Arizona Drunk Driving Laws and Penalties

Learn about the penalties for a first, second, and third DUI/DWI conviction in Arizona.

Arizona officially uses the term “driving under the influence” (DUI) instead of “driving while intoxicated” (DWI). However, some people still use DWI and DUI interchangeably to refer to drunk or drugged driving.

Arizona’s DUI laws prohibit all motorists from operating a motor vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or more (find out about how many drinks it takes), or
  • while under the influence of drugs or alcohol if the driver is impaired to the slightest degree.

Arizona also has a “not-a-drop” law that makes it illegal for motorists who are under the age of 21 years to drive with any detectable amount of alcohol in their system. This is commonly referred to as a “baby DUI.”

Getting a DUI Without Actually Driving

In addition to driving or operating a car, a person is prohibited from being in "actual physical control" of a car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or with a BAC of .08% or more. The idea behind this law is to stop drunk driving before it starts.

Factors of Consideration

Some factors a judge or jury might consider in determining whether a driver was in actual physical control of a vehicle include:

  • whether the vehicle was running
  • where the ignition key was located
  • where and it what position was the driver found in the vehicle
  • whether the driver was asleep or awake
  • whether the vehicles headlights were on
  • where the vehicle was stopped in the road or legally parked.

Every situation is different. So, it's best to consult an experienced DUI attorney to see if you've been properly charged of an actual-physical-control DUI.

The “Sleeping-it-Off” Defense

Arizona law provides a defense to a DUI for drivers who can establish that they were not in actual physical control of their vehicle because they were using their car to merely “sleep it off.” When a driver makes a case for the sleep-it-off defense, the jury is asked to answer this question: Was the driver using the vehicle as a shelter or did the driver pose a threat to the public by the exercise of present or imminent control over the vehicle while impaired?

Arizona DUI Penalties

Arizona DUI penalties vary depending on the facts of the case. The ranges of penalties depend, in large part, on the driver’s BAC and how many prior convictions the person has.

First DUIs

Here is what the potential sentences generally look like for a first DUI based on the driver’s BAC:

Impaired or Per Se DUI (BAC of .08 to .149%)

Extreme DUI (BAC of .15 to .199%)

Super Extreme DUI (BAC of at least .20%)

Jail

Minimum 10 days in jail (all but 24 hours may be suspended after alcohol screening is completed)

Minimum 30 consecutive days in jail (all but 9 days may be suspended if the driver installs an ignition interlock device (IID))

Minimum 45 consecutive days in jail (all but 14 days may be suspended if the driver installs an IID)

Fines

At least $1,480

At least $3,000

At least $3,250

License Suspension

At least 90 days

At least 90 days

At least 90 days

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

1 year mandatory (but may be eligible for 6-month reduction)

1 year mandatory

1 year mandatory

Second and Third DUIs

Arizona punishes repeat DUI offenders harshly. Here are what the potential sentences generally look like for a second DUI based on the driver’s BAC:

Impaired or Per Se DUI

Extreme DUI

Super Extreme DUI

Jail

Minimum 90 days in jail (30 days must be served consecutively and all but 30 may be suspended after completion of drug screening and treatment)

Minimum 120 days (60 served consecutively)

Minimum 180 days (90 served consecutively)

Fines

At least $3,000

At least $3,250

At least $4,250

License Revocation

At least 1 year (but may be eligible for a restricted license after 45 days if IID is installed)

At least 1 year (but may be eligible for a restricted license after 45 days if IID is installed)

At least 1 year (but may be eligible for a restricted license after 45 days if IID is installed)

Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

1 year mandatory

1 year mandatory

1 year mandatory

A third DUI within seven years is a felony and carries a mandatory prison sentence of at least four months, license revoked for one year, a two-year IID requirement, and over $4000 in fines and assessments.

Implied Consent and Refusing a Blood or Breath Test in Arizona

Under Arizona’s “implied consent” laws, all drivers lawfully arrested for a DUI are required to submit to a blood or breath test. A refusal will result in the following license suspensions periods:

1st Offense

2nd or Subsequent Offense

License Suspension

1 year

2 years

For purposes of determining what is a second subsequent refusal prior DUI convictions, refusals, and failed BAC test (.08% or greater) within the past seven years are counted.

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