Is a DUI a felony? As a general rule, no. The majority of DUI offenses in Arizona are classified as misdemeanors, not felonies. However, that is not to say a DUI cannot be a felony. The state of Arizona classifies extreme DUIs as misdemeanors, whereas aggravated DUIs are viewed as felony offenses. Both offenses, however, carry weighty penalties and mandatory stays in Arizona jail. The serious nature of these offenses requires individuals charged with a DUI offense to seek out an Phoenix DUI lawyer immediately.
What Classifies As an Extreme DUI?
According to Arizona law (A.R.S. 28-1382), extreme DUI occurs when a person drives (or is in actual physical control of) a vehicle within two hours of a BAC above 0.15 that results from alcohol consumption prior to or while driving (or being in actual physical control of) said vehicle.
For reference, the average 180 lb. man would need to consume approximately 7 drinks to reach a BAC of .15 prior to driving. Given the severity of intoxication and the danger it poses to drivers on Arizona roads, the penalties for this misdemeanor charge are severe.
If an individual is charged with an extreme DUI based on having a BAC that exceeds the legal limit for extreme DUI classification (0.15) but is less than 0.20, the following penalties can apply:
- A minimum fine of $250
- If convicted, a mandatory minimum of 30 consecutive days spent in jail without eligibility for probation
- Payment of $1,000 to cover the costs of an ignition interlock device that must be installed in the vehicle for one year
If the DUI charge is based on an offense where the driver’s BAC exceeded 0.20, then the following penalties apply:
- A minimum $500 fine
- If convicted, a mandatory minimum of 45 consecutive days spent in jail without eligibility for probation until the 45 days are served
- Payment of $1,000 to pay for an ignition interlock device that must be installed in the vehicle for one year
While a DUI is not a felony offense, Arizona law dictates that an extreme DUI (and other misdemeanor DUI offenses) may be upgraded to the felony of aggravated DUI under certain circumstances.
What Is an Aggravated DUI?
Misdemeanor DUIs may turn into an aggravated DUI felony offense based on A.R.S. 28-1383. A misdemeanor DUI may be upgraded to an aggravated DUI if:
- An Arizona child under 15 years of age was in the vehicle when the driver was arrested
- The defendant’s license was revoked or suspended at the time of DUI arrest
- The defendant had two previous DUI-related offenses within a 7-year period
- The defendant’s arrest occurred after the defendants was required by the judge to use an ignition interlocking device
Depending on the facts and circumstances of the charge, multiple DUI penalties may be imposed for an aggravated DUI. Some of the possible penalties include:
- A one-year license suspension/revocation
- A minimum of two years spent operating a vehicle with an ignition interlocking device
- Incarceration at the Department of Corrections (prison)
- Completing alcohol and/or drug screening and treatment programs from an approved facility
- Additional incarceration if required treatment and education programs are not completed
- Extensive fines
Arizona defendants who are charged with either DUI or aggravated DUI need an experienced Arizona DUI defense lawyer who will take the steps needed to protect a defendant’s legal rights. An Arizona DUI defense lawyer will assess the facts of the case to determine whether there are legal grounds to have your DUI charges reduced or dismissed.
Don’t let an inexperienced lawyer take care of your DUI case. At Tyler Allen Law Firm, we care about your outcome and will work with you one-on-one to get the best results for your case. Contact us today to talk to a Phoenix DUI attorney! Call 602-456-0545.