What You Should Expect From a First Offense DUI in Arizona

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Penalties for a first Arizona driving under the influence (DUI) offense include a minimum jail sentence of 10 consecutive days; a minimum fine of $1,250; 90-day driver’s license suspension; one-year installation of an ignition interlock device (IID); alcohol school; completion of traffic school; and 30 hours community service, according to Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) Section 28-1381. The judge has the power to suspend all but one day of the jail sentence if the offender completes a court-ordered alcohol or other drug screening, education or treatment program. A DUI offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum jail sentence of six months, according to ARS Section 13-707.

What Is a First Offense DUI?

In some states, drunk driving is known as DWI, or driving while intoxicated. In Arizona, the term DUI is used for driving under the influence of alcohol. A standard first DUI is defined as a first offense of driving, or being in actual physical control of, a vehicle if the person is impaired to the slightest degree. Alternatively, this type of DUI offense is defined as driving, or being in actual physical control of, a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle. For a driver under 21, a first DUI is defined as driving with a BAC showing any alcohol content, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT).

First Extreme DUI and First Super Extreme DUI

Under Arizona DUI laws, a first extreme DUI is a first offense of driving, or being in actual physical control of, a vehicle with a BAC of between 0.15 and 0.19 percent, well above the legal limit. The increased penalties for a first extreme DUI include a minimum of 30 of jail time and a minimum fine of $2,500, as well as the remaining penalties for a standard DUI arrest.

A first "super" extreme DUI is defined as a first offense of driving, or being in actual physical control of, a vehicle with a BAC level of 0.20 percent or more. The increased penalties for a first super extreme DUI include six months in jail, a minimum fine of $3,250, one-year driver’s license suspension and two-year IID installation, as well as the remaining penalties for a standard DUI. The enhanced penalties can be found in ARS Section 28-1382.

Do Out-of-State Prior DUIs Count?

An out-of-state first DUI will count as a DUI in Arizona if the DUI laws in the other state are substantially similar to those in Arizona. For example, a California first DUI conviction for driving with a BAC of 0.08 percent or above would count in Arizona. In some cases, a driver has a prior out-of-state first DUI conviction that Arizona does not count as a first DUI, but the driver could still receive a more punitive plea offer from an Arizona prosecutor than if they had no prior DUIs at all. This is because a defendant with any type of criminal history involving substance abuse may not be deemed eligible for a lenient plea offer.

What Is an Aggravated DUI?

The term aggravated DUI refers to a variety of offenses, including committing a DUI while the person has a suspended, canceled, revoked or refused driver’s license; committing a third DUI within seven years of two prior DUIs; committing a DUI with a person under 15 years of age in the vehicle; and committing a DUI while driving the wrong way on a highway, according to ARS Section 28-1383. A charge of aggravated DUI can involve a first offense, but also a second, third or subsequent DUI. Penalties for an aggravated DUI include a minimum of four months of incarceration, a three-year driver’s license revocation and installation of an ignition interlock device for two years, as well as the other standard DUI penalties.

An aggravated DUI can be charged as a Class 4 felony or a Class 6 felony, depending on the section of the statute the offender violates. The mandatory period of incarceration for a Class 4 felony is between one year and three years. The mandatory period of incarceration for a Class 6 felony is between four months and two years, according to ARS Section 13-702.

Who Can Participate in Arizona DUI Court?

DUI Court may be an option for an individual facing an aggravated DUI charge, according to the Judicial Branch of Arizona, Maricopa County. DUI Court involves increased supervision and monitoring by the court, the Adult Probation Department and treatment providers. An individual who successfully completes the program may see their DUI charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor DUI. DUI Court is not an option for an individual charged with a standard DUI, an extreme DUI or super extreme DUI.

Getting a Restricted Driver's License

First-time offenders convicted of a DUI may be eligible for a restricted driver permit, according to the ADOT. A person who is eligible for a restricted permit will receive the permit automatically mailed to their address of record between 22 and 30 days after the suspension period begins. The individual must not have requested a hearing with Arizona Motor Vehicle Services (MVD).

The individual must serve at least 30 days of the suspension period before the restricted driving privilege starts. The restricted permit allows travel between home, work, school and a treatment center.

Consequences of a First Time Refusal

An individual who drives on Arizona’s roads has given implied consent to testing for drugs and alcohol impairment. An individual who refuses to take a test or who does not successfully complete any tests when arrested for a DUI will automatically lose their driving privilege for one year for a first refusal, according to ADOT. Further, the driver is required to complete an alcohol or drug screening before getting a restricted permit or reinstating their driving privilege.

Is Deferred Prosecution an Option in Arizona?

Arizona does not allow an individual to receive a deferred prosecution for a drunk driving charge. An individual facing a DUI charge can consult a defense attorney about the possibility of the charge being downgraded to a reckless driving charge. Reckless driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of four months of incarceration. An individual convicted of reckless driving must also suffer a maximum driver’s license suspension of 90 days.