Is a DUI a Felony in Arizona?
Most of us realize that Arizona’s DUI laws are particularly tough, put in place to curb unnecessary damages and injuries caused by drivers who are indeed impaired. The problem is that there are circumstances that can cause what would normally be a standard DUI charge to rise to the level of a class 4 felony, something that comes with mandatory prison time if convicted.
Aggravated DUI penalties are harsh and it is important to secure a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who can defend you in court.
Aggravated DUI Penalties
Aggravated DUI (1st Offense – Class 4 Felony)
- 4 months to 3.75 years in prison
- $4,500 fine
- 3-year license revocation
- Interlock device for 2 years
- Alcohol evaluation/treatment program
- SR-22 high-risk insurance
- Supervised probation
- Possible community service
*Second offense for aggravated DUI raises the prison time to 2.25 – 7.5 years.
*Third offense for aggravated DUI raises the prison to 6 – 15 years.
Why They Become Felonies
There are a few main circumstances that will raise an otherwise standard DUI charge to an aggravated DUI charge in combination with driving or having physical control of a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol to the slightest degree or with a blood alcohol concentration above .08:
- A DUI arrest occurred while a driver’s license was suspended, restricted, or revoked. Keep in mind, there are many reasons that a person’s license can get suspended, restricted, or revoked by the AZ DOT. Often, the reason is rather innocuous like failing to pay a fine, an insurance law violation, being medically unable to drive, or failing to appear for a court date. Even though these are not violent offenses, they can result in an aggravated DUI charge that could land a person in prison.
- This is the third DUI arrest in the span of seven years. If a person is getting their third DUI charge within a seven-year time frame of their first conviction, the charge will rise to a felony DUI, even if the other DUI convictions were standard DUIs.
- The driver has an ignition interlock device due to a DUI conviction. If a person is pulled over and arrested while they have been ordered to have an ignition interlock device, their standard DUI charge will become an aggravated DUI charge. These devices are meant to stop a person who has been convicted of a previous DUI from reoffending. Skirting this system is seen as a serious violation.
- There was a DUI arrest when a child under the age of 15 was in the vehicle. Any time a driver is suspected to be driving under the influence and a child is in the vehicle, the charge will be aggravated DUI and the child will placed into Child Protective Services care if a family member cannot be located. *Please note that having a child under 15 in the vehicle at the time of a DUI raises the charge from a class 4 felony to a class 6 felony.
Your Best Option Moving Forward
We know that getting a DUI charge is not something you expected. We also know that an aggravated DUI charge and conviction can place an unbelievable burden on you and your family. You must immediately secure an attorney who understands the Arizona DUI laws and who understands how to get these charges reduced or thrown out.
These laws are strict and they can end up affecting people more than they deserve. In the case of a person whose license has been suspended due to a simple insurance issue, they could end up with a felony even if they have no prior history of driving under the influence. Click here for additional information on Aggravated DUI in Arizona.