DUI ATTORNEYS IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Arizona apprehends about 27,000 drunk drivers each year and charges them with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence).
It doesn’t take a lot of drinking to reach a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent, the legal limit in the state. For each 12-ounce beer, 5-ounce glass of wine, or one 1.5-ounce measure of hard liquor, your BAC generally rises about 0.02 percent. Depending on your body weight and other factors, that means as few as three or, at most, five drinks will put you near or over the limit.
If you’ve been arrested and charged with a DUI in Phoenix or nearby areas of Glendale or Scottsdale, immediately contact our team at Faussette & Faussette. We will listen to your story, explain all of your options to you, and help you formulate the best legal strategy moving forward.
THE BASICS OF DUI CHARGES IN ARIZONA
Arizona is among the strictest of all states when it comes to penalties for DUIs. We’ve already mentioned how easy it is to reach the BAC limit that can trigger DUI charges and penalties. On average, it takes about one hour for your body (depending on your weight and other health factors) to process one triggering consumption of alcohol. In other words, more than one drink per hour can lead to a serious increase in BAC, potentially resulting in either impaired or presumed drunk driving.
THE PENALTIES FOR DUIS RISE FOR EACH OFFENSE:
The penalties resulting from a DUI conviction in Arizona vary depending on different factors, including whether or not it is your first offense. The escalating levels of penalties include:
First Offense: Jail time of 10 to 45 days, a minimum of $500, and 90 days to one year of driver’s license suspension. Additional requirements may include a MADD Victim Impact Panel.
Second Offense: Jail time of 90 to 180 days, a minimum fine of $500, and a license suspension of one year.
Third Offense: Prison time of four months minimum, a minimum fine of $750, and a license suspension of one year.
All offenses require the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) on all of your vehicles, meaning you cannot start your vehicle without passing a BAC breath test.
In addition, penalties can stiffen based on your class of DUI:
A basic DUI is one with a BAC above 0.08 percent and below 0.15 percent
An extreme DUI is one with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher
An aggravated DUI is possible when your driver’s license has already been suspended, revoked, or canceled; it’s your third DUI within seven years; a passenger in the car was under the age of 15, or you refused to submit a breath sample while under an IID mandate.
A “Baby DUI” applies to drivers under 21. In these cases, any level of BAC is considered a DUI. Also, even if you’re 21 or older, you can still be charged with a DUI when though your BAC is below 0.08 percent.
COMMON MYTHS AND FACTS ABOUT DRUNK DRIVING
A DUI charge seems to imply that you’re actually operating your vehicle. However, this is not always the case. Just sitting in your car with keys ready or in the ignition can also result in a DUI charge.
Even “sleeping it off” in your car can lead to a DUI, though it sometimes can be a defense as well. The “sleep it off” defense asks the judge or jury to decide whether you were using your car as shelter, or whether you were just delaying the public threat of drunk driving.
BREATHALYZER TEST REFUSAL
Another myth or misunderstanding of the law is that you do not have to submit to a breathalyzer test. Under Arizona’s “implied consent” laws, all drivers are required to submit to a breathalyzer or blood test. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for one year. A second incident and refusal results in a two-year suspension.
Some people arrested for a DUI feel that it’s not worth fighting the charge and it is better just to plead guilty and get it over with. However, this assumes that stopping you and your vehicle was made with clear probable cause, that the breathalyzer or blood test was administered correctly, and that the arresting officer didn’t overstep their boundaries in arresting you by violating your rights. There are several valid defenses to DUIs, and some drivers can get the charges dropped or reduced with good legal representation.
Also, when an officer pulls you over and starts questioning you about your condition or whether you’ve been drinking too much, remember that anything you say can be used against you. You are entitled to have an attorney present for questioning. Be polite and acknowledge the officer’s questions, but you should exercise your right to say as little as possible.
DUIS & YOUR RECORD
Another concern for people with DUI convictions is how long the offense will stay on their record. The short answer is “forever.” However, keep two things in mind: The notation on your Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) record expires after five years. Your criminal record, though it lasts forever, does not factor into a second DUI offense after seven years. In other words, a second DUI after seven years will again result in only a first offense charge.
You can request an expungement of your criminal record, which is called “setting aside” your conviction. The court may grant this depending on how long it’s been since your conviction, the severity of the offense, and your overall behavior since conviction.
DUI ATTORNEYS SERVING PHOENIX, ARIZONA
A DUI charge is not always an open-and-shut case. Don’t surrender your rights without consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney. At Faussette & Faussette, we will stand by you and represent you at every step, from preliminary hearings, pretrial conferences, and settlement conferences to trials and sentencing hearings. If you’re in Phoenix or anywhere in Maricopa County, contact us immediately for an initial consultation.