One of the 347 new bills Arizona lawmakers signed into law as part of the 53rd Legislature increases the penalties for wrong-way driving under the influence (DUI). The law, House Bill 2243, amends Title 28 of the Arizona Revised Statutes and adds a new section about wrong-way driving. If the police arrest you for driving the wrong way and determine you are a DUI driver, you could now face much worse consequences. Here’s what you need to know about the new law, which went into effect August 3rd, 2018.
Arizona Revised Statutes: New Section 28-694
HB 2243 successfully added a new wrong-way driving section to the existing law. The section defines wrong-way driving, adds a new civil penalty, and requires mandatory traffic survival school for lawbreakers. Section 28-694 states that a person guilty of driving the wrong way on a controlled access highway may face a fine of $500. The person must also successfully complete an approved traffic survival education course designed to improve driver safety and driving habits.
The section defines “wrong way” as a vehicular movement opposite the legal flow of traffic. Someone crossing a median is not a wrong-way driver; nor is a driver involved in a collision that causes a vehicle to come to a stop facing the wrong direction. The new law goes one step further to stop wrong-way driving: it creates a new aggravated DUI offense if the DUI driver travels the wrong way on a highway.
What Is an Aggravated DUI?
An aggravated DUI describes a driving under the influence of crime that is more serious than a standard DUI. Aggravated DUIs are Class 4 felonies in Arizona that come with strong penalties. Even if a driver has never gotten an aggravated DUI before, the driver could face mandatory prison time. Local law enforcement has the power to assess factors present at the time of DUI crime to determine whether they qualify as “aggravating.”
The following factors can lead to an aggravated DUI charge in Glendale, Arizona:
• DUI on a suspended, restricted or revoked license
• DUI in a vehicle that has an ignition interlock device
• Two prior DUI convictions within a seven-year period
• DUI with a child under 15 in the vehicle
As of August 3rd, 2018, there is a new aggravating DUI factor: driving the wrong way on a highway. If a DUI driver is traveling the wrong direction, he or she can automatically face a more severe aggravated DUI charge, even if it is his or her first drunk driving offense and if the driver doesn’t cause an accident. A felony aggravated DUI conviction can result in a minimum of four months in prison, driver’s license revocation for at least three years, supervised probation, and mandatory substance abuse classes and toxicology screenings.
How to Defend Yourself in a Wrong-Way DUI Case
Receiving two aggravated DUI offenses in the state of Arizona increases the penalties to seven years in prison, while a third or subsequent aggravated DUI comes with six to 15 years behind bars. The nature of the wrong-way DUI can also affect the penalties. If a wrong-way DUI driver causes an accident, injuries, or death, the driver can face even more severe consequences than a standard aggravated DUI. It’s increasingly important to retain a great criminal defense attorney if you’re facing a DUI charge in Arizona.
If you were going in the wrong direction at the time of your traffic stop or DUI accident, the prosecution may immediately upgrade your charge to an aggravated felony. This can have lifelong consequences for you. Retaining an experienced attorney can improve your chances of minimizing penalties and bargaining for a better plea deal. A lawyer may even have a defense strategy to convince the court to dismiss the charges altogether. As the laws in Arizona continue to change, stay on top of your rights with help from a DUI defense lawyer.