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What is a DUI and a DWI in Arizona?

A DUI is the drugged or drunk operation of a vehicle that violates the transportation code of Arizona. Individuals indicted and found guilty of this offense incur justified penalties. The Arizona Department of Public Safety is responsible for identifying and indicting offenders, the judiciary prosecutes and penalizes offenders, and the Motor Vehicles Services imposes administrative sanctions. Records of DUI offenses, from indictment to adjudication, are available to interested persons via the designated custodians.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Arizona?

DUI (Driving Under Influence) and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) are the same offense in Arizona. The legislature codifies the offense as DUI in Chapter 4 of the Transportation Code. A DUI is driving or having physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol, drug, the vapor of a toxic substance, or a combination thereof (ARS 28–1381)..

The offense is still indictable if the officer finds that the individual drove a vehicle within two (2) hours while intoxicated to the slightest degree. Arizona measures intoxication with breath and chemical tests and sets the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) threshold at 0.08%—although persons with a lower BAC may face the same DUI charge.

What happens when you get a DUI for the First Time in Arizona?

Arizona classifies DUI as a class 1 misdemeanor (ARS 28–1381(C)).. The first offense incurs a minimum jail time of 10 consecutive days, although the court may suspend nine days if the offender completes an approved alcohol or drug screening assessment. Likewise, other imposable penalties include a $250 fine, 80% surcharge (of base fine), and a $10 probation surcharge. The court will also assess the offender for $1,000 in prison and general assessment fines. Other penalties include driver education, license suspension, and ignition interlock.

Meanwhile, a person challenging a DUI charge in Arizona has the following defenses per ARS 28–1323(A):

  • The certification of the testing device by the appropriate agencies;
  • The officer does not have a permit to conduct the test;
  • The reproducibility of an accurate test result in twenty minutes after the first test;
  • The officer failed to follow an official operational checklist to perform the test;
  • The operating condition of the device at the time of testing

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Arizona?

Very likely. Arizona imposes a minimum jail term of ten (10) days on first-time DUI offenders, although the court may suspend up to nine (9) days of the sentence. Ergo, an individual must spend twenty-four (24) consecutive hours in jail. Furthermore, the maximum jail time for a first-time class 1 misdemeanor DUI is six months, depending on aggravating circumstances (ARS 13–707)..

What are the Typical Penalties for a DUI Conviction in Arizona?

Arizona penalties for DUI are punitive and pecuniary. The typical penalties include:

  • Demerit Points: Arizona uses a point assessment system to gauge traffic violations in the state. A DUI carries 8 points, which is invariably an automatic license suspension.
  • License Suspension: This penalty is automatic for all DUI indictments in Arizona, even before a conviction in court. If adjudicated guilty, the suspension is a minimum of ninety (90) days. Note that the license suspension may be permanent depending on aggravating factors. Either way, the license suspension remains in place until the individual applies for license reinstatement.
  • Fines: The base fine for a standard DUI in Arizona is $250, but subsequent DUIs starts at $500. However, the individual incurs a surcharge of base fine, prison construction assessment fee of up to $1,250, and state general fund assessment fee of $1,250. The individual must also pay jail costs and probation surcharge.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device: Installing a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) is often mandatory and at the driver’s expense. The device prevents the driver from starting a vehicle if he/she fails a breath test.
  • Financial Responsibility: Arizona requires offenders to obtain a certificate of insurance from an authorized service provider. This proof of financial responsibility is an eligibility requirement for reinstatement.
  • Jail: The court may also impose a prison sentence in addition to one or more penalties. The imposition of lengthy imprisonment is discretionary, depending on the class of offense, aggravating factors, and statutory minimum.
  • Substance Abuse Assessment and Education: This penalty requires completing a behavioral screening, treatment, and education in a state-approved facility.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Arizona?

Suffice to say that a DUI remains on the criminal record forever. Arizona does not make provisions for the expunction of the offense. Meanwhile, the demerit points incurred from the DUI violation remain on the driving record for seven years. The driving record, criminal record, and court records are available through the official designated custodians.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching for records simpler, as geographic locations do not limit their activities. Thus, the search engines on third-party sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or persons involved in the case. These include information such as the city, county, or state of residence or accusation.

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not government-sponsored. Consequently, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Arizona?

DUI checkpoints are legal in Arizona, although there is public dissent regarding how sobriety checkpoints violate fourth amendment rights. Law enforcement must follow official guidelines in setting up DUI checkpoints. Generally, the process is random, and law enforcement need not announce the operation beforehand. Interested persons may find checkpoints by performing a web search for active checkpoints.

Which is Worse; a DUI or DWI?

DUI and DWI refer to the same offense in Arizona. The discrepancy in the severity of the crime and punishment is between standard DUI and aggravated DUI (ARS 28–1383)..

What is an Aggravated DWI in Arizona?

Per ARS 28–1383, the elements of an aggravated DUI in Arizona include:

  • DUI with driver license or privilege to drive is suspended, canceled, restricted, or revoked;
  • A third and subsequent DUI within eighty-four (84) months;
  • A DUI while a person under fifteen years of age is in the vehicle, i.e., child endangerment;
  • Any DUI violation while required to install a certified ignition interlock device;
  • Any DUI violation while driving the wrong way on a highway.

The punishment for aggravated DUI depends on its severity and the nature of the aggravating factors. Generally, the offender faces at least four (4) months in jail without parole or sentence suspension, license suspension, professional evaluation, and rehabilitation. Furthermore, he/she must pay at least $750 and other statutory fines. These include prison construction and operations fines of $1500, public safety equipment fines of $1500, prison assessment fines of $1500, state general fund assessment fee of $1,500, and DUI abatement fines of $250.

What Happens When You Get a DWI in Arizona?

Generally, DUI trials are jury trials: the court hears the case, the jury convicts the defendant, and the judge imposes penalties. The prosecutor and defendant use arguments and supplemental evidence to make a case. If convicted, the court assesses the offender for the aforementioned statutory fines and penalties.

The severity depends on aggravating and mitigating factors. Mitigating factors are useful in the driver’s defense and reaching a plea bargain with the prosecution. The attorney or the self-represented offender also has statutory defenses in ARS 28–1323(A).

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