In Arizona, recommended DUI changes may be moot

The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all states lower the legal limit for DUI to a blood alcohol content of 0.05 in an effort to further crack down on drunk driving across the nation. But in Arizona, where the DUI laws are already very strict, some experts believe the NTSB's proposal would have little effect.

Arizona drunk driving laws

According to Alberto Gutier, director of the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety, Arizona has the nation's strictest DUI laws and toughest DUI enforcement, CBS News reported.

In Arizona, the law provides that it is illegal to drive while "impaired to the slightest degree" by alcohol, drugs or other intoxicating substances. Thus, it is possible for an Arizona driver to be charged with DUI even if his or her blood alcohol content registers well below the standard 0.08 DUI threshold on a blood or breath test.

DUI Drugs

A driver in Arizona can also be charged with DUI if there is any detectable level of drugs in his or her system, regardless of whether the driver exhibits signs of impairment. Because many drugs remain detectable in the body long after their intoxicating effects have worn off, people who use drugs face a high risk of DUI in Arizona even if they are careful to avoid driving while under the influence.

Extreme DUI

In addition to penalizing drivers with low BAC levels, Arizona law also imposes strict criminal penalties on drivers with very high BAC levels. Drivers in Arizona can be charged with Extreme DUI for operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.15 or above, triggering a harsher set of consequences than those imposed for ordinary DUI. For so-called Super Extreme DUI, defined as operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of 0.20 or above, the penalties are harsher still.

Arizona DUI penalties

Even first-time DUI convictions carry steep consequences in Arizona. For instance, a first-time offender convicted of DUI with a BAC of less than 0.10 can face up to six months in jail, license suspension for up to 1 year and fines of up to $2,500. For Extreme and Super Extreme DUI, first-time offenders can face license revocation and mandatory jail time and license revocation in addition to higher monetary fines.

Harsher penalties are imposed for drivers with repeat DUI convictions and in cases involving aggravating factors like driving with a suspended license or DUI with a minor passenger.

Call a lawyer if arrested for DUI in Arizona

Because a DUI arrest in Arizona has the potential to produce life-changing consequences, it is critical to get legal help right away if you or a loved one is suspected of driving under the influence. A knowledgeable DUI defense lawyer can help protect your legal rights and will work hard to minimize the negative consequences of the arrest. In some cases, a skilled DUI defense attorney may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to have the charges dropped or reduced, and he or she can advocate on your behalf in favor of lighter sentences in the event of conviction.

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