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First Offense DUI In Arizona

Arizona has some of the strictest impaired driving laws in the country. Even for a first offense DUI in Arizona, a defendant can face harsh penalties, including jail time, revocation of the driver’s license, and hefty fines. However, an arrest for impaired driving must meet specific requirements for a prosecutor to secure a DUI conviction. One of the requirements is the blood alcohol content of at least .08%.

If you or your loved one was arrested for or charged with DUI in Arizona, consider speaking with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to discuss your case in detail and identify possible defense strategies in your specific case. Reach out to our Arizona DUI defense lawyer at Chuck Franklin Law for a free consultation. Call 480-545-0700.

What is DUI Under Arizona Law?

DUI stands for driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol. Under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) § 28-1381, it is unlawful for a person to have a BAC level of .08% or higher within two hours of:

  • Operating a motor vehicle
  • Being in "actual physical control" of a motor vehicle

It is also unlawful to drive a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol/drugs to the slightest degree, even if the driver’s BAC is low. In other words, you can face DUI charges in Arizona if:

  • Your blood alcohol concentration is under the legal limit, but you are impaired even to the slightest degree
  • Your BAC is .08% or higher (even if you are driving safely)

Arizona law recognizes three categories of DUIs based on the driver’s blood alcohol content:

  • DUI (ordinary DUI) if the BAC level is between 0.08% and 0.149%
  • Extreme DUI if the BAC level is between 0.15% and 0.199%
  • Super Extreme DUI if the BAC level is at least 0.20%

The higher the concentration of alcohol in the defendant’s blood, the harsher the penalties.

Penalties for First Offense DUI in Arizona

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a first-time DUI is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and carries the following penalties:

  • At least 10 days in jail;
  • A revocation of the driver's license for at least 90 days but no more than one year;
  • A mandatory ignition interlock device for one year;
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug screening and/or traffic school;
  • Community service.

The exact penalties for a first offense DUI in Arizona depend on the individual’s blood alcohol concentration:

  • BAC of between 0.08% and 0.149%. Fines of at least $1,250 and a jail sentence of 10 days (the court may suspend 9 days if the defendant completed court-ordered substance and alcohol abuse screening, counseling, or treatment).
  • BAC of between 0.15% and 0.199%. A minimum fine of $2,500 and 30 days in jail.
  • BAC of at least 0.20%. No less than $2,750 in fines and 45 days in jail.

For the purposes of sentencing, a defendant’s impaired driving charge is considered a first-time DUI offense if the defendant had no DUIs in the past seven years preceding the offense.

If you are facing penalties for a first, second, or any subsequent DUI offense in Arizona, consider speaking with a knowledgeable lawyer to discuss your defense options. Get a free case evaluation from our Arizona DUI defense lawyers at Chuck Franklin Law to determine how you can reduce or avoid DUI charges altogether.

Will Your Driver’s License Get Suspended for a First-Time DUI Offense in Arizona?

Yes, your driver’s license will get suspended for 90 days, even for a first-time DUI offense in Arizona. However, you may avoid the suspension of the driver’s license by winning both:

  • The criminal case
  • The hearing at Arizona's Motor Vehicles Department (MVD).

Additionally, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation, a defendant’s driver’s license may be suspended if the defendant is under 21 and they have any concentration of alcohol in their system.

It can be difficult to prevail at the hearing because the MVD does not need to prove that the defendant was impaired “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Instead, the standard of proof is “preponderance of the evidence” for MVD hearings, which means it is likely that the defendant’s license will be suspended if the Department can prove that there is a greater than 50% chance that the defendant committed DUI.

Can You Refuse a Breath Test During a DUI Stop in Arizona?

Like other states, Arizona is an implied consent state. It means that any driver stopped by law enforcement on suspicion of impaired driving is legally obligated to submit to a breath test, also known as a Breathalyzer.

“The majority underestimates officers’ capabilities and instead gives them free rein to stop a vehicle involved in no suspicious activity simply because it is registered to an unlicensed person. That stop is based merely on a guess or a ‘hunch about the driver’s identity.’”

Under ARS § 28-1321, a refusal to submit to a breath test can result in the revocation of the driver’s license for:

  • 12 months for a first refusal
  • 24 months for a second or subsequent refusal within an 84-month period

Once the defendant’s driver’s license is suspended, they will have 15 days to request an MVD hearing.

What Are the Defenses to DUI Offenses in Arizona?

There are many defenses to DUI offenses to choose from. Possible defense strategies include:

  • The police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you
  • You were not in actual physical control of the motor vehicle
  • The lack of probable cause to make a DUI arrest
  • The breath test produced a false positive reading
  • You suffer from a health condition that caused the breath test to show improper results
  • The police officer failed to read your Miranda rights when making an arrest
  • The officer failed to properly administer the field sobriety test
  • Your breath sample was contaminated

The defense strategy depends on the circumstances of your situation and the facts surrounding your DUI stop and arrest.

Speak with an Arizona DUI Defense Lawyer

At Chuck Franklin Law, we focus on defending Arizona residents accused of committing DUI offenses. We understand that a DUI conviction can have a tremendous impact on a person’s life, which is why we are committed to defending our clients aggressively to help them lower or avoid DUI charges.

Schedule a free consultation with our Arizona-based DUI defense lawyers by calling 480-545-0700. If you are facing a first offense DUI in Arizona, we can assist you with identifying the most effective defense strategy in your specific case.

A pint glass of beer with overflowing foam on a table, creating a spill, indicative of potential overconsumption, relevant to discussions on the legal implications of a first offense DUI in Arizona.

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