Understanding the Arizona DUI Laws

Few things can be as dangerous on the road as a drunk driver. Arizona DUI laws are supposed to keep residents safe from them.

However, not everyone may fully understand those laws, and that can be a real problem. If people are not aware of what constitutes driving under the influence in Arizona, then they may wrongly assume that they are not breaking any laws when they get behind the wheel of their car.

Some drivers may also be unaware of what penalties wait for them if they are driving under the influence. In that case, further education is welcome because a lot of Arizona drivers will decide to sober up knowing how big of a risk they could be taking.

Find out more about the Arizona DUI laws and develop a better understanding of why drunk driving is an awful idea by reading on.

The Statistics Showing Why We Need to Sober Up

Even one death or injury caused by drunk driving is one too many. Sadly, this demonstration of grossly irresponsible behavior can lead to more than a terrible incident.

According to Responsibility.org, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 28.2 percent of total driving deaths in Arizona. Furthermore, 20 percent of under-21 driving-related fatalities in the state are young people who took to the road while they were still experiencing the effects of the alcoholic drinks they consumed.

What’s probably even more concerning is that instances of people driving under the influence in Arizona have increased in recent years.

The same site notes the 10-year change in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 members of the population. They note that for the timeframe going from 2009 to 2018, there was a 15.6 percent increase in those alcohol-influenced driving fatalities.

Even if you only account for the drivers under the age of 21, the increase is still notably increased. For that same period of time, there was a 3.1 percent increase in the number of under 21 alcohol-related driving fatalities per 100,000 members of the population.

Those trends are highly disturbing, and they must be slowed down as soon as possible. Teaching more motorists about what constitutes drunk driving could help in that regard.

DUI laws in AZ

What Qualifies as Driving Under the Influence in Arizona?

There are different levels of driving under the influence in Arizona. They come with different penalties so learning more about them is crucial.

DUI

First off, you have DUI cases. Notably, what constitutes a DUI charge can vary depending on why the driver was on the road.

The BAC (blood alcohol concentration) level for drivers of private vehicles cannot be above .08 percent. While you might assume that it takes a while before your blood alcohol concentration reaches that level, that is not necessarily the case.

Per the Arizona Department of Public Safety, even a single 8-ounce beer can cause your BAC level to surpass that threshold. That’s especially true if you are on the lighter side in terms of weight.

The threshold is even lower if you are the driver of a commercial vehicle, i.e., buses, taxis, or other similar modes of transportation. Instead of .08 percent, the BAC threshold for commercial drivers is 04 percent.

As you can imagine, it’s even easier to go past that limit as even a 5-ounce glass of wine could be enough to disqualify you from getting behind the wheel if you’re a commercial vehicle driver.

Individuals under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive if they have had any alcohol at all.

What Are the DUI Penalties in Arizona?

The severity of the penalties after being cited for DUI depends on whether the incident in question represents your first time with such an offense or if you’re a repeat offender.

For First-Time Offenders:

  • Community Service – You will be required to render a certain amount of community service.
  • Mandatory Alcohol Screening – Offending drivers will be required to undergo alcohol screening following their arrest. The screening is also necessary if the offending individual wants to reinstate his/her driving privileges.
  • Traffic Survival School – You must attend Traffic Survival School if you want to reclaim your driving privileges.
  • Installation of Certified Ignition Interlock Device – A certified ignition interlock device keeps your vehicle from starting if your BAC is above a certain level. You will have to blow into it if you want to drive. The device may also ask you to blow into it additional times after you start driving.
  • Loss of Driving Privileges – You will lose your driving privileges right away after being arrested for DUI. Your license could end up suspended anywhere from 90 days up to a year.
  • Jail Time – Behaving irresponsibly can land some drivers in jail. First-time offenders may spend 24 hours in jail or serve a sentence that goes up to 10 days.
  • Fines – A $250 base fine on first-time DUI offenders.

For Second-Time Offenders:

  • Community Service
  • Mandatory Alcohol Screening
  • Traffic Survival School Attendance
  • Installation of Certified Ignition Interlock Device
  • Loss of Driving Privilege – Your driver’s license will be suspended for a year at least.
  • Jail Time – Second-time offenders may be sentenced to a 30-day stay in jail, but that can go up to 90 days.
  • Fines – The base fine climbs to $500 for second-time DUI offenders.

For Third-Time Offenders:

  • Community Service
  • Mandatory Alcohol Screening
  • Traffic Survival School Attendance
  • Installation of Certified Ignition Interlock Device
  • Loss of Driving Privileges – You won’t be able to drive for a year.
  • Jail Time – Third-time DUI offenders can expect to spend a minimum of four months in jail.
  • Fines – Third-time DUI offenders will pay a $750 base fine.

Extreme DUI

Arizona DUI laws also account for cases of extreme DUI. These are the cases wherein the driver’s BAC level is above 0.15 percent.

Unsurprisingly, penalties are harsher for individuals found guilty of extreme DUI, as the Arizona Department of Transportation shows.

For First-Time Offenders:

  • Community Service
  • Mandatory Alcohol Screening
  • Traffic Survival School Attendance
  • Installation of Certified Ignition Interlock Device
  • Loss of Driving Privileges
  • Jail Time – Your jail sentence is not going to be anything shorter than 30 days. On top of that, you will not be eligible for probation or a suspended sentence.
  • Fines – People driving with a BAC level over 0.15 percent will pay a fine no smaller than $2,500.

For Repeat Offenders:

  • Community Service
  • Mandatory Alcohol Screening
  • Traffic Survival School Attendance
  • Installation of Certified Ignition Interlock Device
  • Loss of Driving Privileges
  • Jail Time – An additional extreme DUI arrest can lead to you spending at least 120 days in jail.
  • Fines – Along with all the other penalties, repeat extreme DUI offenders must also pay a fine of at least $3,250.

What Is Aggravated DUI?

There is also a violation known as aggravated DUI in the state of Arizona. You can be charged with aggravated DUI if the following conditions apply:

  • You are guilty of a DUI offense while your driver’s license was still suspended, canceled, or revoked.
  • You had two prior DUI charges on your permanent driving record when you were cited for the same violation a third time within a span of 84 months.
  • You had a person under the age of 15 inside the vehicle while you were driving under the influence.
  • You committed a DUI offense while a certified ignition interlock device was in your vehicle.
  • You refuse to submit a blood alcohol content test while a certified ignition interlock device was in your vehicle.
dui penalties

The Penalties for an Aggravated DUI Charge

The penalties you’ll face if the state finds you guilty of aggravated DUI are pretty similar to the ones that accompany other DUI charges. You’ll need to render community service, submit to alcohol screening, attend Traffic Survival School, have a certified ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle, and lose your driving privilege.

You’ll also be facing jail time. This time around, your jail sentence could last up to two years.

Can You Be Charged with DUI Even without Driving?

Arizona takes road safety seriously. In addition to their DUI guidelines and penalties, they have also enacted a law that hopes to curtail a DUI offense before it can even begin.

According to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, it is illegal for anyone to be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle if they are under the intoxicating influence of alcohol.

So, what does that mean? Well, it means that you should remember to steer clear of the driver’s seat if you’ve been drinking.

They can find you guilty of this offense if a police officer sees you behind the wheel of the vehicle while it is running. The headlights of the vehicle being turned on could also spell trouble for you.

The location of the vehicle also matters. If it was in a parking lot while you were resting in the driver’s seat, then you’re probably in the clear. If the vehicle was stopped on the road or perhaps about to enter the road, you may have a hard time arguing your innocence.

This law pertaining to “actual physical control” of the vehicle is one of the trickier ones to argue against. Lawyer up if the state is charging you with this type of violation.

How the Government Is Working to Curb Drunk Driving

In addition to the harsh DUI laws and penalties, the government is also doing other things to help discourage drivers from getting into the driver’s seat while drunk.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, these measures include establishing sobriety checkpoints and having high-visibility saturation patrols roam the streets at times during which drunk driving is more prevalent.

To further discourage young drivers from taking to the road while drunk, the government is also investing in school-based instructional programs.

What You Can Do to Avoid Drunk Driving

Stopping the epidemic of drunk driving starts with ourselves. By being smarter and more responsible whenever we go out, our roads can become significantly safer.

Listed below are some tips for you to follow if you want to avoid drunk driving.

Bring Extra Cash if You’re Going Out

It’s easy to say that you won’t have an alcohol drink while you’re still at home. The reality, though, is that your mood might change as soon as you reach the restaurant or the bar. At that point, refusing the temptation of having an drink becomes significantly harder.

Training yourself to say no to an alcoholic drink is important, but you should be ready if you cannot resist that temptation.

Err on the side of caution by taking some extra cash with you. If possible, make sure the cash is a little over what you’ll need to pay for a ride home.

You may be hesitant to use your smartphone to pay for anything while you’re intoxicated, so go ahead and hail a taxi and pay with cash.

Make Sure Your Smartphone Is Charged

While we’re on the subject of smartphones, it’s also a good idea to bring yours along whenever you go out. Like we said above, we can never be certain what will happen once we’re outside.

Thanks to your smartphone, you can call up a family member or friend to pick you up if you’ve been drinking. There’s no need to even attempt to drive home while drunk.

Don’t Take Your Car with You if You’re Planning to Have Some Drinks

Perhaps the easiest way to avoid the temptation of driving while drunk is to leave your vehicle at home. With the prevalence of ride-sharing services these days, you don’t need to take your car with you every time you want to go blow off some steam.

Leave the car keys at home, book a ride, and enjoy your night out without endangering yourself or anyone else.

Driving under the influence of alcohol is never acceptable. It puts you and numerous other drivers and passengers in danger. On top of all that, you could quickly find yourself in a legal nightmare if you’re drunk driving.

If you’ve made that mistake, you need to face the charges properly. Allow us at the Schill Law Group to help you get a fair sentence from the court. Reach out to us today to learn about our services.