Written By Ian van Schilfgaarde, Esq.
There are several different types of misdemeanor DUI charges under Arizona law. All require varying mandatory minimum penalties for a conviction, including jail time. All misdemeanor DUI charges in Arizona are classified as class 1 misdemeanors. In this article, we will break down the current DUI laws in Arizona as they relate to mandatory penalties and ignition interlock device orders.
DUI to the Slightest Degree
A DUI to the Slightest Degree states that it is illegal to operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle “[w]hile 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.” What does this mean? Well, if the State can prove that you had any amount of alcohol, drugs, or other substance in your system that caused you to be impaired to the “slightest” degree, then you can be convicted of a DUI even if your BAC is below a .08! A DUI Slightest is essentially a catchall law for prosecutors to seek DUI convictions when they believe a person was impaired.
Standard, Extreme, and Super-Extreme Alcohol DUI
If you are found driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08% (which means that ethanol in your system is higher than .08 grams per 100 milliliters of blood, or .08 grams per 210 liters of breath) the State does not need to prove impairment; the BAC alone is sufficient to establish a rebuttable legal presumption of impairment.
If your BAC is above .15%, you can be charged with an Extreme DUI. Not surprisingly, the minimum penalties for an extreme DUI are harsher than for a standard DUI.
Finally, if your BAC exceeds .20%, you can be charged with a Super Extreme DUI. As you can guess, minimum penalties for a Super Extreme DUI are even harsher than for an Extreme DUI.
The Arizona statute for “DUI Drugs” states that it is “unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle… [w]hile there is any drug defined § 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.” Section 13-3401 lays out a myriad of different drugs, including marijuana THC, cocaine, methamphetamine, and most prescription drugs. Similar to an extreme or .08 DUI, the State does not need to prove impairment so long as it can prove that the drug is in your system and you are not an authorized user (like a medical marijuana card holder or a valid medical prescription holder for a prescription drug).
Minimum Penalties for Misdemeanor DUI Convictions
The penalties for a misdemeanor DUI range from varying mandatory minimum penalties to the maximum possible for a class 1 misdemeanor. Maximum penalties include 6 months in jail, a fine of $2,500 + 83% surcharge, alcohol counseling, community service, and an ignition interlock requirement.
Minimum penalties for a DUI Slightest, DUI .08 and DUI Drugs are generally the same. They include alcohol/substance abuse counseling, jail time of 10 days (9 can be suspended upon completion the counseling), fines of approximately $1,600, and, in some cases, an ignition interlock for 12 months.
Minimum penalties for an Extreme DUI include the same counseling requirement, jail time of 30 days (21 can be suspended upon successful completion of counseling), a fine of approximately $2,800 (including surcharges), and 12 months of ignition interlock.
A Super Extreme DUI also carries the same counseling requirement, jail time of 45 days (31 can be suspended with completion of alcohol counseling), a fine of approximately $3,300, and a year of ignition interlock.
Second, or subsequent, DUI offenses have much harsher mandatory minimum penalties. A third DUI within 7 years will usually result in an aggravated (or felony) DUI.
Ignition Interlock for DUI Drug Convictions
Extreme, Super Extreme, and subsequent DUI convictions require the court to impose an ignition interlock device (“IID”). The actual order for the IID will come from the Arizona MVD, a subdivision of the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Even DUI convictions that do not require a court-ordered ignition interlock still require the MVD to require a person who has been convicted of a DUI to install an ignition interlock for at least 12 months on any alcohol-related DUI.
Previously, the law in Arizona did not distinguish between an alcohol related DUI, a DUI to the Slightest Degree, or a DUI Drugs – all required either the court or the MVD to impose an ignition interlock for at least 12 months. Thankfully, Arizona law changed on January 1, 2017 with respect to DUI Drugs. The amended law, A.R.S. § 28-1381(I)(6), no longer mandates the court or MVD to require an ignition interlock device if the offense did not include alcohol. That means that if you were charged with a DUI that involves drugs and alcohol, it is better to be convicted of only the DUI for drugs, if a better result cannot be achieved.
The Arizona legislature takes DUI cases seriously. At Griffen & Stevens Law Firm, PLLC we provide a thorough analysis of all DUI charges to consider what our clients’ best options are. Sometimes a trial is the only appropriate method of defending your rights. Other times it is advantageous to pursue alternatives that may help you avoid significant collateral consequences, such as an ignition interlock device order.
This article does not contain legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. This article is for informational purposes only. We encourage you to call our law firm, or use our contact form, if you need a consultation, legal advice, or representation.