Penalties for Drunk Driving in Arizona

In Arizona, drunk driving or driving under the influence (DUI) is the drugged or drunk operation of a vehicle. The state has zero-tolerance for drunk driving, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety is responsible for identifying and indicting impaired drivers.

If charged with a DUI, a driver faces criminal prosecution and penalties imposes by the Arizona judiciary following a court trial. At the same time, the driver faces administrative sanctions from Arizona’s Motor Vehicles Services.

What Is Drunk Driving In Arizona? 

Per Arizona’s transportation code, ARS 28-1381, drunk driving refers to driving or having physical control of a vehicle while intoxicated with alcohol, drug, the vapor of a toxic substance, or a combination of substances.

Arizona puts the threshold for drivers’ Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) at 0.08%. Regardless, an officer of the Department of Public Safety may still arrest a driver if the officer has reason to believe the driver is impaired despite a low BAC.

Penalties for Drunk Driving In Arizona

Arizona has no tolerance for driving under the influence, and the state’s DUI laws are one of the strictest in the United States. Drivers convicted of drunk driving face one or more of the following penalties if convicted of drunk driving:

  • Demerit Points: Per Arizona’s point assessment system, a DUI indictment or conviction is worth eight (8) demerit points. The demerit points shall remain on the driver’s record for seven (7) years.
  • License Suspension: A drunk driver shall also lose their license on the spot if a breath alcohol test puts their BAC above the limit or if the arresting officer has sufficient reasons to believe the driver is impaired. A suspension shall hold, especially if the driver refuses to submit to a chemical test under Arizona’s implied consent law. Generally, license suspension lasts for at least 90 days. The court and Motor Vehicle Services may extend the suspension period under aggravating circumstances.
  • Fines: DUI fines for drunk driving in Arizona start at $250. Subsequently, law enforcement shall assess the driver starting from $500.
  • Other fees: Besides the fines, the driver incurs surcharges, a prison construction assessment fee of up to $1,250, a state general fund assessment fee of $1,250, and an $80 monitoring fee. The individual must also pay jail costs and probation fees. Thus, the financial implication of drunk driving can be well into several thousands of dollars.   
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device: Arizona’s zero-tolerance law makes installing a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) mandatory for persons convicted of drunk driving. The installation is at the driver’s expense.
  • Imprisonment: Jail time for DUI in Arizona starts at ten (10) days and can be up to 180 days under aggravating circumstances. The jail is independent of other court-imposed fines and administrative sanctions, such as completing treatment and counseling for substance abuse and providing an SR-22.

Penalties Depending On Circumstance

First DUI (0.08 BAC)

  • Fines & Other Fees: About $1,500.
  • License suspension: 90 days.
  • Jail: 10 days.
  • Ignition interlock: 12 months.
  • Substance abuse screening and counseling mandatory.

Second DUI

  • Fines & Other Fees: About $3,500.
  • Jail: 90 days.
  • License suspension: One-year revocation.
  • Ignition interlock: 12 months.
  • Community service: 30 hours.
  • Substance abuse screening and counseling mandatory.

First Aggravated DUI (> 0.15 BAC)

  • Jail: 30 days
  • Fines & Other Fees: About $4,000.
  • Driver’s license suspension: 90 days.
  • Ignition interlock: 12 months.
  • Substance abuse screening and counseling mandatory.

Second Aggravated DUI (> 0.15 BAC)

  • Jail: 120 days.
  • Fines & Other Fees: About $4,000.
  • Ignition interlock: 12 months.
  • Community service: 30 hours.
  • Driver’s license suspension: One-year revocation.
  • Substance abuse screening and counseling are required.

First Super Aggravated DUI (> 0.20 BAC)

  • Jail: 45 days
  • Fines & Other Fees: About $3,500
  • Screening and counseling required: Yes.
  • Driver’s license suspension: 90-day suspension.
  • Ignition interlock: 18 months.
  • Substance abuse screening and counseling are required.

Second Super Aggravated DUI (> 0.20 BAC)

  • Jail: 180 days
  • Fines & Other Fees: About $5,000.
  • Screening and counseling required: Yes.
  • License suspension: One-year revocation.
  • Ignition interlock: 24 months.
  • Community service: 30 months.
  • Substance abuse screening and counseling are required.

The Bottom-line

There is no denying that Arizona’s penalties for drunk driving are strict. The penalties mentioned above represent the typical penalties an offender can expect per state laws. However, persons who hire an experienced DUI attorney may successfully beat down the charges or enter a plea agreement with the court to reduce some of the penalties. In some cases, the court will grant home detention or probation instead of requiring a drunk driver to serve the full jail term. 

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