Understanding the Consequences: Second DUI Offenses in Arizona

CHANDLER, AZ, November 07, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Like any legal question, the short answer to whether you will go to jail for a second DUI is that it depends. However, the penalties are almost universally harsher for a repeat DUI offender, especially in Arizona, which has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country.

This article outlines situations in which you could go to jail in Arizona if you have a prior DUI conviction. For the help of an experienced DUI attorney in Gilbert, contact The Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC, today.

What Is Meant by “Second DUI?”

The term “second DUI” can generate confusion because not every second offense is categorized as a second DUI according to Arizona law. Specifically, a DUI legally counts as a second DUI only if you have two DUIs within a seven-year time period. For example, if you were convicted of a DUI in 2015, and you are charged again in 2023, eight years will have passed. That means the second charge is actually considered a first offense.

It’s also important to note that the clock starts ticking on the date of the first DUI (which is usually the day that you were pulled over and arrested), not the date of conviction.

Even though a first DUI might not be counted when the court is considering whether a DUI is a first or second DUI, it can still be brought up at trial. Here, the prosecution could argue to the judge that you should receive a harsher punishment than would be on the table for a first-time DUI offense.

The rationale is that you have a prior history of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and your defense attorney will try to convince the judge that the prior conviction should not be a factor.

Punishment for a Second DUI

Once it has been determined a subsequent DUI falls within the seven-year period and is a second DUI, the mandatory minimum sentence is enhanced. Unlike the example above (where the second offense occurred more than seven years after the first), the judge does not have any discretion when determining the consequences. Instead, the judge must abide by enhanced mandatory minimum sentencing requirements.

The so-called “enhanced” mandatory minimum punishment for a second DUI in Arizona will depend on your blood alcohol concentration level (BAC for short). Depending on that BAC level, there are three categories of punishment, referred to as Regular DUI, Extreme DUI, and Super Extreme DUI.

Regular DUI

For BAC levels of above 0.08 or you exhibit impairment due to the consumption of alcohol or drugs. The mandatory minimum jail sentence for a second DUI is 90 days, and there is a minimum fine of $3,000.

Extreme DUI

BAC levels above 0.15 are considered an Extreme DUI. Here, the mandatory minimum jail sentence is 120 days with a corresponding minimum fine of $3,250.

Super Extreme DUI

You can be charged with a Super Extreme DUI for BAC levels above 0.2. Super Extreme DUIs carry a mandatory minimum sentence of 180 days in jail and a minimum fine of $3,750.

Universal Punishments for Second DUIs in Arizona

No matter what level of the second offense, you will also face a one-year license suspension. When you are eligible to have a driver’s license again, you will also need to acquire an SR-22 certificate of insurance, which is an added expense above and beyond your regular insurance premiums.

Keep in mind that the jail sentences and fines listed above are minimum punishments. The judge in your DUI case may increase these sentences and fines. There are, however, maximum punishments as well.

Each of the second DUIs described above is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which has a maximum penalty of six months in jail.

What To Do If You Are Charged with a Second DUI

Despite the harshness of these penalties, all hope is not lost. DUI lawyers work with their clients to seek to have the charges dismissed or reduce the charge as much as possible (potentially to reckless driving or driving aggressively) through plea negotiations.

Potential defenses could include:

• An illegal traffic stop
• A malfunction in the test used to measure BAC
• A violation of the defendant’s right to remain silent
• A lack of sufficient evidence to prove impairment

Further, BAC tests can have a margin of error of up to 10%, which could be critical in determining whether a DUI would be classified as Regular, Extreme, or Super Extreme.

DUI lawyers will review all of the evidence against you and determine a strategic path to move forward. Contacting an experienced lawyer is imperative to receive legal advice and understand all of your options as well as the corresponding consequences. Your lawyer will help you understand the charges and keep you informed about your case.

About Aggravated DUI

Another category of DUI in Arizona is referred to as Aggravated DUI. An Aggravated DUI charge can result from the following circumstances:

• Being charged with a third DUI within a seven-year period
• You have prior felony convictions
• There was a child 15 years of age or younger in the vehicle
• You were under the order of having an ignition interlock device (IID) when pulled over for drunk driving
• You were driving the wrong direction on the road (facing incoming traffic)

As you can imagine, the punishment for an Aggravated DUI conviction are even more extreme and includes longer jail sentences, higher fines, and extended license suspensions. You may also be required to attend alcohol counseling, safe driving courses, and be under supervised probation.

Attorney Karl A. Mueller is an accomplished experienced trial lawyer who began trying criminal cases almost 30 years ago while he was still a law student working for the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Mueller has been a lawyer in the State of Arizona for over 30 years. He is experienced in both metropolitan and rural courtrooms and is licensed to practice law in the States of Arizona, California, and Montana as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the United States District Court. Mr. Mueller has been asked and appointed by the Arizona State Bar to serve as an arbitrator in disputes between individuals and their lawyers.

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