You’ve likely heard the saying since middle school: “Don’t drink and drive”. That’s because driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs greatly influences your ability to drive safely. Driving under the influence doesn’t just affect the people who are driving drunk or high. The people it affects most are the innocent victims who have their lives turned upside down in an instant.  

What Is a DUI? 

Arizona law makes it unlawful for a person to “drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle”… 

  • While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor-releasing substance containing a toxic substance, or any combination of liquor, drugs, or vapor-releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree 
  • If the person has at least a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 within two hours of driving or being in control of the vehicle  
  • While there is any drug (from a long list) or its metabolite in the person’s body 
  • If the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle that requires a person to obtain a commercial driver license and the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or higher   

Driving under any of these conditions is considered driving under the influence, or DUI.  

What Are the DUI Penalties in Arizona? 

A person convicted of DUI for the first time… 

  • Will be sentenced to serve no less than 10 consecutive days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence unless the entire sentence is served. 
  • Will pay a fine of no less than $250. 
  • May be ordered by a court to perform community service. 
  • May pay an additional assessment of $500 to the prison construction and operations fund.
  • May pay an additional assessment of $500 to the public safety equipment fund. 
  • May be required by the department, on report of the conviction, to equip any motor vehicle the person operates with a certified ignition interlock device which will prevent the vehicle from starting unless the occupant breathes into it 

If a person is convicted of DUI for a second time within 84 months of the first conviction (or under certain other circumstances), the person… 

  • Will be sentenced to serve no less than 90 days in jail, 30 days of which shall be served consecutively, and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence unless the entire sentence has been served 
  • Will pay a fine of no less than $500 
  • Will be ordered by a court to perform at least 30 hours of community service 
  • Will have his or her driving privilege revoked for one year 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,250 to the prison construction and operations fund 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,250 to the public safety equipment fund 

“Extreme” DUI is the condition of having a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or more (i.e., about twice the legal limit or higher) within two hours of driving or being in control of a vehicle. 

A person who commits extreme DUI… 

  • Will be sentenced to serve no less than 30 consecutive days in jail and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence unless the entire sentence is served 
  • Will pay a fine of not less than $250 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $250 
  • May be ordered by a court to perform community service 
  • Will be required to equip any motor vehicle they drive with a certified ignition interlock device 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,000 to the prison construction and operations fund 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,000 to the public safety equipment fund 

A driver who has a second extreme DUI conviction within 84 months of the first one… 

  • Will be sentenced to serve no less than 120 days in jail, 60 days of which shall be served consecutively, and is not eligible for probation or suspension of execution of sentence unless the entire sentence has been served 
  • Will pay a fine of not less than $500 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $250 
  • Will be ordered by a court to perform at least 30 hours of community service 
  • Will have his or her driver’s license 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,250 to the prison construction and operations fund 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,250 to the public safety equipment fund 

What is Aggravated DUI?  

Aggravated DUI occurs when a person… 

  • Commits a DUI violation while their driver’s license or privilege to drive is suspended, canceled, revoked, or while a restriction is placed on the person’s driver license or privilege to drive as a result of violating the DUI laws 
  • Within a period of 84 months commits a third or subsequent violation of the DUI laws 
  • While a person under 15 years of age is in the vehicle and commits a violation of the DUI laws. 
  • Commits a DUI offense after being ordered to install an ignition interlock device 

A person convicted of aggravated DUI… 

  • Will not get a new driver’s license within one year of the date of the conviction and must equip any motor vehicle the person operates with a certified ignition interlock device 
  • Must pay an additional assessment of $250 
  • Will pay a fine of no less than $750
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,500 to the prison construction and operations fund 
  • Will pay an additional assessment of $1,500 to the public safety equipment fund 

How Many Car Accidents Are Caused By Drunk Driving? 

Of the 129,750 car crashes in Arizona in 2019, 4,907 of them were drunk driving accidents, which accounts for nearly 4%. Of those, 85% occurred in Maricopa County.  

How Much More Likely Are You to Crash While Drunk?  

Let’s talk about this in terms of beer. Everyone’s tolerance is different, but generally speaking, 2 beers puts you at a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.04- half the legal limit. Let’s say you have 2 more beers to put your BAC at 0.08 (the legal limit). At this point, a driver is 11 times more likely to get into a crash than a person who has not drank.  

Let’s have 2 more beers- a 6 pack. Your BAC is now at least 0.10, and you are 48 times more likely to crash than someone who hasn’t drank.  

You’ve had a 6 pack already- say you have 2 more beers. Your BAC is now approximately 0.15, you are 380 times more likely to have an accident, and if you drive you are committing extreme DUI.  

Is Arizona a 0 Tolerance State?  

Arizona is a no tolerance, or 0 tolerance, state for DUI offenses. This means that you can be arrested for having a BAC of less than 0.08, particularly if you are driving recklessly.  

Resources Near You 

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Arizona 

 

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At the Thompson Law Firm, we have more than 10 years of experience helping clients obtain compensation for their personal injuries from car accidents, including pedestrian accidents. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office. 

If you have been in a car accident that is not your fault, contact Thompson Law Firm in Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in the greater Phoenix area including Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Maricopa, Globe, and Queen Creek. 

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