The Basics Of Drunk Driving Laws In Arizona And What You Should Do If You Are Stopped For A DUI


Arizona’s Blood Alcohol Concentration Limits

There are some DUI basics that apply in every state. The Blood Alcohol Concentration limit (or BAC for short) is 0.08% wherever you’re located in Arizona. Arizona differs from most of the states in many ways, serving up some of the harshest and strictest DUI punishments and restrictions in the country. That’s why it’s so important to work with a lawyer who has vast experience handling Arizona’s unique DUI laws.

An extreme DUI kicks in at a 0.15 BAC, at which point the full force of the law comes down with a fury. If your BAC is at or above 0.20, the penalties get even still harsher. There is zero tolerance for anyone caught driving with ANY alcohol in their blood while under age 21, no matter how low the BAC. An aggravated (felony) DUI occurs when you get charged with DUI and either: (1) you have a prior DUI within the previous 84 months, (2) your license is suspended or revoked in any way because of a prior DUI, or (3) you have a child 15 or under in the vehicle when driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while DUI.

If you’re driving a commercial vehicle, such as a large truck, the BAC is cut in half due to the size of the vehicle. This means that a 0.04 is illegal in Arizona while driving on a CDL, and it’s surprising how easily someone with a 0.04 alcohol level can feel perfectly sober enough to drive. It’s kind of sneaky, and it’s a very slippery slope.

Arizona is an implied consent state, which means that refusing to provide a blood, breath, or urine sample, once under arrest for DUI, carries additional penalties. Even if you aren’t over the BAC limit on a preliminary breathalyzer, the law will proceed just as though you’ve admitted guilt. It doesn’t matter if law enforcement can definitively detect that you’ve committed any crimes. And, your driver’s license or CDL can be instantaneously suspended for a year or more, with little hope of redemption.

Though lawyers can fight cases where no sample was given, penalties still apply for the act of refusal. This is because driving is considered a privilege and not a right, and any penalties that revoke your ability to drive cannot be considered unconstitutional.

Arizona’s Penalties Upon DUI Conviction

Every single person convicted of DUI, including first-time offenders, is required to use an ignition interlock device on any and all vehicles that they drive for at least one year. This device requires that the driver blow a breath sample completely free from alcohol. If alcohol is detected, the vehicle won’t start. To avoid circumventing the device, it may require additional samples to prove that a sober person did not blow into the device on behalf of someone who was intoxicated.

First offenders can expect from 1 to 180 days and jail, as well as fines and assessments of over $1,500. Second time offenders can expect at least a month in jail, over $3,000 in fines, and revocation of driving privileges for a year. On top of that, an Extreme DUI increases jail time and fines almost exponentially. Aggravated (felony) DUIs can result in up to 3.75 years in PRISON and a 3 year license revocation. Though judges have a tendency to consider things on a case-by-case basis, and your particular situation may not be the same as the typical situation, in Arizona you’re still subject to some of the most stringent DUI legal standards you’ll ever see.

License suspension is possible for anywhere between 90 days and three years, depending on the amount of offenses the individual has been convicted of. Outright revocation is also possible. If your driving privileges are not outright revoked, you need to apply for a restricted license. This restricted license will only permit you to use your vehicle for trips deemed essential, such as medical appointments or going to and from work only. Then you’ll have to jump through hoops to get your license back.

Judges also impose mandatory classes, evaluations, and rehab programs. You might also be required to complete some of these requirements before you’re granted your full driving freedom again. A DUI conviction can disturb your life for a lengthy period of time, if not indefinitely. If you don’t fight and win, you have a long journey ahead of you. And, you might have to walk or ride the bus the whole way.

What To Do If You’re Stopped for a DUI

First and foremost, we highly advise against driving drunk. It’s dangerous for you, your passengers, and the motorists you’re sharing the road with. If you’ve had a bit to drink, it’s always a better idea to call a ride service and worry about getting your car in the morning. Yes, ride services cost money, but DUIs can cost exorbitantly much, much more. Ride services run all night, and it’s easy to find one in your area on your smartphone.

Avoid driving unless you can be absolutely certain that you’re sober. A little buzzed is still buzzed, and it’s important to remember that. People who are intoxicated often fail to realize how intoxicated they really are because their judgment is impaired. That’s why it’s so important to know your limits and adhere to them. It’s better to be safe than sorry, but we understand that sometimes good people make mistakes. That’s where we come in.

We recommend that people stopped on suspicion of DUI respectfully and politely comply with law enforcement, to a point. Quickly find a safe place to pull over as soon as the officer clicks on his lights, because the officer’s written report will have already officially begun. Stay calm, and avoid making any sudden or erratic movements that may cause the police officer to perceive you to be a dangerous person. It’s normal to be a little scared, but always be polite and respectful.

Answer the officer’s basic questions about your name and ownership of the vehicle, but don’t incriminate yourself. And lying can come back to get you later. You’re legally required to provide the basics (your license, registration, and insurance information), but you do not need to answer any questions about drinking or where you were coming from. You can simply state that your lawyer would advise you not to answer those questions. If you’ve only had a drink or two and you’re certain you’re not above the legal limit, it’s your choice whether or not you’d like to disclose that information. But it is almost always a bad idea to do so.

You CAN and should refuse preliminary breathalyzers and field sobriety tests (before arrest). You can refuse any chemical tests once you’ve been placed under arrest. However, if you do refuse to submit to a blood or breath test AFTER you’re placed under arrest for DUI, your license will be revoked for one year, and the police are generally able to obtain a court order/warrant permitting police to take your blood anyway—even by reasonable force. Blood tests are harder to defend in court, while breathalyzers can be slightly easier to dispute.

We hope you never have to call us, but we’ll understand if you do. We’re experts in defending people dealing with DUIs. If it’s too late, we can’t change the past. We can help you get your future back if you call us right away.

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, the first thing you should do is call us. If you’re looking on behalf of someone else who can’t call for themselves, we can still help. The earlier we get involved, the better. Just try to stay calm, keep your composure, and wait for your lawyer to come to your aid. We’re not here to judge you. We’re here to fight for your Constitutional rights.