5 Frequently Asked Questions About Arizona DUI Penalties

1.  If I am convicted of an Arizona DUI, do I have to go to jail?

The only way to avoid going to jail is to avoid a DUI conviction.  However, if you are convicted, Arizona DUI law requires a mandatory term of jail.  The amount of jail will depend on several factors.  To start, the results of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test will generally control the amount of mandatory jail required.  Here are the mandatory minimum terms of jail based on a person's BAC: 

  • BAC under .150 - 1 day
  • BAC of .150 and below .200 (new laws) - 30 days
  • BAC of .200 and above - 45 days

These jail terms apply to first time DUI convictions.  Second time DUI convictions have much longer mandatory minimums. 

2.  Will I lose my driver's license if I am convicted of a DUI in Arizona?

A person's driver's license will be suspended if the results of a chemical test are above .08.  This suspension is actually through the Motor Vehicle Division - not the courts.  Thus, the suspension often occurs prior to a court conviction. 

To illustrate, take the example of a person who is arrested for DUI and performs a breath test.  Suppose the breath test results are .100 and .101.  Because the test results are above a .08, the officer will give that person a form called an admin per se / implied consent affidavit.  The affidavit will state that the person's driver's license will be suspended in 15 days.  The term of suspension is 90 days.  However, after the first 30 days the person may be eligible for a restricted driving permit.  Thus, a conviction is not even necessary for the suspension to take effect.

3.  What is the penalty if I refuse to take a breath or a blood test?

Arizona law requires that a person submit to a chemical test.  If a person refuses the test, then a 1 year driver's license suspension is triggered.  However, the person may be eligible for a special restricted driver's license after the first 90 days.  If a person is considering refusing a chemical test, they should attempt to contact an attorney to assist with this decision.

4.  Are there any other penalties to my driver's license in addition to suspension?

Yes.  After September 2007, all Arizona DUI convictions require a person to install an Ignition Interlock Device in their vehicle.  This device takes a sample of a person's breath and measures if there is any alcohol in their system.  If alcohol is found to be present in the person's system, then the vehicle will not start.

5.  If I am convicted of a DUI, will I have to go to substance abuse treatment?

A conviction for DUI requires that a person go to a drug and alcohol screening.  Based on the results of the screening the person will be required to attend substance abuse education and possibly treatment. 

I Have An Ignition Interlock Device, Now What?

All DUI convictions in Arizona now require an ignition interlock device for at least a year. Practically speaking, this means that a person will be forced to “blow” into the device to show there is no alcohol in his or her  system every time he or she starts a car, and approximately every 15 to 30 minutes while the vehicle is operating.

There are also several Arizona statutes relating to the interlock device once it has been installed in a vehicle.  Failure to comply with these laws can result in either: (1) an extended interlock period; and/or (2) a driver's license suspension.  Below is a summary of the requirements that apply to a person who has already had an interlock device installed. 

First, there are several reporting requirements for those required to have an interlock device.  The Motor Vehicle Division's website mandates that:

Once installed in your vehicle, the CIID [Certified Ignition Interlock Device] must be calibrated and inspected by a certified installer every 30 days for the first three months and then every other month for the duration of installation requirement. The inspections make sure the device is working properly and detect any issues of non-compliance...

Moreover, under § 28-1461, a person must provide proof of compliance with an ignition interlock device to the department at least every 90 days.  If a person fails to submit proof of compliance, the person's license will be suspended indefinitely until he or she proves compliance with the guidelines. See A.R.S. § 28-1463.  Most people rely on the interlock company to comply with these requirements.  I strongly recommend that a person audit the interlock company to make sure they have complied with the mandatory reporting requirements.  If the company fails to appropriately comply with the reporting requirements, the person will face the prescribed penalties. 

Second, the interlock device must be installed by an authorized installer. This issue usually arises for non-Arizona residents. For example, a Massachusetts resident visits Arizona and receives a DUI conviction. He returns to his home in Massachusetts and gets an interlock device installed in Massachusetts.  To comply with Arizona law the person should confirm the company is authorized by Arizona's Motor Vehicle Division (there are national companies authorized out of Arizona.) Simply getting the device installed by a non-authorized company may not comply with the Arizona requirements.

Third, the person must have an interlock device in any vehicle he or she drives. For example, if a person owns two vehicles, that person cannot simply drive the car that does not have the interlock.  The person should view the interlock requirement as a restriction of his or her entire driving privileges.  Thus, the device must be in any vehicle they drive.   

Fourth, there is also a restriction from providing a person with a interlock requirement a vehicle.  Arizona law provides:

Except in cases of a substantial emergency, a person shall not knowingly rent, lease or lend a motor vehicle to a person whose driving privilege is limited pursuant to section 28-1381, 28-1382, 28-1383 or 28-3319 unless the motor vehicle is equipped with a functioning certified ignition interlock device...

On the other hand, a person with the interlock requirement: "who rents, leases or borrows a motor vehicle from another person shall notify the person who rents, leases or lends the motor vehicle to the person that the person has specific requirements for the operation of the motor vehicle and the nature of the requirements." Consequently, attempting to rent a car without the device will not satisfy Arizona law.

In the final analysis, the post-installation interlock requirements are numerous.  The penalties for non-compliance are harsh.  Therefore, if a person is required to install the device, he or she must become familiar with all terms of compliance, or the restriction may go well beyond the initial one-year term.

Penalties For a First Offense DUI

As of September 19, 2007, Arizona has new penalties for a first time DUI conviction.  Under the new law, the penalties vary based on the blood alcohol level of the person.  Here are some of the changes the legislature has made for a person convicted of a first offense DUI with a blood alcohol concentration of above a .08 and below a .150.  

The potential jail remains the same as it did before the new law went into effect.  The minimum amount of incarceration is one (1) day and the maximum is six (6) months.  The way to avoid the one day of jail is to either get the case dismissed or reduced to a charge other than DUI.  Moreover, the penalties still include a mandatory alcohol and drug screening.  Based on the results of the screening the person can receive education and treatment.  The amount of education and / or treatment is discretionary. 

Some of the most onerous penalties concern the person's drivers license. There are three primary ways that a person's drivers license can be impacted.  First, as part of every DUI investigation the police will perform some type of chemical test.  The test is usually in the form of blood, breath or urine.  If the test results shows the person had a blood alcohol concentration above a .08, then the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the Arizona Department of Transportation will be notified.  Upon receipt of the results, MVD will suspend the person's driving privileges for a period of ninety (90) days.  However, after the first thirty days (30) days a person may be eligible for a restricted driving permit.  The permit allows a person to go to and from work or school.


If the person is not suspended by MVD (usually because they prevailed at an MVD hearing or the officer failed to notify the MVD of the test results) and is then convicted of a DUI charge, they will receive a ninety (90) day suspension as a result of the conviction.

The second way that a person's privilege to drive will be effected is that a DUI conviction will put eight (8) point on their driver's license.  Eight points means that a person must attend Traffic Survival School.  Moreover, any additional points could trigger an additional suspension.

The third, and potentially the most harmful, MVD consequence from a DUI conviction is the mandatory ignition interlock device.  The new law requires that everyone who is convicted of DUI must place an interlock device in any automobile they drive.  The new law requires that a first time DUI offender drive with this interlock device for a minimum period of twelve (12) months.


 For a complete listing of the penalties for a first time DUI offense please visit www.arizonaduicenter.com




Lawrence Koplow defends all types of DUI and vehicular crimes cases, including:

Mr. Koplow also defends traffic crimes and driver's license issues such as driver's license suspensions, speeding tickets and photo radar tickets.  Mr. Koplow and his firm have extensive experience resolving issues with the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) of the Arizona Department of Transportation.  This area of his practice includes the following types of cases:

As a former a vehicular crimes prosecutor Mr. Koplow has unique experience defending felony vehicular crimes charges.  Vehicular cases, such as drunk-driving accidents, are the most challenging types of criminal case and require extensive training and experience.  Mr. handles the following types of vehicular crimes cases:

Mr. Koplow also represent defendants in appeals and / or post-conviction relief motions for all of the above charges.  Mr. Koplow may handle other types of cases for his clients, however, these cases are accepted on a case-by-case basis.


  • Accreditation, Lies, and ISO Standards:  The Continuing Scottsdale Saga, 27th Annual Aggressive Defense of the Accused Impaired Driver conference, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Tucson, Arizona, May 10, 2014.
  • Winning a Blood Case When They Say Everything Looks Perfect, June 26, 2014, APDA Statewide Conference, Tempe, Arizona, June 27, 2013.
  • Daubert and the Scottsdale Crime Lab: Separating Science from Science, 2013 APDA Statewide Conference, Tempe, Arizona, June 27, 2013.
  • Trial Tactics that Work, 25th Annual Aggressive Defense of the Accused Impaired Driver Seminar, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Tucson, Arizona, May 2012.
  • Prosecutor and Defense Professionalism, Maricopa County Attorney Office Training and Development
  • Civil Aspects of Impaired Driving Cases, The Arizona Association of Civil Defense Attorneys
  • Impaired Driving Investigations for Law Enforcement, The Northern Arizona Police Department 
  • Challenging Blood Alcohol Measurements, In Vehicular Homicide Cases (Chapter), Defending DUI Vehicular Homicide Cases, Aspatore Publishing, 2015 Edition.


Lawyer Of The Year For Outstanding Contribution To DUI Defense Award, May 1, 2015, by Arizona Attorneys For Criminal Justice.

For Additional Information or Case Review:

Contact Lawrence Koplow online or call him at his office at (602) 494-3444.  Mr. Koplow and his firm will be available to help you solve your legal problems.