Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Penalties

1409595_gavel_5-1.jpgThe Court of Appeals of Arizona recently decided an appeal regarding aggravated DUI in the case State of Arizona v. John Patrick McDonagh. This is an interesting case that works in favor of DUI defendants. It arose when the State charged the defendant with four counts of aggravated DUI. These were all variations on the same facts, including: (1) drunk driving on a suspended license, (2) drunk driving with a BAC over .08 on a suspended license, (3) third instance of drunk driving within 84 months, and (4) driving with a BAC over .08 on a third offense.

The defendant was convicted of all four of these. During a sentencing hearing, the judge imposed a minimum mandatory 4-month term in prison followed by two years of probation. The court ordered the prison terms and the probation to run concurrently. It also ordered significant “Assessments” totaling $4,630 per count. From the way the court wrote the order, it was not clear whether these Assessments were imposed concurrently or if this was the sum the defendant had to pay per count.

The defendant appealed solely with respect to the issue of the Assessments. He argued that there shouldn’t have been four separate Assessments assessed for four felony convictions all arising from the same driving incident. He didn’t raise a constitutional issue, but rather a prohibition found in the state statutes. Specifically the code states, “[a]n act or omission which is made punishable in different ways by different sections of the laws may be punished under both, but in no event may sentences be other than concurrent.”

The appellate court asked the parties to report how his payments were applied. The parties’ reports revealed that the court’s clerk applied the payment such that each dollar was credited to only one, not four counts.

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Arizona Court of Appeals rules non-impairing Marijuana ingredients qualify for DUI prosecution.

A recent Marijuana DUI dismissal was overturned in favor of the state and moved for continued prosecution in the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The main legal issue was whether or not a motorist could be prosecuted for Marijuana DUI when the only evidence revealed on a blood test was an inactive chemical compound in Marijuana. In this case, the drug compound was one that does not cause impairment, “Carboxy-THC”. This is a residual compound known to stay in a person’s blood stream for 3 to 4 weeks after Marijuana use.
The inactive or non-impairing compound was examined in contrast to the known active ingredient THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC has been successfully argued in courts as one that causes driving impairment.

The lower court dismissed the case before appeal, on the basis that the motorist was not driving impaired. But the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that both the active compound and the inactive compound fall within Arizona DUI Law A.R.S. 28-1381, so the motorist could still be subject to prosecution.

The impact of this ruling is that the prosecution does not need to prove that the driver was impaired. In order to prosecute the motorist for DUI with Marijuana, as long as at least one of the two compounds can be identified in the DUI blood test evidence. Another adverse impact is that a person may have used the Marijuana legally in another state, days or weeks prior to driving in Arizona, and still be arrested for Marijuana DUI.

The Arizona Court of Appeals indicated that this ruling shall not be used to set precedent. However, this presents challenges in consistency for the courts since other cases similar to this are pending prosecution.


Arizona Drug DUI Law

Currently under Arizona law A.R.S. 28-1381 a person may be guilty of DUI under the following circumstances:
(1) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs while they are impaired to the slightest degree; or
(2) If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol was consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle; or
(3) While there is any drug defined in section A.R.S.13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.

A person driving under the influence of Marijuana could be arrested under items (1) or (3) depending on the circumstances of the Marijuana DUI. It is not a defense if the person is a qualified Medical Marijuana user.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Drug DUI charges Mesa, AZ

If you face any type of drug DUI charges in Arizona, you should always consult a qualified criminal attorney to discuss your case. Arizona has some of the most strict laws, and severe penalties for DUI conviction in the state. Sentencing for drug DUI charges are the same or similar to those of drunk driving. They include jail terms, suspension of driver’s license, probation, substance abuse screening and counseling; fines, fees, and assessments. Other penalties may apply. If retained an experienced criminal lawyer will protect your rights, and defend your charges. There may be defenses that you are not aware of that could lead to a dismissal of charges, or otherwise favorable outcome in your case.


Additional Resources:

Arizona Drug DUI Laws

Arizona Court of Appeals Division 1

Arizona Drugs Defined Under Criminal Code

Mesa AZ Municipal Court

Mesa AZ Police Department

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If you plan to move or travel to Arizona; you should become familiar with Arizona’s strict prescription drug DUI laws.

A person may be arrested in Arizona for a DUI, if they are not driving drunk, and even if they have had no alcohol at all. Last year Drug impairments accounted for 15% of all DUI arrests in Arizona. Police attribute many of these to Prescription DUI violations. If a motorist is driving impaired due to Prescription-only medications solely or in combination with alcohol, they may be exposed to a DUI Arrest. Convictions for drug related driving impairments are generally as severe as those for alcohol related impaired driving charges.


Arizona Prescription Drug DUI Laws

A.R.S. 28-1381 – In Arizona it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, if the person is “impaired to the slightest degree” 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 an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle;
• Due to any drug defined under A.R.S. 13-3401 or its metabolite in a person’s bodily systems.


Prescription Drug DUI Penalties

A person found guilty of driving impaired due to prescription drugs will be convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties first offense Drug DUI convictions include 10 days in jail; substance abuse education and screening; fines, fees, costs of $1250.00; 90 day driver’s license suspension; and probation; and Ignition Interlock Device (IID) one year.
A second violation, within 7 years is a Class 1Misdemeanor. Penalties include 90 days jail; $3,000.00 fines, fees, costs; license revocation for one year; probation; Ignition Interlock Device (IID); and probation.
A third DUI violation of any kind within 7 years, with two prior DUI convictions elevates a DUI to a Class 4 Felony, or Aggravated DUI to a Class 4 Felony. Penalties call for 4 months in prison for the third DUI; and 8 months for subsequent impaired driving convictions; fines, fees, costs of at least $4,000.00; driver’s license revocation for 3 years; ignition interlock device (IID) 2 years; probation or community service; and a felon criminal record.

These penalties may vary slightly, and additional penalties may apply.

Prescription Drugs Defined

A.R.S. 13-3401 (28) includes the definition of “Prescription only drug” and means;
• Any toxic or potentially harmful drug as recognized in the general medical community; and
• Is considered safe to use only under the supervision of a licensed and qualified medical practitioner;
• Limited or approved for use as new drug under Federal Rules and medical supervision; of a medical practitioner.
• Potentially harmful drugs with labeling that includes proper directions for use;
• Drugs required by the Federal Rules to include labeling with the test “Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription” or “Rx only”.


Criminal Attorney for Prescription Drug DUI defense Gilbert AZ

Arizona has some of the toughest laws and penalties for conviction in the county. If you are arrested for any type of impaired driving in Arizona due to alcohol or drugs, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. But you have the right to defend their charges, and by law are innocent until proven guilty. You should consult a criminal defense attorney, regarding your matter before deciding to plead “guilty”. If retained, a qualified legal advocate will protect your rights and defend your charges. There may be defenses you are not aware of that could lead to a case dismissal, reduction of charges, or mitigation in sentencing.


Additional Resources:

Arizona Prescription Drug Definition

Arizona DUI Laws

• Gilbert AZ Police DUI Enforcement Units

• Criminal Court Gilbert AZ

• Arizona MADD.org

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Combined Resources Creates Larger Valley-wide DUI Task Force December 2012

This year Phoenix AZ, East Valley, and West Valley are combining DUI Task Force Efforts to create one large task force, for better efficiency and safety.

The Special DUI Task Force will be in place for the rest of month of December 2012. A central Command Post will be set up at Devonshire Community Center. It is located at the intersections of E. Devonshire Ave and 28th Street, in Phoenix AZ. Police will also set up DUI Field Vans, with Preliminary Breath Test Units, throughout the valley.

DUI Charges

DUI charges represented the largest number of crimes in Arizona in 2011. A total of 35,505 arrests were made or 14% of all crimes committed in Arizona last year. In an effort to decrease incidents of drunk driving or Drug DUI, Maricopa County police have actively sought out DUI motorists with DUI Sobriety Checkpoints set throughout 2012. This year, they increased their presence and safety checkpoints around holidays, events, and times where high volumes of traffic were expected.

DUI Laws

Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the country. A first-time DUI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Under A.R.S. 28-2831 it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

• Driving “impaired to the slightest degree” due to any alcohol or drugs;
• If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle.

In Arizona the legal limit for alcohol or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08%. However, a person may be guilty of DUI even if their BAC was below 0.08%, if due to alcohol or drugs they were driving “impaired to the slightest degree”.

Before making an arrest, the police will conduct an investigation to determine if they have probable cause for a DUI arrest. This may include Field testing, breath testing, and or blood testing.

DUI Penalties

First-time non-extreme DUI conviction will result in the following penalties:

• 10 jail sentence;
• Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days;
• Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on vehicle following reinstatement of driving privileges;
• Fines, fees, costs and assessments of at least $1,200.00;
• Probation;
• Alcohol/drug abuse education and counseling which will reduce jail time to 24 hours if successfully completed;
The higher the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level found in a person’s system, the higher the penalties.

Laws and sentencing are more severe for repeat offenses. If a person is found guilty of a third DUI within 7 years, even if the prior DUI charges occurred in another state, they will be convicted of an Aggravated DUI which is a Class 4 Felony. Penalties for Felony DUI call for:

• 4 months in prison;
• Fines, fees, and assessments of S4,000.00;
• Driving privileges revoked for 3 years;
• 24 months of IID after reinstatement of license;
• Parole;
• Drug and Alcohol counseling and treatment;
• Community Service
• Felony criminal record

Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI Charges in Phoenix AZ

If you face DUI charges of any kind you should always consult a DUI Attorney before pleading guilty or appearing in court. Even though you were arrested, you have the right to retain an attorney and defend your charges. Your legal advocate will protect your rights; provide a defense; and work to resolve your matter as favorably as possible.

Additional Resources:

Arizona DUI Laws

Arizona Department of Public Services (DPS) – 2011 Crime Statistics

Phoenix Police Department

• City of Phoenix – Municipal Court

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Super Extreme and Drug DUI laws and penalties apply to all motorists driving in Arizona
A criminal superior court judge in Northern Arizona was arrested on Super Extreme DUI charges, Sunday morning, December 9, 2012. He was stopped by police after swerving into oncoming traffic.

It was reported in the media that his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level exceeded the Super Extreme limit which is 0.20%. The suspect allegedly admitted to being under the influence of prescription drugs. The Judge was not at his bench on Monday, and the court reported that was allegedly assigned to non-judicial duties due to a personal matter.

In Arizona it is illegal to drive “Impaired to the Slightest Degree” due to alcohol or drugs. Prescription drugs, especially for pain, often have adverse impacts on driving. When drugs and alcohol are combined, they can prove to be particularly impairing on a motorist’s ability to drive.

A mistake in judgment can easily result in a criminal offense. A DUI conviction can result in harsh criminal penalties including jail, driver’s license suspension, and other civil penalties, as well as other consequences. If you will be driving in Arizona, you should understand the side effects of any drugs you take; and be familiar with Arizona DUI laws and consequences of a conviction.

Arizona Drug DUI Laws

A.R.S. 28-1381. (A). Under Arizona law it is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, “impaired to the slightest degree”, while under the influence of:

• Alcohol;
• Drug, or toxic substance (including over-the-counter, prescription, other legal or illegal drugs; or
• Any combination of liquor, and drugs
First offense drug DUI charges are treated are very similar to those of an alcohol DUI with a BAC of 0.08%, and categorized as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties for conviction include:

• 10 days jail;
• Fines, fees, costs of $1,200.00
• Installation of Court ordered Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle for at least 6 months;
• Drug/Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment which if completed, will reduce jail term;
• Suspension of Driver’s License for 90 days;
• Probation and/or
• Community Service

Super Extreme DUI laws in Arizona

A.R.S. 28-1381. (A)(2)(B). A motorist driving with an Alcohol BAC of 0.20 or more will be found guilty of Super Extreme DUI. A super Extreme DUI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor;
If a person is found to be driving with a BAC of 0.20 they will also be cited with “Impaired to the Slightest Degree”; 0.08% BAC DUI; 015% or more Extreme DUI and 0.20% Super Extreme DUI for up to 4 citations in one stop.

Penalties for a first offense Super Extreme DUI include
• 45 days in jail;
• Fines, fees, costs of $2,500.00
• Drug/Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment which if completed, will reduce jail term;
• Installation of Court ordered Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle for at least 18 months;
• Suspension of Driver’s License for at least 90 days;
• Probation and/or
• Community Service

Criminal Defense Attorney for Super Extreme DUI charges Gilbert AZ

Penalties for DUI if convicted will usually result in other life altering consequences such as termination or suspension of job. It is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney before going to court to discuss your matter, and options for defense. The penalties for any DUI in Arizona are some of the toughest in the country. You should never plead “Guilty” without being represented by an effective criminal defense lawyer. There may be defenses you are not aware of, that can lead to a dismissal, reduction or charges, or a reduction of harsh penalties. They will guide you through all phases of the criminal justice process; protect your rights; defend your charges; and work to get the most favorable resolution to your case.

Additional Resources:

Drug DUI and Super Extreme DUI laws

Gilbert AZ Police Department

Alcohol/Substance Abuse Counseling and Treatment Providers

Arizona Department of Health Services – Behavior Health Resource Links

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