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In Arizona, the punishment for a first DUI conviction may include jail time. However, the amount of time you will spend in jail depends on several factors, including your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of arrest and whether or not you have any prior convictions. In this article, we will discuss the possible consequences of a first DUI conviction in Arizona, including whether jail time is mandatory.

Does Arizona Have Mandatory Jail Time for DUIs?

Arizona takes DUIs seriously and has harsh penalties for anyone caught driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. A violation of ARS § 28-1381 includes jail time for your first offense. 

The length of your sentence will depend on the particular DUI offense, and in some cases, you may be able to secure alternative sentencing such as home detention, work release or ankle monitoring.

A first offense DUI has a minimum 10-day jail sentence. An “extreme” DUI occurs when your Blood Alcohol Content (“BAC”) is between .15% to .1999%, and it carries a 30-day jail sentence. A “super extreme” DUI, with a BAC level of .20% or higher has a 45-day sentence. 

A second DUI within seven years brings a jail sentence of 90 days or longer, depending on the charge.

How likely is jail time for a first DUI?

Jail time is mandatory under ARS § 28-1381, but the Arizona legislature changed the law in 2012 and made it possible for a defendant to spend less time in jail. the law gives judge’s discretion when making sentencing decisions. That means, a judge may allow home detention or work release, and may even suspend a portion of the minimum jail time.

Usually, it will be necessary for you to enroll in and complete drug and alcohol evaluation and counseling, and you may be required to participate in mandatory screenings. In addition, in some cases you may be required to drive with an ignition interlock device for 12 months.

There may be mitigating factors present that help to reduce the sentence. For example, if the defendant was driving under a lawfully prescribed medication, or had a clean record and low BAC, the court may show mercy.

Factors That Increase Jail Time

Just like there are factors that can help lessen the punishment, there are also aggravating factors that can increase the severity of the sentence. Some aggravating factors include:

  • Having prior DUIs in the previous seven years
  • Driving recklessly or excessively speeding while under the influence
  • The driver causes serious bodily injury or harm to another while under the influence
  • Extremely high BAC

Consult with an Experienced DUI Lawyer

The most important firsts step is to consult with an experienced DUI lawyer, who can explain your rights and advise you on the best strategy in moving forward.

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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