FELONY DUI (A.R.S. § 28-1383)

Aggravated DUI, or Felony DUI, is much more severe than a misdemeanor DUI or an extreme DUI both in penalties and the impact they can have on a person’s life. Whether it was a series of previous mistakes or a substance abuse problem that has gotten a person charged with a felony DUI, once charged the problem can seem overwhelming. However, by understanding the law, recognizing the consequences and developing legal defenses to felony DUI, you will soon realize that there is actually a lot that can be done on your behalf.

Felony DUI

5 Types of Felony DUI

Under A.R.S. § 28-1383, Felony DUIs occur when a person:

  1. Commits a DUI when their license is suspended – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(1);
  2. Receives 3 or more DUIs in a 7-year period – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(2);
  3. Commits DUI with a passenger under the age of 15 – Class 6 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(3);
  4. Commits a DUI when they have a restriction for an ignition interlock – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(4);
  5. Drives the wrong way on a highway while committing a DUI – Class 4 Felony – A.R.S. § 28-1383 (A)(5);

While these are the five types of Arizona felony DUI, it should be noted that it is quite common to be charged with multiple types of felony DUI arising out of the same arrest.

Example: A person may commit a third DUI within a 7-year period but also have a suspended license. In this instance, they would be charged with multiple counts of aggravated DUI. 

Understanding the Difference Between DUI and Felony DUI

Whether you are charged with an aggravated DUI has nothing to do with the level of your blood alcohol concentration. Instead, an aggravated DUI occurs when a person commits a regular DUI with some other “aggravating” circumstance, such as having a suspended license or while a child is in the car.

However, the main difference between aggravated DUI and regular DUI is that a regular DUI, extreme DUI and even most second offense DUIs are misdemeanor offenses. On the other hand, an aggravated DUI is a felony offense and often requires mandatory minimum prison time. These DUIs come with harsher penalties than regular DUI and normally come with heavy fines and a license revocation rather than a simple suspension of your driver license.

Arizona Aggravated DUI Penalties

 The most common question people have about felony DUI, centers around felony DUI jail time. Under Arizona law, all DUI cases have some form of jail as a consequence. Unfortunately, aggravated DUI under A.R.S. § 28-1383 is frequently classified as a class 4 felony and come with a mandatory prison sentence of 4 months. When discussing aggravated DUI, it is important to note that the felony DUI punishment is a minimum of four months in prison, not jail. The prison sentence is also a mandatory minimum sentence which means that if you are convicted, the judge must sentence you to at least four months. Put simply, the Arizona aggravated DUI penalties are harsh to say the least.

SIDE NOTE: Having a child in the car at the time of a DUI is considered a class 6 felony, which can many times be pled down to a misdemeanor charge in a worst-case scenario.

While some of the penalties for aggravated DUIs are circumstantial, there are mandatory classes, screening processes, license suspensions and jail time that come automatically with the charge. These penalties often include:

  • Minimum of four months in prison, maximum of 3.75 years (Class 4 Felonies)
  • Mandatory substance abuse screening and subsequent classes
  • Minimum of 36 classes
  • Driver’s license revocation
  • Mandatory installation of Ignition Interlock Device for 2 years minimum (costing upwards of $2,000
  • Increase in cost of insurance premiums and mandated
  • Supervised probation with mandatory random urinalysis samples
  • A felony conviction on a person’s permanent criminal record
  • Loss of the rights to vote, own a gun and

SIDE NOTE: The four-month mandatory minimum prison sentence for Class 4 Felony DUIs does not apply to ignition interlock related felony DUIs.

Other Arizona Aggravated DUI Penalties

Driver Licenses: In some cases of aggravated DUI charges, offenders can have their license completely revoked or face up to 10 years of probation.

Professional Licenses: In addition to these severe penalties, employment is threatened when an individual is charged with an aggravated DUI. Professionals such as doctors, lawyers, real estate agents or government officials may even lose their professional licenses. Many professional licenses carry with them a mandatory reporting requirement for felony DUI charges.

Defending Felony DUI

As lawyers who understand the Arizona aggravated assault penalties, we work tirelessly to develop a defense specifically tailored to the circumstances of your case. Examples of defenses commonly raised include:

  • Challenging the identification of the driver of the vehicle;
  • Confronting the legitimacy of field sobriety tests;
  • Attacking the reliability of blood and breath testing;
  • Examining the validity of the investigation; and
  • Evaluating possible constitutional challenges (Miranda Violations, Right to Counsel issues, Abuses of Due Process);

To determine which, if any, of these possible defenses should be utilized in your case you should discuss the facts of your specific case with an experienced felony DUI lawyer.

Aggravated DUI

Felony DUI Lawyer in Arizona

The attorneys at the law firm of Feldman & Royle know what you are going through. We understand the pressure of having a felony charge hanging over your head and we have vast experienced in handling DUI cases.

The staggering costs, in terms of money, jail time and reputation, of being convicted of aggravated DUI, make it essential that you choose your attorney wisely. At Feldman & Royle, we will treat your case with the attention it deserves. If there is a defense, we will raise it. If there is a way to negotiate an acceptable result, we will handle it. Find out what our firm can do for you. We offer a free, no obligation consultation.