Definition of an Aggravated DUI
An Aggravated DUI (ARS 28-1383) is a serious felony offense in Arizona. If you are convicted of an Aggravated DUI, you will receive a mandatory minimum term in prison for at least four months. This page explains this serious felony charge and what you can do to protect yourself from some of the worst consequences if you have been charged with this crime.
In Arizona, you can be charged with an aggravated DUI under certain circumstances. If these factors exist when you are pulled over for DUI, you could face aggravated DUI charges:
- Driving on a suspended license.
- If this is your third DUI within the past seven years.
- If there is a minor younger than 15 in the car.
- If your driving led to property damage or an injury to somebody else.
- Driving without an ignition interlock device if you are required to use one because of a prior DUI.
- Driving on the wrong way on a highway.
Punishment for Aggravated DUI in Arizona
Because aggravated DUI is a felony, it is a more serious offense than a regular DUI and a person convicted will face harsher penalties. Most aggravated DUIs are class 4 felony offenses. This means that conviction for a first-time felony offense carries the possibility of two years or more in prison and a maximum monetary fine of $150,000, as well as the possibility of a three-year license suspension.
The Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) can also revoke your license completely, which is far more serious than a license suspension. In reality, you are not likely to get the maximum penalties if this is your first felony offense. However, an aggravated DUI carries certain mandatory minimum penalties, which are described below.
First, Second, & Third Aggravated DUI Penalties
If you are convicted of an aggravated DUI for the first time, these are the mandatory minimum penalties that you will receive if convicted:
- Mandatory minimum of four months in prison.
- MVD will revoke your driving privileges for at least three years.
- Supervised probation which requires monthly visits from a probation officer.
- Monthly probation fees.
- Two years of a required ignition interlock in any car you drive.
- Thousands of dollars in fines, court costs, and fees.
- Mandatory Alcohol screening and attendance at 36 classes.
If you have a second aggravated DUI conviction, you will face:
- Mandatory minimum of 2.25 years (2 years and 3 months) in person
- All other penalties for a first offense aggravated DUI.
If you are convicted of a third aggravated DUI offense, you will face:
- Mandatory minimum of six years in prison.
- All other aggravated DUI penalties.
- The judge is also capable of increasing your prison term for up to a maximum of fifteen years in prison.
Aggravated DUI with a Child in the Car
If you are cited for an aggravated DUI because you have a minor under the age of 15 in the car, you will also be charge with an aggravated DUI. However, this particular type of aggravated DUI is different because it is a class 6 felony rather than a class 4 (like the other aggravated DUIs). Felonies in Arizona range from class 1 (the most serious) to class 6 (the least serious).
For a first offense class 6 felony, you can be sentenced to probation with one to ninety days in jail minimum depending on a variety of factors (such as your Blood Alcohol Concentration and whether you have any prior misdemeanor DUIs. If you have prior felony convictions, then those can enhance your sentence and require mandatory prison time.
Insurance, Professional & Civil Liberty Consequences of an Aggravated DUI
If you are convicted of a DUI, whether it is an aggravated or a misdemeanor DUI, you will have to pay about $3000 more per year for the next three years above your current rate. Or you might be denied insurance coverage altogether.
The potential consequence from an aggravated DUI do not stop there, however. The damage to your reputation, finances, and personal freedom is already huge, but you can face penalties from licensing boards. You are at risk of losing your professional license if you are a doctor nurse, or lawyer. Professionals with an SEC license, like a real estate salesperson, military personnel, or a government employee are also at risk of losing their job if they are convicted of an aggravated DUI.
Because an aggravated DUI is a felony, if you are convicted you will also have your civil rights suspended. This means you will lose the right to vote and also the right to own a gun. If you lose your civil rights from a felony conviction, you may have to wait years before you can try to get them restored, and you might have to convince a judge to restore your civil rights.
How is an Aggravated DUI Different from an Extreme or Super-Extreme DUI?
Although a DUI might be called “Extreme” or “Super-Extreme,” these types of DUIs are different from an aggravated DUI. Your blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, decides whether a misdemeanor DUI is labelled as a “Regular” DUI, rather than an “Extreme” or “Super-Extreme.” A Regular, Extreme, or Super-Extreme are all misdemeanors, so they are subject to lesser penalties and you do not have your civil rights taken away if you are convicted of one of these misdemeanors.
An aggravated DUI, on the other hand, is a felony regardless of your BAC when you get the DUI. If you are convicted you will go to prison (i.e., the Department of Corrections or DOC) for a minimum of 4 months. DOC is not the same as jail, where you go if you are convicted of a misdemeanor. Prison is used to house criminals who have been convicted of felony offenses and are incarcerated for a longer period of time.
Common Defenses for an Aggravated DUI
If you have been arrested for agg DUI, then an experience DUI defense lawyer can help you. We will talk about the circumstances surrounding your DUI charges and present the options for a possible defense to the DUI
A partial list of possible DUI defenses include:
- Denial of Right to Counsel: When you are arrested for a DUI, you have the right to a phone call with an attorney as soon as reasonably possible. If the police do not let you call a lawyer when you ask, or if they delay too long in letting you talk to a lawyer, you might be able to get your case dismissed.
- No Reasonable Suspicion to Stop: The police need a reason to pull you over before they can stop you from driving. They can’t just stop you just to do a random check on drivers. If there is no reason to think you are DUI or that you committed a crime, the police may not pull you over. Sometimes careful review of the “dash cam” footage (i.e., the videos that record on the dashboard of the police car) can prove to the court that the police did not have a basis to pull you over. Even if they later find that you are in fact under the influence during the stop, that evidence will have to be thrown out because the police violated your constitutional rights when they made the initial stop.
- No “Actual Physical Control”: Sometimes the police can arrest somebody for DUI even if they never actually witnessed the person driving the car. Instead, they police can argue that they are in “actual physical control” of the car (by for example, sitting in it with the keys in the ignition and the car on–the idea is that although you aren’t driving now, you could easily start driving whenever you wanted, hence you are actually in control of the car). But what if you pulled over to the side of the road to sleep it off? You have a defense that depending on how the police found you, you are not in actual physical control of the vehicle, so there is no DUI.
- Inaccurate Blood/Breath Tests: In Arizona, there are certain rules for the proper maintenance of breath test machines. If the machine does not undergo regular calibration checks and maintenance, then the test results from the breathalyzer are no admissible in court. Also, other factors can throw off the reading of the breath test machine. A defense attorney can hire expert witnesses to explain to a jury what reasons may have caused a falsely high reading on a breathalyzer. We work with the best experts in Arizona to determine if there if any basis why the breath or blood test gave a false reading on your BAC.
How We Can Help You
We have an established track record of success in DUIs. Stewart Salwin is a former prosecutor and has handled DUIs from both sides of the aisle. He knows how the prosecution thinks and what types of evidence is persuasive to the prosecutor to agree to get the charges lowered or dropped. If the case goes to trial, he also knows the best defenses to maximize your chances of a successful outcome.
If you’ve been arrested for an aggravated DUI, there is hope! Call the Salwin Law Group today, and we will begin to work on preparing your defense immediately. We serve the greater-Phoenix area, including Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, and Goodyear. You will be kept informed and have the process explained every step of the way. Together, we can help you get your life back.