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Explore the DUI Laws in Arizona That Everyone Needs to Understand

  • Published: May 29, 2024

Driving under the influence (DUI) is a severe crime in Arizona, carrying significant legal consequences for those convicted. As a state with some of the strictest DUI laws in the nation, it is crucial for every resident and visitor to understand the intricacies of Arizona’s DUI legislation.

In this post, a Phoenix DUI lawyer will review the various aspects of DUI laws in Arizona, including the different types of DUI charges, penalties, and the steps you should take if you find yourself facing a DUI arrest. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions and protect your rights in the event of a DUI incident.

Types of DUI Charges in Arizona

Arizona recognizes several types of DUI charges, each with its own set of criteria and potential penalties. Understanding these distinctions is important when going through the legal system and building a strong defense strategy.

1. Standard DUI (A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(1))

A standard DUI charge applies when a person is found to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both, and their ability to drive is impaired to the slightest degree. This charge does not rely on a specific blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level but rather on the observed impairment of the driver.

2. DUI Per Se (A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(2))

A DUI Per Se charge is based on the driver’s BAC level, regardless of observable impairment. In Arizona, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08 percent for drivers 21 years of age or older. If a driver is found to have a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle, they can be charged with DUI Per Se.

3. Extreme DUI (A.R.S. § 28-1382(A)(1))

An Extreme DUI charge applies when a driver’s BAC is 0.15 percent or higher within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle. This charge carries more severe penalties than a standard DUI or DUI Per Se.

4. Super Extreme DUI (A.R.S. § 28-1382(A)(2))

A Super Extreme DUI charge is levied when a driver’s BAC is 0.20 percent or higher within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle. This is the most serious type of DUI charge in Arizona, with the harshest penalties.

4. DUI Drugs (A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(3))

Arizona law criminalizes driving when there are certain drugs or metabolites of those drugs in your system. Some of these drugs include:

  • Marijuana
  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • LSD
  • Ketamine
  • Alprazolam

Importantly, you can be convicted of DUI even if you have a prescription for the drug you have taken if you are impaired.

5. Aggravated DUI (A.R.S. § 28-1383)

An Aggravated DUI charge may apply in certain circumstances, such as:

  • Committing a DUI while your driver’s license is suspended, revoked, or restricted
  • Committing a third or subsequent DUI within a 7-year period
  • Committing a DUI with a passenger under 15 years of age in the vehicle
  • Committing a DUI while required to have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle

Implied Consent and Chemical Testing

Arizona, like many other states, has an implied consent law (A.R.S. § 28-1321). This law states that by operating a motor vehicle in the state of Arizona, you automatically give consent to chemical testing of your blood, breath, urine, or other bodily substances to determine alcohol concentration or drug content if you are arrested for a DUI offense. Refusing to submit to a chemical test can result in additional penalties, including a 12-month driver’s license suspension for a first refusal and a 2-year suspension for a second refusal within a 7-year period.

Even if you refuse a chemical test, you can still be charged with a DUI based on other evidence, such as field sobriety tests, officer observations, and witness statements. Furthermore, your refusal to submit to a chemical test can be used as evidence against you in court.

Field Sobriety Tests and Your Rights

When a law enforcement officer suspects that a driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they may request that the driver perform field sobriety tests (FSTs). These tests are designed to assess a person’s balance, coordination, and ability to follow instructions, which can be impaired by alcohol or drug consumption.

The three most common FSTs are:

  1. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Test: The police officer looks at the driver’s eyes as they follow a moving object, checking for involuntary jerking or bouncing of the eyes.
  2. Walk & Turn Test: The driver is told to take nine steps in a straight line, turn around, & take nine steps back.
  3. One Leg Stand Test: The driver is asked to stand on one foot, about six inches off the pavement, and count out loud until instructed to stop.

It is important to note that, in Arizona, you have the right to refuse to perform FSTs. While refusing FSTs may lead to your arrest, it can also limit the evidence available to prosecutors in your case. If you do choose to perform FSTs, be aware that the officer will be looking for any signs of impairment, and your performance can be used as evidence against you in court.

If you are arrested for a DUI, it is best to remain calm and exercise your right to remain silent. Do not engage in conversation with the arresting officer beyond providing your basic identifying information. Politely inform the officer that you wish to speak with an attorney before answering any questions or making any statements.

Contact a Phoenix DUI Lawyer Today

Arizona’s DUI laws are among the strictest in the nation, with severe penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Understanding the different types of DUI charges, the potential consequences of a conviction, and your rights during a DUI investigation is essential for protecting yourself and your future.

If you find yourself facing a DUI charge in Arizona, remember that you have the right to remain silent and to seek the assistance of an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney. Do not hesitate to exercise these rights and take immediate action to begin building your defense.

At The Molina Law Group, we provide the highest quality representation to individuals facing DUI charges in Phoenix and surrounding cities. We understand the stress and uncertainty that come with a DUI arrest, and we are committed to guiding you through every step of the legal process.

With our deep knowledge of Arizona DUI law, extensive trial experience, and client-centered approach, we are well-equipped to handle even the most difficult DUI cases. Our goal is to achieve the best possible outcome for each client we serve.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a DUI in Arizona, do not wait to seek the legal representation you need. Contact The Molina Law Group today at (602) 718-1249 or online to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer.

Edwin A. Molina III

The Molina Law Group has expertise in two
areas of law; Criminal Defense and Personal
Injury - Call Us Now - (602) 718-1249