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DUI First-Offender & Diversion Programs

Posted on December 15, 2021 in First DUI

Most driving under the influence (DUI) convictions in Arizona result in jail sentences, thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges, and the suspension of the driving privilege. Although several states have enacted first-offender and diversion programs that have lesser penalties for first-time DUIs, Arizona has not. This is why it is even more important to have a Tempe DUI lawyer help you if you get arrested for DUI.

What Are the Penalties for a First-Offense DUI in Arizona?

According to Arizona Revised Statutes Section 28-1381, it is a crime to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the intoxicating influence of any liquor, drug, vapor-releasing substance or combination thereof. A driver is legally intoxicated in Arizona with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. It is also possible to be convicted of DUI with a lesser BAC if the driver is impaired. A first-conviction driving under the influence crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona.

By law, someone who is convicted of a DUI in Arizona will serve no less than 10 consecutive days in jail without eligibility for parole. A judge may suspend all but one day of the sentence, however, if the person completes an alcohol or drug screening program. In addition, the individual will pay a fine of at least $250 plus an additional $1,000 in assessments. Other penalties are driver’s license suspension for at least 90 days, required traffic survival school course, the installation of an ignition interlock device in the vehicle and community restitution.

Does Arizona Have a DUI Diversion Program?

No. Despite many states having DUI diversion or similar programs available for first-time offenders, Arizona lawmakers have passed no such law. All of the penalties listed in Arizona’s DUI statute are mandatory, even for first offenses. If you plead guilty to a DUI, by law, a judge must propose the mandatory sentence. This is why it is critical to hire an experienced defense lawyer to represent you if you get arrested for a DUI in Arizona.

Diversion programs for first offenders focus on rehabilitation rather than punishment. They give first-time offenders the chance to recognize their mistakes. These programs offer alternatives to traditional sentences, such as mandatory drug and alcohol counseling rather than going to jail. Eligibility for a diversion program typically requires no prior DUI convictions or other pending criminal charges, as well as never having participated in a diversion program before. Federal law does not make commercial driver’s license holders eligible for DUI diversion programs.

In Arizona, although there is no diversion program for DUI charges, there are alternatives in special circumstances, such as if you are a veteran in the veteran’s court. Being a veteran is an extenuating circumstance that may allow the court to work something out with you rather than imposing the traditional mandatory sentence for a DUI conviction. If you are not a veteran, however, the best way to minimize the penalties that you face for a DUI in Arizona is by hiring an attorney.

How Can a DUI Defense Lawyer Help?

A defense attorney in Arizona will do his or her best to protect you from the worst possible penalties associated with a DUI. A lawyer will start by searching for a basis to dismiss the case. If case dismissal is not possible, your lawyer can create a defense to try to reduce the DUI to a lesser violation, such as reckless driving. This type of charge has a much more lenient sentence than a DUI, with no mandatory jail time or ignition interlock device. Without the option of a first-offender or diversion program, hiring a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Arizona is the best way to handle a DUI charge. Contact the Rosenstein Law Group for a free DUI consultation.

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