While you might have planned on celebrating with your friends and family, you probably didn’t plan on getting a holiday DUI. Due to our busy social calendars (and increased law enforcement efforts), we typically see an increase in DUI arrests over the holidays. If you’re facing drunk driving charges, make sure you understand your legal rights before you discuss your case with the police or a prosecutor.
Arizona Drunk Driving Laws
Arizona is a zero-tolerance drunk driving state. Importantly, Arizona is an implied consent state. Drunk driving is defined as operating a vehicle with a:
- 0.08 blood-alcohol content (BAC) or more for most adults,
- 0.04 BAC or more if you’re operating a commercial vehicle, or
- Any BAC level if you’re under 21 years old.
If you are arrested for a holiday DUI, you typically must undergo a BAC test. If you refuse to take the test, you will lose your driver’s license for at least 12 months — more if you’ve ever refused BAC testing in the past.
Penalties for a Holiday DUI
An Arizona DUI carries serious penalties. Your sentence will vary, depending on your circumstances and criminal history. Generally speaking, you will face:
- 1st DUI: no less than 10 days in jail, at least $1,250 in fines, and mandatory alcohol counseling,
- Subsequent DUIs: no less than 90 days in jail, at least $3,000 in fines, mandatory alcohol counseling, community service, a 12-month driver’s license suspension, and mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle,
- Extreme DUI (0.15 BAC or higher):
- 1st offense: a jail sentence of at least 30 days, at least $2,500 in fines, mandatory alcohol counseling, community service, and mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle,
- Subsequent offenses: at least 120 days in jail, at least $3,250 in fines, a 12-month driver’s license suspension, mandatory alcohol counseling, community service, and mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
- Aggravated DUI: up to a two-year prison sentence, a 12-month driver’s license suspension, mandatory alcohol counseling, mandatory installation of a certified ignition interlock device on your vehicle, and any other legally-required penalties.
While most Arizona DUIs are misdemeanors, extreme and aggravated DUIs are felonies.
In addition to a criminal sentence, a holiday DUI conviction can impact your life in other ways. Once convicted, you might lose:
- Your right to possess firearms,
- Access to certain public benefits,
- Your job (due to court hearings, jail time, and other factors),
- Your driver’s license, and
- Professional licenses.
You also might face sky-high auto insurance rates. For these reasons, you should never take DUI charges lightly.
I’m Facing Holiday DUI Charges. What Should I Do?
If you were arrested for drunk driving, don’t panic. Remember, you’re innocent until proven guilty and you have valuable legal rights. Following these simple rules might improve your chances at court.
Field Sobriety Tests Aren’t Mandatory
You don’t have to engage in the police’s field sobriety tests. These tests are highly unscientific and subjective — it’s hard to walk a straight line on uneven ground with traffic whizzing by. But, your “poor” performance can be used against you in a criminal trial. However, once you’re arrested you typically should agree to a blood-alcohol test. Refusing a blood-alcohol test (typically a blood or breath test performed back at the police station) might result in the loss of your driver’s license.
If police arrest you for a holiday DUI, you should always remain polite and professional — and silent. Other than providing the police officer with your name and basic identifying information, you should not say anything until your criminal defense lawyer is present. Without representation, you might make incriminating statements and damage your defenses.
Consult With a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer
The sooner you speak with a skilled defense attorney, the better. DUI defense is a highly technical practice, requiring a detailed assessment of your BAC levels, testing methods, procedural compliance, and legal issues. Delays might seriously damage your claim and result in a heavier sentence. And, never agree to plead guilty unless you’ve discussed your case with a lawyer (no matter how embarrassed you are about your arrest).
Attend All of Your Court Hearings
It’s never a good idea to skip out on a criminal court hearing. We understand that it can be difficult to balance legal proceedings with the rest of your life — especially if you lost your driver’s license. However, the court might issue a warrant for your arrest and you could face additional criminal penalties. Instead, discuss your situation with your holiday DUI lawyer — he or she might help you find a solution.
Discuss Your Holiday DUI with a Phoenix Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you’re facing holiday DUI charges, contact Snader Law Group for a free and confidential evaluation. We vigorously defend our clients, identifying legal and factual issues with the prosecutor’s case, negotiating favorable deals, and presenting their cases to juries. Contact us today for more information.