What is Arizona’s “aggravated DUI” offense?

Here in the Phoenix area, there is not a day that goes by without someone being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol. In fact, it is inevitable that a few are charged in the course of any day of the year. Most face simple DUI charges, but some must confront extraordinary accusations by Maricopa County: aggravated DUI.

What does that charge really mean? The state says the term applies to anyone who drives drunk while their driver’s license is suspended, revoked or canceled. That’s just one of the ways in which a person can face the harsh penalties and stigma attached to the term.

If you drive about three hours northwest of Phoenix, you’ll come to Kingman, Arizona, which likes to call itself “The Heart of Historic Route 66.” If the motto appeals to you, head north. When you arrive, you won’t be far from the card-playing treats of Laughlin, Nevada.

You will also be under the watchful eyes of the Mojave County Sheriff’s deputies on the lookout for intoxicated motorists. The deputies recently arrested a 41-year-old man after noticing that his car drifted across the road’s center line. Deputies said the driver smelled of alcohol, and indeed, he admitted to having consumed a bottle of beer earlier in the day.

When his blood was tested, the blood alcohol content was at 0.115 percent (the legal threshold is 0.08 percent). A check of the man’s record showed he had four previous DUI arrests, and that his driver’s license was suspended. He was then charged with aggravated DUI.

That means he will be sent to prison, if he’s convicted, for not more than two years, according to Arizona law. In addition, his license will be revoked for three years.

Obviously, it’s important in these circumstances to find an attorney experienced in DUI defense, which includes negotiations with prosecutors to reduce charges and to agree to deals in which penalties for remaining charges are minimized.