It is no secret that Arizona police officers enforce DUI laws frequently and aggressively, while state judges continue to impose sentences that are far from lenient. And with a prior impaired driving conviction, prosecutors are less likely to give you some slack, meaning that they might not agree to give you a plea bargain. When acquiring a second, third, or fourth DUI charge, you should prepare for an uphill battle. But that doesn't mean that these charges are impossible to overcome. If you find yourself in these circumstances, it's incredibly crucial that you find a qualified and skilled criminal defense attorney to uphold your rights. With the help of competent legal representation, your chances of getting your charges brought down to a less serious offense or dropped entirely are exponentially increased.
Arizona DUI Law
Recurrent DUI penalties oftentimes stem from a lack of knowledge of the law and a failure to understand just how stringent these laws are compared to other states in the nation. Most drivers understand the standard blood alcohol content legal limit since it is consistent across the country. However, they may not understand the other enacted laws that can land them a DUI charge, or a charge in relation to a DUI that may result in harsher sentences. Here is an overview of the DUI laws that Arizona motorists should be aware of.
In the United States, drivers who are pulled over and apprehended may be subject to taking a roadside field sobriety test or be required to use a breathalyzer, blood or urine test in an effort to assess their BAC. The following BAC limits will likely result in a DUI charge for:
- Any person who is 21 or older - 0.08% or higher
- A commercial driver who operates a commercial vehicle - 0.04% or higher
- Any person under the age of 21 - 0.01% or higher
Most drivers are aware of the impaired driving BAC limits in their state. However, many Arizona drivers may not know about the state's additional zero tolerance laws regarding the consumption of alcohol and drugs while on the road. According to Arizona law, any amount of alcohol or drugs found in a driver's system while driving a motor vehicle is able to land them a DUI charge in the slightest degree. This means that a motorist may be apprehended for having a BAC level under the legal limit. Any traces of prescription drugs, marijuana, over-the-counter medications or illegal will also result in the citing of a DUI.
Implied Consent Law
When an Arizona driver registers their car and receives their driver's license there are a few things that occur that they may be oblivious to. A registered vehicle in the state of Arizona serves as an automatic agreement to abide by the state's implied consent law. This law dictates that a person who is lawfully arrested is required to take a chemical test of breath, blood or urine upon the request of a police officer for the purpose of assessing a driver's BAC. Therefore, if an officer suggests that a driver undergo a test, he or she can not refuse to take it.
However, many drivers refuse to take it anyway. And although a police officer may not be able to physically make you take a test, there will most likely be repercussions. Upon refusal, the officer will demand that the motorist submits their license. The officer will then draft a sworn statement detailing the driver's refusal, and what reasonable grounds they had to believe that said motorist was driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. They also must include that the driver blatantly refused to take the test and that they warned you of the consequences of doing so.
The first time a driver refuses their license will be suspended for one year - a very extreme consequence for such a minuscule action. Subsequent refusals result in a two-year suspension of a driver's license.
Subsequent Arizona DUI Penalties
A first offense for a DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. Which means that a driver served their time in county jail, paid the costly fines and had to use an ignition interlock device for a short time. After a first conviction, the penalties become significantly harsher as more DUI convictions are accrued. Here is a list of subsequent offenses and the penalties they garner in the state of Arizona:
Second Offense DUI - Within seven years of a prior conviction
- A fine that won't exceed $2,500
- The installation of an ignition interlock device for one year (drivers typically have to pay for the mandatory device themselves and it costs around $1,000)
- Required attendance to driving school
- Suspension of a driver's license for one year
- At least 30 hours of community service
- A duration of 90 days to six months spent in a county jail
Third Offense DUI - within seven years of a prior conviction
- A fine ranging from $4,000 up to $150,000
- The installation of an ignition interlock device for over a year
- Required attendance at an alcohol treatment program
- Suspension of a driver's license for a year
- At least 30 hours of community service
- A minimum jail sentence of 120 days without probation
It's important to understand that if you have acquired subsequent DUIs, it does not mean that you have a disregard for human life. A majority of the time, people may have issues with alcoholism or drug addiction. Being thrown in jail or prison and forced to serve time without any treatment options will only result in repetitive behaviors. Although Arizona law requires that repeat DUI offenders attend treatment in the event that they acquire their third DUI conviction, it is important to remedy these issues before accruing these offenses and compromising your freedom and right to drive.
Experienced Arizona DUI Attorneys
If you have been accused of committing a subsequent DUI offense in Arizona, it is imperative that you contact a defense attorney that is knowledgeable of the law. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Shawn B. Hamp are here to help you make sense of what is happening to you and assist you with the legal options you have from here on out. Contact us today for a consultation.