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The Legal Repercussions of a DUI

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After experiencing an arrest for a DUI charge, you may be scratching your head as to what happens next. Your emotions will be high, and you’ll need time to process what has happened to you.


Luckily, a DUI arrest is not a DUI conviction. Your life won’t end, but there will be some inconveniences while you fight your case, and it’s important to be prepared.


Although giving in and pleading guilty might seem like the easy way out, it can end up affecting your life in more dramatic ways than a different plea deal or fighting the charges would. It can also cost you less in the long run, even with the added fees of a dedicated criminal defense attorney.


Once you’ve made it out of police custody, it’s time to plan ahead. What can you expect when you fight your charges? Here are the legal repercussions to navigating a DUI charge.


Drivers License and Suspension

Before you even have an option to plead guilty or not guilty, your license could be suspended following your arrest. If you submit to a breath or blood test and your results come back with a BAC of .08 or more, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of 90 days. This is known as an Administrative License Suspension, but it can be disputed. After completing the first 30 days under an Administrative License Suspension, you may petition to restore your driving privileges. However, this is only under specific circumstances, such as driving to and from work or school.


If you refuse to submit to a breath or blood test at the request of the police, your driving privileges will be suspended for 12 months.


If your license is restricted or suspended prior to your actual court date, this could throw a real wrench into your day-to-day life. You’ll need to find a new form of transportation and won’t be able to drive again for quite some time. Even after you’re eligible to reinstate your privileges, you may be required to visit the MVD to do this.


With an experienced attorney, you may be able to avoid or lessen the frustration of this debacle, but you’ll need to stay vigilant on your dates and any other guidelines set down by a judge.


Levels of DUI Offenses

In Arizona, there are various levels of DUI offenses, each carrying different sentences following a conviction. These sentences do not have to be the reality, as a DUI arrest is not a guaranteed guilty verdict. Instead, hire an attorney that will fight for you to have options when dealing with your case.


Here are a few of the levels of DUI conviction according to the Arizona Department of Transportation:


DUI

  • First offense: You will be given a jail sentence of not less than 10 consecutive days and fined not less than $1,250. You will also be required to complete an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, and you may be required to equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device. You might also be ordered to perform community service and a Victim Impact Panel.
  • Second offense within 84 months: You will be given a jail sentence of not less than 90 days and fined not less than $3,000, and your license will be revoked for 12 months. You will also be required to undergo an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device.  You will also be ordered to perform community service.

Extreme DUI – This category of DUI applies to a person with an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher.

  • First offense: You will be given a jail sentence of not less than 30 consecutive days and will be fined not less than $2,500. You will also be required to undergo an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device. You might also be ordered to perform community service and a Victim Impact Panel.
  • Second offense within 84 months: You will be given a jail sentence of no less than 120 days, fined not less than $3,250, and your license will be revoked for 12 months. You will also be required to undergo an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device.  You will also be ordered to perform community service.

Super-Extreme DUI – This category of DUI applies to a person with an alcohol concentration of 0.20 or greater.

  • First offense: You will be given a jail sentence of no less than 45 consecutive days and will be fined not less than $2750. You will also be required to undergo an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device. You might also be ordered to perform community service and a Victim Impact Panel.
  • Second offense within 84 months: You will be given a jail sentence of no less than 180 days, fined not less than $3,750, and your license will be revoked for 12 months. You will also be required to undergo an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device.  You will also be ordered to perform community service.

Drug DUI – This category of DUI applies to a person who has any prohibited drug or its impairing metabolite in his or her system.

  • First offense: You will be given a jail sentence of not less than 10 consecutive days and fined not less than $1,250. You will also be required to complete a substance abuse screening and any recommended education/treatment classes.  Your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 12 months. It is also possible – but no longer mandatory – that the court will require you to install an ignition interlock system.  
  • Second offense within 84 months: You will be given a jail sentence of not less than 90 days and fined not less than $3,000, and your license will be revoked for 12 months. You will also be required to undergo a substance abuse screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device, if ordered by the court.  You will also be ordered to perform community service.

Aggravated DUI – A felony charge

  • This category of DUI applies to a person who commits a DUI while his or her driver’s license is suspended, revoked or canceled; commits a third DUI within 84 months; commits a DUI while a person under 15 is in the vehicle; or commits a DUI when that person has been required to operate a car only if equipped with an ignition interlock device.
  • The sentences for Aggravated DUI vary widely, and can involve a sentence to the Arizona Department of Corrections (prison), probation, and a license revocation of up to three years. You will also be required to pay fines and undergo an alcohol screening and any recommended education/treatment classes, as well as equip any vehicle you operate with a certified ignition interlock device.  

Preparing for Court

As your court date approaches, be sure to have a reliable form of transportation available, and be sure to ask your employer for enough time off to handle your court hearing. There is no general law requiring you to disclose your arrest to your employer, but certain professions, such as doctors and nurses, do require you to report your arrest to your licensing agency. Failing to do so could result in your termination. Be sure to inform your employer if you are required to drive for your job, or you signed a contract that specified notifying your company of any criminal convictions. An attorney will be able to assist you in navigating these hurdles.


Next, your attorney will meet with you to go over your case and look at the evidence available. There could be multiple options at hand depending on your circumstances. If you can, write down everything you remember from that day: how you were driving, who was with you, what the police said and what tests they took. This can help your attorney set up the case.


Although DUI arrests and their subsequent trials can be stressful and intimidating, you are still not guilty of a crime until proven so by a jury of your peers. Luckily, a qualified attorney can help defend your case and can build a strong defense against any burden of proof provided by the prosecution.


Often times a DUI arrest can leave you feeling hopeless and guilty, even when you aren’t. There are many valid defenses against field sobriety tests – including false-positive results from energy drinks – and attorneys are there to help you understand what you face. They can provide options for your case that you would be unable to get if you plead guilty or tried to defend yourself.


As your court date approaches, remember that your attorney is there to help you. DUI arrests can affect you in many ways, but they don’t have to halt your life. Be prepared, and you’ll see brighter days ahead soon.