A DUI, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, can happen to almost anyone. Arizona has some of the most stringent impaired driving laws in the county. With local law enforcement's tendency to aggressively seek out drivers under the suspicion that they might be impaired, it isn't far-fetched for many Arizona drivers to find themselves in a sticky situation. This is why it's important that you, as a motorist, know your rights. And if you have been accused of a DUI, competent legal representation can help you fight for those rights.
Arizona DUI Law
Alcohol Impairment - Legal Limits
Arizona legal blood alcohol content levels are consistent with the rest of the nation's legislation. In the United States, drivers who are apprehended and are found to have the gone over the following BAC limits through the use of a breathalyzer, blood or urine test will be charged with a DUI:
- Any person who is 21 or older - 0.08% or higher
- A commercial driver - 0.04% or higher
- Any person under the age of 21 - 0.001% or higher
In addition to the well-known BAC legal limits, there are other crucial DUI-related regulations such as the zero tolerance law and the open container law that may also be violated in one setting. It's important to be aware of these laws, since the violation of them may result in harsher penalties.
It's common knowledge that driving with a BAC over the legal limit will result in drunk driving charges. But many Arizona drivers may be oblivious to the state's zero-tolerance legislation, which makes it possible for one to be charged with a DUI despite having a BAC below the state's legal limit. Since Arizona's adoption of the zero-tolerance law, any amount of alcohol found in a person's system while driving a motor vehicle can land them a DUI in the slightest degree. All it takes is for a police officer to suspect that you are impaired while driving and demand that you undergo a blood test to assess your level of supposed impairment. Implied consent laws suggest that if a person is registered for a driver's license they automatically agree to take a test upon the request of an officer. If the blood test shows any number between .001 and .079, you can be issued a DUI in Arizona.
For example, let's say that you go out to dinner with a friend and order a beer. On your way home from the restaurant, an officer pulls you over and alleges that you are too impaired to drive. He or she can take you down to the police department for a blood test to prove so, and if any amount of alcohol is found in your system you will be charged with a DUI.
Open Container Statute
Many Arizona motorists will be pulled over at one time or another for a variety of reasons. Even if an officer claims that a person has been stopped for a basic infraction like an improper turn or a broken taillight, it could lead to much more serious charges if he or she notices that you've violated other laws. The open container statute is one that many DUI-related laws people may not be aware of. This statute details that a person - a driver or a passenger - can be charged for having an open container of alcohol in their motor vehicle. Whether or not the container appears to be full or empty is irrelevant under this statute. Therefore, being completely sober will not exempt a person in the eyes of the law. As long as an open container is present in a vehicle, a person can be charged. However, as with most regulations, there is one exception.
Passengers who occupy buses, limousines or taxis with the presence of an open container of alcohol cannot, by law, be charged under this statute. Many people who aren't aware of this exception may believe that they have committed a crime. Even with exceptions, it's important to understand the repercussions one could possibly face in the event that they are pinned with this charge.
An open container conviction is a Class 2 misdemeanor in the state of Arizona, and it carries significant penalties. Offenders will pay a fine that won't exceed $750 and spend up to four months behind bars in a county jail.
A DUI charge can also be acquired by driving under the influence of drugs. Whether it be prescription drugs, marijuana or an illegal substance, if a police officer can prove through a chemical test and other authorized methods that a motorist is drugged driving, he or she may be convicted.
As with alcohol DUI cases, Arizona's zero-tolerance policy also applies to the consumption of drugs. This means that if a person is stopped under the suspicion that they are impaired by a substance, they may be forced to undergo a drug test. If any traces of any medication or drug is found in one's system, they will be charged with a DUI.
Penalties for a First DUI Offense in Arizona
Being in control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of any amount of drugs or alcohol is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. When accused of a standard DUI for the first time, a person should expect to face the following penalties:
- A fine that won't exceed $1,250
- A requirement to use an ignition interlock device for every vehicle driven
- Community service
- At least ten days spent in a county jail
Experienced Arizona DUI Attorneys
The attorneys at the law offices of Shawn B. Hamp understand how scary it must be for you to be charged with your first DUI. It may seem like the odds are all stacked against you and that you're doomed, but this is simply not the case. Let us weigh your options for you and clarify any questions you may have about Arizona's complex DUI law. We're dedicated to protecting your freedom, your driving rights, and future opportunities. Contact us today for a consultation.