People say “I just had a couple” after drinking with their friends, and think they can safely drive home. The state of Arizona, however, takes drinking and driving very seriously. My Fox Phoenix reports that in 2012, the Arizona Governors Office of Highway Safety notes there were 541 DUI arrests in the state, of which law enforcement arrested 178 drivers for having a blood alcohol level at or above 0.15 percent, also known as an “extreme DUI.”

A DUI conviction comes with severe consequences including fines, license revocation and jail time.

A DUI conviction results in severe penalties

Arizona’s DUI law defines driving under the influence of alcohol as illegal “per se.” This means that an individual found to be driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration at or above the legal limit of 0.08 percent is automatically presumed to be driving while impaired. In that situation, no additional evidence of intoxication is needed for a DUI.

An individual stopped on suspicion of a DUI must submit to chemical testing, usually a breath or blood test. Further, the severity of penalties will substantially increase. Penalties for a typical first DUI offense in Arizona include:

  • Substantial fines
  • Completion of an alcohol education program
  • Sentenced for ten consecutive days in jail
  • License suspension of 90 days

Arizona’s Aggravated DUI enhanced penalties

While a normal DUI in Arizona already carries severe penalties, some situations could result in enhanced penalties. When chemical testing reveals that a suspected DUI driver has a BAC of 0.15 percent, that individual will be convicted of Aggravated DUI. DUI penalties for Aggravated DUI increase, and the installation of an ignition interlock device becomes mandatory. An IID detects alcohol on an individual’s breath, and a driver must first blow into it to start his or her vehicle. A BAC of 0.20 percent or greater results in at least 30 consecutive days in jail without probation.

Penalties also increase with subsequent DUI convictions. A second or third offense results in a license suspension for one year or three years respectively, and substantially increases fines and time in jail with each offense. Furthermore, penalties for underage DUI are even more stringent. An underage driver’s BAC reading above 0.00 percent results in an automatic DUI.

An individual facing a DUI charge could benefit from consulting with an experienced DUI attorney. The attorney can investigate the administration of the chemical tests, and all other evidence, in order to help mitigate the negative consequences.