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How Serious is DUI in Arizona?

Getting Charged with DUI in Arizona

Most people know or use the word “drunk driving” but the official term is DWI (driving while intoxicated) and DUI (driving under the influence). The difference between the two is simple, DWI involves alcohol while DUI involves drugs (legal or illegal drugs). While these two are different, Arizona only uses the term DUI to refer to both.

What is Drunk Driving?

Drunk driving is when a person operates a motor vehicle and his blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or more. Every person’s body reacts differently from alcohol but nonetheless, a drunk person should refrain from impaired driving. Arizona has a “not a drop” law or “baby DUI” which states that minors or people below the legal limit (below 21 years old) are prohibited from driving if they have any alcohol in their system.

What is a Blood Test, Breath Test and Field Sobriety Test (FST)?

A motorist may be pulled over for any traffic infraction. If the officer believes the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the officer is then allowed under the law to conduct a DUI investigation. The investigation may include field sobriety tests (FST). Field sobriety tests are voluntary but most people are not aware that they can decline the FSTs. However, when you sign for your driver’s license, you are giving your implied consent for the officer to conduct blood, breath or urine tests should the officer have reasonable cause to believe you are driving under the influence. Under the law, because of this implied consent, should you refuse a blood, breath or urine test (or any combination of FST) your driver’s license may be subject to a one-year suspension for first-time offenders and two years for repeat offenders. 

Blood tests or blood draws are one form of sobriety test, breath tests, using a calibrated, validated breath testing device is another. Field sobriety tests are physical tests designed to test if you can multitask on the side of the road with traffic going by you.  

When is it considered a DUI violation?

Motorists are prohibited from driving when:

  • They are under the influence of drugs or alcohol if impaired to the slightest degree
  • BAC limit of 0.08% or higher

Is it possible to get a DUI without driving?

DUI in ArizonaYes. Under Arizona law, you can be arrested for DUI if you are driving or if you are in physical control of your vehicle. The question of whether you had physical control of your vehicle is a question for the jury to decide. The jury can look at the totality of the circumstances. Were you out of gas? Were you standing outside of your vehicle? etc. They have to be able to put you behind the wheel of your vehicle within two hours of your blood alcohol level being above the legal limit and that the vehicle was in the condition to be driven within that two-hour time frame. 

What are the factors examined in assessing when is a person is in actual physical control?

Various factors may be considered in order to determine whether or not a person has actual physical control such as:

  • If the motor vehicle is running
  • Where the ignition key is located
  • What position the driver in the vehicle was found
  • If the driver is asleep or not
  • If the headlights were on
  • If the vehicle was stopped in the road or was legally parked

A DUI may be issued depending on the circumstance so consulting a DUI lawyer will be beneficial to know whether or not someone is in actual physical control or to establish defenses since one example would be the “sleeping it off” defense used by a drunk driver (or not) by saying that they were only in the car to sleep.

What are the penalties of DUI?

DUI penalties in Arizona vary depending on their BAC or if they have prior convictions. Possible penalties are:

For the first offense:

Impaired or Per Se DUI (BAC level of 0.08% to 0.149%)

Extreme DUI (BAC of 0.15% to 0.199%)

Super Extreme DUI (BAC of 0.20%)

Jail time

Minimum of 10 days

Minimum of 30 days

Mandatory minimum of 45 consecutive days


At least $1,480

At least $3,000

At least $3,250

License Suspension

At least 90 days

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

1-year mandatory

Harsher penalties for second offense:

Impaired or Per Se DUI

Extreme DUI

Super Extreme DUI


Minimum of 90 days

Minimum of 120 days

Minimum of 180 days


At least $3,000

At least $3,250

At least $4,250

Suspended license

At least 1 year

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

1-year mandatory

Third offense penalties:

If you have two prior DUI convictions and you are convicted of a third DUI within a seven-year period, that now becomes a felony, aggravated DUI where a prison term is mandatory.

How can DUI defense attorneys help you?

If you are charged with a DUI case, availing the services of defense lawyers will be advantageous. A defense attorney may help you recover your license.  When you are charged with DUI,  you only have a limited time to get back your license and your trial will most likely be a few months away. Hiring a defense lawyer or legal counsel earlier will enable you to have a stronger defense in the DUI courtroom. Your DUI lawyer will lay down all the cards for you, outlining your options as well as drunk driving defenses available to you. If you, your family or friends are facing DUI arrests or charges, we at Snader Law Group will help you through our experienced DUI attorneys. Call us now for a free consultation.

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