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Got a DUI in Arizona, Now What?



Got a DUI in Arizona, Now What?

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.

What Is an Aggravated DUI?



What Is an Aggravated DUI?

There is never any scenario where driving under the influence is okay. It’s an irresponsible act that needlessly endangers you and the people around you. Notably, there is an even more irresponsible version of that action known as an aggravated DUI.

DUI and aggravated DUI charges are not the same. They come into play under different circumstances. The penalties associated with them also differ.

A DUI charge can get you into a lot of legal trouble. An aggravated DUI conviction will be even more troublesome from that perspective.

It’s important to know the differences between DUI and aggravated DUI charges. You can learn more about them by continuing with this article.

Defining an Aggravated DUI Charge

A person can be found guilty of driving under the influence if their blood alcohol concentration level exceeds a certain threshold. In Arizona, a person with a blood alcohol concentration level over 0.08 is guilty of driving under the influence. For drivers of commercial vehicles, that lowers the threshold to 0.04.

Those thresholds still come into play in aggravated DUI charges. It’s not the amount of alcohol in a person’s body that turns a DUI charge into an aggravated DUI charge. Rather, other factors that emphasize the recklessness of the guilty party are the ones that usually elevate the severity of a particular DUI offense.

Officials can cite multiple factors in aggravated DUI cases. Let’s talk about them in greater detail below.

Being Charged with Driving Under the Influence Multiple Times

First, officials can charge a person with aggravated DUI if they repeatedly commit the offense within a certain amount of time. To be more specific, getting three DUI convictions within eighty-four months would result in an aggravated DUI charge.

Driving Under the Influence with a Canceled, Revoked, or Suspended License

The state of Arizona does not cancel, revoke, or suspend driver’s licenses for no reason. That is only carried out as a form of punishment if the driver was irresponsible or reckless on the road.

When the state takes away a person’s driving privileges, the concerned party must abide by that. Failure to acknowledge that can prove costly. Those who drive under the influence with a canceled, revoked, or suspended driver’s license can receive aggravated DUI.

Refusing a Blood Alcohol Test while Their Vehicle Is Equipped with an Ignition Interlock Device

Once a person is found guilty of committing a DUI violation in Arizona, their vehicle has a certified ignition interlock device installed. The job of the ignition interlock device is to prevent drivers from operating their vehicle while they’re intoxicated.

To use a vehicle equipped with the ignition interlock device, the driver must first blow into it. After that, the device will examine the driver’s blood alcohol concentration. If the driver’s blood alcohol concentration level exceeds a certain threshold, they cannot use their vehicle.

Notably, a driver may need to blow into the ignition interlock device multiple times while operating their vehicle. That feature is baked into the device’s design so drivers cannot ingest alcohol as soon as they start the car.

The ignition interlock device can limit the driver’s control because it connects directly to the vehicle’s power system, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation.

The presence of the ignition interlock device on your vehicle can also open you up to an aggravated DUI charge. Any DUI violation you commit while an ignition interlock device is in your vehicle will turn into an aggravated DUI charge right away. On top of that, refusing to take a blood-alcohol test when you have that device is grounds for an aggravated DUI charge as well.

Driving Under the Influence while a Person Under Fifteen Years Old Is in the Vehicle

Being careful on the road is expected of all drivers in all situations. Even so, more emphasis is on that whenever you have someone under the age of fifteen inside your vehicle. People under that age are more susceptible to injuries, so you need to be more responsible while driving them around.

If someone is driving under the influence while a person under the age of fifteen is in their vehicle, they will receive an aggravated DUI charge.

Driving the Wrong Way on the Highway while Under the Influence

Lastly, a DUI charge can also be elevated to an aggravated DUI if the driver was spotted going the wrong way on a highway. It’s easy to understand why driving the wrong way is considered an aggravating factor for a DUI charge.

Operating a vehicle in that manner can be incredibly dangerous. The danger level only increases if the driver was also intoxicated.

Is an Aggravated DUI Charge Considered a Felony?

Driving under the influence is considered a class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. But what about an aggravated DUI? Is it viewed in the same way?

Arizona law considers aggravated DUI offenses to be more serious than the typical DUI violations. That’s why officials see all aggravated DUI offenses as felonies. Crucially though, they are not all on the same level in terms of severity.

Individuals driving under the influence while a person under the age of fifteen is in their vehicle can receive a class 6 felony. If your aggravated DUI charge stems from the other four causes, then you’re potentially facing a class 4 felony.

Distinguishing between those charges is important. The penalties a person may receive will change depending on whether they are guilty of a class 6 or 4 felony.

The Penalties for a Class 6 Felony Aggravated DUI Charge

Since aggravated DUI offenses are felonies, you will be looking at potential prison time instead of a jail sentence.

The minimum prison sentence for a class 6 felony is six months. The presumptive sentence is set at twelve months, while the maximum is at eighteen months.

In addition to the prison sentence, those found guilty of class 6 felony aggravated DUI will also render community service and undergo alcohol education, screening, and treatment. They will also revoke the guilty party’s driver’s license for one year after the verdict.

Fines are usually also assessed in DUI cases, and the same goes here.

The Penalties for a Class 4 Felony Aggravated DUI Charge

Class 4 felonies are more severe than their class 6 counterparts. That means the prison sentence will be longer.

The shortest prison sentence handed down to someone guilty of committing a class 4 felony is eighteen months. The presumptive sentence is then set at thirty months, while the maximum is thirty-six months in prison.

People who are guilty of committing class 4 felony aggravated DUI will also receive fines,  perform community service, and attend alcohol treatment programs. They will also revoke their driver’s license for at least one year.

The Aggravating Circumstances for Felony Violations

Although there are maximum prison sentences for aggravated felony DUI charges, someone can receive a longer penalty. That can happen if certain aggravating circumstances exist in a particular case.

There all kinds of aggravating factors that can be cited in felony cases.

Someone getting seriously injured because of the guilty party’s actions is an aggravating factor. The same goes for any property damage that stems from the crime.

A person’s intent may also be an aggravating factor in a particular case. If they prove during the trial that the defendant was acting with malice during the crime, their charges may elevate.

A guilty party may also incur more penalties if their actions affected a disabled individual or someone over sixty-five.

The prison sentence gets significantly longer if they note aggravating circumstances in a felony DUI charge.

For class 6 felonies, the maximum prison sentence goes up to twenty-four months. For class 4 felonies, the maximum prison sentence if aggravating circumstances exist goes all the way up to forty-five months.

Another thing to note here is at least two aggravating factors must exist in a specific case for the maximum sentence to increase. Without at least two aggravating factors present, they will follow the original sentencing guidelines.

The Mitigating Circumstances for Felony Violations

Whereas aggravating factors raise the potential maximum sentence for a felony DUI violation, mitigating circumstances do the exact opposite. They can further reduce the minimum prison sentence for a defendant.

They consider the defendant’s state of mind when figuring out what punishment they should receive. Those who are under a substantial amount of duress at the time are likely to receive more leniency.

The court will also look at how the defendant behaved after they were apprehended. Defendants who were more obedient have a better chance of receiving a mitigated sentence.

Whether a defendant could fully appreciate that they were committing a crime also matters. In DUI cases, though, this mitigating factor is unlikely to play a role.

A defendant deemed to have a minor role in the crime may also receive a mitigated sentence. However, that mitigating circumstance is also unlikely to apply in a DUI case.

The age of the defendant could also make a difference.

In a class 6 felony case, the minimum prison sentence drops from six to four months due to mitigating factors. Meanwhile, the minimum sentence for a class 4 felony case goes from eighteen to twelve months.

Also, note that at least two mitigating factors must be present to impact on the case.

How Parole, Commuted Sentences, and Suspended Sentences Affect Aggravated DUI Cases

After receiving an aggravated DUI, you may be hoping that your stint in prison will not be as long as your original sentence. You may be hoping that you can get out after a couple of weeks or maybe one month.

Defendants should know that such a thing cannot happen in many aggravated DUI cases. Although it is possible to be paroled or to have your sentence cut short in an aggravated DUI case, that can only happen if you meet certain conditions.

Only those who were convicted of aggravated DUI due to having a person under fifteen years old in their vehicle and those who received that charge due to the presence of the ignition interlock device can be released from prison early.

If you’re aggravated DUI charge stems from the other causes, then you’re looking at a longer prison stay. You will spend at least four months in prison before you’re eligible for parole or a suspended sentence.

What Is the Difference between Aggravated DUI and Extreme DUI?

Arizona motorists may be confused by some of the terms used in DUI cases. For example, the courts can impose aggravated and extreme DUI charges on residents of the state. You may be wondering if they’re the same thing.

Aggravated and extreme DUI cases are not the same. We’ve already talked at length about aggravated DUI cases so let’s highlight what extreme DUI cases are.

Extreme DUI cases link to the blood alcohol level of the person who committed the crime. If your blood alcohol level is over 0.15 when the authorities pull you over, you can receive an extreme DUI.

Extreme DUI also counts as a class 1 misdemeanor, meaning it carries lighter penalties than an aggravated DUI charge.

Officials must handle an aggravated DUI charge seriously, and you can do that with a skilled and experienced lawyer by your side. Reach out to us at the Schill Law Group, and we will ensure that you receive justice in your aggravated DUI case.