Third-Offense DUI in Arizona

Read about the consequences of a third-offense DUI in Arizona.

In Arizona, a third DUI within seven years of an earlier DUI conviction carries much harsher consequences than a first or second offense. Under Arizona law, it's illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Generally, you can be convicted of DUI if you drive:

  • while "impaired to the slightest degree" (impairment DUI) by drugs or alcohol
  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (“per se” alcohol DUI) within two hours of driving
  • with any amount of a drug or its metabolite in your body (per se drug DUI), or
  • a commercial vehicle with a BAC of .04% or more.

Generally, a driver who’s convicted of any of the above offenses is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. However, a driver who's convicted of a third DUI is guilty of a class 4 felony.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-1381, 28-1382, 28-1383 (2017).)

Administrative Penalties

"Administrative penalties" are those imposed by Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). These penalties are triggered by the arrest and apply even if the defendant's criminal DUI case is later dismissed. For a DUI arrest, the administrative penalties include:

  • Per se alcohol and per se drug DUI. Motorists caught driving with a BAC of .08% or greater within two hours of driving (.04% or greater for commercial drivers while driving a commercial vehicle) or any concentration of drugs in the body while driving within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of their car faces a license suspension for no less than 90 days.
  • Chemical-test refusals. Motorists who refuse a chemical test (i.e., refuse a breath or blood test) face a one-year administrative suspension in violation of Arizona’s implied consent law. Motorists who refuse for a second time a chemical test face a two-year administrative suspension of their driving privileges. This suspension remains in effect even if the criminal case is later dismissed. And before you get your license back, you'll have to complete drug and alcohol screening.

Once you complete an administrative suspension, you'll have to complete drug and alcohol screening to get your license back.

To challenge an administrative license suspension, you must request a hearing within 15 days of the arrest.

(Ariz. Rev. Stat. §§ 28-1321, 28-1381, 28-1382, 28-1385 (2017).)

Criminal Penalties

"Criminal penalties" are those which a court imposes once a motorist is convicted of DUI. For a third DUI, a driver must serve no less than four months in prison before the driver can be eligible for probation, pardon, commutation, or suspension of the sentence. Convicted drivers also face at least $4,000 in fines and assessments, and if the DUI involved alcohol, there’s a 24-month ignition interlock device (IID) requirement.  And for drivers who owned the car they were driving at the time they were driving under the influence, vehicle forfeiture is possible.

Also, the DMV will revoke driving privileges once informed of the conviction. The driver cannot apply for reinstatement until one year from the date of the conviction.

License Revocation and Reinstatement

When your license is revoked for a third DUI conviction, your driving privileges don’t automatically reinstate after a year passes.  You must first complete an investigation packet. This packet includes:

  • providing a "revocation certificate" that covers whether you’re currently employed, have had traffic violations in the past 12 months, and you’re current on attendance (or prior completion) of alcohol/drug treatment or education programs
  • obtaining a "compliance statement" from the sentencing court that states you’ve complied with all screening or treatment orders of the court, and
  • getting a recommendation from a health professional that has reviewed your revocation certificate and court compliance statement (you are responsible for covering the cost of this review).

In addition to the packet, you'll need to provide proof of future financial responsibility, known as an SR-22. Once received, the DMV will review the information you've provided and notify you of a final decision in writing.  

Talk to an Attorney

If you’ve been arrested for driving under the influence, get in contact with an experienced DUI attorney. A qualified DUI attorney can help you navigate the complexities of DUI law and tell you how the law applies to the facts of your case. 

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