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Where were you arrested? A DUI is a state offense, but each jurisdiction handles them slightly differently.

Arizona among leading states in harshest DUI penalties

Chances are good that if you are already reading this, you're probably aware that Arizona has some of the strictest punishments for DUI convictions in the nation. But how do the sobering penalties of the Grand Canyon state look when compared to the DUI penalties of other states across the country?

Every state determines its own laws for dealing with criminal behavior. There can also be further distinctions made on the city and even county levels that differ from the general state laws. Understandably, this multi layered system can become exceedingly confusing when an attempt is made to compare them in too much detail, but there are a few keys factors that we can focus on to see just how broad the differences can be. But first, let's have a brief refresher course on the DUI penalties for a first time offense here in Arizona.

The most rigid DUI punishments

Arizona's unforgiving response to driving under the influence begins as soon as you're pulled over for suspicion of drunk driving. Failing or refusing to submit to a breathalyzer test alone will get your driver's license suspended for 12 months - immediately. A second breathalyzer refusal can actually earn you an additional 24 months suspension of your license if it was within 7 years of the first refusal.

If you are convicted of a 1st offense, standard DUI in which no one else was involved or harmed in Arizona, you can expect some or all of the following:

•· Up to 10 days jail time

•· A minimum of $1,250 fine plus surcharges which can run you generally between $2,000 and $8,000

•· Installation of an ignition interlock breathalyzer device in every car that you drive

•· Community service

•· A Driver license suspension through the MVD

•· Alcohol/drug screenings and the completion of a treatment and education program

Because Arizona uses blood alcohol content to classify the levels of DUI, punishments get increasingly more severe the higher your BAC test results are.

The most lenient DUI punishments

At the other end of the scale, South Dakota handles DUI arrests and convictions with an almost alarming level of leniency. While they do share very similar laws regarding the implied consent of submitting to BAC testing when pulled over, with a license suspension of up to a year, the penalties for a 1st offense are far lighter:

•· Possible participation in a sobriety program with periodic testing and fees

•· Possible installation of an ignition interlock device in your car

•· If your BAC at the time of arrest was 0.17 percent or more, you will be required to have a state approved chemical dependency counselor evaluate you and may have to attend education classes

•· Revoked driver's license from a minimum 30 days up to a year or restricted license for up to a year.

In addition to this, even with further offenses, the maximum amount of jail time given for a DUI is only 20 days for a 5th offense.

The increasing prevalence of ignition interlock devices

These devices, which require the driver to breathe into them for a BAC reading before the engine will start, are now required to be installed in the vehicles of DUI offenders in 92% of states. While all states use these devices to some degree, they are mandatory following a first time offense everywhere but Massachusetts, Indiana, Montana, Idaho, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Georgia, though these states do require installation following a 2nd offense. Kentucky, California, Vermont, North Dakota and South Dakota have no mandatory installation of these devices.

With the serious penalties Arizona relies on to control drunk driving, it's clear that anyone who has been charged with a DUI should seek an attorney with extensive knowledge and experience in DUI criminal defense. If you have been charged with a DUI and would like to speak to an attorney about your options, please contact our offices today for a free case evaluation.

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