Northern Arizona has a lot of Aggravated DUI charges, in courts like Coconino County Superior Court, Yavapai County Superior Court, Navajo County Superior Court, Mohave County Superior Court, and Apache County Superior Court, for DUI cases out of cities like Flagstaff, Sedona, Prescott, Holbrook, Page, Williams, and on I-40 and I-17 in Northern Arizona. So what happens if you are charged with a felony? How does a judge sentence you on felony Aggravated DUI?
Most of us have an idea of the definition of a DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, which is, in its most basic form, a misdemeanor under Arizona law. The most basic DUI in Arizona is called “DUI – Impaired to the Slightest Degree.” And that’s because there is a common misperception that you must have a 0.08% BAC, or blood alcohol concentration, to be convicted of DUI in Flagstaff, Prescott, Sedona, or anywhere else in Arizona. That, however, is not true. In Arizona, here is all that is required for a DUI:
A. It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances:
1. 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.
Arizona Revised Statutes, section 28-1381(A)(1).
I’ll talk about “actual physical control” in a separate article. For now, let’s focus on driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs where “the person is impaired to the slightest degree.” If you have one sip of wine, and it ever-so-slightly impairs you (e.g., hand-eye coordination, awareness, ability to focus, divided attention skills, etc.), then you risk a DUI by driving.
Where the 0.08% BAC comes in is a separate DUI offense, where you’re not just “impaired to the slightest degree” but you are driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher. That creates a presumption of impairment, under Arizona law.
So what makes a felony DUI (“Aggravated DUI”)? Aggravated DUI happens when you commit any DUI offense while your driver license or privilege to drive is suspended, canceled, revoked or refused or while a restriction is placed on your driver license or privilege to drive as a result of a DUI. See Arizona Revised Statutes, section 28-1383(A)(1).
Aggravated DUI is also when you are convicted of a third or subsequent DUI within a period of 84 months (i.e., 7 years).
Arizona Revised Statutes, section 28-1383(A)(2).
Aggravated DUI is also when you commit a DUI with a passenger in your vehicle who is under 15 years old.
Arizona Revised Statutes, section 28-1383(A)(3).
So, there are many different ways to commit Aggravated DUI, but the most common is when you get a DUI and your license is suspended, meaning you never should have been driving in the first place, much less while impaired!
Aggravated DUI is a class 4 felony, and if you are convicted of it, you can get supervised (felony) probation, or like any other Arizona felony offense, you can be sentenced to a prison term in the Arizona Department of Corrections. Your first Aggravated DUI can send you to the Arizona Department of Corrections for up to 3.75 years and mandatory minimum fines in the $4,000 range, but up to $150,000 under Arizona criminal law.
Even if you got probation on an Aggravated DUI conviction, Arizona statutory law requires you to serve at least 4 months in the Arizona Department of Corrections.
Typically, if you are charged with an Aggravated DUI, you should hire a lawyer to try to negotiate a plea bargain for you. An Aggravated DUI is one of the worst convictions to have on your record because it requires you to spend time in prison and is also allegeable against you for life. For whatever reason, Aggravated DUI is punished worse than most felony offenses.
Fight hard and make sure your rights are protected.