DUI charges in Arizona are well known for being some of the strictest in the country, but what about if you receive a DUI in a different state than Arizona? How does that affect you here? What about a DUI in another country, such as down in “Rocky Point,” Mexico? That will be an article for a different time.
In this article, we will discuss the facts about an Out-of-State DUI. Since each state has its own set of laws and statutes, DUI laws vary from state to state.
DUI Penalties and Laws in Arizona vs. an Out-of-State DUI
The penalties for a DUI conviction tend to be harsher in Arizona than in many other states. However, Arizona treats license suspensions more easily than some other states. For example, if you are convicted of a first DUI offense in Arizona, your license will typically be suspended for 90 days.
After not driving for 30 days, you will be eligible for a restricted license for the final 60 days to drive to and from your job, school, and treatment classes. By contrast, if you are convicted of a first DUI offense in Colorado, your license will be suspended for one year.
By contrast, the fines and fees for a first-offense DUI conviction in Arizona tend to be much higher than in other states. If you are convicted of a first DUI offense in Arizona, you will be assessed at least $1,500 in fees and fines along with a minimum of one day in jail. In many other states, the fines and fees are much lower, and no jail time is given for a first-offense DUI.
For example, a first-time DUI conviction in Missouri can result in a maximum fine of up to $500 along with a maximum sentence of six months in jail. However, most first DUI offenders in Missouri are not assessed any jail time.
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What if I have a Prior DUI Conviction?
If you are charged with a second or subsequent DUI offense in Arizona, the penalties you might face will be much more severe than the penalties for a first DUI offense. However, if you have a prior out-of-state DUI conviction, it may or may not be treated as a prior DUI offense for sentencing purposes in Arizona. Under Arizona law, an out-of-state DUI conviction can only be used to enhance your Arizona DUI sentence if the law in that state matches the DUI law in Arizona.
If you have a prior DUI in a different state, the prosecutor will review the law under which you were convicted to determine whether it matches Arizona’s DUI law. DUI laws vary from state to state. Your defense lawyer will also review the other state’s law and try to argue that it does not match so that your previous conviction won’t be used to enhance your sentence. The facts of what happened in the other state to lead to the conviction will not matter; instead, only the language of the statute matters.
To keep an out-of-state DUI conviction from being used to enhance your DUI sentence in Arizona, you will need an experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands what to look for. Your attorney will need to research the other state’s DUI law, determine the offense’s elements, and determine whether there is any potential way that you could plead guilty to a DUI in that state that would not be considered to be a DUI conviction in Arizona.
Out-of-state DUI convictions for Prescription Medication
Many people do not realize that they can be charged with and convicted of a DUI for driving under the influence of certain prescription medications in Arizona. In some states, however, DUI laws allow people to be convicted for driving while intoxicated when they drive after taking any over-the-counter medication that could be potentially impairing. Whether that type of out-of-state conviction will be counted against you in Arizona will depend on how the other state’s law compares with Arizona’s law.
Since laws constantly change, your attorney will need to look at the law under which you were convicted at the time of your arrest rather than the law as it currently exists. He or she can present it to the court, and the court is required to consider the law that you were actually convicted under rather than its modern version when deciding whether to count your out-of-state DUI conviction as a prior offense for sentencing purposes.
How does an Arizona DUI Affect Me in a Different State?
If you decide to move away from Arizona to a new state shortly after being convicted of a DUI in Arizona, you will need to think about several potential issues. In many cases, people enter into plea agreements with Arizona prosecutors that call for a period of probation. When you receive a probationary sentence, you must follow its terms. If you don’t, your probation could be revoked, and you could face up to the maximum sentence for your underlying DUI offense in Arizona.
If you move to a new state, you may have to transfer your probation through the interstate compact process. Your attorney can help you to figure out how to do this.
After you move to a new state, a new DUI or an arrest will violate the terms of your probation. Moving to a new state does not give you a clean slate. Any new arrest or DUI offense will be reported by your new state to Arizona. This can lead to serious consequences. Finally, depending on your probation’s terms, moving out of state might not be possible until you complete your sentence in Arizona.
If you decide to move to a new state before your DUI case is finished, you will have to return to Arizona for your court appearances – OR, your DUI defense attorney at Shah Law can appear on your behalf. The Arizona court will still have jurisdiction over your case no matter where you live. First-time DUI misdemeanor offenders might be allowed to have their attorneys appear in court for them without their presence. If you are facing a more serious charge, however, you will likely be required to come back and appear in person with your attorney.
Before you relocate to a new state, you should talk to your DUI attorney in Arizona about your move. He or she should be able to advise you about how relocating might affect your case or violate your probationary terms. In some cases, it might make more sense to postpone your move so that you can finish the legal process and avoid potential problems.
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How Else Can a DUI in a Different State affect you in Arizona?
States share conviction information with other states. This means that moving out of Arizona won’t allow you to avoid the consequences of a DUI conviction. If you think that you can move so that you can get a driver’s license in a new state while your license in Arizona is suspended because of a DUI, it will be unlikely to work. The Department of Motor Vehicles in your new state will check your driving records before issuing a driver’s license. Since states share this type of information, you will not be able to get a driver’s license in your new state until you complete the requirements for your DUI in Arizona.
An Arizona DUI conviction will be included in your criminal record. Regardless of where you relocate, a conviction will follow you. Having a DUI conviction might make it harder for you to find affordable insurance rates in your new state. In some cases, a prior DUI may also impact your ability to find a job that you like.
Finally, if you are charged with a DUI in your new state, your Arizona conviction might be used to enhance your DUI sentence.
Out-of-State DUI needs an Experienced DUI Attorney
If you are facing a DUI charge in Arizona and/or have a previous DUI conviction from a different state, you should talk to an experienced attorney at the Shah Law Firm.
We can help you to understand whether your Arizona charge might be treated as a first or second offense and how to possibly get the case dismissed entirely.
Call us today to schedule an appointment at (602) 560-7408.