The state of Arizona has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to underage DUI (underage drinking and driving), and that policy means that if you are caught drinking and driving, regardless of how low your blood alcohol concentration level may be, you will be charged with a DUI in Arizona. But what else does this mean? Well for one, it also means you will face criminal charges if found guilty of drinking and driving if you are under the legal drinking age of 21 in Arizona.
Let’s Discuss Arizona’s Zero Tolerance policy, what it means if you’ve been caught drinking and driving underage, and what Arja Shah can do to help.
Penalties for Underage DUI – Drinking and Driving in Arizona
Unfortunately for some underage drivers who are caught drinking and driving — even those who may have only had a glass of champagne to celebrate a friend’s college graduation — those who are found to be in actual physical control of the vehicle will face severe penalties for drinking and driving underage in Arizona.
According to Arizona Revised Statute ARS 4-244 (34), underage driving under the influence comes with some hefty penalties and fines.
To begin, even if your blood alcohol concentration barely registered on the breathalyzer, you will face the same consequences as an of-age driver found to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 percent or greater.
For first offenses of underage driving, you can expect the following penalties:
Suspension of your driver’s license for two years
Up to $500 in court fees and other fines
Court-ordered education on substance abuse
Regular drug and alcohol screening
Court-mandated drug and alcohol counseling
Community service as ordered by the judge in your case
Contrary to what many people are aware of, there are a variety of medical conditions that can cause your BAC level to register higher than it really is, or register falsely — as well as a host of different medications, both over the counter and prescribed. And, in addition to that, there are other factors, such as in some people, an intolerance to the minute amount of alcohol found within some medications, both prescriptions and otherwise.
Let’s discuss some of the factors and medical conditions that can cause you to have higher-than-normal and even false BAC readings.
Medical Conditions that Affect Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Levels
Acid reflux is the process by which your body pushes up acids from within the stomach and from around the stomach lining up into the back of your throat. Unfortunately, in some instances, these acids do contain alcoholic content, and while it is not the same kind of alcohol you would drink at a bar or party, it nonetheless has the ability to make you fail a breathalyzer test because it can contain enough ethanol to fool the breathalyzer into showing you have imbibed alcohol, even when you have not.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
Gastroesophageal reflux disease can cause you to fail a DUI breathalyzer test because this illness causes alcohol derived naturally from your body to pool within the large intestine and stomach, and from there it is pushed into the back of your mouth. This natural alcohol, which can cause tremendous pain for the sufferer, as it sits in the back of your mouth and throat, will make a breathalyzer result inaccurate and is in no way an indicator that you have been drinking or that your ability to drive is in any way impaired. Click to Learn More about the medical conditions that can cause a DUI charge…
According to the Arizona DUI laws, the term, “actual physical control” refers to the person who was driving the car at the time it was pulled over by police or other authorities, but actual physical control goes a good deal deeper than just being the person behind the wheel of the motor vehicle — it is also determined based on a couple of other factors, the most important among these being whether the vehicle was running, whether the ignition was on, where the keys to the car were located at the time of the incident, and in what position the driver was found at the actual time of the incident.
All of the following factors of actual physical control can be used as a strong defense by your DUI attorney to help get your charges reduced or even dismissed completely.
Other Factors That Determine Actual Physical Control
Whether or not the vehicle’s headlights were on (or off)
Whether or not the vehicle was stopped, be it legally parked or on the side of the road, or someplace else
Whether or not the driver had successfully pulled over in a voluntary manner (to the side of the road)
What the time of day was, and what impact this may have had on other factors listed above
Whether or not the air conditioning or heater was on
Whether the windows of the vehicle were up or down
What the weather conditions were at the time of the incident
Finally, another important factor for the authorities who are making the determination of who is in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of the incident will be the explanation of the above circumstances. These will be part of what would be discussed in a court of law if the case ever goes before an Arizona judge.
According to Arizona Revise Statute (ARS 4-311 (D), any restaurants, bars, nightclubs, saloons, or any other places licensed to serve alcohol — known as dram shops — are liable for serving intoxicated patrons and/or minors under the following conditions:
Whether the establishment sold liquor or other spirits to any person who was clearly and obviously intoxicated
Whether or not that individual consumed all the alcohol that he or she purchased
Whether or not the consumption of the alcohol served by the dram shop was the proximate cause of any injuries, property damage, or other types of damages.
What It Means to Be Intoxicated Under Dram Shop Liability Laws in Arizona
In order for the tenets of ARS 4-311 (D) to be properly upheld, the definition of what it means to be intoxicated has to be legally established. For the purposes of this Arizona Revised Statute, intoxications is when any individual drinking — or ordering drinks at the dram shop — is inebriated to a point where the physical and mental impairment is obvious to those around that individual, including other patrons, bartenders, and servers, due to the fact that the intoxicated person is physically uncoordinated, is showing signs of serious physical dysfunction, and other signs, such as slurring speech.
If you are a commercial driver or professional trucker with a Class A commercial driver’s license in the state of Arizona, you already know, the rules regarding safety on the road apply in a more stringent manner to you because of the type of professional license you hold.
You can still obtain a Class A CDL in the state of Arizona if you have been previously convicted of a DUI, but only after you have completed the original license suspension before applying — or reapplying — for a new Arizona CDL. If you have not taken this vital step, any application you submit for a Class A CDL in Arizona will be rejected.
What Happens When You are Charged with a DUI While Driving a Commercial Vehicle
If you are caught driving a commercial vehicle, including a tractor, flatbed, reefer, or any other type of semi or commercial vehicle, while allegedly under the influence and found guilty of a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge, the penalties include, but may not be limited to:
A class 1 misdemeanor, which could mean probation along with anywhere from 0 days to 1 year in jail
The potential of extensive fines and fees to the court
Mandatory counseling for alcohol use
Mandatory use of an ignition interlock system on any vehicle you drive, even though your CDL is suspended
In the State of Arizona, an aggravated DUI is a class 4 felony charge. These types of charges carry harsh penalties. If convicted, drivers face a mandatory minimum prison sentence — even if it is their first charge. There are certain things that a police officer can find out that may lead to an aggravated DUI charge versus a typical DUI. Therefore, it’s important to hire an experienced aggravated DUI lawyer who understands DUI laws in Arizona to represent you.
About Arizona DUI Laws
Anyone that is over the age of 21 or older with a blood alcohol content of .08 or higher can be charged with a Standard DUI as well as those under the age of 21 with any alcohol in their system. The difference between a standard DUI and an aggravated one is determined by several factors, including if someone’s license was suspended, restricted or revoked at the time of the arrest, if they’re driving with an interlock ignition device in their car, if there was a child under 15 in the car, or if someone has had two prior DUI convictions within seven years of a recent DUI arrest. All these factors can lead to an aggravated DUI charge in Arizona.
If you have been pulled over for DUI in Arizona, it’s important that you immediately secure legal counsel. You can request to speak to your attorney immediately – if refused by police to talk to an attorney, you have a solid DUI defense. By having an expert DUI attorney by your side every step of the way, you can ensure that your rights — including your driving privileges — are always protected. As a legal professional, Shah Law Firm also has other helpful tips for those that have been pulled over for DUI.
How to Respond When Being Pulled Over for DUI by Arizona Police
When you are pulled over by police or highway patrol anywhere in the state of Arizona, the best approach in terms of how you handle yourself physically is to put your hands on the steering wheel and keep them there. When asked for it — and never before — provide the officer with your license, registration, and insurance information.
If the officer asks you about alcohol, simply explain to him or her that you won’t answer those questions. While this may seem confrontational or overly assertive, what you are doing in essence is invoking your right to remain silent until an attorney is present.
If the officer is lingering by the car rather than taking your documents back to his or her patrol car, you may ask if you’re free to leave or if you’re under arrest.
No matter what, the value of being courteous, forthcoming, and polite can never be underestimated — even if an officer is trying to provoke you to anger or trying to force you to speak, maintain your cool and be considerate.
If you’ve been pulled over and ticketed or arrested for a DUI under Arizona Revised Statute #28-1381 or for a DWI in Arizona, you probably have questions about what the next steps are, and what you can do to absolve yourself before a judge. Not to worry: the Shah Law Firm is here to help you along every step of the process. We have the answers you’re looking for about Arizona DUI and DWI law, and best of all, our entire law team is well-versed in Arizona traffic and criminal law, and we know exactly what it takes to get the best results in both DUI and DWI cases anywhere in Arizona.
The Difference Between a DUI and DWI in Arizona
Getting pulled over or arrested for a DWI or DUI under Arizona Revised Statute #28-1381 can be really scary, especially when you think there’s no one on your side who can help you obtain the best results when it comes time for you to face the judge.
One of the most common questions we get from people seeking the assistance of a DUI lawyer in Arizona is, “What’s the difference between a DUI and a DWI in Arizona?” Let’s take the time to walk through the answer so you feel confident about your understanding of the differences, and feel better about what you might be up against in court.
DWI vs DUI in Arizona: Beyond the Acronyms
DUI stands for Driving Under the Influence.
DWI stands for Driving While Intoxicated.
While those might seem like the very same thing, there are a few important differences that make them different legally.
Arizona is a zero-tolerance state, meaning that if an officer so chooses, s/he may issue a DUI (but not a DWI) as long as there is any blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading of any level below 0.08 when the motorist is breathalyzed.
In Arizona, you can be convicted of a DUI as long as you are driving under the influence of any drugs or alcohol, regardless of the amount, and the alcohol amount need not be at or above the DWI level of 0.08.
In some instances, a state of intoxication can be something that was not planned, was not intended, or may actually be the result of nefarious activity perpetrated by a bad actor. Common examples include having an altered state brought on by cough syrup or cold medication, or even blacking out entirely as the result of someone drugging your food or drink. In instances such as these, the state of intoxication was neither desired nor intended on the part of the intoxicated person, and in nearly all cases.
In this blog, we will discuss how intoxication of this nature can actually be used as a DUI defense in some cases under Arizona Revised Statute #28-1381, and how an intoxication defense may be exactly what some people who have been charged with a DUI need in court. The good news is that an intoxication defense can be used much more frequently than you might imagine, and can help to dramatically reduce your DUI charges — or even get DUI charges dropped entirely.
Voluntary Versus Involuntary Intoxication: The Difference in Court When Fighting Your Case with an Arizona DUI Attorney
Involuntary intoxication occurs when someone is drugged or given alcohol without consent. This can include beverages that contain alcohol, a “date rape drug” such as flunitrazepam (Rohypnol) or ketamine, legal prescription medications, especially benzodiazepines such as Xanax (alprazolam) or Klonpin (clonazepam). An involuntary intoxication defense can be used in instances where alcohol or drugs like those listed above have been given to you without your knowledge or consent, and you then drove or operated heavy machinery without knowing you had consumed intoxicants.
Involuntary intoxication can be used by an Arizona DUI attorney to help lessen the degree of the prescription drug DUI charges you face as an intoxicated motorist if there is evidence that any amount of drugs or alcohol were given to you without your knowledge or consent.
If you have been arrested or charged with a DUI in Scottsdale, AZ, it’s critically important that you act as quickly as you can to ensure that the court knows you take the charges seriously. But beyond that, it’s important to simply face the consequences, no matter how scary that might seem right now, because a DUI in Arizona will continue to follow you regardless of where you live, and could result in the loss of your driving privileges, even if you don’t live in Arizona.
Make It Easier for a Scottsdale DUI Attorney to Help You: Make Handling Your AZ DUI a Priority
The longer you hold off on dealing with your DUI in AZ, the harder it’s going to be for a Scottsdale DUI attorney to help you — simply because it’s that person’s job to get the judge to make a more compassionate decision based on the circumstances surrounding your Arizona DUI arrest or charge.
If you put your DUI charge on the back burner month after month, you won’t make it to court on time, and no matter how good your Arizona DUI lawyer is, s/he will have a harder time explaining your tardiness or any previous court date absence to the judge. And, missing your court date without making the court aware could also result in more costs being tacked to your original DUI charges.
How Much Does a Scottsdale DUI Cost, and Why?
The cost of a DUI in Scottsdale will vary depending on a few variables, but mainly, charges are determined by how many prior DUIs you have had in Arizona or elsewhere, depending on what information the court has access to. Some basic cost guidelines are determined by the judge based on whether this is your first, second, or third DUI. Any number of DUIs beyond three will be entirely decided by the judge. Here’s a breakdown of some costs you can expect:
2nd DUI or Extreme DUI
3rd DUI or Super Extreme DUI
$1500 + $1000 for ignition interlock + $500 for alcohol education
$1500–2500 + $1000 for ignition interlock + $500 for alcohol education
$1500–3000 + $1000 for ignition interlock + $500 for alcohol education
In addition to the above items in the table, you will also be required to:
Use an ignition interlock system for as little as six months or as much as 18 months depending on how many DUIs you have had and how severe they were (extreme or super extreme DUIs in Arizona will carry longer penalties with ignition interlock).
Attend alcohol education for as long as the judge decides
Purchase SR-22 insurance, which is about $3,000 per year for three years
Be responsible for paying for the towing of your vehicle — a charge of $100 plus a mileage charge as well as a daily charge for storing your car in a tow lot, which can vary between $75–150 per day if you are unable to retrieve your car right away
Is It Possible to Have Some of the Fees and Court Costs for a Scottsdale DUI Reduced?
Absolutely. A DUI lawyer in Scottsdale can help you dramatically lower the costs associated with a DUI no matter how many previous DUIs you have had in Arizona or anywhere else for that matter. What’s more, depending on the case and how many previous Arizona DUIs you have had, your Scottsdale, Arizona DUI attorney may be able to get the judge to make more lenient decisions when it comes to things like alcohol education and/or how much time you will have to serve in jail.
Will I Absolutely Have to Go to Jail if I’ve Been Charged with a DUI in Scottdale?
Depending on some circumstances, you may not have to go to jail at all — it’s all about the strategy your DUI lawyer in Scottdale decides to go with. At Shah Law Firm, we always choose the DUI defense that’s going to give you the absolute best possible outcome based on the circumstances.
Are You Ready to Talk to a Scottsdale DUI Lawyer?
Don’t stress out any more than you have to — it’s not going to make your DUI go away or make your life easier to be worried all the time. Instead, call Shah Law Firm today and let us explain the basics about what you can expect, and give you the details about the most likely case you’re up against.
We have worked with literally thousands of people just like you who have been charged with DUIs all over Arizona, we know exactly which defenses work, and we know how to assuage your fears, reduce your stress, and best of all, ensure the kind of outcome that will get you back on the road in the least amount of time.
Give our warm and experienced team a call today to begin the process — we promise, you’re going to feel better once you know what you’re fighting — and when you know you have Shah Law Firm at your side! Dial 602-888-0369 to get started today.