Articles Tagged with Consequences of DUI

All DUI convictions carry harsh penalties. But, by far aggravated DUI expose a person to the harshest sentencing.

In 2012, a total of 7,696 Extreme DUI arrests were made representing 29% of the total 26,334 DUI arrests; and aggravated DUI (felony) arrests 3124 representing 12% of all DUI arrests last year.

A majority of DUI arrests in Arizona are misdemeanors. Even Extreme DUI charges are brought as misdemeanors. However, a misdemeanor will be elevated to an Aggravated DUI (felony) when certain factors are present surrounding the DUI charge, as defined under A.R.S. 28-1383.

For example, a driver was recently arrested for DUI for driving with a suspended license while approximately four times over the legal limit, Maricopa County. Under these circumstances a motorist is exposed charges of aggravated DUI (felony DUI). Prosecutors bring charges of aggravated or felony DUI when not only is a driver impaired by alcohol or illegal substances, but he or she (1) has a suspended, cancelled, revoked or restricted license or (2) has two DUI convictions within seven years of the current DUI or (3) has been ordered to have an ignition interlock device on a car.

It is illegal to drive with .08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). However, in Arizona, a driver does not need to have blood alcohol levels this high to be charged. It is illegal to drive even when you are only slightly impaired by alcohol or illegal substances.

A driver may also be charged with more serious offenses when the blood alcohol levels exceed the legal limit. If a driver’s blood alcohol level is .15% or more you can be charged with extreme DWI. In addition to Extreme DUI (.15%) Arizona also has Super Extreme DUI laws. A person can be charged with super extreme DWI, if their BAC is .20 % or higher. Assuming the additional circumstances described above are met, aggravated DUI can be charged for regular DUIs, as well as for extreme DWI or super extreme DWI.

Generally, the higher the BAC for which a person is convicted, the more harsh the penalties. This includes longer incarceration terms. But by far the harshest penalties go to people who are convicted of an aggravated DUI. An aggravated DUI is a Class 4 felony. However, it can also be charged as a Class 6 felony if you are impaired and driving with a child under the age of 15 in the car. Felony DUI may also be charged if someone is severely injured or killed while the driver was under the influence.

The penalties for an aggravated DUI in Arizona can be harsh. There is a mandatory minimum of 4 months in prison and up to 3.75 years in prison. “Mandatory minimum” means that the judge is required to sentence you to at least that amount (4 months) in prison regardless of how good one’s character or lack of prior record.

For example, if you have had two prior DUIs and you drink a glass of wine at happy hour, and as a result you weave in and out of traffic and get pulled over by the police, you could face aggravated DUI charges. If you are so charged, the judge is required to sentence you to at least four months in prison.

On top of the mandatory minimum prison time, you may face fines and costs that together exceed $4600. A person’s driving privileges may be revoked for a year and you may be placed on probation. An aggravated DUI will be on a person’s record, which means a person’s sentence could be enhanced in the future if you are ever again convicted of a felony.

Moreover, on future job applications, you will have to answer that you have been convicted of a felony, thereby limiting the kinds of work that will be available to you. There is a significant social stigma attached to felony convictions. If a person’s license has been revoked, it can be difficult to get to work, thereby further impacting a person’s employment prospects.

If you are charged with a Class 6 felony DUI, there are no mandatory minimums. However, you can be sentenced to prison for up to two years. There is a mandatory license revocation.

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DUI one of four main causes of fatal and serious auto accidents on Arizona roadways.

Enforcement of Arizona’s tough DUI laws tend to ramp up in May, especially over Memorial Day weekend and around graduation festivities. Last year, police arrested 3,129 people for DUIs between May 1 and May 31st, 556 of those arrests were made over Memorial Day weekend.

Police agencies statewide have joined together over the past month to patrol for people who are drinking and driving. These efforts are funded by grants from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, which also funds training for field sobriety tests, blood draws, drug recognition and equipment.

Tempe Police is at least one law enforcement agency that announced heightening enforcement from May 24th through May 27th. They have committed increased patrols and mobile units throughout the city and will be saturated in downtown Tempe AZ. Minor Consumption violations and prevention are a main focus.

Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that last year at this time 5 fatalities resulted from 4 separate collisions, and 85 people were injured. Arizona DPS indicated that impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs was one of 4 main causes of fatalities and serious injuries. Other causes included speeding, seat belt violations, and fatigue or drowsy driving. And while it was not mentioned in the AZ DPS press release, some recent studies and reports show that “texting while driving” is also one of the main causes of motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries.

It announced late last week that it will be “especially vigilant” on the state’s highways for this weekend to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, traffic, and impaired driving violations. The AZ DPS is reminding everyone to be patient on the roadway while driving, get enough rest before trips, and obey traffic and seat belt laws, and refrain from drinking and driving; and “texting and driving”.

Tips from the police for the weekend include using public transportation or a completely sober designated driver. All drivers should be aware that in Arizona, adults can be arrested for drunk driving even if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below .08, if they are impaired to the slightest degree by the amount they drank.

Over Memorial Day weekend, particularly at family outings, some parents may let their older teenagers drink. While some states allow those under 21 to have a BAC of .01 or .02, Arizona has a zero tolerance policy for drunk drivers under the age of 21. Those under 21 may not even have even a BAC of .01%. A relatively recent case looked at the issue of blood tests for BAC for juvenile drivers, and the facts of the case are worth considering if you are a teenager or a parent.

In that case, a monitor at a seventeen-year-old defendant’s school smelled marijuana on his clothing in 2012. The monitor searched the vehicle the defendant and his friends had driven to school and found drug paraphernalia. School officials reported this to the police and the sheriff arrived and advised the defendant of his Miranda rights. Nonetheless the defendant admitted that he and his friends had smoked marijuana away from campus and driven back.

The defendant was arrested and charged with drunk driving. The sheriff read him admonitions related to the implied consent law for blood tests and the defendant agreed to submit to testing. His parents were called and came to the school. Meanwhile, the defendant’s blood was tested without his parent’s consent. His parents were told he was caught smoking marijuana and arrested, but weren’t asked for permission to test the blood that had been drawn.

Before a delinquency hearing, the defendant moved to suppress the blood test results. He argued that, as a minor, he lacked the legal ability to consent to testing. The juvenile court granted his motion, reasoning that the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights includes the right to consent before a minor’s blood is tested, notwithstanding Arizona’s implied consent law. It also found that the defendant’s consent hadn’t been voluntary.

The State appealed the juvenile court’s decision. The State argued that the Parents’ Bill of Rights was inapplicable because the parental right to consent did not prevent law enforcement officers from acting in their official capacities within the scope of their authority.

The appellate court reasoned that anybody who operates a motor vehicle in Arizona, including minors, gives consent to alcohol testing of blood, breath and urine in the context of a DUI allegation. Although someone cannot be blood tested in a DUI stop without a warrant, drivers are already assumed to have given consent. They can withdraw the consent that has been given, but they face penalties for doing so.

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