Driving Under Influence
Arizona is known across the nation for being a state that likes to give maximum punishment for all DUI violations. A DUI can have serious consequences for not only the person charged but family members or anyone affected by the harsh penalties involved with a DUI.
Driving Under the Influence is a complicated area of law. If you are pulled over and suspected of a DUI, you should consult an attorney the moment an officer gives you the ability to make a phone call to one.
An experienced attorney who knows the laws and rules around DUI cases is essential to getting your case dismissed, charges dropped, or charges lowered.
When a person is arrested for a DUI there are two separate actions that immediately take place.
1. Criminal charges for driving under the influence.
2. Also, Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) will take immediate action to attempt to suspend your driving privileges. This action is Civil in nature. An experienced attorney can fight to prevent your loss of driving privileges.
Arizona has 5 misdemeanor DUI charges you can be charged with. Arizona also has a felony charge of Aggravated DUI.
- Impaired to the Slightest
- DUI with a BAC of .08
- Extreme DUI with a BAC of at least .15
- Super Extreme DUI with a BAC of any level .20 and over
- Drug Related DUI
Misdemeanor DUI Charges
You can think of the charges as stair steps with the lowest level charge at the bottom and the highest at the top.
Impaired to the Slightest – A.R.S. § 28-1381 A1
Impaired to the slightest is a separate and distinct DUI from the next three higher-level DUIs. It is illegal to drive or be in control of a vehicle if you are impaired to the slightest degree from alcohol, drugs, or other substances.
It is possible to be found guilty of this DUI even if your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is as low as a .01 even though the legal limit is .08.
The presumption is that you are not impaired when your BAC is under .08 but you can still be found guilty and suffer the harsh consequences of a DUI if you are found guilty.
The minimum statutory jail time for being impaired to the slightest is 10 days jail.
DUI with a .08 or above – A.R.S. § 28-1381 A2
You are presumed to be impaired once it is determined that your BAC is at a .08 or above. It is illegal to drive a vehicle with a BAC .08 or above. The State has the additional burden to prove that you operated or was in control of the vehicle within 2 hours of having a .08 or above BAC.
The minimum statutory jail time for a .08 is 10 days jail.
DUI with a BAC of .15 or higher – A.R.S. § 28-1382 A1
It is unlawful to drive or be in control of a vehicle if a person has a BAC of .15 or higher within 2 hours of driving.
The minimum statutory jail time for this violation is 30 days in jail.
DUI with a BAC of .20 or higher – A.R.S. § 28-1382 A2
It is unlawful to drive or be in control of a vehicle if a person has a BAC of .20 or higher within 2 hours of driving.
The minimum statutory jail time for this violation is 45 days in jail.
Drug DUI – A.R.S. § 28-1381 A3
A person can be found guilty of a drug DUI if there are any number of a large list of drugs or their metabolites in the person’s blood.
If the drug is an illegal drug that cannot be obtained by a prescription, then the State can pursue the charge of Drug DUI.
If the drug is a prescription drug and the person has a prescription for the drug, then that person can still face a Drug DUI charge if the drug impaired the person’s ability to safely operate a vehicle.
In Arizona currently there is no per se number in which a person can get a Marijuana DUI. What this means is that a person can get a Marijuana DUI for having even the slightest amount of active Marijuana in their system at the time of driving or being in actual control of their vehicle.
If also means that a person could have very high levels of Marijuana in their system but be found not guilty after a trial. Marijuana, once ingested, begins to be metabolized and the metabolites give tell-tale signs of how soon it was to when a person drove that they ingested the Marijuana.
Aggravated DUI – Felony
Aggravated DUI can be charged under several different circumstances. The factors include, driving DUI while a person’s license is suspended, driving with a child 15 years old or younger, driving DUI when a person has an ignition interlock device, or when a person receives their 3rd DUI within 84 months.
The penalties are extreme when found guilty of an Aggravated DUI.
Four months in prison is the mandatory punishment for being found guilty of Aggravated DUI. The fines can equal several thousand dollars or more.
Defenses to a DUI
A good defense attorney will first look to see whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to pull you over. If the officer did not have reasonable suspicion, then the entire stop can be challenged. Reasonable suspicion is a certain level of belief that a person is engaged in criminal activity.
Officers will often use the same reasons for trying to establish reasonable suspicion like that a person made a wide turn, swerved within their lane or swerved over lane lines and a number of other excuses to pull you over.
Defending Against Field Sobriety Tests
When a person is stopped for a suspected DUI the officer is certain to try and make the person do field sobriety tests.
You Can Refuse Field Sobriety Tests!
You do not have to do the preliminary breath test (PBT). The PBT is the little machine the officer wants a person to blow into on the side of the road. The little machine then comes up with a BAC and although the PBT result can’t be used in court, it can be used to establish probable cause to arrest a person. Further, the PBT can be used to keep your car in a tow yard for 30 days depending upon the PBT result.
Contesting the Breath or Blood Results
The cornerstone of any DUI is the result of a breath or a blood test that demonstrates alcohol or drugs were found in a person’s system. This area of DUI defense investigations is complicated and takes years of experience to learn and become proficient in understanding.
You need an experienced and established attorney to review results. Often times a good attorney will work side by side with a private lab expert to investigate if there were any issues with the way the state’s lab came up with their results.
There can be issues in the run of a person’s blood when it is tested. All aspects of the lab’s procedures must be reviewed and investigated. State labs wont voluntarily tell the prosecutor that there was an issue with the result they got when they ran your blood. A good defense attorney knows how to extract that information out of the lab personal.
Challenging Whether a Person was in Actual Physical Control of their Vehicle
There are circumstances in which it isn’t clear that a person was in actual physical control of a vehicle. There are times when no one can identify who was behind the wheel of the vehicle. Additionally, Arizona does recognize that a person can use their vehicle for shelter without being in control of the vehicle.
Thornley Law Firm has experience in these areas and can fight for you!
An Experienced DUI Law Firm
Thornley Law Firm has extensive experience handling DUI matters. We have been able to get charges dismissed or lowered. When facing a DUI there is a lot at risk including your money, your freedom, your ability to drive. Thornley Law Firm will fight for you!
We will investigate from a defense perspective. If needed, we will employ our own lab experts. Additionally, we are your partner throughout the process. Let us take the stress of this complicated process. We will communicate every step of the way!