A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an extremely serious matter in Chandler. Arizona is one of the few states where jail time is mandatory upon conviction, even for first-time offenders. Beyond jail, a conviction for an alcohol DUI will require an ignition interlock in your car. All DUI arrests in Arizona carry likely license suspension, extremely high fines, probation, and classes. The process is confusing, and the terms of probation can be so numerous that people fail to complete them.
When you risk losing your liberty because of an error in judgment or a false accusation by an officer, you need a top-notch DUI defense attorney from Grand Canyon Law Group to stand up for your rights. If you are facing charges for DUI, reach out to a Chandler DUI lawyer to provide the information and representation you need to overcome this challenge. En Español
There are many different bases and kinds of DUI in Arizona. Anyone with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more is presumed to be a drunk driver and prosecuting them requires no other evidence of intoxication. However, DUI charges can fall under several classifications depending on the circumstances.
Although 0.08 percent is the legal threshold for a presumed DUI, this does not mean that anyone with a lower BAC is off the hook. A person may be charged with drinking and driving if their BAC is 0.05 percent or higher or the officer believes someone is under the influence of drugs, provided there is additional evidence of intoxication. This is why officers perform “Field Sobriety Tests (FST’s) on the scene. It is also why it is important to refuse to perform them. Regardless of which DUI in the following categories get charged, the prosecution almost always adds this impairment charge, saying that whatever was in the body impaired your ability to drive, at least “to the slightest degree”.
In addition to the “impairment charge” or the accusation that a person was “impaired to the slightest degree,” there is almost always an additional charge for the level of the blood alcohol concentration or the existence of drugs in the system that resulted in the impairment. This gets charged in an additional count or counts as described below. The three levels DUI charges base on alcohol concentration are .08, (regular), .15 (extreme), and .20 (super-extreme or extreme).
We often hear what is referred to as the “legal limit” for alcohol. In Arizona, the legal limit is .08 percent whether we are talking about blood alcohol concentration (BAC) or breath alcohol concentration (BrAC). Anything over .08 percent as a result for these tests is a violation of this part of the DUI statute. Strangely, it does not even require a showing by the state that the person was “impaired” as in the impairment charge. However, they are often done together, in which the prosecutor uses the impairment observations to support the blood or breath result.
A good Chandler DUI attorney will attack the accuracy of this test, whether blood or breath. This often involves an expert witness “toxicologist” who will discuss the problems with the crime lab and/or the particular test done.
It is important to note that there are special rules for drivers of commercial vehicles. They are presumed to be driving under the influence if their BAC is 0.04 percent or higher. For drivers under age 21, there is zero tolerance for combining alcohol use and operating a motor vehicle. The law presumes drivers under age 21 are driving under the influence when their BAC registers at any level above zero.
A driver with a BAC significantly higher than the legal limit could face misdemeanor charges with increased penalties. Extreme DUI charges are possible for drivers with a BAC between 0.15 percent and 0.199 percent. Driving with a BAC of 0.20 percent or higher could trigger a charge of Super Extreme DUI.
People are sometimes surprised to learn that they can be charged with DUI for having drugs in their body, even if prescribed by a doctor. The prosecutor will either say that the drugs are illegal, that you did not have a prescription, or that you did not take them as prescribed (too much, too often, drove in violation of the warnings).
We are seeing more and more DUI’s charged as a “drug DUI,” especially with the new Arizona Medical Marijuana Act. There is confusion by medical marijuana card holders, not knowing that the State can still charge the DUI if you have marijuana in your body. Even if you know you are not impaired by it, they may disagree. It is important to know that if you are pulled over and found to have marijuana in your system, those who have a medical marijuana card will have more defenses to use than those without. Drug DUI’s are still misdemeanors, unless one of the circumstances applies to make it a felony, as explained below.
Prosecutors may bring an aggravated drinking and driving charge when a driver is accused of any of the DUI’s above and is combined with other factors. Aggravated DUI is a felony charge. Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 28 §1383, establishes the following offenses that lift a drinking and driving violation from a misdemeanor to a felony:
Felony convictions for aggravated DUI have serious consequences, most notably mandatory prison time. However, at Grand Canyon Law Group we are sometimes able to obtain non-felony or alternative solutions to avoid prison. In addition, convictions result in other consequences, such as the loss of the right to vote or to own a gun. Employment may be affected, and people who hold professional licenses may face disciplinary action from licensing boards or lose their right to practice their profession. A lawyer in Chandler could negotiate solutions to try to preserve these important rights for a defendant during their DUI case.
A driver convicted of driving while intoxicated (DWI or DUI) faces a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days, even if the driver is a first offender. Upon conviction (and often even before), their driver’s license is suspended for at least 90 days. Conviction of Extreme or Super Extreme DUI requires incarceration of 30 and 45 days, respectively.
However, the law allows a judge to waive most of the mandatory jail time if the defendant undergoes a screening for alcohol abuse. Jail sentences can also be reduced or waived if the offender installs an ignition interlock device on their vehicle. A local attorney may use these strategies and other, such as home detention, to help defendants avoid incarceration following a DUI case.
It is important to understand that a conviction for Aggravated DUI carries a mandatory four-month minimum prison sentence, which may not be waived, and revocation of the offender’s driver’s license for a minimum of three years. However, we can often negotiate alternative outcomes to minimize custody. In addition, David Lish and Ryan McPhie are experienced trial attorneys. We are willing and able to make the highly technical defenses and arguments for your case to a jury in an attempt to earn a full acquittal or dismissal of your DUI charges.
A drunk driving arrest could cost you thousands of dollars for taking time off work, securing alternate transportation for a suspended license, and facing increased insurance premiums. You also face the threat of incarceration. With so much at stake, skilled legal counsel is necessary.
A Chandler DUI lawyer from Grand Canyon Law Group will help you work toward the best resolution for your specific circumstances. Every situation is different, so call today to schedule a case review.