Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the U.S. Learn about the laws and how to steer clear of the penalties.
Arizona’s DUI laws contain some subtle restrictions and harsh penalties. Make sure you know what’s OK while driving around the Grand Canyon state.
The Final Four brings swarms of celebrations and out-of-town visitors who might not know about Arizona’s strict DUI laws.
Here’s the lowdown on DUIs in Arizona, including the state’s zero-tolerance policy, extreme DUIs and super extreme DUIs.
Is Arizona a zero-tolerance state??
Yes, which means an officer can arrest you even if your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is less than 0.08 percent so long as they believe you’re impaired. However, A.R.S. 28-1381 stipulates that “it may be presumed that the defendant was not under the influence of intoxicating liquor” if the BAC is 0.05 percent or lower.
What is the legal blood-alcohol limit?
The legal limit is 0.08 percent, which is about two drinks for a 160-pound woman and three drinks for a 220-pound man. A “drink” constitutes 12 ounces of 5 percent beer, 5 ounces of 12 percent wine and 1.5 ounces of 40 percent liquor. Timing and other factors will impact this.
What is an extreme DUI in Arizona??
You can classify Arizona DUIs into four tiers:
- Standard DUI: The first tier involves a BAC of 0.08 percent (or if the officer believes you’re impaired) if you’re 21 or over. The legal limit lowers to 0.04 percent if you’re driving a commercial vehicle and 0.00 percent if you’re underage.
- Extreme DUI: You can get slapped with an “extreme DUI” if you’re caught driving with a BAC of 0.15 percent or higher. This higher tier means harsher consequences.
- Super extreme DUI: An additional 0.05 percent to your BAC from the “extreme DUI” range (0.20 percent BAC or more) lands you in the “super extreme DUI” zone along with some “super” consequences.
- Aggravated DUI: There are a few ways you can earn yourself an “aggravated DUI” conviction in Arizona. If you’re driving with a revoked, canceled or suspended drivers license, that’s an aggravated DUI. If you’re caught and this is your third (or more) DUI within seven years, that’s an aggravated DUI. If you’re driving drunk with a minor who’s under 15, that is an aggravated DUI. Driving drunk with an interlock device installed in your vehicle also counts as an aggravated DUI.
What are the penalties for Arizona DUIs?
Standard, extreme and super extreme DUIs are classified as class 1 misdemeanors in Arizona. The consequences range from 10 to 180 days in jail, fines between $1,500 and $4,650, and a host of suspensions and restrictions. An aggravated DUI is a class 4 felony unless it’s because you’re driving drunk with someone under 15 — that’s a class 6 felony, which is less severe. The fines and jail time for and aggravated DUI varies, but it generally involves at least four months in prison and at least $4,000 in fines.
How do I avoid a DUI in Arizona?
Have a designated driver who is not drinking. Otherwise, call a taxi or ride-share service or phone a friend.
The Glendale Police Department partnered with Uber for the Final Four. The promo code “GLENDALEPD” will knock $5 off your ride to or from the University of Phoenix stadium between 2 p.m. Friday and 2 a.m. Tuesday. Uber isn’t suspending its “surge pricing” program — where the prices increase with demand — for the Final Four, meaning you might have to pay upwards of eight-times the normal price if you request a ride during high-traffic. Lyft has a similar program called “Prime Time” and both ride-sharing services show you the expected bill before requesting a car.
If you can’t afford a taxi or ride-share, phone a friend or family member.
“Nobody ever says ‘no’ to a phone call — whether it’s 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning — (where you say) ‘Hey come get me; I’ve had too much to drink,’ ” said Patricia Abeyta-Young from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.
Can I get a DUI if I’m not driving??
Yes. If you’re sitting in the driver’s seat with your keys while drunk, a police officer can arrest you for a DUI. The car doesn’t need to be on nor do the keys need to be in the ignition. If you’re sitting in the driver’s seat with the ignition key in your pocket, that’s enough to be considered “in actual physical control of the vehicle,” according to Glendale Police Chief Rick St. John.
St. John suggested that if you’re going to sleep off your buzz in your car, make sure you can demonstrate you don’t have “actual physical control of the vehicle” to an officer. He suggested you’ll be OK if you sleep in the backseat or passenger seat of your car, or move the ignition key to somewhere you can’t reach, such as the trunk.
The police chief also confirmed that bicyclists can receive a DUI if they’re caught riding drunk.
Are store-bought breathalyzers reliable?
Not really, though that’s partly due to how alcohol interacts with your body.
“There’s an escalation, and then there’s a de-escalation in the blood-alcohol concentration,” St. John said. “And so you can have a couple of drinks, blow into one of those private devices that you’re talking about and believe that you’re OK to drive. And a half-hour later, you can be up several points.”
St. John said those who’ve had anything to drink should play it safe and ride with someone who’s sober.
Store-bought breathalyzers simply aren’t reliable enough.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer test?
You can, but it probably won’t do you any good. According to Glendale police Sgt. Scott Waite, an officer can issue an “admin per se” license suspension lasting one year if you refuse a breathalyzer test. The suspension can last up to two years if you refused a breathalyzer test within the past seven years. An officer will then request a search warrant from a judge to test your BAC through a blood test. Waite said it usually takes less less than an hour to receive the warrant, leaving you little additional time to sober up.
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