Not Your First DUI? Penalties for Multiple DUIs in Arizona Can Be Harsh

The internet has been abuzz recently with news of a Southwestern man arrested for drunk driving three times in five days. This past January, 44-year-old David Lakarnafeaux was arrested in three separate incidents on suspicion of drunk driving. Since he was picked up on each day by a different law enforcement agency, the authorities did not connect the dots until the third arrest. Now, Lakarnafeaux is being held in jail with bail set at $100,000.

Even a first time DUI is nothing to be trifled with, let alone three in five days. Lakarnafeaux's draconian bail is reflective of the high stakes involved for repeat DUI offenses. In Arizona, fines, jail time, driver's license restrictions and other sanctions can be substantial for second and subsequent DUIs.

Penalties for Subsequent DUIs in Arizona

After a first DUI in Arizona, a sentence enhancement will be applied to any subsequent driving under the influence offense for a term of 84 months.

Those convicted of a second DUI will face a minimum of 30 days in jail, usually with a much longer jail term imposed (up to 180 days) that is stayed for offenders who successfully complete court-ordered treatment.

A second DUI also carries a minimum 30 hours of community restitution, a yearlong revocation of driving privileges (after 45 days, a restricted driver's license may be given to offenders who comply with certain requirements), the possibility of required ignition interlock use even after driving privileges have been reinstated, and fines and fees totaling over $3,000.

For third and subsequent offenses, minimum jail time is kicked up to 4 months (with the possibility of a substantially longer term), fines and fees skyrocket to at least $4,000 (and likely significantly more), driver's license revocation and mandated ignition interlock periods grow, and in some circumstances, your vehicle could even be forfeited.

A third or subsequent DUI will also be classified as a felony, meaning you will face certain lifelong consequences, such as the loss of your right to own or use firearms. Arizona is specifically targeting repeat offenders, and its drunk driving laws are some of the harshest in the country.

Additional Sanctions for Aggravating Factors

Having one or more previous drunk driving convictions in the last seven years is one of the most important aggravating factors when it comes time for a judge to hand down a DUI sentence. However, it is worth noting that there are other aggravating factors that can stack sanctions on top of those that are for "standard" multiple DUIs.

For instance, committing a DUI offense with a passenger in the vehicle who is under 15 years old, while under a term of driver's license suspension or revocation, while required to submit to the use of an ignition interlock, or when the offense resulted in an accident that caused property damage or injury to another. When a second or subsequent DUI offense is committed along with one or more aggravating factors, the potential punishments can increase exponentially.

Defending a Repeat DUI Charge in Arizona

It is no secret to anyone: Arizona police are extremely tough on DUI enforcement and judges, constrained as they are by statutory minimum sentences, are anything but lenient with punishment terms. Furthermore, prosecutors are less likely to agree to a plea bargain arrangement for serious, aggravated DUIs. There is no doubt anyone charged with a second, third, or higher DUI has an uphill battle. But, while staging a strong defense is difficult, it is not impossible with the help of a skilled Arizona criminal defense attorney.

There are many ways to legally challenge a DUI charge. Perhaps there are inconsistencies in the police report, violations of your constitutional rights in the process of arrest or inaccurate chemical tests due to faulty equipment or improper police training. Perhaps previous DUIs or license suspensions can be attacked, therefore saving you from being sentenced as a repeat or aggravated offender. If your attorney can undermine key evidence against you, charges for repeat DUI may be dropped entirely, brought instead as a less serious offense or ultimately defeated in court.

If you have been charged with a second or subsequent DUI in Arizona, it is no understatement to say your freedom, your finances and your future are all at risk. But, while you are up against a finely-tuned bureaucratic machine, you also have powerful rights at your disposal.

You must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to suffer the heavy consequences of a repeat DUI - an experienced legal advocate can help you assert your rights, and give you the best chance at avoiding time behind bars, status as a felon and other lasting consequences of an enhanced DUI conviction. If you have been arrested on suspicion of DUI, you are innocent until proven guilty, not vice versa; contact an experienced attorney today to keep it that way.