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Do You Go to Jail for a DUI?

Posted on September 22, 2021 in DUI

Arizona’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws are notoriously strict. For example, Arizona is one of many states that makes spending at least one day in jail mandatory for all DUI arrests – even if you are later found not guilty of the charges against you. The full length of time that you will spend in jail for a DUI conviction, however, will depend on the circumstances surrounding your arrest and the charges entered.

Mandatory Jail Time for a DUI Arrest in Arizona

Arizona law requires a minimum of one day in jail for anyone who is arrested or charged with a base driving under the influence crime. Note that a day in jail can mean less than 24 hours depending on the time of the arrest. If the driver already had a prior DUI conviction on his or her record, this minimum is extended to six days in jail. For an extreme DUI offense, the minimum jail time is 30 days with home detention eligible after 2 days. The minimum jail time increases to 45 to 180 days for repeat offenders and super extreme DUIs.

Jail Sentences for Different Levels of DUI

After the initial time spent in jail, a driver arrested for an alleged DUI will receive a court date and be tried. If convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, the driver will receive a sentence from a judge. This sentence could include a length of time in jail, depending on the circumstances. Arizona law implements intricate sentencing guidelines for different types and levels of DUI convictions, each with different minimum jail times:

  • First offense DUI: at least 10 consecutive days.
  • Second and subsequent DUI: 90 days.
  • First offense extreme DUI: 30 days.
  • Second and subsequent extreme DUI: 120 days.
  • Aggravated DUI: up to 2 years.

Note that these are only the minimum required jail times; the maximum possible jail time can be much greater. A class 2 felony DUI conviction for vehicular manslaughter, for example, can come with up to 35 years in prison in Arizona.

A judge can use his or her discretion in determining a defendant’s sentence for a DUI conviction. Judges look at many factors when determining how much jail time to assign, including the severity of the offense, the defendant’s prior criminal history and the current legal guidelines. Situations that often increase jail time are a DUI with a passenger under the age of 15 in the car, a DUI that causes an accident with injuries or deaths, and two or more prior DUIs on the driver’s criminal record.

Can You Avoid Going to Jail for a DUI in Arizona?

Unfortunately, no defendant can avoid the mandatory day in jail after being arrested for an alleged DUI in Arizona. Contacting a Tempe DUI lawyer as soon as possible, however, may enable you to avoid a longer time in jail later if you are convicted of driving under the influence. An experienced defense lawyer can negotiate with a judge on your behalf to argue for reduced charges or an alternative sentence, such as probation or at-home detention instead of time spent in jail. If this is your first offense, for example, you may qualify for a plea deal that allows you to minimize or even avoid a jail sentence.

Hiring a DUI defense lawyer also improves your chances of a positive case outcome at trial, such as a defense that leads to an acquittal (the charges dropped). While this is never a guarantee, you can discuss the possibility of a defense strategy with a lawyer to determine all of your legal options. Assistance from the right attorney could enable you to shorten your jail sentence considerably. To learn more about Arizona’s DUI laws and potential jail time, consult with the DUI defense attorneys at Rosenstein Law Group today.

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