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The Arizona DUI Guide
Super Extreme DUI's
Physical Control Defense
Arizona (ADOT) MVD
I was just arrested for an Arizona DUI offense. What happens now?
ISSUE ONE: The Arizona Implied Consent / Administrative License Suspension Proceeding: Under Arizona law, any person who operates a motor vehicle in the State of Arizona gives consent to a test or tests of the person's blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance for the purpose of determining alcohol concentration or drug content if the person is arrested for any DUI offense while the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. This is known as Arizona's implied consent law.
Pursuant to this implied consent law, your Arizona drivers license (or your right to drive in Arizona if you're not a Arizona licensed driver) was most likely suspended for anywhere from 90 days to two years for failing (0.08 % BAC or higher (lower for minors or if driving a commercial vehicle)) or for refusing a breath test.
Read your paperwork carefully. You have only a short time―generally 15 days―to request a hearing to challenge / appeal your implied consent suspension. This is commonly referred to as an MVD Hearing.
ISSUE TWO: The DUI Criminal Charge: Distinct from the implied consent suspension is the criminal charge for driving under the influence or DUI. Under Arizona law, it is unlawful for you to drive or be in actual physical control (APC) of a vehicle in the State of Arizona under any of the following circumstances:
1. While you are under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if you are impaired to the slightest degree; or
2. If you have a blood / breath alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle; or
3. While there is any controlled substance (drug) or controlled substance metabolite in your body; or
4. If the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle that requires a person to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL) and the you have a BAC of 0.04 percent or more.
If you had a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher, you were likely arrested for Extreme DUI (or a Super Extreme DUI if your BAC is 0.20 percent or greater).
If you had a child under 15 years of age in the car or if you have certain prior DUI / DWI convictions, you may be facing a felony DUI offense known as an Aggravated DUI.
Each of these charges is serious and carry the potential for fines, jail, and license suspensions / revocations. Make sure you do not miss any court appearances or a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
Important: The implied consent proceeding and the criminal offense are completely separate from one another.
Will my Arizona drivers license be revoked / suspended?
RELATED TO ISSUE ONE ABOVE: Your Arizona drivers license (or your right to drive in Arizona if you do not have a valid Arizona license) may be suspended for failing (BAC .08% or greater (lower for persons driving commercial vehicles and minors (persons under 21 years of age))) or for refusing a breath or blood test. If you act quickly (typically within 15 days of your arrest), you can request an appeal of the proposed implied consent suspension with the MVD. A hearing will then be scheduled on your request.
RELATED TO ISSUE TWO ABOVE: If you are convicted of the DUI, Extreme DUI, or Aggravated DUI, you will also lose your AZ license (or your right to drive in Arizona if you don't have a valid Arizona license) for some period of time. These suspensions / revocations typically last from 180 days to three years. Talk to your AZ DUI lawyer for possible suspension / revocation lengths for your situation.
Always keep in mind that your license can be suspended for a variety of other reasons unrelated to your DUI offense.
What happens if I get caught driving while my Arizona drivers license is suspended / revoked?
Driving while your license is suspended or revoked should be avoided as it is a new crime. Penalties included a fine, jail time, and an additional suspension of your license. Your vehicle may be impounded by law enforcement as well. If you're on probation for DUI offense, a conviction for driving while suspended or revoked will violate your probation and could result in additional jail time for the PV (probation violation).
I really need to drive. Will I be able to get a restricted / occupational / conditional / probationary license / permit?
A special ignition interlock restricted driver license (SIIRDL) may be available to you if your license is suspended and you had a valid Arizona Driver License at the time of your suspension. The restricted license typically allows you to drive to and from work, on the job, to the probation department, to treatment, and to medical appointments.
Speak to your lawyer about whether you qualify and how to apply for the SIIRDL. The State of Arizona does not issue restricted CDL permits. Put another way, you cannot get a restricted license to drive commercial vehicles. Only Class D and Class G license holders may obtain a SIIRDL.
I refused the breath test and the police took my blood anyway. Is this legal?
If the police got a valid warrant to search and seize your blood it is lawful.
What is the difference between a DUI and a DWI, OWI, DWAI, OVI, OUI, OUIL, OMVI, DUII etc.?
These terms are all acronyms that refer to the offense commonly known as "drunk driving." Different states have different names for the crim. For example New Mexico and Texas use the phrase driving while intoxicated (DWI). Michigan uses the phrase operating while intoxicated (OWI). Most states, including California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, and Arizona use the term "driving under the influence" or DUI.
Is a DUI in Arizona a misdemeanor or felony crime?
In Arizona, a DUI offense becomes a felony crime known as an Aggravated DUI (technically speaking "aggravated driving or actual physical control while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs") if any of the following apply:
What type of penalties might I face if I am convicted of a DUI, an Extreme DUI, or an Aggravated DUI in Arizona?
As noted above, a first time DUI in Arizona is usually a misdemeanor crime. Upon conviction, a defendant can receive a variety of penalties including alcohol screening / treatment / education. A range of minimum penalties is set forth below:
Will my defense lawyer be able to plea bargain / negotiate my Arizona DUI charge down to an offense other than a DUI?
Perhaps. Plea bargaining and charge reduction are two areas that any experienced Arizona DUI lawyer would discuss with the prosecutor on the client's behalf. Whether this is possible will depend on a number of factors that your lawyer can discuss with you. Sometimes you only option will be to plead guilty to the DUI offense or take the charge to trial.
I received another charge along with the DUI offense. How do I handle that?
There are a number of other charges that one can face along with an Arizona DUI offense. These include:
Reckless Driving under ARS 28-693. Reckless driving is committed when you drive a vehicle in reckless disregard for persons or property. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense and comes with the possibility of jail time and up to a 90 day license suspension. Penalties significantly increase if you have a prior DUI conviction within the past two years.
Aggressive Driving under ARS 28-695. Aggressive driving is committed when a driver demonstrates excessive speed and you commit other traffic infractions and your driving is an immediate hazard to another person or vehicle. Aggressive driving is a misdemeanor crime. Penalties include possible jail time and up to a 30 day license suspension. Traffic school is also required.
Accident Involving Damage to Property under ARS 28-662. This is the crime commonly known as hit and run with only property damage. This crime is committed when you're involved in a vehicular collision and you fail to stop and either exchange or leave information as outline under Arizona law. This is a misdemeanor crime so jail time is possible. A conviction will generally result in a one year license suspension.
Accident Involving Death or Personal Injuries under ARS 28-661. This is the crime commonly known as hit and run with bodily injury or death. This crime is committed when you're involved in a vehicular collision that results in the death or injury to another person(s) and you fail to stop and either exchange or leave information or render assistance to the injured as outline under Arizona law. This is a felony offense. A conviction will generally result in license revocation of either three years (physical injury) to five years (serious physical injury / death).
Will an Arizona DUI conviction go on "my driving record?"
Yes. An Arizona DUI conviction will go on your Arizona driving record. Eight points are assessed. Arizona law does not allow for the expungement / expunction of DUI convictions.
Just how much jail / prison time will I have to do if I am convicted of a DUI in Arizona?
The amount of incarceration (jail or prison) received will depend on a number of things, including (but not limited to) the following factors:
• your prior driving record especially your drunk driving history (including any DUI's / DWI's outside of Arizona);
• your level of intoxication / BAC (see Extreme DUI discussion);
• whether there was an collision / accident involved;
• whether there was an injury to another person in the collision;
• which Arizona court your case is in;
• what judge you are sentenced by;
• whether there was a passenger / child in your car (see Aggravated DUI discussion);
• whether the judge feels you have accepted responsibility for your actions.
I am licensed to drive in a state other than Arizona and I was cited for a DUI in Arizona. Will my driver license be suspended?
Arizona only has the authority to suspend your right to drive in the State of Arizona. However, Arizona and 44 other states and the District of Columbia have adopted an agreement known as the "Driver License Compact." Arizona will report an Arizona DUI conviction to the home state of the driver (assuming the home state has also adopted the Compact). Your home state will then generally take action to suspend your license.
This also works in reverse. If you are a Arizona licensed driver and you are convicted of a DUI / DWI / OWI etc. offense in another state, Arizona will likely suspend your license if it learns of the conviction.
Will I have to install an Ignition Interlock Device on my car?
An ignition interlock device is a breath alcohol measurement device that is connected to a motor vehicle ignition. In order to start the motor vehicle, a driver must blow a breath sample into the device which then measures alcohol concentration. If the alcohol concentration exceeds the startup point on the device, the motor vehicle will not start.
You will likely have to install an ignition interlock device in your car if you are convicted of a DUI offense in the State of Arizona for six months or more. Talk to your AZ lawyer about whether this requirement applies to your situation.
What will an Arizona DUI charge do to my insurability?
If your insurance company finds out about an Arizona DUI conviction one of two things are likely to happen. Either your Arizona insurer will raise your rates or you may be cancelled or non-renewed. Your insurance company will absolutely learn of your DUI if you have to file a Certificate of Insurance SR-22.
What is an SR-22 / Arizona Certificate of Insurance?
An SR-22 is a Certificate of Insurance from an Arizona licensed insurance company certifying that you have purchased liability insurance that meets the minimum required coverage limits. The Certificate of Insurance provides proof to the Arizona Department of Public Safety that you are insured. If you cancel your insurance or the insurance company cancels your policy before your suspension period is over, the company must notify DPS that the certificate is canceled. You will need to get a new SR-22 certificate on file with DPS within 30 days or your license will be suspended. If you are asked to have a Certificate of Insurance SR-22 on file with Motor Vehicles Division, a copy of your insurance binder or your insurance card is not considered acceptable proof of liability insurance.
What happens if I was on probation for an offense when I got arrested for my Arizona DUI?
Committing a new crime while you're on probation for a previous offense creates two problems. First, you face the new DUI crime. Second, you face a probation violation hearing for failing to obey all laws (a standard condition of probation). The most serious scenario is when you receive a new Arizona DUI when you're already on probation for a DUI conviction. When this happens, its in your best interest to speak to an Arizona DUI lawyer as soon as possible.
Are there special concerns for health professionals that are charged with an Arizona DUI or Extreme DUI?
Under Arizona law, "[a] health professional who has been charged with a misdemeanor involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony after receiving or renewing a license or certificate must notify the health professional's regulatory board in writing within ten working days after the charge is filed." ARS § 32-3208(A). Contact your licensing board to report a DUI arrest.
Health professionals include: medical doctors; chiropractors; homeopathic physicians; pharmacists; nurses; massage therapists; podiatrists; substance abuse counselors; social workers; marriage and family therapists; physician assistants; dentists; respiratory therapists; physical therapists; optometrists; and acupuncturists.
Are there special concerns for licensed pilots who get an Arizona DUI?
Yes. The FAA has special mandatory reporting requirements for certain Motor Vehicle Actions including Arizona DUI convictions and certain administrative (implied consent) driver license suspensions. Learn more here.
I'm not a United States citizen. Will an Arizona DUI conviction result in my removal from this country?
Probably not. Typical, run of the mill Arizona DUI offenses (no priors; no child in car) are not considered crimes of moral turpitude or aggravated felonies resulting in removal. It is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer about your situation just as you should consult with an experienced Arizona criminal defense lawyer about your pending DUI charge.
Keep two points in mind. First, it is very important to answer truthfully all questions about prior arrests / convictions on immigration and Visa applications and forms. Lying on these forms is often considered more serious than any DUI conviction. Second, non-citizens must take extra care not to drive on a suspended or revoked license.
I missed my court appearance. What do I do now?
Failing to appear (FTA) for court is to be avoided. When you miss a court appearance, bad things follow. At a minimum, the Arizona court typically issues a warrant for your arrest (known as a bench warrant). Talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Often, your only option is to turn yourself in on the outstanding warrant. A new court date will then be scheduled.
Can I represent myself in court on my Arizona DUI and / or other criminal charge(s)?
Yes. You have an absolute right to represent yourself on any Arizona criminal charge no matter how serious including an Arizona DUI charge. Keep in mind that Arizona DUI defense is a complex area of the law as shown by the information in this website. If you cannot afford to hire your own attorney, you definitely should apply for court appointed counsel to represent you. You have no right to court appointed counsel at the implied consent license proceeding, because this is not part of the criminal case.
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Websites, including this one, provide general Arizona DUI information but do not provide legal advice or create a lawyer / client relationship. General information cannot replace legal advice specific to your case, problem, or situation. Consult qualified Arizona Drunk Driving - DUI - DWI - OWI - DUI lawyers / attorneys for advice about any specific problem or Arizona DUI offense that you have. Arizona attorneys are governed by the Arizona Rules of Professional Conduct. This website may be considered an advertisement for services under these Rules. Information contained in this website is believed to be accurate but is not warranted or guaranteed in any way. Not board certified. No lawyer associated with this website is specialized or certified in any way. This site is purely informational.
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