Arizona DUI Laws and Penalties 2023 – All You Need to Know

Arizona DUI Laws and
Aug 15 2023
Ryan Garvey Attorneys

A DUI charge in Arizona is addressed with very serious consequences if the accused is convicted. Many people believe that a test showing a certain level of BAC guarantees that a DUI can’t be fought against, but that’s not true. It is possible to fight back against DUI charges, particularly with the help of a Phoenix, AZ, DUI Lawyer.

DUI Laws

A DUI charge comes from driving impaired as a result of a substance such as alcohol, illegal drugs, or even prescription drugs. In the case of alcohol, a test can be used to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC), and any concentration above certain thresholds will be considered a DUI.

A DUI charge may be brought in the following cases:

  • Anyone driving with a BAC over 0.08%
  • The driver of a commercial vehicle with a BAC over 0.04%
  • A driver under the age of 21 with any level of BAC
  • Anyone driving with any amount of illegal substance in their body
  • Anyone whose driving is impaired because of a substance

DUI Sentencing

DUIs can be charged as either misdemeanors or as felonies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the DUIs. The penalties also vary depending on how many DUIs a person has received in the last seven years, along with the level of BAC they had. The penalties generally involve jail time, fines, a license suspension, and a requirement to install an ignition interlock device.

For a first-time misdemeanor, the penalties may be:

  • Impaired or Per Se DUI (BAC of at least 0.08% and up to 0.149%)
    • Jail: 10-day minimum (if alcohol screening is completed, could be reduced to 24 hours with the rest suspended)
    • Fines: At least $1480
    • License Suspension: At least 90 days
    • Ignition Interlock Device: Mandatory for 1 year but could be reduced to six months in some circumstances
  • Extreme DUI (BAC of at least 0.15% and up to 0.199%)
    • Jail: 30-day minimum (if an interlock ignition device is installed, could be reduced to 9 days with the rest suspended)
    • Fines: At least $3000
    • License Suspension: At least 90 days
    • Ignition Interlock Device: Mandatory 1-year installation
  • Super Extreme DUI (BAC of at least 0.2%)
    • Jail: 45-day minimum (if an interlock ignition device is installed, could be reduced to 14 days with the rest suspended)
    • Fines: At least $3250
    • License Suspension: At least 90 days
    • Ignition Interlock Device: Mandatory 1-year installation

The penalties all increase with a second offense within seven years. A third offense in seven years is considered a felony. Felony DUI charges carry the stiffest penalties but vary depending upon the circumstances that led to the elevation to felony charges.


Q: How Does a Certified Ignition Interlock Device Work?

A: Almost any DUI charge in Arizona is going to include a requirement to install an ignition interlock device (IID) for a certain period. This device tests a driver’s breath for alcohol and will not allow the car to start if the level detected is above 0.02%. The device also tracks any time that the sample is higher than the legal limit and if the driver refuses to provide a sample. It will also require further samples after the vehicle has been started and will keep a record of any failures to breathe into the device or tests that exceed the limit. The device will have to be installed by a Motor Vehicle Department-approved mechanic, and the date will be monitored by the MVD. It is installed on the dashboard and includes a camera and GPS in addition to being hardwired into the vehicle’s ignition.

Q: How Can You Defend Against DUI Charges?

A: Many people think that it’s impossible to argue against a DUI charge and against the tests in particular. That is not true. The exact strategy that will be right for your situation is something that your attorney can help you understand, but there are a few different ways in which a DUI charge can be challenged.

  • Probable Cause – Police officers can’t just go around pulling people over for no reason. They must have probable cause to do so. If there was no probable cause, such as the officer observing a moving violation of some sort, then there is no reason why you should have been pulled over in the first place.
  • Test Administration – There is a specific procedure outlined by the state for administering either a breath test or a field sobriety test. Failure to follow these procedures properly could result in the dismissal of your case.
  • Breathalyzer Maintenance – For a device like a breathalyzer to function properly, it must be well-maintained. If the records don’t show that it has been maintained up to the standard, then there is good reason to doubt the accuracy of the test results.
  • Breathalyzer Flaws – Some studies have shown significant flaws with the accuracy of breathalyzer tests. Presenting how your unique situation may have been affected by this could create a reasonable doubt about your guilt.

Q: In Arizona, What Can Be Charged as a DUI?

A: In Arizona, there are a few different ways you may be charged with a DUI. In many cases, this is determined by a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. For all drivers, a BAC of 0.08% is considered a DUI. However, if operating a commercial vehicle, the threshold falls to 0.04%, and for those under 21, any BAC at all is a DUI. However, DUI is not just related to alcohol, and any presence of an illegal substance in your body can also be considered a DUI. Additionally, if your driving is assessed to be impaired at all as a result of a substance, including something like prescription medication, then you could be charged with a DUI.

Q: What Makes a DUI a Felony in Arizona?

A: There are a few ways a DUI can be charged as a felony in Arizona. They include: 

  • A third DUI in a seven-year timespan
  • A DUI that occurred while transporting a child under the age of 15
  • A DUI while currently being required to use an ignition interlock device
  • A DUI while driving on a suspended or revoked license
  • A DUI while going in the wrong direction on a one-way highway

Defend Against DUI Charges

You don’t need to lose all hope if you are charged with a DUI. These charges have been successfully argued against. When you work with an experienced, talented defense attorney like Ryan Garvey, you give yourself a better chance of avoiding a conviction. Contact us today to discuss your case.

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