man driving while drinking alcohol

The Harsh Penalties of DUI

Driving under the influence (DUI) remains one of the risk factors for road injuries and deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 29 people die in vehicle crashes involving a DUI driver daily. That’s about a single death per 50 minutes.

The statistics are just as grim in states such as Arizona. In its 2017 highway safety report, alcohol-impaired fatalities were 278, which was 6% higher than its target number. The number of deaths involving alcohol, meanwhile, grew an average of 235 for five years. This explains why the state has one of the most active campaigns against DUI and harsh penalties for those who commit it.

The Criteria

When an officer catches you driving behind the wheel probably intoxicated, you will undergo the breathalyzer test to measure the blood alcohol level in your system. Like the rest of the states, the maximum limit in Arizona is 0.08%, but it also implements the zero-tolerance policy. Any ounce of alcohol in your system could get you slapped with a DUI.

Blood alcohol limit, however, isn’t the only factor that can affect the severity of the DUI offense. The officer will also take into consideration the following:

    • Age (for example, minors have a much lower alcohol limit at 0.01%)
    • DUI with a child (a person below 15 years old) in the vehicle
    • Previous DUI history

The Penalties

cellblock in jail

Arizona will evaluate your offense as either standard or aggravated. The latter means more severe penalties or punishments. It’s a standard offense if your blood alcohol limit is 0.08% up to 0.15%. Anything higher than that is already aggravated DUI. There’s also the super extreme DUI if the limit is already over 0.20%. If you’re a first-time standard DUI offender, you might receive the following penalties:

    • Jail time up to 10 days
    • Fines amounting to more than $2,000
    • DUI counseling and screening
    • An interlock device for the vehicle up to a year
    • 90-day suspension of the driver’s license or license revocation for one year

The state will also require you with SR-22 Arizona insurance or the high-risk insurance, which carries a much higher premium, but it’s one of the steps to hopefully get your license back.

If you committed an aggravated DUI, jail time could be as long as 30 days, although you can request for home detention after two days sleeping in the cell. Fines can reach nearly $3,000 while the suspension of the driver’s license can be 90 days.

Driving while drunk and with a minor with you is immediately an aggravated DUI. DUI for minors is also a class I misdemeanor and receives both administrative and criminal penalties. That means up to 6 months in jail and a fine of around $2,500.

Your DUI offense can stay in your record for five years, which means it can affect not only your insurance premiums but also your job prospects. Companies usually conduct background checks as part of the application process. They can choose not to hire you, especially if your job is related to driving.

As they say, prevention is better than cure. If you want to avoid the record and the penalties, don’t drink and drive. Otherwise, you can find yourself in a better position if caught with a DUI when you work with experts such as lawyers and insurance specialists.

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