The Behan Law Group, P.L.L.C.


1-877-MISS-DUI / 1-877-647-7384

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945 N. Stone Ave, Tucson, AZ 85705

Tucson, AZ DUI FAQs

Award-Winning Attorney Answers Questions About DUI Laws and Defense Strategies in Pima County and Throughout Arizona

If you have been arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), your mind is likely swirling with questions and concerns about what may happen next. The best way to find answers to these questions is to work with an experienced DUI defense lawyer. Attorney Michelle Behan and The Behan Law Group, P.L.L.C. are ready to assist with the specifics of your case. While all cases are unique, there are some common elements, so we have compiled these answers to frequently asked questions to better inform our clients and the citizens of Arizona about the DUI process.

When can I be arrested for DUI in Arizona?

In Arizona, an officer can arrest you if he or she has probable cause to believe that you are driving or physically controlling a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicating substance like alcohol or drugs. Probable cause may come from a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test result above the legal limit of 0.08, or from the officer's observations, including in a field sobriety test.

Does a DUI always involve alcohol?

While alcohol is a common intoxicant involved in DUI arrests and convictions, Arizona law states that a DUI conviction can also result from the influence of drugs, whether illegal or prescription, or a "vapor releasing substance" that has intoxicating effects. DUI charges may also be issued to someone who is suspected to be under the influence of a combination of substances. Keep in mind that you can still be charged with DUI even if you have a prescription for the substance found in your blood, but there is an affirmative defense to DUI drug charges if you can establish that you are not impaired to the slightest degree.

What should I do if I am pulled over?

If an officer pulls you over, you should stop your vehicle as soon as possible in a safe area, turn it off, and wait for the officer to approach. Make sure the officer can see and hear you clearly, and avoid reaching for something without telling the officer first. You are required to provide your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance if the officer asks, and if the officer orders you to step out of the car, you must do so. You are not required to agree to a field sobriety test, but refusing to do so might be held against you in court. If the officer places you under arrest, you have the right to remain silent and ask for an attorney, but do not resist arrest. You should also tell the officers about any medical issues that can directly affect chemical test results so that those issues can be documented.

Should I agree to a BAC test?

During a traffic stop, an officer may ask you to submit to a portable breath test, which you have the right to decline without consequence. However, if the officer arrests you for DUI, you are required to submit to a chemical test under Arizona's implied consent law. If you refuse, your driver's license can be suspended for one year, or two years if you have previously refused a test within 84 months.

How can an attorney help me fight DUI charges?

A DUI defense lawyer can advise you of your rights and help you prepare a strong defense with evidence to support your case and refute that of the prosecution. Defense strategies may include demonstrating impropriety in your traffic stop, detention, or arrest, or the inaccuracy of the chemical test. With your attorney's help, you may be able to avoid conviction or negotiate for a reduced sentence.

What are the penalties for a first-time DUI in Arizona?

In Arizona, a first-time DUI conviction is considered a class 1 misdemeanor, with basic penalties including at least 10 days in jail (usually with some time suspended), fines and fees totaling at least $1,250, the installation of an ignition interlock device in your vehicle, and required completion of community service, a traffic survival school course, and alcohol or drug screening, treatment, or education. Your driver's license may also be suspended temporarily after a DUI arrest, and a DUI conviction is always accompanied by a certain license suspension.

What happens if I am charged with DUI after a prior conviction?

If you are convicted of DUI for a second time within 84 months (7 years) of your first offense, you face substantially greater penalties, including at least 30 days in jail, steeper fines and fees, mandatory community service, and the revocation of your driver's license for a year. After 45 days, you can drive with an ignition interlock device. If your second offense happens more than 84 months after your first, you face the same penalties as a first-time DUI.

When can I be charged with extreme DUI?

Whether or not you have previously been convicted of DUI, you can be charged with a more serious offense known as extreme DUI if your BAC far exceeds the legal limit at the time of your arrest. For example, if your BAC is 0.15 or above, you face a 30-day jail sentence in addition to fines and fees of at least $2,500. If your BAC is 0.20 or above, the jail sentence is increased to 45 days and the minimum base fine is doubled. Keep in mind that the jail time can be suspended with the installation of an ignition interlock device: all but 9 days in the case of an extreme DUI, and all but 14 days in the case of a "super extreme" DUI for a BAC above 0.20. Also, many jails offer home detention and work release to reduce the amount of time that those convicted of DUI spend in jail.

Can a DUI be a felony in Arizona?

There are five ways in which a DUI can become a felony, and this is known as an aggravated DUI. Defendants charged with a first-offense felony DUI face a prison sentence of at least four months, and in some cases up to two years, in addition to fines and other consequences. Aggravated DUI offenses include those that occur while the driver's license is suspended or revoked, while the driver is ordered to use an ignition interlock device, when there is a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle, when the driver is traveling the wrong way on a one-way road, or when the driver has two or more prior DUI convictions within the previous 84 months.

What happens if an underage driver is arrested for DUI?

A driver under the age of 21 who is arrested for DUI can face similar penalties to an adult, but they also face penalties for Minor Driving with Alcohol in Body, otherwise known as a "baby DUI", which applies if a BAC test detects any amount of alcohol even if it is below the legal limit of 0.08. A minor who is convicted of this offense can lose his or her license for two years, but they may be able to get their driving privileges reinstated before this time expires.

Can I still drive after an Arizona DUI conviction?

A DUI arrest typically comes with an automatic 90-day suspension of your driver's license, though you may be able to drive for part of that time if you qualify for a restricted license. The suspension takes effect 15 days after the arrest if the driver does not request a hearing with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD), but requesting the hearing puts a stay on the suspension until the hearing is held. If you are convicted of DUI for the first time, you can drive at any time after your suspension is complete and a certified ignition interlock device has been installed in your vehicle. If your license is revoked due to a repeat offense, you may be eligible for a Special Ignition Interlock Restricted Driver's License (SIIRDL) that allows you to drive for certain purposes.

How can I get my Arizona driver's license reinstated?

If your license was suspended, you can have it reinstated by paying a reinstatement fee to the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) at the end of the suspension period and after completing an alcohol or drug evaluation or screening. If your license was revoked, you will need to request an investigation packet from the MVD so that they can review your record to ensure that you have not committed any traffic violations and that you are able to drive safely. After the investigation is complete, the MVD will grant you permission to apply for reinstatement.

How can a DUI affect my CDL?

Commercial driver's license (CDL) drivers are held to a higher standard than other drivers, as they can be charged with DUI with a BAC of only 0.04 if they are driving or controlling a commercial vehicle. A CDL can be revoked for a year if the holder is convicted of DUI for driving either a personal or commercial vehicle, and a subsequent offense can result in a lifetime CDL revocation.

Contact a Pima County DUI Defense Lawyer

If you have questions regarding your personal case, contact us today at 520-220-5047 for a free consultation. We represent clients in Tucson, Pima County, and the surrounding areas in Pinal County, Graham County, Cochise County, Maricopa County, and Santa Cruz County.

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