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Arizona is known for some of the harshest driving under the influence (DUI) enforcement in the country. The state does not differentiate between DUI and DWI as other states do. Instead, Arizona lumps these two offenses into the same category.

Being charged with an aggravated DUI is very serious, and should not be taken lightly. In order to properly defend yourself against an aggravated DUI charge, you should work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to give yourself the best possible chance of a successful outcome.

What is an aggravated DUI charge?

Arizona recognizes multiple types of DUI charges:

  1. Misdemeanor DUI
  2. Extreme DUI
  3. Super extreme DUI
  4. Aggravated Felony DUI

In Arizona, you can receive a DUI charge if your blood alcohol content (BAC) level is over 0.08 within two hours of getting behind the wheel.

A situation that would otherwise merit a misdemeanor DUI charge can be raised to the level of an aggravated DUI when certain additional circumstances are present. These include:

  • Receiving a DUI if you are driving on a suspended or revoked driver's license;
  • Receiving a DUI if you were driving with an ignition interlock device;
  • Receiving a DUI if you were driving with a child under 15 years old in the car;
  • Receiving a second DUI within seven years of a prior DUI conviction or plea.

An aggravated DUI charge is different than an extreme drunk driving charge. A drunk driver can receive an extreme DUI charge if they have a BAC of 0.15 or higher, which is twice the legal limit. A super extreme DUI charge is given to someone who has a BAC of 0.20 or higher. This is the highest DUI charge a driver can receive in Arizona.

Extreme and super extreme DUIs are both categorized as misdemeanor offenses, rather than felonies, unlike an aggravated DUI charge.

What are the potential penalties for aggravated DUI?

Any DUI charge comes with penalties that include:

Jail time (even a first-time misdemeanor DUI can get you 24 hours to 10 days in jail);

Penalties will increase for subsequent DUI arrests within seven years of your first arrest.

If you are charged with an aggravated DUI, you will face harsher penalties than if you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI. You can be charged with a class 6 felony, which brings the following penalties:

  • Mandatory minimum of 4 months in prison, up to 2.5 years in prison;
  • Monetary fines over $150,000;
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device:
  • Alcohol education and treatment;
  • Community service; and
  • Suspension or revocation of your driver's licenses for 3 years.

If a DUI appears on your criminal record, it can cause additional consequences, especially if you are charged with a felony. You can lose your right to vote or to own a gun. You can face higher insurance premiums. You can lose professional licenses, such as medical, real estate, and law licenses. Future employers will see the DUI on your background check, which can make it harder to get a job down the road.

It is possible to defend against a DUI charge. A qualified criminal defense attorney can challenge the evidence collected by the police and presented by the state. If you were not read your Miranda rights at the time of your arrest or if the evidence against you was tainted, an experienced criminal defense attorney can make a strong case in your favor.

See related: 5 DUI Defense Strategies that Work

However, at the end of the day, it's not worth getting behind the wheel if you have been drinking. Even if you are under the legal limits and feel fine, it is a bad idea. You are risking the lives of everyone in your car and others on the road. Call an Uber or a friend instead of driving while intoxicated.

How we can help

If you or a loved one has is facing an aggravated DUI charge, contact an experienced criminal law attorney today. Contact West, Longenbaugh, and Zickerman PLLC today for a free consultation with our attorneys. Our firm has significant experience with Arizona DUI cases.

Additionally, if you or a loved one is facing an alcohol or drug addiction, do not be afraid to ask for help. Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's national helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for free 24/7 help, available in English and Spanish. Counselors at the hotline can provide referrals to local treatment centers, support groups and community-based organizations around the country.

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West, Longenbaugh and Zickerman P.L.L.C.

310 S. Williams Blvd
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Tucson, AZ 85711

Phone: 520-518-3781
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