Answers To Tucson DUI FAQ

The 18 most frequently asked Tucson driving under the influence (DUI) questions as answered by William Parven, Esq., Tucson DUI lawyer.

If you have any questions about your DUI or drunk driving, you can contact me, William Parven, Esq., at 520-600-3379 to get your free consultation.

What are the typical penalties for a first-time regular DUI?

If you are convicted of either DUI in the slightest degree or over the limit of .08, in Arizona you face:

  • Minimum fine of about $1500
  • Additional fees for the local jurisdiction and alcohol classes, which bring the fine up closer to $2000
  • Minimum of 10 days’ jail. At least one of these days must be served
  • Alcohol education and other programs ordered by the court
  • Three-month license suspension if it was not already served
  • A requirement that an interlock device be installed on your vehicle for one year

If you are convicted of DUI between .15 and .20, the penalties are same as above and increased:

  • $2800 fine, which really is more than $3000
  • 30 days of jail time

If you are convicted of DUI above .20, the penalties again increase:

  • $3300 probably more than $3500
  • 45 days’ jail time
  • 18-month interlock installment requirement

Wow, that seems like a lot. What happens for a second-time offense?

The penalties become even more severe for a second offense within seven years:

  • 90 days jail (30 of which must be served)
  • $3,500 fine, which probably is closer to $4,000
  • At least 30 hours of community service
  • One year license revocation

At the .15 level, it increases to 120 days jail with a $3,800 fine, really more than $4,000.

At the .20, it is the full 180 days jail with a $4,700, which is really more than $5,000 fine. The interlock installation requirement is also a full two years.

Those are some harsh penalties. Can it get any worse?

Yes, if you get a third DUI in Arizona within seven years, it will be charged with aggravated DUI as a class 4 felony. This means you face prison time.

In fact, prison time is required. Even if the judge grants you probation, you still will be sent to prison for at least four months. Also, your license will be revoked for a year and the fines will be upward of $5,000.

If you have any prior felonies, even for an offense that is not alcohol-related, you are facing multiple years in prison. The interlock requirement is also increased to two years.

But as long as I am a first-time offender, it should never be that bad?

Not necessarily. If you have unpaid traffic Tucson tickets, even if it is only for speeding or no registration, and your license is suspended, you will also be charged with aggravated DUI.

This means that even if it is your first-time DUI, you could still be facing prison time if your privilege to drive in Arizona was suspended.

Any other way I could be charged with a felony?

Yes, if you have a passenger under the age of 15. However, this is only a class 6 felony. With a class 6 felony, prison time is still a possibility, but the offense is also eligible to be downgraded to a misdemeanor charge.

Those fines seem outrageous. Is there any way a judge can reduce them?

In fact, ARS 28-1389 specifically prohibits a judge from waiving any portion of the fine. It doesn’t matter how much mitigating evidence is presented or what your financial status is.

The best a judge can do is offer community service to cover some of the fine. However, the remaining portions, often as much as 50%, must be paid.

I have no criminal record and have never been in trouble. This will never happen again. Is there any way I can plead for mercy and avoid jail time? Can I do community service or work labor instead?

Arizona is rated as the harshest state in the country. You cannot avoid jail time with a DUI conviction. When negotiating a plea to DUI charge the question is not will you go to jail — it is for how long.

Are there really no exceptions? I will lose my job if I go To jail, and I must support my family.

If you are sentenced to a lengthy jail sentence, you might be eligible for work release. This will allow you to spend only nights and weekends in jail, or if your job is on a weekend, you can choose a different set of days to spend in full.

You might also be eligible for house arrest. Not every jurisdiction has a program in place. However, if the jurisdiction you are cited in has a home detention program, you might be eligible after spending at least 20% of the jail sentence. For example, if you are sentenced to 10 days, you would be eligible for house arrest after serving two days.

What if the officer brought me to jail when I was arrested?

The law requires at least one day. However, a person must be given credit for a full day of jail regardless of how little the person actually spent there. So if you were either released or bailed out early, this is the one legal workaround the jail time requirement.

Credit is supposed to only apply to an actual jail facility, but there might be some wiggle room with the definition, if the prosecutor will agree to stipulate to one day credit.

That being said, if you were cited and released, you should expect to serve the full 24 hours. It seems contrary to logic, but you are generally better off going to jail after a DUI arrest than being cited and released.

How long will my license be suspended for a DUI?

If you agreed to a test of your alcohol content and the results come back more than .08, your license will be suspended for 3 months. If you refused, the suspension is for 12 months.

If you are otherwise convicted of DUI and did not already serve the suspension, it is three months. If it is your second-time offense within 7 years, and you are convicted, your license will be revoked for one year.

If it is your second time refusing within 7 years, it will be revoked for two years. If you are convicted of aggravated DUI, your license will be revoked for one year.

Can the judge or prosecutor remove the interlock requirement?

The requirement for an interlock device is issued from the Arizona MVD. The judge can require you to have it for more time than the MVD, but the judge cannot order the MVD not to impose it.

However, if it was your first-time offense, and you were not in an accident, you might be eligible for a deferral to get it removed after only six months instead of one year.

Will I be offered a plea to reckless driving or wet reckless?

Generally no. ‘Wet reckless’ does not exist in Arizona. Also, plea bargaining to anything other than a DUI charge is prohibited under Arizona law (ARS 28-1387i).

A prosecutor or judge cannot legally offer you a plea to anything other than a DUI. As mentioned, Arizona is the harshest state in the nation for DUIs.

But surely there must be an exception?

Technically, the law says a plea bargain can be offered to a non-DUI charge if there is a legal or factual basis for a dismissal.

Some courts and prosecutors interpret this more liberally than others so if enough evidence is presented to the prosecutor convincing them they will lose the case to the point where they could legally dismiss it, a reckless plea might be possible.

That being said, there are several courts and prosecutors who take this statute very literally and it is either plea to a DUI or fight it all the way.

The officer never read me my rights. Can I get the case dismissed?

Probably not. Most people think an officer is required to inform them of their rights before their statements can be used against them.

However, even though you always maintain your right to remain silent, you do not need to be informed of this right until the officer makes the decision to arrest you.

Up until the point of arrest, the officer is free to ask you questions. So the commonly asked question of have you been drinking is perfectly legal.

Once you answer that you were drinking, you have now given the officer potential cause to arrest you. The statements you made prior to being arrested will likely be admissible and used against you.

Am I required to participate in field sobriety tests (FSTs)?

You can refuse all testing, without penalties, except for the official chemical test involving your breath or blood.

Unless the officer informs you that you will lose your license for a year by refusing, it is not the official test, and there is no penalty for refusing.

Should I refuse the chemical test? I don’t want to give the officer any evidence that will be used to prosecute me. I would rather lose my license for a year.

Probably not. With today’s technology, in most cases, an officer can get a warrant within minutes.

If you are over the legal limit, the odds are your decision to refuse is not going to buy you enough time for the alcohol to dissipate.

Ultimately, you will probably still have your blood drawn, be prosecuted, and now be facing a one-year suspension instead of only three months. But I suppose you could get lucky.

But what if it’s my second-time offense or I have a suspended license and will be charged with a felony?

Again, with today’s technology, you probably are not buying much time.

However, since a second-time offense and felony conviction both come with a one-year revocation of your license, if you did not refuse for your first DUI, the extra time, even if minimal, could help.

If you did refuse for your first DUI, then you might still want to consider consenting.

A second-time refusal is a two-year suspension, and you really aren’t buying much time unless you get lucky and there is a problem with the warrant.

Is there any hope in defending against an Arizona DUI charge?

Absolutely. In fact, you probably have more hope with a DUI charge than just about anything else because the evidence is so technical.

Your guilt or innocence is largely dependent on machines, testing methods and police protocols, which may or may not have been done correctly, in proper working condition, or reflect an accurate result. It is the one offense where you can sincerely contest the charge because you don’t know if you are guilty or not.

There are numerous ways to attack the evidence on both legal and factual grounds. There may not have been a sufficient basis for the officer to stop you. If there was, the officer may not have had sufficient probable cause to arrest you.

There may have been problems in the way the officer conducted the investigation. Even if everything was done correctly, there may be factors that would give you an artificially high blood alcohol content. There is always hope. At the very least, attacking the evidence will help negotiate a lesser sentence.

Charged With An Arizona DUI?

It can be scary and overwhelming, but the steps you take to protect yourself now will help you in the future. Call me, Arizona DUI attorney William Parven. I offer a free consultation at my firm Law Office of William J. Parven, PLLC. I aggressively fight for you and for a win before there is any trial. I will review the charges and the evidence against you. If any of the evidence is suspicious, I will work to get it thrown out. Call me at [ nap_phone id=”LOCAL-CT-NUMBER-1″] today. You can also send me an email.