Your Phoenix Criminal Defense Attorney request your free consultation

Phoenix DUI Attorney

Phoenix DUI AttorneyIf you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, contact an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney who can assist you in forming a defense strategy. If you have been arrested for more than one DUI in the last 7 years, contact Orent Law Offices, PLC as soon as possible.

Driving under the influence (“DUI”) is treated differently from state to state, but essentially involves the same laws and procedures. Driving under the influence is a crime that encompasses operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

If you are arrested while driving under the influence of drugs, or of alcohol with a BAC of 0.08% or higher, you face potential penalties in the state you are arrested in. However, each state has a different range of penalties, and Arizona is no different.

Why Should You Consult With a DUI Attorney?

Despite the harsh laws on the books for DUI offenses, an experienced team of Phoenix criminal defense attorneys will work tirelessly to prove the law enforcement officer and prosecutor are both incorrect in prosecuting your DUI claim. The State must prove the following elements in order to convict you for a DUI arrest:

  • The State must prove that you were in fact driving, operating, or in physical control of a motor vehicle
  • The State must prove that you were under the influence and impaired only to the slightest degree, meaning that you could have a BAC of less than .08 and be convicted of DUI
  • The State must prove a person was intoxicated within 2 hours of driving

It is clear that there is plenty of room for error, and unfortunately, many people are arrested for DUI offenses who may not have a BAC level of .08. It is a waste of resources to try and convict those individuals who were under the legal limit for DUI when they were simply abiding by traffic laws.

Strict Drunk Driving Laws in Arizona

Arizona has harsh DUI penalties put into place in order to curb the existence of DUIs to prevent further injuries, car accidents, and reckless driving, and there are multiple ways that one can put themselves in a position to get pulled over. If you are swerving between lanes or speeding excessively, a police officer has probable cause to pull you over. Additionally, DUI checkpoints in Arizona are used so officers can patrol traffic; there are many DUI checkpoint mistakes drivers make that can result in a DUI charge.

Arizona is ranked #21 among all other U.S. states for the percentage of alcohol-related deaths – out of all of Arizona’s vehicle-related deaths, 30.46% are due to drunk driving. In efforts to crack down on the higher-than-national-average drunk driving fatality rate, Arizona has the most strict DUI laws. In Arizona, if you are convicted of a DUI, the minimum sentence is 10 days in jail and the third offense is an automatic felony conviction. In 2015, drunk driving claimed the lives of 895 people in Arizona, which was 121 more people than the previous year.

Arizona breaks down DUI offenses blood alcohol content (BAC) level and whether you have previous DUI convictions. An ordinary DUI will involve ordinary first time DUI offenses. “Extreme” DUI charges involve a defendant who had a BAC above .15%. An “aggravated” DUI is a felony charge with mandatory minimum prison sentences. The Arizona Department of Public Safety states each type of offense has a different structure for punishment ranges, including the following:

First Time Offense with BAC between .08 and .150

Crime Classification Punishment Range Counseling Fine
Class 1 Misdemeanor Between one day in jail and 6 months in jail; up to 5 years probation Drug/alcohol screening $250 plus $500 to State Prison Fund

Second Time Offense within 60 months

Crime Classification Punishment Range Counseling Fine
Class 1 Misdemeanor Between 30 days and 6 months in jail; up to 5 years probation Drug/alcohol screening $500 plus $1,250 to the State Prison Fund

First Time Extreme Offense

Crime Classification Punishment Range Counseling Fine
Class 1 Misdemeanor Between 30 days and 6 months in jail; up to 5 years’ probation Drug/alcohol screening $250 plus $250 assessment to the Arizona DUI abatement Fund; $1,000 to State Prison Fund

Second Time Extreme Offense

Crime Classification Punishment Range Counseling Fine
Class 1 Misdemeanor Between 120 days and 6 months in jail; up to 5 years’ probation Drug/alcohol screening $750 plus $250 assessment to the Arizona DUI Abatement Fund and an additional $1,500 assessment

Aggravated Offense (3rd Offense within 7 years)

Crime Classification Punishment Range Counseling Fine
Class 4 Felony Between 4 months and 2.5 years in the Department of Correction; up to 10 years’ probation Drug/alcohol screening $750 plus $250 assessment to the Arizona DUI Abatement Fund and an additional $1,500 assessment

Aggravated DUIs can continue to involve heightened punishment ranges if outside circumstances exist, such as child passenger or more than 1 prior Aggravated DUI conviction.

The Process of a Driving Under the Influence Charge

Driving under the influence of alcohol is one of the most dangerous actions any motorist can take, because it puts not only the intoxicated driver at risk, but also endangers everyone else on the road around. Unfortunately, many people still choose to drive drunk, and law enforcement has developed several methods for curbing the rising number of DUI incidents and related injuries and fatalities.

DUI checkpoints are commonly seen in high-risk areas, heavily populated areas during holiday weekends and events where alcohol is served, and other areas with high numbers of DUI incidents. At a checkpoint, law enforcement officers will conduct a brief inspection of every driver to ensure no drivers are intoxicated.

How Do Police Officers Detect Drunk Driving?

The first step in DUI detection is an officer pulling a suspect over for an inspection. This may be due to erratic driving, swerving, or other indicators. Once stopped, the officer will assess whether there is probable cause to test the driver for blood-alcohol content (BAC). The legal limit for BAC is .08%. Any amount over .08% will result in a DUI charge, but a slightly lower reading may lead to a DUI charge in some situations, as well.

Here is a helpful infographic to help you understand how alcohol affects your driving ability.


Law enforcement officers perform field sobriety tests on suspected intoxicated drivers. The officer will ask the driver to leave the vehicle. This also presents the officer with the opportunity to evaluate the driver’s coordination and movement. Once the driver has left the vehicle, the officer will ask him to perform a few psychophysical tests to evaluate the driver’s state. These tests typically involve walking a straight line heel-to-toe, or following the officer’s instructions while performing other basic tasks.

If the field sobriety test causes the officer to remain suspicious of the driver, she may administer a preliminary breathalyzer test. Law enforcement officers also carry handheld BAC-detection devices featuring removable, disposable plastic tips. The driver will blow into the plastic tip until a reading is taken, usually no more than a few seconds. A Breathalyzer offers a quick and reliable way to ascertain whether a driver is under the influence. Any Phoenix field sobriety test lawyer will say to always decline the field sobriety test as the results are subjective and only used to build evidence against your case.

What Happens When You Get Arrested For DUI?

If the officer establishes probable cause to administer these tests and the driver tests positive for a BAC over the legal .08% limit, the officer will arrest the driver for DUI. The driver will be read their rights and placed in the police vehicle for transport to a booking station, where he will remain until charges are processed and the driver is sober enough to leave. In some cases, the driver’s vehicle is impounded for a time, and his license is temporarily suspended.

The driver’s level of cooperation and the circumstances of the arrest typically determine the harshness of the initial penalties. If the driver was stopped during a checkpoint, complied with officers’ directions and caused no property damage or injuries to anyone, he may be allowed to leave the police station once the DUI charge has been processed and he has been given further instructions.

If a DUI driver refuses to perform field sobriety tests, was involved in any other criminal activity at the time of arrest, or injured anyone prior to the arrest, she may face additional criminal charges and remain in jail until the case reaches the court system.

Trial and Punishment

First-time DUI offenders can face fines, jail time, license suspension, points on their driver’s licenses, or a combination of these. Phoenix multiple DUI Lawyer, Craig Orent, says there are usually much harsher punishments for multiple DUI’s. Some states require convicted DUI offenders to attend drug- and alcohol-safety classes while having their license suspended for longer periods of time.

DUI penalties vary widely from state to state, but anyone charged with a DUI will fare much better in court by hiring a reputable defense attorney. It’s important to remember that DUI laws are set in stone and punishments are non-negotiable. It’s highly unlikely that a lawyer will be able to argue for a lighter sentence or leniency, but a good lawyer will be able to ensure the punishment fits the offense.

Phoenix Drunk Driving Offenses

DUI offenses in Phoenix already have strict penalties tied to them, but once you begin to accumulate multiple DUI convictions, you may face harsh penalties, even turning misdemeanor offenses into felony offenses.

According to the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a second DUI offense within 7 years of a prior “ordinary” DUI conviction (meaning a BAC level between .08 and .15 without any outside circumstances) will lead to mandatory minimum penalties of at least 90 days in jail which can be suspended upon completion of mandatory alcohol screening classes. A third offense leads to even more severe penalties. The state has the option of charging a third misdemeanor DUI offense as a felony offense, or Aggravated DUI. Felony offenses involve prison time and if you are convicted, you will face a number of issues later in life.

A second offense extreme DUI (meaning a BAC level above .15%) requires a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 120 days, required alcohol classes, a mandatory IID attached to your steering wheel, and one year of license revocation. A second offense of a super extreme DUI (meaning a BAC level above .20%) holds a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail, and two years of an IID attached to your steering wheel. Both forms of extreme DUI offenses involve costly fines above $3,000, which does not include court costs. Upon the third offense for extreme or super extreme DUI, the state can decide to pursue felony charges in the form of Aggravated DUI. In some circumstances, you may be charged with a 3rd offense extreme DUI which will still be a felony but involves sharply heightened fines.

Aggravated Offenses

Arizona lists an aggravated DUI as a felony charge which means you will face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four months for your conviction. Aggravated DUI offenses are typical what state attorneys turn to when prosecuting a multiple DUI offender. Aggravated DUIs are classified as Class 4 felony crimes which have lengthy prison sentences and heightened fines. Felony convictions additionally stay on your record to haunt you the rest of your life and can impact your ability to seek employment, gain custody of your children, or even vote.

Call a Phoenix DUI Lawyer at Orent Law Offices Today

DUI charges are often very upsetting and usually involve a night spent in jail for an offense you did not intend to commit. Phoenix DUI attorney Craig Orent at the Orent Law Offices understands the confusion and uncertainty you face after a DUI arrest and are here to walk you through the procedure. We know that the legal system involving DUI defense can be overwhelming at times, and rest assured that you are in safe and capable hands for your Phoenix DUI lawyer.