DUI & Criminal Defense

2501 North 7th Street
Phoenix, AZ 85006

Arizona DUI Lawyer – Frequently Asked Questions

BIG PICTURE ARIZONA DUI FAQS

Is an Arizona DUI a misdemeanor or a felony?

DUI is a crime that comes in all shapes and sizes in Arizona.  A first-time offense, where a person has a valid license, is a misdemeanor.  A DUI in Arizona only becomes a felony under three circumstances: (1) you get three DUI convictions within seven years; (2) you get a DUI while your driver’s license is suspended, restricted or canceled; or you get a DUI while there is a person 15 years of age or younger in the car.  

It is also important to remember that the amount of alcohol found in your body does not change a misdemeanor into a felony.  Accordingly, an extreme DUI or super-extreme DUI are both misdemeanors unless one of the above circumstances also exists.

Misdemeanor DUI FAQS 

Felony DUI FAQS

What determines which court my DUI is prosecuted in?

This answer requires explaining a few related legal concepts.  Jurisdiction is the authority given to a legal body (such as a court) to hear a case.   A court is given jurisdictional limits over people, subject matters and territories.  A court can only hear cases that fall within its jurisdiction authority.

Within a region, more than one court can have jurisdiction over a matter.  For example, if you are arrested for DUI in Scottsdale while driving on the 101 highway, then there are two courts that are authorized to have jurisdiction over your case: the Scottsdale City Court (a city court) and the West Mesa Justice Court (a county court).

The venue is the geographical location where a case is filed and heard.  The venue can be a county, district, town or a city.  In the above example, the arresting officer has the discretion to decide which venue (i.e. city court or county court) to file your case in.  The consequences of the officer’s decision include which prosecutor’s office will be handling your charges.  As you might imagine, this decision may significantly impact your situation.

Will I be able to travel after getting a DUI?

In most cases – yes.  In misdemeanor DUI cases, Arizona courts usually do not restrict a person’s travel from Arizona while their case is going on.  On the other hand, in felony DUI matters judges issue standard release conditions that included a prohibition from leaving the state.  However, these travel restrictions are routinely modified upon request by counsel to permit travel.

Out-of-State Resident DUI FAQS

Can a vehicular Arizona DUI be expunged?  

Contrary to what some courts have held in the past, Arizona law permits a DUI conviction to be expunged.

Are some courts better than others?

Yes.  It’s probably more accurate to say some places in Arizona are worse than others when it comes to how DUI cases are handled.   The combination of the Prosecutor’s office, the Police Department, and the Court where your case is adjudicated can have a substantial influence upon the process.

Scottsdale DUI FAQS

Phoenix DUI FAQS

Maricopa Country Superior Court DUI FAQS

What is a “BAC”?

It stands for blood alcohol concentration.

Is it illegal to drink and drive in Arizona?

While it is not the best decision from either a legal or safety point of view (which you probably figured out if you are reading this) it is actually legal to drive after consuming alcohol in Arizona.  However, Arizona makes it illegal to drive if you consume enough alcohol so that you have become either: (1) impaired or (2) your alcohol concentration reaches .08.

Drinking and Driving DUI FAQS 

Can I be guilty of DUI in Arizona if I only have one drink?

Unlikely, but it depends on the size of your drink…and what is in it.

How many drinks will put me over the legal limit of .08?

There are way too many variables to provide a one size fits all answer to this question.  Everyone’s metabolizes alcohol slightly differently, a person’s weight, gender, and size of drink all factor into this calculation. 

Is it possible to be guilty of DUI if my car was parked?

Yes, it is possible. However, the issue is complicated and often difficult for the government to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The law in Arizona defines driving to mean “operate or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle.”  The analysis of whether a person was in actual physical control of a vehicle has been the subject of several published Arizona appellate court decisions.

Actual Physical Control DUI FAQS

What is the difference between a DUI and DWI in Arizona?

DWI is the abbreviation some states use for the crime of Driving While Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs.  Arizona does not use the term DWI.  Instead, Arizona exclusively uses the term DUI.  Put another way, Arizona does not have a crime of DWI.  We only have the crime of DUI.

Does an Arizona drug DUI have a harsher penalty than an alcohol DUI?

No. In and of itself, the law does not require a harsher penalty if you are convicted of DUI where you are impaired by a drug, marijuana, or prescription medication than a DUI based on too much alcohol.

Drug DUI FAQS

Marijuana DUI FAQS

Prescription Medication DUI FAQS 

What happens if I am an Arizona doctor and I get a DUI?

Doctors, physicians and most healthcare workers arrested for DUI have unique issues regarding their medical licenses.  If handled properly most of these issues can be successfully navigated. 

For example, Arizona medical professionals (such as a doctor, nurse, pharmacist, etc.) have a duty to report any kind of DUI arrest within ten days.  Despite the fact you have not been convicted of a crime, many medical licensing boards will then initiate an investigation immediately after your arrest for DUI is reported.

Health Care Providers DUI FAQS

Can I get a DUI on a golf cart in Arizona?

As crazy as it sounds – yes.  I have handled both misdemeanor and felony golf cart DUI cases. Arizona law merely defines a motor vehicle in A.R.S. 28-101(41) as a “self-propelled vehicle.”

Do I have to tell my employer about a DUI arrest?

The answer to this question can be very fact specific.  If you work for a company that has an employee handbook it may address this issue.  Some companies require disclosure of merely being arrested for DUI.  Other employers only require disclosure of a conviction for DUI.
The employers that most commonly require reporting of a DUI arrest are Drug Manufacturers, Government Agencies, companies with Government Contracts, any job that requires a Security Clearance or jobs that require a Fingerprint Clearance Card.  When it comes to Teachers the individual school or school district will usually have their own reporting requirements. 
Apart from any requirements from your employer, Professional License holders also have to be concerned about disclosure requirements of their licensing board. 
The decision whether to report a DUI arrest or any criminal conviction is best made after a discussion with your counsel.  

Professional License Holders DUI FAQS

Health Care Providers DUI FAQS

Teacher DUI FAQS

Lawyers Arrested for DUI FAQS

More questions?  Contact the firm at (602) 494-3444