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Drunk Driving Penalties in Arizona: The Basics (Part 1 of 6)

Posted on October 10, 2011 in DUI Consequences

While many people may either know someone who got a DUI in Arizona, or may have even gotten a DUI themselves in the past, many people don’t fully understand the consequences of getting a DUI conviction in Arizona these days.

Let’s start with the basics. Unlike many other states, the minimum penalties for a DUI in Arizona are mandated by state statute. There are misdemeanor DUIs and felony DUIs. This blog will focus only on the penalties for misdemeanor DUIs in Arizona. For information on penalties for felony DUIs, see our previous blog post on Aggravated DUI/Felony DUI in Arizona.

Misdemeanor DUI Charges in Arizona

There are 5 types of misdemeanor DUI charges in Arizona. The most common is the Impaired to the Slightest Charge, which is generally charged on all DUI cases. Then there is Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above .08, BAC above .15, BAC above .20, and in certain cases when some type of drug is involved, Impaired by Drug or Metabolite (also known as DUI Drugs). Youcan be cited for only one charge or, in some instances, all five types of charges on the same ticket.

Types of Penalties Received for AZ DUI Convictions

With any DUI conviction in Arizona, there are automatically four penalties that are associated with it. They are jail time, fines/fees, alcohol screening and classes, and Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) consequences (such as driver’s license suspension and ignition interlock requirements).

Jail Time

The first penalty is jail time. With any misdemeanor DUI conviction in Arizona there is automatic jail time, ranging from 1 day to 180 days (6 months). There is typically no way around this.

However, in certain circumstances and in certain courts, one might be eligible for a home detention program. An experienced AZ DUI defense attorney would be able to guide the person as to whether he or she qualifies for such a program.


Fines are automatically assessed with any DUI conviction in Arizona, and there are minimum fines mandated by Arizona statute. There are also fees to pay as well. Again, there is typically no way around this.

Alcohol Screening and Classes

The next penalty is alcohol screening and classes. With any AZ DUI conviction, you need to attend an alcohol screening thru a licensed agency as well as take any recommended classes from the screening. Again, there is typically no way around this.

MVD Consequences (Driver’s License Suspension & Ignition Interlock)

Finally, with any DUI conviction in Arizona, you will have consequences through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD). For example, with a conviction, your driver’s license will be suspended for a minimum of 90 days and possibly up to 3 years, depending on the charge and your history. With a 90 day license suspension, you may be eligible to a restrictedpermit for 60 of the days, but regardless, there will be no driving at all for a minimum of 30 days (an experienced AZ DUI defense attorney can help guide you on whether you are eligible for this). Further, currently there is a minimum 12 month ignition interlock usage requirement that comes with any DUI conviction, and again depending on the charge and yourhistory could be as long as 2 years. A new law may change some of this for certain DUI convictions in AZ, but there will still be some form of an ignition interlock device requirement. (For more information on this new AZ law, see our previous blogpost on SB1200.) There may be other MVD consequences as well.

How Are These Consequences Applied?

Over the course of our next few posts, we will discuss how these consequences are applied to the five Arizona misdemeanor DUI charges listed above, so stay tuned.

However, the consequences for a DUI charge can often be quite confusing, and this series is intended as a basic guide. If you are facing a DUI charge of any kind in Arizona, it is often best to contact an experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney to discuss your case.

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