The state of Arizona has a zero-tolerance law on driving under the influence. This means you can still be arrested if you drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than the legal limit of .08%. Moreover, a conviction of extreme DUI may have severe consequences than a regular DUI.
It may seem like you have nothing to contest but plead guilty after being charged with extreme DUI since all evidence points to your guilt. However, there is a chance that a procedure was not followed correctly, and you were arrested unlawfully. It may give you an opportunity to fight the charges and have a successful outcome. For instance, the police officer may have gathered the evidence illegally, or the Breathalyzer might have been faulty.
At Phoenix Criminal Attorney, we help clients in Phoenix, Arizona seeking a strong defense against DUI charges. We have attorneys who fully understand the ins and outs of Arizona DUI laws. Thus, we may be able to get your case dismissed or the charges reduced. If you have been charged with extreme DUI, we are here to help.
An Overview of Arizona DUI Laws
DUI under Arizona law is classified into four types based on the level of the blood alcohol concentration and other aspects such as previous convictions, whether you were carrying a minor, or whether you caused an accident. The types include standard DUI, extreme DUI, super extreme DUI, and aggravated DUI. The more serious your DUI crime is, the more punishment you are likely to face.
It is against the law for one to drive a motor vehicle or be in actual physical control of the vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher within two hours of driving. If you get arrested, you will be charged with standard DUI.
Arizona revised statutes make it illegal to operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol, any drug, any vapor-releasing substance that contains a toxic element, or a combination of the three. If it can be established that you were impaired to a measurable degree by these substances at the time of driving, you will be violating the law.
Penalties associated with this violation include an immediate suspension of your driver’s license; your driving privileges will be suspended and restricted for 30 to 90 days. If you decline to submit to a BAC test, your license will be suspended for one year. You will also face criminal charges in addition to the suspension.
DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of more than .08% will lead to extreme and super extreme DUI charges depending on the BAC level.
Revised Statute 28-1382(A)(1) of Arizona states that a person can face charges of extreme driving under the influence if they operate or are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and their breath, urine, or blood alcohol concentration is .15% or higher, but less than .20%. The law considers any person with this BAC range to be extremely intoxicated with alcohol.
The BAC of the driver must register the .15% level within 2 hours of being in actual physical control of or driving the vehicle. Also, the intoxication level has to have been caused by drinking alcohol either while driving or before. Depending on the number of times you have been convicted, extreme DUI can be classified into first, second, or subsequent offenses.
Elements of Extreme DUI
This is what the prosecution must prove for anyone charged with extreme DUI to be convicted. The elements include;
The level of alcohol content
As we mentioned earlier, the legal limit in Arizona is .08%. If your BAC is higher than .08% but less than .15%, you will be convicted differently. However, for extreme DUI, the prosecutor has to establish that your BAC was .15% or higher, but lower than .20%.
Driving or in actual physical control
The prosecutor has to prove that you were driving or were in actual physical control of the motor vehicle at the time of the arrest. Arizona does not define actual physical control in its revised statutes, but the Supreme Court established that for courts to determine if an offender was in actual physical control, they must examine, depending on the circumstances, if the offender’s control of the motor vehicle posed a threat to the public or themselves.
The prosecutor looks at these factors to deduce if you were in physical control of a vehicle:
- Where you were seated in the vehicle
- Weather conditions when you got arrested
- Time of the day
- Whether you stopped the vehicle voluntarily at a checkpoint
- The location of the keys in the motor vehicle
- Whether you were asleep or awake
Penalties for Extreme DUI
First Offense Extreme DUI
You will be convicted of a first extreme DUI offense if you are arrested for the first time for driving with a BAC level of .15% or higher. The law considers this a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. The penalties for this offense include:
- At least 30 days of jail time (You are entitled to home arrest after serving two days)
- Hours of community service
- A fine ranging between $250 and $2,780
- Suspension of your driver’s license
- Probation for three years
- Alcohol screening and counseling
- A one-year compulsory Ignition Interlock Device installation on any vehicle you operate
All these penalties are imposed based on your BAC at the time of your arrest. A blood alcohol concentration that ranges from .15% to .199% is punished by compulsory jail time of at least 30 days, while a .20% BAC or higher carry mandatory jail time of at least 45 days.
Second Offense Extreme DUI
You will be charged with this offense if you are arrested for the second time for driving with a BAC of .15%. The penalties for this offense are more severe compared to a first offense DUI. They include:
- At least 120 days of jail time (you will be entitled to home detention after serving 24 days)
- A maximum fine and assessment fee of $3,740
- Community service for 30 hours
- Compulsory alcohol screening and counseling
- Your driver’s license will be suspended for one year
- A mandatory one-year Ignition Interlock Device installation on any vehicle you operate
Third or Fourth Extreme DUI
Getting convicted for the third or fourth time within seven years for DUI with a BAC of .15% or higher is an aggravated felony DUI. The penalties include:
- Driver’s license suspension
- Four-months jail time or more
- Compulsory alcohol/drug screening and counseling
- Compulsory ignition interlock device installation
- Community service for at least 30 hours as the court will direct
If you have had any previous convictions, you were carrying a minor when you got arrested or, your extreme DUI caused an accident, you will be charged with aggravated DUI. This means you will face even more severe consequences and hefty fines.
However, a skilled DUI defense attorney may be able to contest these aggravating factors so that your charges are reduced leading to lenient penalties. Also, depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, the charges may be dismissed altogether.
Can You Be Arrested for Extreme DUI If You Are Not Driving?
In Arizona, it is possible to be arrested and charged for extreme DUI if you were occupying the driver’s seat with the vehicle’s keys on you while intoxicated and your BAC is .15% or higher. The keys don’t have to be in the ignition; neither does the vehicle need to be on. If you are occupying the driver’s seat and you have the ignition key with you, it is enough reason for the police officer to deduce that you were in actual physical control of the motor vehicle.
If you are going to doze off in your car while drunk, ensure you can prove to a police officer that you did not have actual physical control of the car. Alternatively, you can doze off in the passenger seat or the backseat of your vehicle, or place the ignition key somewhere you cannot reach, like the trunk.
Note that bicyclists and motorists can also be charged with extreme DUI if they are arrested riding with a BAC of .15% or higher.
On Refusing a Breathalyzer test
It is within your right to refuse to submit to a Breathalyzer test, but you can face additional penalties. For one, your license can be suspended for one year. The suspension can go up to 2 years in case you declined to submit to the Breathalyzer test within the past seven years. A police officer can then request a judge to issue a search warrant to compel you to submit to a blood test. The warrant takes less than one hour typically.
We recommend that if you intend to refuse a Breathalyzer test, you should have a skilled DUI defense attorney by your side that will fight to ensure your rights are upheld.
Can Extreme DUI Charges Be Reduced?
Extreme DUI charges get reduced more often. This mainly depends on several factors like the facts surrounding the case and how your extreme DUI attorney will argue the case.
Our attorneys have managed to have extreme DUI charges reduced to reckless driving or regular DUI charges which have lenient penalties. In other cases, we have had these cases dismissed for lack of solid proof. We have also managed to have penalties of extreme DUI convictions reduced. For instance, where one is expected to be sentenced for 30 days in jail, we have managed to reduce that to only two days of jail time while the rest of the days are spent on continuous alcohol monitoring.
Note that with an expert DUI defense attorney, even a mandatory jail sentence may be reduced with certain alternatives like home arrest, suspension of sentence for installation of an Ignition Interlock Device, and continuous alcohol monitoring based on the judge and court.
Defenses for Extreme DUI
If you have been charged with extreme DUI, there are certain defenses that your attorney can use to get your charges to be reduced or dismissed. However, the defenses do not apply to every situation. They are used depending on the specific facts surrounding the case. Thus, it is crucial that you seek the representation of an experienced attorney who is capable of determining what defenses to apply in your case.
You were not driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle- for you to be convicted of extreme DUI in Arizona, the prosecutor has to prove that you were in actual physical control or driving a vehicle with BAC of .015%. In some cases, there are usually no witnesses to attest that it was you that was driving the vehicle. Additionally, there may be certain factors that could make the prosecutor not to deduce that you were in actual physical control conclusively.
There was no probable cause for an officer to stop you- it is illegal for a police officer to stop you for DUI if he/she doesn’t have a possible reason to do so. Thus, if this was the case, any proof of extreme DUI that was acquired when you got stopped is inadmissible in court.
The law enforcement officer violated your Miranda rights- when a police officer takes you into custody, he/she must read the Miranda warnings to you before he/she can question you. Miranda rights give you the liberty to remain silent during questioning. They further state that anything you say can and will be used as proof against you in a court of law. They give you the right to have your attorney present during questioning, and if you can’t afford an attorney, one will be assigned to you at your request. The attorney has to be present before any questioning can take place.
Subtractive Retrograde- if the test you took at the time of driving indicates a higher BAC reading, this method is used to determine the exact level. This defense can only be used if you consumed alcohol shortly before you operated the vehicle. Many people need between half an hour and multiple hours to absorb alcohol completely.
Charges Related to Extreme DUI Offense
This is charged when you get arrested driving under the influence with a BAC of .08% if you are 21 years or above. For drivers of commercial vehicles, the legal limit is reduced to .04% and .00% if you are underage. The penalties for a first offense standard DUI include; a 10-days jail time, $1, 500 in fines, a monitoring fee of $80, compulsory alcohol screening and counseling, license suspension for 90 days, and Ignition Interlock Device installation for one year.
A second standard DUI offense carries the following punishments; a 90-day jail time (entitled to home arrest after 6 days), $3,500 in fines, a monitoring fee of $80, compulsory alcohol screening and counseling, a one-year license suspension, ignition interlock device installation for 12 months, and 30 hours of community service.
Super Extreme DUI
Among Arizona DUI offenses, this is the most serious. You will be charged with this offense if you are arrested driving while under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration of .20%. This offense carries even more severe penalties compared to extreme DUI. The penalties for a first offense include:
- Forty-five days of jail time (entitled to home arrest after three days)
- A minimum fine of $500
- An assessment fee of $1,000
- Compulsory Interlock Device Installation for 18 months
- Alcohol screening and counseling
- A 90-day license suspension
A second super extreme DUI has the following penalties; 180 days jail time ( entitled to home detention after 36 days), $4,650 in fines and a monitoring fee of $80, screening and counseling, a one-year license suspension, a 24-months Ignition Interlock Device installation, and community service for 30 months.
Multiple factors can make you get convicted of aggravated DUI. They include DUI on a suspended license, if you charged with DUI for the third or more times within 7 years, DUI with a child that’s below 15 years, DUI with an Ignition Interlock Device installed in your car.
The law classifies aggravated DUI as a class 4 felony. However, if it is DUI with a child of below 15 years, it is a class 6 felony (which has less severe punishments). Punishments for aggravated DUI vary depending on what factor is in play. However, the general punishments include at least four months of jail time and a minimum fine of $4,000.
Find an Extreme DUI Defense Attorney Near Me
Arizona DUI laws are among the strictest laws in the state. If you are found guilty, the criminal record can affect your entire life. It may be difficult for you to get employment, and this means you may have financial hardships. For this reason, if you are arrested, you need the best representation you can get to help clear the charges and maintain a clean criminal record.
The attorneys at Phoenix Criminal Attorney have experience in DUI defenses and are ready to help you fight any charges you face. If you have been arrested on extreme DUI allegations, call our Phoenix criminal lawyer at 602-551-8092 and let us know more about your case.