| Read Time: 4 minutes | Vehicular Crimes

Getting arrested for a violation of Arizona’s DUI laws can feel overwhelming. Having never been through the process before, you likely have many questions and, of course, concerns about what your future holds.

At the Salwin Law Group, Attorney Stewart Salwin has extensive experience dealing with Arizona DUI laws, both as a prosecutor and a defense attorney.

He has handled thousands of DUI cases and understands how to effectively defend against even the toughest and most complicated DUI charge. 

In this article we will review some of the basics of DUI’s in Arizona, including laws, penalties and possible defenses.

Understanding Arizona DUI Laws

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal in Arizona. Regardless of whether an offense involves alcohol or drugs, it is referred to as DUI.

In terms of alcohol, Arizona law imposes a .08% blood-alcohol content threshold. Anyone driving with a blood-alcohol content that exceeds .08% can be arrested for DUI.

Similarly, any amount of an illegal drug in your system can form the basis of a DUI arrest. You can even be arrested for DUI based on the use of prescription drugs if they impair your ability to drive.

Arizona DUIs come in a few forms, depending on the circumstances surrounding your arrest. Traditional DUIs are the least serious, followed by extreme DUIs and then aggravated DUIs.

However, most aggravated DUIs require a prior DUI, making these charges very unlikely in a first-time DUI arrest.

Related Reads: How Much Does a DUI Conviction Cost in Arizona?

DUI Penalties in Arizona

If your blood alcohol test comes back with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more (0.04 in a commercial vehicle requiring a commercial driver license) or no test results are available, you will lose your driving privileges right away.

You have the opportunity to be issued a restricted permit or reinstatement of your driving privileges after completing an alcohol or drug screening. An alcohol or drug screening is required before your driving privileges can be reinstated.

Depending on the conditions in which you were issued a DUI and the number of prior DUI offenses on your record, there are different types of penalties and consequences you may face.

First Offense DUI in Arizona

dui arizona first offense

A first-offense DUI in Arizona is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by: Not less than 10 consecutive days in jail; A fine of not less than $1,250; Mandatory alcohol screening/education/treatment; Mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate; and Community service.

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The next level of first-time DUI in Arizona is extreme DUI.

Other DUI Penalties in Arizona:

Extreme DUI Penalties

However, if your blood-alcohol content was .15% or more, you face “extreme DUI” charges. A first-offense extreme DUI is punishable by:

  • Not less than 30 consecutive days in jail (no eligibility for probation or a suspended sentence);
  • A fine of not less than $2,500;
  • Mandatory alcohol screening/education/treatment;
  • Mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate; and
  • Community service.

The next level of DUI is called aggravated DUI. Learn more about extreme DUI in Arizona.

Aggravated DUI Penalties

Prosecutors bring aggravated DUI charges under limited circumstances for a first-DUI arrest. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while a minor under the age of 15 is in the car is one of those situations. Aggravated DUIs have very harsh penalties, including:

  • Up to two years in jail;
  • Mandatory alcohol screening/education/treatment;
  • Mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on any vehicle you operate; and
  • Community service.

The penalties listed above are criminal punishments that come along with a DUI conviction. However, there are also “administrative” penalties associated with a DUI arrest. For example, anyone arrested for a first-time DUI in Arizona will automatically have their driver’s license suspended for 90 days.

This is regardless of whether a judge or jury finds you guilty. However, you can contest an administrative license suspension in a separate legal proceeding.

Defenses to Arizona First-Time DUI Charges

If you’ve been arrested for your first Arizona DUI, you may wonder whether there is anything you can do to contest the state’s case against you. DUI cases, like all other crimes, have many possible defenses, including the following.

Inadmissible Evidence

Just because police officers obtain a blood or breath sample that shows you were intoxicated does not automatically make you guilty of DUI. To use evidence against you, police officers must have legally obtained it.

For example, if a police officer pulled you over and ordered you to take a breath test for no reason, the judge may determine that the evidence is inadmissible.

You Were Not Intoxicated or Driving in an Unsafe Manner

Some DUI cases involving marijuana intoxication, and those without chemical test results, require the prosecution to prove you were intoxicated when arrested.

Further, they must show that your intoxication was the cause of your unsafe driving. Your attorney may be able to defeat the case against you by explaining how the prosecution failed to establish either of these elements.

Problems with Chemical Testing

To prove you were guilty of an Arizona DUI, the prosecution must show that you were under the influence of alcohol or drugs. To do this, they will usually rely on chemical test results, such as a blood or breath test. However, sometimes labs make mistakes.

An experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney can review the lab results in your case to determine if the lab made an error and how to effectively use this information.

Contact the Authority on Arizona DUI Laws: First Offense

If you’ve been arrested for a first-time DUI in Arizona, contact the Salwin Law Group for immediate assistance. At the Salwin Law Group, Attorney Salwin aggressively represents clients from all walks of life in Arizona DUI cases.

He takes special care to explain the process in clear, understandable terms, so you know what to expect. With his knowledge, skill, and dedication, you can rest assured that you, your future, and your freedom are in good hands.

He has handled thousands of Arizona DUI cases and knows where to look to determine the best defense. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, give the Salwin Law Group a call. You can also reach the firm through our online contact form.

Author Photo

Stewart Salwin

Stewart Salwin is the founder and lead attorney at Salwin Law Group, a criminal defense law firm based in Scottsdale, Arizona, just outside of the greater Phoenix area. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and Harvard Law School, where he was taught criminal law by world-renowned defense attorneys.

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