What Is an Extreme & Super Extreme DUI In Arizona? Laws, Penalties & Next Steps

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Under Arizona law, a driver cannot operate or otherwise physically control a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol or drugs. Drivers charged with driving under the influence (DUI) face penalties, such as fines, a jail sentence and the loss of their driving privileges. The court may also order the driver to operate their vehicle with an ignition interlock device (IID) and attend state-certified DUI education and treatment classes. The driver also faces driver's license revocation.

While a regular DUI is usually a misdemeanor in the state of Arizona, the state has what it refers to as extreme and super extreme DUIs, so a misdemeanor DUI can become a felony depending on the circumstances surrounding the arrest.

Definition of DUI in Arizona

Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher face a standard DUI charge in Arizona. They may also face this charge if their BAC level is lower, but they show obvious signs of impairment from alcohol or drugs. The legal limit is lower for a driver with a commercial license, at 0.04 percent. Underage drivers who under 21 years old face arrest with any amount of alcohol or drugs in their blood.

A driver with a first-time Arizona DUI offense faces at least 10 days in jail, a fine of $1,250 and a license suspension. For the second offense, the penalties increase to at least 90 days in jail and a $3,000 minimum fine, with a driver's license suspension of up to 12 months. In both instances, the court can require the offender to attend substance abuse education and treatment, equip their vehicle with an IID, and perform community service, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

Arizona Extreme DUI Penalties

According to Arizona Legislature statute ARS Section 28-1382, a driver who receives a charge of extreme DUI will have a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. The penalties for a first offense extreme DUI include:

  • At least 30 continuous days in jail.
  • A $2,787 fine, plus jail fees.
  • The attendance of alcohol and drug education and counseling classes.
  • License suspension.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) to be paid for by the driver for at least a year.
  • Abstinence from alcohol with a continuous alcohol monitoring or home breath testing device.

The penalties for a second extreme DUI are:

  • At least 45 continuous days in jail.
  • A $2,750 fine, plus jail fees.
  • The attendance of alcohol or drug education and counseling classes.
  • License suspension.
  • Driving with an IID to be paid for by the driver for at least 18 months.
  • Abstinence from alcohol with a continuous alcohol monitoring or home breath testing device.

Super Extreme DUI Laws and Penalties

In 2006, Arizona was one of the highest-ranking states in the U.S. in terms of DUI fatalities. The state legislature implemented the "super" extreme DUI charge to discourage drivers from getting behind the wheel while impaired. While there is no actual law that uses that specific term, the charge describes a driver with BAC of 0.20 percent or higher. Someone convicted of their first super extreme DUI offense may face these penalties:

  • Between 45 days and six months in jail.
  • An approximately $3,200 fine, plus jail fees.
  • Attendance of alcohol or drug education and treatment classes.
  • License suspension.
  • Probation.
  • Community service.
  • SR22 certificate of insurance required.
  • Driving with an IID paid for by the driver for at least 18 months.

A driver faces harsher penalties for a second super extreme DUI conviction. These include:

  • Six months of jail time.
  • An approximately $3,200 fine, plus jail fees.
  • Attendance of alcohol or drug education and treatment classes.
  • License suspension.
  • Community service.
  • Probation.
  • SR22 certificate of insurance required.
  • Driving with an IID paid for by the driver for approximately two years.

How a Misdemeanor DUI Can Become a Felony

Whether it's a first or second offense, a misdemeanor DUI becomes a felony, or aggravated DUI, under specific circumstances. Any one of the following will turn a misdemeanor of any class into a felony:

  • Law enforcement stops a driver on suspicion of DUI within 84 months of a prior infraction.
  • The driver has outstanding tickets.
  • The driver operates a vehicle on a suspended license.
  • The driver has no insurance.
  • The driver has a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle when the arrest occurs.

According to Fight DUI Charges, drivers may have a super extreme DUI charge reduced. If a prosecutor decides to do so, they will replace the charge with a lesser DUI, but this must happen before presenting the case to the court. In some instances, the driver's defense lawyer may decide that a plea bargain is a better way to get the charges reduced and will attempt this if they think there's not enough evidence to convict the driver or if the evidence is otherwise in question. If the prosecution agrees to the plea deal, they may require that the offender take on specific penalties, such as paying additional fees, doing community service or attending treatment courses.

Implied Consent and Penalties in Arizona

According to NOLO, drivers can have their licenses suspended when they refuse a chemical test to determine their intoxication. Arizona law states that they automatically consent to take a chemical test if stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of impairment. If license suspension occurs due to test refusal, the driver must wait from one to two years to request reinstatement. They must also provide proof of their completed alcohol or drug screening to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

When a driver refuses a chemical test, the arresting officer can apply for a warrant from the court and if the court agrees, the driver must submit to the test. When a driver refuses a test, the officer gives them an "order of suspension," which immediately suspends their license for 15 days and allows the officer to seize it. If convicted of this charge, the driver will lose their license for one year for the first refusal and two years for the second refusal, if it occurred within seven years of the first. The penalties for implied consent are in addition to those a driver may face from a standard, extreme, super extreme or aggravated DUI.