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. 

When Does a Person Get a Hearing Regarding a License Suspension

In the context of a DUI case, there are two common scenarios when a motorist will receive an order of suspension for their driver's license:

  1. After they refuse to take a chemical test pursuant to A.R.S. 28-1321(D)(2); and
  2. After a test result of .08 or greater pursuant to A.R.S. 28-1385(A).

The Motor Vehicle Division of the Department of Transportation permits a person a hearing prior to the suspension.  The hearing request can be made by mail, facsimile or email.  The request for the hearing must be received by the department within 15 days after the notice.  A timely request stays the suspension until at least the time of the hearing.

The hearing is a civil proceeding.  The burden of proof for the government is only a preponderance of evidence, as opposed to the criminal standard of beyond reasonable doubt.  The Arizona Rules of Evidence do not apply to the hearing.  For example "reliable hearsay" evidence is admissible during the hearing.