. It would be unwise to be in the driver’s seat with car keys in the ignition or stashed nearby. You could still face a DUI charge because you are in “actual physical control” of the vehicle with intention to drive. If you are waiting in the car for a friend or taxi to pick you up, you are safer relaxing in the backseat with the car keys out of your reach.

Arizona Penalties for a DUI Offense

The events leading to DUI arrest, and the actual BAC reading dictate the punishment. Being a repeat offender or having a minor in the vehicle compounds the seriousness of the offense Arizona DUI Laws clearly mention four DUI categories, each escalating in seriousness depending on the circumstances.

Arizona First Offense DUI BAC 0.08+ (0.04+ commercial drivers)

The very first DUI offense becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor. For people below 21 years of age, even marginal intoxication testing within 0.08 percent is enough to be arrested on a DUI charge. The following penalties may seem harsh, but they act as a deterrent against drunk driving:

  • Up to $2,500 in jail fines, fees, and supervision costs. This does not include the cost of securing bail, vehicle towing, steeper insurance premium, license reinstatement fee, defense attorney fees, cost of installing ignition interlock, and probation and community service supervision. The extra expenses may cross $27,000 in total.
  • Either a 90-day license suspension or a one-year license revocation depending on the seriousness of the offense. Driving by violating license suspension attracts higher fines. Driving with a revoked license is punishable through jail time.
  • Mandatory installation of vehicle Ignition Interlock device for at least one year.
  • Joining and completing an alcohol/drug screening, DUI education class, rehabilitation and treatment program at your own cost.

Arizona Second Offense DUI BAC 0.08+

To be classified as a second DUI offense in Arizona the offense must have happened with 7 years of a first DUI offense. A second DUI offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.

  • The Least jail sentence is for 90 days; house detention is permissible after six days with electronic supervision in lieu of remaining jail sentence. This means you have to wear an ankle transmitter or have your presence confirmed through telephone checks.
  •  Up to $3,500 in jail fees, fines, and supervision expenses, not including extra costs mentioned earlier.
  •  One-year license revocation. Driving in violation of a revoked license is punishable through extended jail time.
  • Completing an alcohol/drug screening, DUI education class, rehabilitation and treatment program.
  • Mandatory installation of vehicle Ignition Interlock device for at least one year.
  • At least 30 hours of community service.

Arizona Extreme DUI: BAC 0.15+

A first offense is treated as a misdemeanor.

BAC readings exceeding 0.15 percent include bigger penalties.

  • Jail sentence of at least 30 days; house detention is permissible after two days in jail.
  •  Roughly $2,780 in jail or home detention costs along with supervision fee.
  •  Alcohol/drug screening and DUI education class is mandatory.
  • 90-day suspension of driver’s license reflects the gravity of the offense.
  • Vehicle Ignition Interlock device for a period of one year.

Arizona Second Extreme DUI: BAC 0.15+

A second offense is treated as a felony.

Under Arizona Drunk Driving Laws, the higher BAC reading and repetition of the offense elevates the DUI charge to the level of a felony. The charge remains on record for a period of ten years which will impact your job, income earning capacity, and credit rating.

  • 120 days jail time; becoming eligible for home detention after 24 days.
  •  Fines aggregating $3,740 for jail or home detention costs along with monitoring fee. If this goes to trial, you will need a competent DUI attorney, and legal expenses could escalate.
  • Compulsory screening/counseling, and DUI education class.
  • 12 months revocation of driver’s license.
  • Vehicle Ignition Interlock device for a period of one year.
  • Community service aggregating 30 hours.

Arizona Super Extreme DUI: BAC 0.20+

A first offense Super Extreme DUI is treated as a misdemeanor in Arizona.

Classification as a misdemeanor may seem surprising, but a super extreme DUI levies penalties that are heavier than felonies.

  •  45 days jail time; becoming eligible for home detention after 3 days.
  •  Fines of $3,240 for jail or home detention costs along with supervision fee. As mentioned earlier, legal expenses will be heavier.
  • Compulsory screening/counseling and DUI education class.
  • 90-day suspension of driver’s license.
  • Vehicle Ignition Interlock installation for a period of 18 months.

Second Arizona Super Extreme DUI: 0.20+

A second Super Extreme DUI offense with a BAC of 0.20+ in Arizona is treated as a felony.

  •  180 days jail time; becoming eligible for home detention after 36 days. Under Arizona Drunk Driving Laws offenders coming from other states face longer jail terms. It becomes difficult for outsiders to hold on to their jobs when work release orders and home detention are not easy to avail.
  • Fines of $4,650 for jail or home detention costs along with monitoring fee.
  • Screening and Arizona DUI education class mandatory.
  • One-year revocation of driving privileges.
  • Possibility of one’s booking photo appearing as a DUI offender in the website of the county police department.
  •  Ignition Interlock period is extended to 24 months.
  • Community service of at least 30 months.

Arizona Aggravated DUI

An Aggravated DUI is a Class 4 to 6 Felony offense in Arizona.

This indicates that you are compounding a prior offense. Under Arizona DUI laws the level of seriousness of aggravated DUI is far above standard and extreme DUI. The following circumstances would aggravate a prior DUI:

  • You’re driving despite having your driver’s license revoked, canceled or suspended. (class 4 felony)
  • This happens to be your third or more DUI arrest within a period of seven years. (class 4 felony)
  • At the time of arrest, you are accompanying a minor under 15 years in the car. (class 6 felony)
  • You are driving drunk despite having an interlocking device installed in your vehicle. (class 4 felony)

Arizona Aggravated DUI Penalties Overview

1. When it is a first-time aggravated DUI (Class 4 Felony)

  • Imprisonment from 4 months to 4 years.
  • Basic fines and fees of $4,700, not including court expenses, trial expenses, or hospitalization.
  • Irreversible revocation of driver’s license revoked and forfeiture of car.
  • Self-financed alcohol counseling or rehabilitation program.
  • Potential community service.
  • At least 2 years of ignition interlock device, if vehicle is not forfeited.

2. When it is an aggravated DUI following prior felony convictions (Class 4 felony)

  • Jail Time between 2.25 years and 7.5 years.
  • At least $4,700 in fines and fees, not counting trial expenses, out of court expenses, and hospitalization.
  • Driver’s license revocation compounded by vehicle forfeiture.
  • Alcohol counseling and mandatory attendance of self-financed treatment programs.
  • Extended community service work as per court order.
  • At least 2 years of ignition interlock installation and maintenance in the vehicle.

Under Arizona Drunk Driving Laws when a DUI class 4 felony is compounded by one or more previous felony offenses, prison time can stretch up to 15 years.

3. When it is a first-time aggravated DUI (Class 6 felony)

  • Imprisonment up to a period of 2 years.
  • At least $4,700 in fines and fees, not including trial expenses, out of court costs, and hospitalization.
  • Driver’s license revocation, and possible vehicle forfeiture.
  • Mandatory attendance in a self-financed alcohol counseling and rehabilitation program.
  • Extended community service work as per court order.
  • At least 2 years of ignition interlock installation and maintenance in vehicle.

4. When you face a class 6 felony aggravated DUI with prior felony convictions

  • This charge, if upheld in a trial court, could include almost 3 years in prison.
  • At least $4,700 will be payable upfront as fines and fees. Assuming that you will be hiring an expert DUI attorney in your defense; legal expenses will mount.
  • Driver’s license revocation may run concurrently with vehicle forfeiture.
  • Alcohol counseling and rehabilitation program completion will be required.
  • Extended period of community service as directed by the court.
  • At least 2 years of ignition interlock installation in vehicle.

When you are facing a class 6 DUI aggravated felony which is compounded by one or more previous felony offenses, the jail time may automatically extend up to 5.75 years.

Additional Arizona resources you may need: