Arizona’s Tough DUI Laws Impose Ignition Interlock Device Installation for All Drivers

The state of Arizona currently has one of the toughest set of drunk-driving laws in the nation since the passing of new DUI legislation in 2007. The state makes no accommodations for first-time offenders, and multiple offenders face increased fines and jail time. It also does not matter what one's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was at the time of an accident-every DUI conviction will result in the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Arizona divides DUI offenses into three different categories based on the level of a driver's intoxication: DUI, Extreme DUI and Super-Extreme DUI. All are misdemeanor criminal convictions.

A DUI conviction requires a BAC, or blood alcohol concentration, of .08 to .14. A DUI conviction carries a minimum fine of $1,250 plus fines and surcharges, a 90-day suspension of the offender's driver's license, up to 10 days in jail and the installation of an ignition interlock device in the offender's vehicle for one year.

An Extreme DUI conviction covers offenders with BACs between .15 and .19. An Extreme DUI conviction carries a minimum fine of $2,500 plus fines and surcharges, a 90-day suspension of the offender's driver's license, 30 days in jail and the installation of an ignition interlock device for one year.

A Super-Extreme DUI conviction is reserved for "hardcore" offenders whose BACs are over .2. Super-Extreme DUI offenders face a minimum fine of $2,750 plus fines and surcharges, a 90-day suspension of their driver's license, 45 days in jail and the installation of an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for 18 months.

An astute reader will notice that all DUI misdemeanor convictions carry the same 90-day suspension of one's driver's license.

An ignition interlock device is installed in someone's vehicle and requires drivers to take a breath test in order to start the vehicle. Such a device will then require random breath tests while the car is in operation. If someone fails a breath test while driving, the device will store the information in an on-board computer and when reported to MVD will result in a 1 year interlock extension for each fail.

Yet another DUI offense is reserved for repeat offenders. Known as an aggravated DUI, this offense is committed when an individual is charged with a DUI while his or her license is in suspension, if an individual is charged with his or her third or subsequent DUI within seven years, if someone gets a DUI while required to have interlock, or if someone is charged with a DUI while someone under 15 years of age is in the car. Aggravated DUI is a felony conviction.

Blood alcohol concentration limits differ for minors and commercial drivers. Drivers under 21 years of age face DUI charges if their BACs are above .00; in other words, drivers under 21 must not have a trace of alcohol in their blood if they wish to avoid a DUI charge. The BAC limit for commercial drivers is .04.

Arizona's DUI laws are some of the toughest in the country. One Scottsdale DUI defense lawyer says drivers should fully understand the consequences of DUI in the state, including those who drive into Arizona from neighboring states.