What Is the Penalty for a First-Offense DUI in Arizona?

Posted On May 24, 2022 Drunk Driving Charges by John Allen Phebus

If a driver gets pulled over by law enforcement and shows signs of intoxication – either physical signs or the results of a breathalyzer test – he or she will be arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). The penalties for a DUI in Arizona are serious and include mandatory jail time. A first-offense DUI is penalized less harshly than second and subsequent DUIs, but the consequences can still be life-changing. Consult with a Glendale DUI defense attorney for information about your specific case.

How Do You Get a DUI in Arizona?

The legal alcohol limit for a motor vehicle driver is 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC). This limit is cut in half – 0.04 percent – for commercial drivers. In addition, if a driver is under the age of 21, any detectable amount of alcohol can lead to a DUI charge. These are the standard BAC limits in all 50 states. However, it is possible to get a DUI with a lower BAC level if the police officer believes that you are impaired by drugs or alcohol to any extent.

During the traffic stop, the police officer will ask if you’ve been drinking or taken any substances. Do not admit to drinking or taking anything. Then, the officer may order you to take a breathalyzer test. In Arizona, if you refuse to take this test, you will automatically have your license suspended for one year. In addition, refusal does not guarantee that you won’t still be convicted of a DUI. 

The officer may also ask you to take a field sobriety test, but you have the right to refuse. You should always politely say no to this request, as field sobriety tests are subjective and often unfair. You will most likely have to spend the night in jail if you’re arrested for alleged DUI. You will be given the chance to call an attorney or make a phone call. Then, the prosecution will decide if it wants to enter DUI charges against you. If so, your case will have an arraignment hearing and continue through the criminal justice process.

Potential Penalties for First-Offense DUIs in Arizona

If you’re convicted of driving under the influence in Arizona, you could face serious penalties, even if it’s your first offense. Lawmakers typically punish DUI crimes severely to send a message to the offender and others in the community that drinking and driving will not be tolerated. The list of penalties that can be included in a first-offense DUI sentence includes:

  • Jail time of no less than 10 consecutive days (although 9 can be suspended if you complete screening or treatment)
  • A fine of at least $1,250, plus fees and surcharges
  • Driver’s license suspension for at least 90 days
  • Drug and alcohol counseling, education and/or treatment
  • Mandatory ignition interlock device installed in your vehicles for one year
  • Community service requirement

These are the penalties for a normal DUI – drivers with a BAC of 0.08 percent to 0.149 percent. Arizona also has an extreme DUI charge for drivers with BACs of 0.15 to 0.199 and a super extreme DUI for BACs of 0.20 and higher. The penalties for a first-time extreme DUI include 30 days in jail and $2,500 in fines, while a super extreme DUI is penalized with 45 days in jail and $2,750 in fines. All of these penalties are increased for repeat offenders.

Can a Lawyer Reduce Your Sentence?

It is critical to contact a DUI criminal defense lawyer right away if you get arrested for this crime in Glendale. A defense attorney can help you fight these charges and negotiate with the prosecution for the best possible case results on your behalf. Your lawyer may be able to have the DUI charge reduced to a wet reckless, for example, which comes with lighter penalties – or negotiate to minimize your sentence since you have a clean criminal record. Working with an experienced DUI lawyer from the very beginning of your case can give you the strongest possible defense.