MISDEMEANOR DUI

Most people are aware that if you are convicted of driving under the influence, you face serious consequences. While a first time DUI is generally a misdemeanor, even if you have a clean driving record, and have never before been convicted of misdemeanor DUI before, the consequences can be staggering.

The possibility of jail time, fines, assessments, license suspensions and insurance increases make it essential that you evaluate all possible defenses to DUI.

Misdemeanor DUI

Arizona DUI Laws

Pursuant to current Arizona DUI laws (A.R.S. § 28-1381), it is a misdemeanor DUI for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle under any of the following circumstances:

  1. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination if the person is impaired to the slightest degree; or
  2. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving; or
  3. While there is any drug defined in A.R.S. § 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body; or
  4. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more within two hours of driving a commercial motor vehicle that requires a person to obtain a commercial driver license (CDL).

License Suspension for DUI

In addition to the penalties for DUI that a person may suffer through the criminal court process, in Arizona there is also a mandatory license suspension for DUI.

Often times, when a person is cited for misdemeanor DUI, the arresting officer will confiscate the person’s driver license and leave them with Admin per Se paperwork. This paperwork acts as your driver license for the 15 days after being cited for misdemeanor DUI. After that the 15-day grace period, your Arizona driving privilege will be suspended for:

  1. Consented to Breath or Blood Test: No less than 90 days; or
  2. Refused Breath or Blood Test: No less than 1 year.

Avoiding License Suspension for DUI

Known as Arizona’s Implied Consent Law, MVD can suspend a person’s license even if you haven’t been convicted of DUI. However, while rarely explained by law enforcement, you can request a hearing to contest the legality of the license suspension for DUI. By following the instructions on the back of the affidavit, reviewing the procedures online or by contacting a Phoenix DUI lawyer your license can be saved.

REMEMBER: You, or an attorney on your behalf, MUST request the hearing within 15 days of being arrested in order to stop the automatic license suspension for DUI.

Misdemeanor DUI

Penalties for DUI

The penalties for misdemeanor DUI in Arizona are severe. Even without a prior criminal history, a misdemeanor DUI will result in mandatory jail time, fines and classes. Furthermore, the conviction will be reported to Arizona MVD who will take action against your driver license.

First offense DUI

If you are convicted of a first offense DUI in Arizona, you can expect:

  • Jail Time. A minimum 10-day jail sentence must be imposed by statute, although the judge may suspend all but 1 day of that term subject to completion of alcohol or drug screening, education or treatment.
  • Alcohol Classes. You will be required to complete a substance abuse program.
  • Monetary Penalties.You will be required to pay fines, fees (including a surcharge) of approximately $2,000. You will also be subject to substantial increases in your auto insurance premiums.
  • License Suspension.Your license will be suspended, usually for a period of 90 days. After 30 days you may be able to obtain a restricted license. The restricted license would allow you to go to and from work.
  • Ignition Interlock.Motor Vehicle will order an ignition interlock for 12 months. Depending on the facts of your case you may be eligible for removal of the device after 6 months.
  • Community Restitution.You may be required to complete community services hours.
  • Additional Classes.You may be required to complete other classes as order by the court. Examples include a MADD Victim Impact panel or cognitive life skills course.

Second Offense DUI

If you are convicted of a second offense DUI in Arizona within 7 years, you can expect:

  • Jail Time. At a minimum, the statute provides for a 90-day jail sentence. Successful participation in an alcohol or drug screening program could lead to the suspension of all but 60 days.
  • Alcohol Classes. You will be required to complete a substance abuse program.
  • Monetary Penalties.The total of the fines, screening fees, jail fees, IID costs, substance abuse classes and other assessments will likely be in the area of $7,500, exclusive of car insurance.
  • License Suspension. Your license will be suspended for a minimum of 1 year.
  • Ignition Interlock.Motor Vehicle will order an ignition interlock for 12 months.
  • Community Service.The sentence will include 30 hours of community restitution.
  • SR22. You will be required to obtain SR22. SR22 is a certificate of financial responsibility obtained through a private insurance company that you will be required to provide to MVD. Failure to maintain proof of SR22 for the required length of time will result in further license suspensions.

Third Offense DUI

If you have two or more prior misdemeanor DUI convictions, the next one will be charged as Aggravated or Felony DUI, a class 4 felony in our state.

DUI Aggravating Factors

Every case is different, and while we cannot recite every possible circumstance that will affect the penalty of a misdemeanor DUI, there are certain circumstances that will increase either the level of the offense and/or the penalties associated with it, even for a first-time offender. Here are some examples factors that can aggravate what would normally be expected:

  • Refusal to submit to a chemical test;
  • Blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher (Arizona Extreme DUI);
  • first time DUI with accident;
  • DUI causing injury or death;
  • DUI with a minor passenger under 15 years of age;
  • DUI while a license suspension is in effect.

Defenses to DUI

With penalties for misdemeanor DUI as strict as they are in Arizona, it is the utmost importance to evaluate each case for possible defenses to DUI. Consulting with an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer should give you a better understanding of the defenses that should be used in your specific case. That said, common DUI defenses include:

  • Illegal traffic stops;
  • Mishandling of evidence;
  • Improper breath and/or blood tests;
  • Ability to prove driver identity;
  • Erroneous conclusions from field sobriety tests;
  • Denial of your right to contact an attorney;
  • Validity of the prior DUI conviction (in the instance of a second offense DUIs).

This list of defense to DUI is not meant to be exhaustive and the defense that fits any one case should be tailored specifically. At Feldman & Royle, we are Phoenix DUI lawyers dedicated to finding the best defenses to our client’s cases.

phoenix dui lawyers

Phoenix DUI Lawyers

Even for a first offense with no aggravating factors, the penalties for a misdemeanor DUI conviction can radically affect your life and that of your family. In addition to the impact a license suspension can have on your job, things as simple as going out to a restaurant or a social gathering all will change merely by virtue of a conviction. When you add in jail time, heavy fines, an ignition interlock device and insurance increases, a conviction can turn your life upside down.

Choosing Phoenix DUI lawyers who specialize in misdemeanor DUI cases will give you the best chances of a positive outcome. Many DUI arrests do not result in convictions –some are dismissed, some result in reckless driving convictions and some result in not guilty verdicts at trial. To give yourself the best chance of avoiding the harsh penalties associated with a conviction contact Feldman & Royle for a free consultation.