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Last Updated on: 5th October 2023, 07:53 am
First Time DUI in Phoenix: What to Expect and Penalties
Getting arrested for DUI for the first time can be scary. You probably have a lot of questions about what happens next and what the consequences will be. This article will walk you through the process step-by-step so you know what to expect if you are charged with a first offense DUI in Phoenix.
DUI Laws in Arizona
Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. It is illegal to drive in Arizona with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08% or higher. You can also be charged with DUI even if your BAC is below 0.08% if the officer believes your driving was impaired by alcohol or drugs. Arizona has three DUI offense categories:
- Standard DUI – BAC of 0.08% to 0.149%
- Extreme DUI – BAC of 0.15% to 0.199%
- Super Extreme DUI – BAC of 0.20% and higher
The higher your BAC, the harsher the penalties. First offense DUIs in Arizona are misdemeanors, but penalties get worse if you have prior DUI convictions.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest
If you are arrested for DUI in Arizona, here is a basic overview of what you can expect:
- You will be handcuffed and taken to jail, where you will be fingerprinted, photographed, and asked to take a blood or breath test. Refusing the test can result in additional penalties.
- If it is your first offense, you may be released in a few hours once you are sober. But you will be given a court date for an arraignment hearing.
- At your arraignment, you will be formally charged and enter a plea. If you can’t afford an attorney, one will be appointed.
- There may be several pre-trial court dates to handle motions and negotiations. If a plea deal isn’t reached, a trial date will be set.
- If found guilty after a trial or plea deal, your sentence will be handed down. You may serve jail time and/or pay fines and complete other requirements.
The entire court process can take several months from arrest to final sentencing. Having an experienced DUI lawyer represent you can help get charges reduced or dismissed and minimize penalties.
Penalties for First Offense DUI
A first offense “standard” DUI conviction in Arizona carries the following minimum penalties:
- 10 consecutive days in jail
- $1,250 in fines
- 90-180 day driver’s license suspension
- Ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle for 12 months
- Traffic school
- Screening and possibly classes for alcohol abuse
- Possible community service
Penalties for extreme or super extreme first offense DUIs are harsher, with more jail time, larger fines, and longer license suspension. Aggravating factors like excessive speeding can also increase penalties.
Driver’s License Suspension
In addition to the criminal court penalties, your license will be suspended by the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) if you are arrested for DUI in Arizona. For a first offense, your license can be suspended for 90-180 days. You may be eligible for a restricted license after 30 days, but it will require you to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
Ignition Interlock Device
An ignition interlock device (IID) is like a breathalyzer connected to your vehicle’s ignition system. It prevents you from starting your car if your BAC is over 0.08%. First time DUI offenders in Arizona must use an IID for 12 months after license reinstatement. The costs to install, maintain, and remove an IID typically run $1,500-$2,500 for the year.
Can a First Offense DUI be Reduced?
In some cases, it may be possible for an experienced DUI lawyer to negotiate with the prosecutor to get first offense DUI charges reduced to a lesser offense like reckless driving. This avoids many of the harsh mandatory DUI penalties. But you will still face fines, license suspension, and other consequences if convicted of reckless driving.
Long-Term Consequences of a DUI Conviction
A first time DUI conviction in Arizona stays on your criminal record permanently. This can impact your ability to get jobs, professional licensing, housing, student loans, and more in the future. Your auto insurance rates will also likely increase significantly after a DUI.
Getting Legal Help for a First Offense DUI
Being arrested and charged with a first offense DUI can be overwhelming. But an experienced DUI defense lawyer can help guide you through the process and develop a strong defense strategy. This may include challenging the legality of the traffic stop and arrest, questioning the accuracy of breath or blood test results, negotiating with the prosecutor for reduced charges or penalties, or taking your case to trial if necessary.
Don’t wait to seek legal help if you are facing DUI charges in Arizona. A skilled DUI lawyer can immediately start working on your defense, protecting your rights and minimizing penalties. They will thoroughly examine your case, advise you of all options, and represent your best interests every step of the way.
DUI laws in Arizona are complex. Having an attorney who focuses specifically on DUI defense and knows the system inside and out can make all the difference. They will fight to achieve the most favorable resolution to your case.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for DUI in the Phoenix area, contact a dedicated DUI lawyer for a free consultation. Get the experienced legal help you need and deserve during this difficult time.
Frequently Asked Questions
What should I do if I’m stopped on suspicion of DUI?
If pulled over on suspicion of DUI, remain polite and cooperate with the officer’s instructions. But avoid volunteering information or admitting guilt. Politely decline to answer questions and say you wish to speak to an attorney. Refusing breath/blood tests comes with penalties, so take the test if requested and immediately consult a lawyer.
What if I can’t afford DUI penalties and costs?
The fines, fees and other costs for a first time DUI can easily exceed $5,000. If you genuinely can’t afford these costs, a lawyer may be able to request an “ability to pay” hearing and ask the court to reduce penalties based on your financial situation.
Can I avoid jail time for a first offense DUI?
Arizona has mandatory minimum jail sentences for DUI convictions, even first offenses. But in limited cases, sentences can potentially be served via home detention with electronic monitoring rather than jail. Your attorney may argue for this option if you qualify.
How long will a DUI stay on my record in Arizona?
A DUI conviction remains permanently on your criminal record in Arizona. However, the offense becomes “set aside” after 5 years if all probation terms are completed and can be removed from public view. But it can still be seen by law enforcement and some employers.