In the state of Arizona, law enforcement takes DUI offenses very seriously and has a “zero-tolerance” law. When you are driving in from out of state and are pulled over for a DUI, the standard protocol is to give a field sobriety test, as well as a breathalyzer so the officer can get your BAC number. Additionally, if you refuse a breath test during the stop, you will be taken to the local police station to have your blood drawn.
If you happen to live out of the state of Arizona and have been charged with a DUI, this can have some serious, not to mention expensive, consequences. The most important is that if you chose to represent yourself in the matter, not only will you be responsible for any fees, but also for your own travel expenses.
Not to mention that the process can last an average of 3-4 months and you would be required to appear in person at each of the pre-trial conferences.
Let’s discuss the laws when it comes to DUI. In Arizona, if your blood alcohol count is over .08 and under .15, you will be charged with a Misdemeanor DUI. If you have a BAC level between .15 and .20, you will be charged with an Extreme DUI. Following an Extreme DUI is what is known as a Super Extreme DUI, meaning a BAC level of .20 and greater. Finally, the most severe type of Arizona DUI is a Felony Aggravated DUI.
A felony aggravated DUI charge usually depends on whether you have previous DUI charges within the last 7 years, if there was a minor under the age of 15 present in the vehicle if your license was suspended at the time of the stop, and if someone else was seriously injured as a result of a DUI.
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The Typical DUI Arrest Process
When you first get pulled over in the state of Arizona, as a non-resident for a DUI, the officer on the scene will want to perform a field sobriety test and a breathalyzer for your BAC levels. When the officer reads your BAC and you had a 0.8 or higher, you will be placed under arrest for driving under the influence. If you refuse the breathalyzer test, the officer will place you in handcuffs and bring you to the police station to have blood drawn.
Once you arrive at the station, you will likely be searched, fingerprinted, and booked in as a new inmate. Once you are booked, you will then be informed on whether you qualify to make bail or be released on your own recognizance. If you can make bail, the bail bondsman will come in and provide you with a list of conditions you must follow based on Arizona’s state laws. Once you have paid the bondsman and signed off on your conditions, you will need to abide by everything on the bail bond in order to avoid any violations.
3. Initial Arraignment & Pre-conference Trials
After you are arrested, you will be given a court date for your initial arraignment where you will either plead guilty or not guilty to your DUI charge. If you plead guilty, you will then be given the judge’s decision on sentencing and fine amounts. If you choose to plead not guilty, you will be given another court date to return for the final process. The final court date is when you will really need an attorney at your side to help fight maximum sentencing to get something lesser like counseling or fines.
4. Final Trial
At your final trial, your attorney will present your case to the courts in the hope of gaining a plea deal for lesser sentencing. After presenting your case, chances are the district attorney will present theirs on why they think you are guilty and what they believe your punishment should be. After the judge here both cases, he or she will then make the final decision on the repercussions you are about to receive.
What Are Arizona DUI Laws
- If a driver has a BAC level of .08% or higher, they will be arrested on a DUI charge
- If a driver of a commercial vehicle is driving with a BAC of 0.04% or higher, they are guilty of a DUI
- An extreme DUI is when a driver has a BAC level of 0.15% to 0.20%
- A super extreme DUI is a BAC level of 0.20% or higher and can result in a minimum of 45 days in jail and a minimum fine of $500.00
- All misdemeanor DUI charges have a jail sentence of 10 days and a possible $250.00 fine
- Arizona has a mandatory ignition interlock device that is installed in the vehicles of DUI offenders
- A person cannot be in “actual physical control” of their vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A felony DUI is when a driver is caught driving under the influence multiple times within 7 years or while their license was under suspension by the state of Arizona
- The DUI is considered to be aggravated if the driver has had three DUI charges within 84 months
Useful Information Needed for My DUI in Arizona?
Police Report– Be sure to always get a copy of your police report so your attorney can over the report in hopes to find any discrepancies that could potentially help get your charge was thrown out or your punishment lessened.
Body Cam Footage– If you feel like the officer on the scene was treating you unfairly or did not follow the laws during the arrest, it is critical to have your attorney get the body cam footage from the officer if they were wearing one or had one in their cruiser at the time of the arrest.
Witness Reports– If you had another passenger with you or if there was another citizen at the scene of your arrest, always be sure to collect the report they made to the Arizona police department or contact them to have them make an initial report on what took place that evening.
Prior DUIs– If this is not the first DUI on your record, you will need to get the information on your previous charges to provide your attorney with your arrest information and BAC levels at the time of your arrest.
How Can I Avoid a DUI in Arizona?
Designated Driver– Having a designated driver while you are vacationing in the state of Arizona is very important if you want to avoid a DUI charge. Having a “DD” will allow you to sit back in the passenger seat while sobering up and avoiding a potentially catastrophic accident if you were the one having to drive.
Stay Under the Limit– If you plan on having a few drinks while visiting Arizona, it is crucial to maintain yourself and set a limit of just one or two alcoholic beverages. Any more than that will put you over a 0.8 BAC level which will then result in a criminal DUI charge.
Give Up Your Keys– If you do not have a designated driver and are visiting a friend in Arizona, it is important to give up your keys after a few drinks. Doing so will help you avoid a new charge, as well as a potential accident that could be fatal to you or other drivers on the road.
Call a Cab Company– Arizona has a long list of cab companies willing to pick you up from a bar or restaurant when you feel that you have exceeded your limit. All you have to do is pick up the phone and leave your car in the parking lot to keep you and everyone else on the road safe.
Why You Need an Attorney for a DUI Charge?
If you are caught driving under the influence in the state of Arizona, as a non-resident, you are going to need legal counsel to help guide you in the court process. Each DUI defense attorney at Shah Law Firm is highly skilled and knowledgeable about Arizona’s state laws pertaining to your case. Having legal representation from a defense attorney greatly increases your chances of having your charges reduced or your case completely dropped.
If this is not your first DUI, you are going to need your attorney to contact the other states where you were charged in order to receive those police reports with your BAC levels. Unfortunately, in Arizona, after your second and third DUI charge, you risk being charged with aggravated DUI which can result in a larger jail sentence and fine. By having an attorney at your side, you can come up with a plan for sobriety and a solid case to present to the court in hopes they will accept counseling and fines in lieu of a jail sentence.
What Can Happen if I Try and Represent Myself?
If you are being charged with a DUI in Arizona as a non-resident, it can be very difficult to represent yourself in the courtroom. Not only may you be unfamiliar with the court’s stipulations, but there is a good chance you have not been informed of the statute of limitations in Arizona. Not being knowledgeable about these matters can greatly increase your chance of jail time and abnormally high fines.
Another downfall to representing your DUI case on your own is the stress of having to contact the parties involved in the accident (if any) and doing your research on Arizona’s laws revolving around driving under the influence. When stress is involved from being rushed due to the statute of limitations, that is when you can very easily start to miss small, but very important pieces of information pertaining to your case. Even forgetting a page of the police report or your blood test results (if applicable), you could very easily lose your case and be given the maximum sentence under Arizona DUI laws.
If you live out of state, or even out of the country, let the Shah Law Firm defend your rights on your behalf.