What is the difference between DUI and DWI in Arizona?

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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.

Beyond these two statements, Arizona DUIs are also broken down into three major categories as follows: 

First-time Drunk Driving Arrest in Arizona

With a first-time DUI in Arizona, an officer can arrest you if your blood alcohol level is between 0.08 and 0.14. Without the representation of an Arizona DUI lawyer who understands AZ DUI laws:

  • You could spend up to 10 days in jail 
  • You may be fined out-of-pocket up to $1,250
  • You may be required to undergo alcohol education
  • You may be required to install an ignition interlock on any vehicle you operate

Not to worry — the Shah Law Firm has successfully worked with thousands of DUI cases of all kinds in Arizona, and we know exactly what it takes to get the best decision from the judge for you. Learn more about Shah Law Firm and how we manage Arizona misdemeanor DUI cases just like yours by clicking here.


dui and dwi lawyer in phoenix metro area

Extreme DUI in Arizona 

An Extreme DUI in Arizona is only possible if your BAC is 0.15 or higher, but you can be arrested under this type of DUI even if it is your first DUI if your BAC is over the limit of between 0.08 and 0.14 required for the first-time drunk driving arrest. In the event of an Extreme DUI in Arizona: 

  • You can be jailed for up to 30 days 
  • You may be fined as much as $2,500 
  • You may have to attend alcohol education 
  • You may be required to install an ignition interlock onto any car or other type of vehicle you operate

At Shah Law Firm, we know all of this can be overwhelming to hear for the first time, but we also know your chances of success are quite high when you have the help of a knowledgeable AZ DUI attorney on your side. Review Extreme DUIs in Arizona to learn how you can begin the process of looking out for your own best interest when you work with Shah Law Firm.

Super Extreme DUI in Arizona

In Arizona, there is a third type of DUI: the Super Extreme DUI. This type of driving offense is reserved only for those who are arrested with a BAC of 0.20 or above, and yes, it carries more serious punishments based on the extreme danger you’re placing yourself, other motorists, your passengers, and the passengers in other vehicles in. But there are different levels when it comes to the Arizona Super Extreme DUI, based on whether you are a first-time offender or not. Overall, you can expect to:

  • Spend up to 45 days in jail
  • Pay a minimum of $3,200 in fines
  • You may be required to install an ignition interlock system on any vehicle of any kind you operate, and the amount of time it will stay in place may be extended based on the more serious charge

You can rest easy knowing the Shah Law Firm has represented many people who have been arrested for Super Extreme DUIs in Arizona. We have answers for every question you may have about these types of charges, and we can assure you, super extreme cases can be resolved just as any other DUI charges are, as long as you have the right Phoenix DUI lawyer on your side.

Key Differences Between a DUI and a DWI in Arizona

Were you under the influence or not? With an AZ DUI, it doesn’t matter; with an AZ DWI, it does. With an Arizona DUI, you can be arrested and charged even if your breathalyzer or blood test results are under 0.08, or even at zero — but the arresting officer must be able to cite reasonable examples of how your behavior and actions amounted to a realistic claim that you were putting yourself and/or others in danger. 

On the contrary, you can only be charged with a DWI if your breathalyzer and/or blood test results showed a BAC of at least 0.08 or higher. In other words, you could be at risk for a DUI at any time as a motorist if you are behaving or driving abnormally or making poor choices behind the wheel, such as swerving, blowing through red lights, or generally showing visible signs of driving in an erratic manner. 

Which is More Common in Arizona, a DUI or a DWI?

While it’s certainly true that it is easier to get off on a DUI charge where the BAC is lower than 0.08, it is also true that with the right Arizona DUI or DWI lawyer on your side, you stand a much better chance of getting a reduced sentence — or even receiving no sentence at all. On the other hand, if you go to court on your own without the assistance, experience, and expertise of an AZ DWI attorney, there’s a much higher chance you will spend time in jail and/or end up paying the maximum fine based on which DUI or DWI charge you were arrested under.

Arizona DUI vs DWI: Why it Doesn’t Matter

At the end of the day, the differences between an Arizona DUI and an Arizona DWI are far fewer than the similarities, and, both DUIs and DWI breathalyzers and blood tests can be challenged in court by an Arizona DUI or DWI attorney who knows the system, as well as the Shah Law Firm, does.

We’re here to fight for your rights as a motorist because we know how much you depend on your license to drive. Because it affects how you will get to work, care for your children, and take care of your obligations, we take your driving privileges seriously at Shah Law Firm.

Give us a call at 602-560-7408 or fill out our contact form to get in touch today. All communications are 100% confidential — we value your privacy.

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