All of us are prone to making ill-advised decisions from time to time. It could be something minor like a poorly timed purchase or something more serious like committing a DUI violation.
Of course, those ill-advised decisions do not happen in a vacuum. They come with consequences that we must face. DUI violations are known to carry harsh penalties, and justifiably so.
To fully grasp the weight of your actions, it helps to know what they entail. Throughout this article, we will talk about driving under the influence violations and the penalties they impose upon guilty Arizona motorists.
Find out what happens if you are found guilty of driving under the influence in Arizona by continuing with this article.
What Constitutes a DUI Violation in the State of Arizona?
To get things started, let’s first define what constitutes a driving under the influence violation in the state of Arizona.
Arizona law indicates that it is illegal for any person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle if they are under the influence of specific substances. Those substances can be quite varied.
The law states that motorists can be charged with driving under the influence after consuming intoxicating liquor, using any drug, or a vapor-releasing substance that contains a toxic substance. If a driver is impaired even to the “slightest degree,” they will be staring at a potential violation.
DUI Violations and Drugs
Some people mistakenly assume that DUI violations only involve operating your vehicle after drinking alcohol. That is not the case. Motorists can also receive a violation if they were taking drugs before getting behind the wheel of their vehicle.
Per Arizona law, the presence of certain drugs or even their metabolites in your body can already be considered a violation. Considering that low threshold for a potential violation, you should never risk taking a drug and then driving.
Section 13-3401 of Arizona features the long list of drugs that can potentially trigger a DUI violation.
Notably, marijuana is still listed among those substances. Although Arizona has relaxed many of its laws regarding marijuana possession and usage, there are still limits imposed upon the substance. Among them is the fact that you cannot use marijuana and drive your car shortly after.
It is worth pointing out authorities grant exemptions for certain drugs under specific circumstances. If the drug is prescribed by a medical practitioner, they will not charge you with driving under the influence.
DUI Violations and Vapor-Releasing Substances
DUI violations involving vapor-releasing substances which contain toxic substances are rare, but they can still happen. Now, you may be wondering which substances we are talking about. After all, the term “vapor-releasing substances containing toxic substances” can be vague.
Arizona law does clarify matters, though. The substances being referred to here are paints and varnishes dispensed by using an aerosol spray. It may also be a type of glue.
Meanwhile, the list of “toxic substances” is quite long. Section 13-3403 of Arizona law lists those toxic substances in detail.
DUI Violations and Alcohol
Many DUI violations are connected to alcohol. For more than a few individuals, the temptation to drive after a night of drinking is one, they cannot avoid. That is the case even though there are alternatives available.
Arizona motorists should also know that the threshold for a DUI violation related to alcohol consumption is remarkably low. Motorists can catch a DUI violation if their blood alcohol concentration level is above 0.08 percent.
To put that into context, a person who weighs around 100 pounds could exceed that blood alcohol level if they drink three 12-ounce cans of beer. You may be mindlessly enjoying drinks at the bar while unaware that you have already exceeded the alcohol consumption threshold.
By the way, the 0.08 percent limit only applies to those who are using private vehicles. If you are operating a commercial vehicle, the threshold is set even lower at 0.04 percent.
The bottom line is that you do not want to drink and drive for any reason. Even if you are monitoring your alcohol consumption, it is still not a good idea. You are better off taking a cab or booking a ride home instead of driving.
Penalties for a DUI Violation
There are different types of DUI charges. For now, let’s start with the basic DUI charge.
The first time you are caught driving your vehicle with a blood alcohol above 0.08 percent or driving a commercial vehicle with a blood alcohol level above 0.04 percent, they will charge you with driving under the influence. The penalties that follow will be quite significant.
First off, you could be looking at potential jail time. For a DUI violation, you could get at least ten days in jail. You will need to serve that jail sentence if you are convicted because you will not be eligible for probation or to have your sentence suspended.
Ten days in jail may not seem like much, but you must consider how else that sentence could impact your life. You may lose your job because of that, and you may miss out on important events as well.
You will also have to pay a fine due to your violation. At a minimum, you will pay $1,250.
The state will also suspend your driving privileges after you are hit with a DUI charge. The suspension period will span 90 days at least, but it could easily extend well beyond that.
Other penalties you may face include rendering community service, undergoing alcohol screening, education, and treatment. Your vehicle may also have a certified ignition interlock device installed.
Penalties for Subsequent DUI Violations
The penalties for your first DUI violation are harsh. However, the penalties for committing subsequent DUI violations within a period of 84 months are even more punishing.
Beginning with jail time again, you are now looking at a sentence of 90 days. Note that 90 days in jail is the minimum and not the maximum sentence for repeat offenders. You must also serve at least 30 of those 90 days consecutively.
Once again, individuals found guilty of a DUI violation will not be eligible for probation or to have their sentence suspended.
The minimum fine spikes to $3,000 for repeat offenders. They will also need to render at least 30 hours of community service.
Offenders are also required to undergo alcohol education, screening, and treatment and to have their vehicle equipped with a certified ignition interlock device like with first-time offenders.
A notable difference can be seen in how driving privileges are handled for first-time and repeat offenders.
Whereas first-time offenders had their driving privileges suspended for 90 days, repeat offenders are looking at a stiffer penalty in that regard. They will deal with their driver’s license being suspended for at least 12 months.
Penalties for an Extreme DUI Violation
Extreme driving under the influence violations are reserved for occasions when an offender registers a blood alcohol level above 0.15. That is about five to nine 12-ounce beers depending on your weight.
There is no excuse for driving when you have consumed that much alcohol. The penalties for an extreme DUI violation are especially harsh to discourage that type of behavior.
The minimum jail sentence for an extreme DUI violation is 30 days. Once again, you must serve that sentence on consecutive days. If your blood alcohol level is at 0.20 or higher, the minimum jail sentence becomes 45 days.
Fines also spike considerably. The minimum fine for an extreme DUI violation is $2,500.
Additional penalties we have mentioned earlier, such as community service, license suspension, alcohol education, screening, and treatment, as well as the certified ignition interlock device are still imposed.
Penalties for Subsequent Extreme DUI Violations
Penalties escalate if you are charged with an extreme DUI violation more than once within a span of 84 months.
The most notable differences come in the form of a longer jail sentence, a larger fine, an extended suspension period, and more community service. To be more specific, offenders will spend no fewer than 120 days in jail, pay a fine no less than $3,250, go without their driver’s license for at least 12 months, and render at least 30 hours of community service.
The supplemental penalties we have already talked about are also imposed again.
Penalties for an Aggravated DUI Violation
Aggravated driving under the influence violations can be assessed depending on different factors.
You may be hit with this offense if you were driving under the influence while holding only a suspended or revoked license. Individuals found driving under the influence a third time within 84 months are also charged with this crime.
The prison sentence for those individuals will be no shorter than four months.
You may also be charged with aggravated DUI if a person under fifteen was in the vehicle with you. In that case, the penalties are in line with DUI or extreme DUI charges.
Guilty parties will also receive many of the same penalties we have discussed throughout this article.
What You Must Do after Committing a DUI Violation
Let’s say that you suffered from a momentary lapse of judgment and drove after drinking. Not long after that decision, a police officer arrested you.
What should you do now?
Detailed below are some of the things you can expect to happen following your arrest for the DUI violation. We have also laid out the steps you need to take as you attempt to recover from your mistake.
Cooperate with Law Enforcement
After receiving a citation for driving under the influence, the worst thing you can do is to resist arrest or act in a disorderly manner. At that point, you are only making matters worse.
The police officer may also inform you that they will tow your vehicle. You cannot do anything about that while you are under arrest, so get the details from the police officer. Handle that later.
You will be processed once you arrive at the police station. This process could take a long time but be patient and use this as an opportunity to sober up.
Contact Your Lawyer
During the booking process, a law enforcement officer may start to ask you some questions. You are probably not in the best state of mind to answer those questions. Even if you are not drunk, answering questions from a police officer without a lawyer present can be risky.
This is the time when you should request to contact your lawyer. Let the police officer know that you will not be answering any more questions until your lawyer is present. Avoid getting in any further trouble by taking this step.
Post Bail if Necessary
Most individuals in Arizona may be released after the police book them. If that is the case, you can rest at home for a bit while preparing to deal with the aftermath of your actions.
However, there are also some cases where you may be required to post bail before you are released. Contact a family member or a friend and ask them to post bail for you if possible.
There is a chance that none of your friends or family members have the money to post bail for you. In that scenario, you will need to turn to a bail bondsman for assistance. A bail bondsman will charge a fee for their services, but you may not have a choice other than to rely on them.
Appear in Court
Once they set a court date for your arraignment, you must be there on time with your lawyer. Your lawyer will let you know what the best course of action will be, depending on the facts in your case. It is best to lean on their experience as they have gone through many years of handling DUI cases.
Accept Any Penalties
If you are guilty of driving under the influence, the only thing you can do is accept the penalties heading your way. Pay your fines, serve your community, and go through your jail or prison sentence. Accept any restrictions that have been imposed upon you temporarily as well.
Dealing with all those penalties will not be pleasant. However, doing so is necessary if you want to recover from your big mistake.
DUI defendants need to partner up with lawyers who have extensive experience when it comes to handling these cases. We at the Schill Law Group have the experience that DUI defendants will need. Reach out to us today and let’s fight the mistaken DUI charge being made against you.