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  • Damien Miller

Charged with DUI in Arizona: what next?

Understanding DUIs in Arizona


Can this case be dismissed?

Possibly. There are many factors will determine whether or not your DUI charges may be dismissed. These include:

1. Whether or not the police had actual justification for stopping you;

2. The quality of the blood draw if there was one;

3. The reliability of the breathalyzer if one was used.


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Will my license be suspended?

A suspension may be coming if you do not take action. The process is different for those who consented to a breath or blood test than for those who refused.


If you consented to a breath/blood test:

If the police officer served you with an admin per se affidavit, then you have 15 days to request a hearing with the MVD. If you do not request a hearing, your license will be automatically suspended for 90 days. Even if your license is suspended, you may be eligible for a restricted license after 30 days.

If the police officer did not service you with an admin per se affidavit at the time of the arrest, you may get a notice from the Arizona MVD in the mail about a pending suspension. Should you get a notice in the mail, you will have 20 days to request a hearing.


If you refused to do a breath/blood test:

Your license will more than likely be suspended for 12 months. This is an Arizona MVD policy, not a suspension that is imposed by the criminal court.


Will I have to go to jail?

In Arizona, all DUI convictions require at least 10 days of jail though 9 of those days can often be suspended if the accused does alcohol/drug classes. Depending on how long you were in custody on the day you were arrested for the DUI, you may have already served one day of jail and might be able to avoid any additional jail time. The quantity of jail time required will depend on blood alcohol level as well as any prior DUI convictions.


Some examples of mandatory minimums for jail time are below. Depending on which court you are before, you may be able to serve some of this mandatory minimum time at home in the home detention program. Even if the court you are before does not allow for home detention, your lawyer may be able to get you work-release so that you can keep your job.

· 1st DUI with BAC of less than 0.08: 1 day.

· 2nd DUI with BAC of less than 0.08: 30 days.

· 1st DUI with a BAC of less than 0.15: 1 day.

· 2nd DUI with a BAC of less than 0.15: 30 days.

· 1st DUI with a BAC of more than 0.15 but less than 0.20: 30 days.

· 2nd DUI with a BAC of more than 0.15 but less than 0.20: 120 days.

· 1st DUI with a BAC of 0.20 or more: 45 days.

· 2nd DUI with a BAC of 0.20 or more: 180 days.


Can I do home detention?

This depends on which court you are before. Some courts are set up to accommodate home detention (for e.g. Phoenix Municipal Court) as an alternative to jail time while others are not.

How much does a DUI cost?

DUIs in Arizona are expensive. The actual cost depends on whether or not you have a prior DUI and how high your blood alcohol concentration. Some examples of the fines and fees are below.

· 1st DUI with BAC of 0.08 or lower: around $2,000.

· 2nd DUI with BAC of 0.08 or lower: around $5,000.

· 1st DUI with a BAC of less than 0.15: around $2,000.

· 2nd DUI with a BAC of less than 0.15: around $5,000.

· 1st DUI with a BAC of more than 0.15 but less than 0.20: around $6,000.

· 2nd DUI with a BAC of more than 0.15 but less than 0.20: around $10,000

· 1st DUI with a BAC of 0.20 or more: around $8,000.

· 2nd DUI with a BAC of 0.20 or more: around $14,000.


The medical marijuana DUI

Having a medical marijuana card and having only therapeutic levels of marijuana in your system is only part of the defense against a DUI in Arizona. Having a medical marijuana card will not result in the automatic dismissal of your DUI charges. You will still need to show that there was no impairment with your driving. The burden will be on you (and your attorney) to show that there was no impairment.


The prescription pill DUI

Many people are understandably surprised to get charged for a DUI for taking prescription medication. In Arizona, having a valid prescription and taking the medication as prescribed is a valid defense to the “DUI – Drugs” charge but it is not a defense to the “DUI – Impaired to the Slightest Degree” charge. Your case can still be defended but know that having a prescription will not result in an automatic dismissal of your charges.


What if I was just sleeping in my car?

Arizona’s DUI law applies to a person who was “driving or in actual physical control while under the influence.” The “actual physical control” part of the law is what can lead to DUI charges for sleeping in your car, most often in the driver’s seat. This type of DUI charge can be one of weakest DUI charges as impairment must still be proven.


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