Will I Go To Jail?

Phoenix DUI Frequently Asked Questions

One of the most simple and frequent questions about Phoenix DUI charges is whether a conviction necessarily means jail time. Unfortunately, Arizona law mandates jail time served for all DUI-related convictions. However, this should not send all persons facing DUI charges into immediate despair. There are several alternatives to jail sentences that can be bargained for in Arizona. Furthermore, while jail time sounds extremely daunting, minor offenses can have a sentence as low as one day spent in a county jail.

The key in determining the sentence for a DUI conviction comes down to the nature of the crime. While driving under the influence seems like a straightforward charge, there are many types of DUI offenses that can either mean a heavier or lesser sentence in the event of a conviction.

In a 2012 bill passed by Arizona legislature, the regulations for ordering jail time in a DUI conviction were revised, in many ways to the advantage of Arizona residents. While DUI laws in Arizona remain some of the toughest in the country, incarceration requirements are much more lenient now than they were prior to January 1, 2012. Jail time is still mandatory for convictions but can be reduced or pardoned through several alternatives.

One Day Minimum
The minimum jail time for a regular first-offense DUI is one day in jail. Prior to the 2012 revisions, the law stipulated that the convicted had to spend a full 24 hours in jail to complete the sentence. A seemingly insignificant change in the wording has now made an earlier release a possibility. The law now states that the convicted must spend one day, rather than 24 hours, in jail. This new wording makes the interpretation of "one day" more subjective, allowing for an earlier release.

Ignition Interlock Device
Arizona law requires the installation of ignition interlock devices in the vehicles driven by those convicted of DUI in the state. The new revisions to the law allow for lesser jail sentences if the individual agrees to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle. The installation would be mandatory for any conviction but if the convicted agrees to an extended installation, they can have their jail sentence suspended sooner rather than later. Prior to this change, an Arizona extreme DUI conviction, required at least 30 days served in jail before suspension could be granted for further jail time. Under the new revisions, an individual only has to spend 9 days in jail before they can be granted a suspension for the remainder of the sentence. The suspension is granted upon the agreement by the convicted to have the ignition interlock device installed in the vehicles they will be driving once their license is reinstated. For a super extreme DUI in Arizona, a defendant can be released after just 14 days in jail, as opposed to the 45 days required before the revisions, if they install the device.

This is one of the more beneficial changes to the law, not just for DUI defendants but for the Arizona community as a whole. Ignition interlock devices have the same effect of keeping the road's safe from drunk drivers as a jail sentence. Since the driver of the vehicle will not be able to drive unless the device shows a .00 BAC level, this alternative allows for safer roads without excessive jail sentences.

Alternative Sentences
Lastly, jail sentences can be fulfilled through alternative sentencing programs depending on the crime in the case. Options for alternatives include work release, which allows an individual to go to work during the day and return to the jail at night, home detention with an ankle bracelet and monitored perimeter and extended alcohol treatment programs. Negotiation for these alternatives is very possible by the right attorney and if granted, can keep an individual from having to step foot in a county jail.

The new revision to Arizona's DUI laws makes the possibility of home detention much more real for many Arizona residents convicted of driving under the influence. Home detention is a way to serve a jail sentence within the comforts of one's home. This concept has been even more liberalized. The recent changes allow for home detention much sooner than before, reducing the time spent in an actual jail. Furthermore, the statute about ignition interlock devices can be combined with this revision, reducing the required time spent in a jail even more. The conditions of this change are very complicated but can mean a fraction of the time previously required for a DUI conviction. An individual previously required to spend a minimum of 30 days in jail can be eligible for just two and a half days in jail if they agree to an ignition interlock device and are granted the ability for home detention

Bottom Line

While the initial answer to the question of imminent jail time is "yes," it is given with reservations because of the many options available. Lesser sentences or jail alternatives are more available than they ever have been in Arizona. Furthermore, jail sentences are only given in the event of an actual conviction, which is not always necessary. The obvious way to avoid jail time is to not drive after consuming alcohol. Secondly, with the help of an experienced DUI attorney in Phoenix, the facts and evidence against you, if you are arrested for DUI, can be challenged and dismissal may be a very real possibility depending on the circumstances of the case.