In terms of penalties for DUI, Arizona is one of the strictest states in the nation. The severity of the fines and sentences handed out for DUI is proving to be an effective deterrent. In 2001, there were 487 alcohol-related road deaths in the state, making up 46 percent of the total number of road fatalities. In 2012, this had fallen to 268 alcohol related deaths, which made up 32 percent of the total number of fatalities.
What Is a DUI?
In Arizona, you are deemed to be guilty of DUI (driving under the influence) when you operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more. If your BAC is 0.15 percent or more, you may face an Extreme DUI charge, and if it is 0.2 percent or more, you may face Super Extreme DUI. A DUI also applies to driving under the influence of illegal drugs. If you are driving a commercial vehicle, the BAC limit drops to 0.04 percent.
As you can imagine, the sentences become harsher as your BAC rises, as we demonstrate below.
Standard DUI Consequences
- First Offense: First offenses carry mandatory jail time of at least 24 hours, rising to 10 days or even six months in some circumstances. You also face a $250 base fine, a $200 surcharge, and may receive an additional assessment fee of $1,000; fines can rise to $2,500 in total. In some cases, you will receive a community service sentence, be required to attend an alcohol/drug program, and have your vehicle fitted with an ignition interlock device. It is common to have your license suspended for a period ranging from 90 to 365 days.
- Second Offense: A second infraction carries a minimum of 30 days in jail, rising to a potential six-month sentence. You face a $500 base fine as well as the aforementioned surcharge and assessment fee. You will have an ignition interlock device fitted to your vehicle and lose your license for 1 year.
- Third Offense: A third offense carries a minimum of four months in jail with a $750 base fine and other fees. You will have an ignition interlock device fitted to your vehicle and lose your license for 1 year.
Extreme DUI Consequences
- First Offense: The first Extreme DUI carries a minimum of 30 days in jail up to potential 6 months, as well as a fine of at least $2,500. You may also receive community service, be required to attend an education program, and have an ignition interlock device fitted to your vehicle.
- Second Offense: A second Extreme DUI carries at least four months in jail, license revocation for a year, and fines of at least $3,250. You will also receive the other punishments mentioned above for first offenders.
Aggravated DUI Consequences
It is aggravated DUI if you are over the legal limit and driving with a suspended license; if someone under the age of 15 is in the vehicle; or if you have had two previous DUI convictions within the last seven years. The penalties include two years in prison, driver’s license revocation for at least three years, and the usual additional punishments.
Super Extreme DUI Consequences
Arizona is one of the few states with the Super Extreme DUI classification.
While it is still a misdemeanor, the possible jail term exceeds that of some felony convictions. If you are convicted of Super Extreme DUI in Arizona, your vehicle will be fitted with an ignition interlock device for 18 months, your minimum jail term is 45 days rising to a potential six months, and you may even end up plastered online, as several counties in the state post photos of Super Extreme DUI offenders on their websites.
Underage DUI Consequences
If you are under the age of 21 and convicted of DUI, the penalties are relatively harsh because you are technically committing two crimes at once. Those under the age of 21 cannot consume alcohol in Arizona except for medicinal or religious purposes. Therefore, if you are under 21 years old and have a BAC of above 0.00 percent, you face a DUI.
First time offenders receive a mandatory 24-hour jail sentence rising to 10 days, fines up to $1,600, license suspension for at least 90 days, and have an ignition interlock device fitted to their vehicle. If you are convicted a second time within seven years of the first offense, you will receive a minimum jail term of 30 days, license suspension of 1 year, and fines of up to $2,500.
Ignition Interlock Device
In most DUI cases, you must have an ignition interlock device fitted to your vehicle for a minimum of 12 months. This breath-analyzing device is a bit bigger than a cell phone, and it connects to the ignition of your vehicle. You must exhale into the device before you can start your vehicle; if there is any trace of alcohol, the vehicle will not start.
The device may also request breath samples at random times once the engine has started; if you have alcohol in your system or fail to comply with the test, an alarm will go off and continue making noise until you provide the sample or switch off the engine.
After a DUI conviction that involves license suspension, do not expect automatic reinstatement when the time elapses. Although your reinstatement requirements depend upon your individual circumstances, you will probably need to:
- Submit court clearance documents
- Pay application and reinstatement fees
- Pass any driver’s license tests required by the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles
- Provide proof of your auto insurance with an SR22 form
The Real Cost of DUI Consequences in Arizona
The full consequences of a DUI conviction in Arizona go far beyond fines, community service and jail time. First, the fines mentioned are minimum figures and could rise to several thousand dollars depending on the circumstances of your crime.
Then, there is the matter of your auto insurance premiums skyrocketing, as insurers will see you as a huge risk. Your existing insurer may refuse to give you any quote at all when you look to renew your policy. While in jail, you will miss work, and potentially have no job waiting for you when the dust settles.
Add in the social stigma that comes with DUI and the fact that you could injure or even kill someone in an accident and suddenly, this mistake has the potential to ruin your life. Be wary, Arizona statutes do not allow you to enter a plea bargain for a DUI charge.
Seek Legal Help Today
A DUI charge does not automatically lead to a conviction. There are numerous reasons why a charge may be dropped, all outlined on our DUI laws page. Because the penalties and overall consequences of a DUI conviction are so severe, you need to get an experienced Arizona DUI attorney in your corner.