Getting into the driver’s seat of your vehicle after drinking is one of the biggest mistakes you could ever make, and it is one that can stay with you for a long time. So, how long does a DUI stay on your record? That is one of the questions we will be answering in this article.
Not all mistakes that people make are equal. Some can have consequences that are significantly more harmful than others. Driving under the influence is one of those costly mistakes.
Find out how long that will stick with you as an Arizona resident by continuing with this article. You can also pick up tips on how to handle the DUI conviction on your record by reading on.
How Long Will a DUI Conviction Stay on Your Record in Arizona?
Your criminal record can have a huge impact on your quality of life. Individuals with blemishes on their criminal record may find it difficult to land a job, gain admission to a school, or receive approval for low-income housing.
It is also important to point out here that prior convictions can come back to haunt you. The presence of an earlier DUI charge can lead to you receiving harsher punishment.
How long the DUI conviction will affect you is one of the things you must find out. There are two ways to answer that question.
You can approach it by finding out how long an earlier conviction can affect any additional charges put forth against you. The other way involves figuring out how to clear any prior convictions.
Let’s talk about those matters in greater detail below.
How Long Can a Prior DUI Conviction Affect New Charges Made Against You?
First, let’s discuss how long a previous DUI charge can affect your current legal predicament as an Arizona resident.
Arizona law imposes harsher penalties if an individual is guilty of driving under the influence multiple times within a certain period. To be more specific, you can wind up facing stiffer penalties if you commit multiple DUI violations within 84 months.
The escalation of penalties will also depend specifically on what violation you committed.
Penalties for a Second DUI Violation within 84 Months
Let’s first look at what penalties you may face if you drive under the influence two times within 84 months.
You are staring at a potentially long jail sentence if you have two multiple DUI violations within 7 years. The minimum jail sentence for repeat offenders is 90 days. Guilty parties must also serve at least 30 days of that sentence consecutively.
Offenders will also receive a larger fine if they commit two DUI violations in a span of 7 years. The minimum fine for your first offense is $1,250. Upon being charged a second time, that fine will more than double to $3,000.
An individual guilty of driving under the influence will also have their license suspended for a certain period. If it was your first offense, they will suspend your license for 90 days. For the second offense, the suspension period will last for 12 months.
Community service is another component of the punishment that DUI offenders must face. There is no minimum amount of community service you must render if you are a first-time offender. However, repeat offenders will have to clock at least 30 hours of community service.
Penalties for a Second Extreme DUI Violation within 84 Months
A second extreme DUI violation within 84 months also nets you larger penalties. For those who may be unaware, an extreme DUI violation occurs when an individual is driving a vehicle with a blood-alcohol level of at least 0.15 percent.
Starting with jail time again, offenders will spend a long time behind bars. Jail time goes up 120 days from the previous minimum of 30 days.
Offenders will also pay a more expensive fine. After getting fined $2,500 for their first extreme DUI conviction, that mandatory payment will go up to $3,250 for a second violation within 7 years.
They will also suspend your driving privileges for 12 months after a second extreme DUI violation. Violators are also required to render 30 hours of community if their second extreme DUI charge sticks.
Penalties for an Aggravated DUI Violation
What happens if you commit three or more DUI violations within 84 months? If that happens, you will face an aggravated DUI charge.
You will be sentenced to a stint in prison instead of jail if you are guilty of aggravated DUI. The prison sentence will last at least 4 months.
It is also worth noting that an aggravated DUI charge is considered a felony in Arizona. Having a felony conviction on your record can be difficult. Avoid ever putting yourself in a situation where you could potentially commit this kind of crime.
How Do You Clear a Previous DUI Conviction?
We now know more about how prior DUI convictions can affect new penalties you may potentially face. As it turns out, those earlier convictions can put you in a tough spot.
With that in mind, you may be wondering if there is something you can do about those prior convictions. Would it be possible to get those DUI convictions removed from your record?
In some states, expunging your criminal record is possible. You are essentially given an opportunity to start over without your earlier transgressions weighing you down. Or at least, people who are not privy to those earlier convictions will not find anything about them.
Notably, Arizona does not provide that legal tool. Instead, what the state offers is something known as “setting aside a conviction.”
What Does “Setting Aside a Conviction” Mean?
Setting aside a conviction is what Arizona has as a functional equivalent to expungement. The two legal mechanisms are not completely the same, though.
Expungement means that they will remove any prior arrests or convictions from your record.
Other states offer something like expungement, and it comes in the form of sealing records. Basically, they will seal your criminal record, and individuals will not view it whenever they want to. Sealed criminal records can usually only be opened after a court order is issued.
Setting aside a conviction works differently from those two.
First, they do not clear your record if they set a conviction aside. If someone looks at your criminal record, they will still see that you drove under the influence in the past.
Furthermore, setting aside a conviction will also do nothing to limit who can see your criminal record. An employer can look up that record and see your earlier conviction.
At this point, you may be asking what the point of setting aside a conviction even is. If everyone can still see your convictions, is it worth pursuing?
Setting aside the conviction can still benefit you because it is an order indicating that “the person be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the conviction.” It will let anyone viewing your record know that you have been held responsible for that conviction already and that you finished what the state required of you.
Is Getting a Conviction Set Aside Worth It?
Whether or not getting a conviction set aside will be worth the effort is up to you to decide.
Still, it may be easier to talk about a prior conviction with a potential employer if they set the conviction on your record aside. You can talk about what happened if you like and explain that you have done everything by the law to earn back your freedom.
Getting a conviction set aside can make it easier for you to show an employer that you have grown as a person. It shows that you have moved past that point in your life when you were irresponsible and reckless.
Can All Convictions Be Set Aside?
Not all convictions can be set aside in Arizona. The following convictions cannot be set aside:
- Crimes with a Sexual Motivation
- Crimes That Required a Defendant to Register as a Sex Offender
- Crimes That Led to Serious Physical Injury
- Crimes That Involved the Use or Exhibition of a Deadly Weapon
- Crimes That Involved a Victim under fifteen
Those are the main categories of convictions that cannot be set aside. Any conviction that falls under one of those categories will remain untouched on your record permanently.
There are some driving-related offenses as well that cannot be set aside. Crucially, though, a DUI conviction is not one of them. You can get your prior DUI conviction set aside after following the appropriate procedure.
What Is the Process of Setting Aside a Conviction in Arizona?
The process of getting a conviction set aside in Arizona is straightforward. Follow the steps below if you want to go through the process as well.
Step 1: Acquire and Fill Out the Appropriate Forms
To get the process started, you must first obtain some forms.
You will need an application to Set Aside Conviction. Apart from that, you may also need a Certificate of Absolute Discharge from Imprisonment and/or a document detailing your Discharge from Probation. Secure whichever documents apply in your case.
Other documents may also be required depending on the circumstances of your case.
Also note here that the required documents will change depending on what conviction you want to have set aside. You will need different documents to set aside a misdemeanor and different documents to set aside a felony.
Step 2: File the Forms
The next step is to file the filled-out forms. Visit the Clerk’s Office in your county and have the Clerk process your documents. The Clerk will stamp and date the documents you submitted.
They will return some copies of documents after they process them.
Petitioners also have the option of sending the forms via mail, depositing them in a depository box, or filing them online. Talk to a lawyer about how the process of filing will go depending on your chosen method.
For those hoping to get a felony conviction set aside, they must also send the forms to the prosecutor covering their area.
Step 3.1: Receive Notice That the Conviction Has Been Set Aside
The process can now take on one of four branching paths after you filed the appropriate forms. The first is the simplest.
Upon receiving your request to get a conviction set aside, the court may decide to approve it right away. In that case, they will send a copy of the order to you.
Step 3.2: Attend a Hearing
The court may also decide to set a hearing regarding your petition. Attend the hearing together with your lawyer and prepare to answer some questions.
During that hearing, the court may seek arguments from both your side and the prosecutor regarding the matter of setting aside the conviction. If the prosecutor does not agree with your petition, they will argue against you. You and your lawyer must also form an argument indicating why your conviction must be set aside.
The court will make a final decision regarding your petition after the hearing.
Step 3.3: Follow the Court’s Supplemental Orders
Instead of deciding on your petition, the court may instruct you to complete certain actions first. That means you probably failed to complete certain steps that are necessary to get a conviction set aside. Finish those tasks first if you want to find out the court’s ruling.
Step 3.4: Receive Notice That the Conviction Has Not Been Set Aside
The court may also deny your petition to get a conviction set aside. They may decide to do so depending on different factors.
Tough as it is to find out that they denied your petition, all is not lost. You can still file another petition in the future and perhaps make a different argument then.
It is also possible that the court denied your petition because not enough time has passed since you completed your sentence. The court may approve your petition after more time has elapsed.
Figure out how to properly deal with the aftermath of a DUI charge by working with us at the Schill Law Firm. Contact us today to learn how we can help with your case.