What’s the difference between DUI and extreme DUI?

Arizona’s drunk driving statutes have been evolving in recent years, and for many motorists, that means penalties and legal limits have shifted in ways they might not realize. Protecting yourself means being aware of your relationship to the law and its requirements of you as a driver. Understanding important distinctions in the law, such as the difference between charges for driving under the influence and extreme DUI, is key to driving legally.

DUI in Arizona

For the most part, driving under the influence is a misdemeanor offense in the state of Arizona. That means when you are arrested for driving while over the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol content, the penalties and the impact on your criminal record are still considered to be relatively minor. For first-time DUI offences, this generally means the following:

  • Jail time of not less than 10 days
  • Fines of no less than $1,250
  • Education and training on alcohol safety
  • A mandatory vehicle interlock device

Repeat offenses bring higher penalties, including the cancellation of a driver’s license, jail time in excess of 90 days and fines that start at $3,000 and may exceed that number. If you are a repeat offender, you will also typically receive community service as part of your sentence.

Extreme DUI

“Extreme” or felony DUI has considerably harsher penalties, but to be charged with this elevated form of driving under the influence, you must have a blood alcohol concentration of .015 or higher, nearly twice the legal limit for the misdemeanor form of the law. These are the consequences:

  • Jail time of not less than 30 consecutive days
  • Fines of no less than $2,500
  • Alcohol screening
  • Treatment and education
  • A mandatory vehicle interlock device
  • Community service

Subsequent offenses carry similarly heightened penalties, including 120-day jail-time minimums and $3,250 in fines, in addition to the 12-month license suspension all DUI offenders face.

If you have been arrested

If you have been charged with driving under the influence, you need to talk to an experienced attorney who has practiced this area of the law. He or she will be able to advise you about whether it is more productive to fight charges or to bargain, and having legal help is the only way to have leverage if you do need to make a deal. No matter what strategy you ultimately choose, your legal counsel will be able to provide you with the feedback you need to choose wisely and the resources you need to achieve your goals.