The terms DUI, DWI, and OUI are often used interchangeably in conversation. Sometimes there’s even a DWAI, OWI, or OVUII thrown in depending on where in the United States the person you’re speaking with lives. They’re all understood to mean the same thing: driving while drunk or otherwise impaired. However, legally, they do mean different things, and those meanings can change depending on what state you’re in.

Alcohol with money and handcuffs on a book

Unfortunately, there’s no definition for each charge that transcends state lines. Some states use multiple terms to describe different charges relating to driving while impaired, but Arizona only legally recognizes the term DUI, which means driving under the influence. DUI charges encompass more than just drinking alcohol, and can be issued for drivers under the influence of illegal drugs, marijuana, and even legally obtained prescription medications such as painkillers and benzodiazepines. You won’t get in trouble for driving while taking most regularly prescribed medications, only those that are prescribed with strict instructions not to drive as they can cause impairment.

DUI Penalties in Arizona

Arizona is notorious for having some of the strictest DUI policies in the nation. Arizona’s DUI penalties include longer jail sentences, higher fines, and more harsh consequences than other states. These consequences can include license suspension, license revocation, the installation of an ignition interlock device, alcohol screening, and community service. Arizona prides itself on being a zero-tolerance state, meaning that if a driver is impaired to any degree, even if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is below the legal limit of 0.08, they can still be charged with a DUI if there is sufficient evidence of the driver’s impairment. Drivers under the age of 21 will automatically be charged with a DUI if an officer suspects any level of intoxication, even below the legal limit.

For first DUI offenses in Arizona, drivers will be given a fine of no less than $1,480, a sentence of 10 days in jail, a license suspension, and the installation of an ignition interlock device for one year. Nine of the days in jail can be avoided in place of court-ordered counselling but one day is mandatory.

For second and third DUI offenses, the fine is raised to no less than $3,000, the jail time is increased to 90 days, and the license suspension will be in effect for one year, and an ignition interlock device will be required for one year following the suspension. 60 days of this jail time can be avoided if the driver completes court-ordered counselling.

Extreme DUI and Aggravated DUI

Man in a car at night with a beer and cop lights

In Arizona, the higher the BAC, the harsher the sentence. For DUIs with a BAC of .15 or higher, regardless of whether this was a first offense, the driver will be charged with an extreme DUI. Extreme DUI penalties are much harsher than those of regular DUIs.

An aggravated DUI is classed as a felony rather than a misdemeanor and the penalties become much harsher including increased mandatory jail time, higher fines, and longer license suspensions, up to revocation. A third of subsequent DUI charge within 7 years will automatically be charged as an aggravated DUI. Aggravated DUIs can also occur when the driver is charged with a DUI while their license was suspended or revoked, while they had an ignition interlock device installed, if a person under 15 was present in the vehicle, or if the car was traveling in the wrong direction on a highway.

Yuma DUI and DWI Defense Attorneys

Proudly serving the people of Yuma, San Luiz, Somerton, and beyond since 1983, Territorial Law has a robust DUI and DWI defense practice. Our experienced team of attorneys understand that if you or a loved one are facing DUI or DWI charges, you’re likely unsure of what happens next and terrified of how this will affect the drivers’ future. Our experienced team will guide you through the process. We know how to help you protect yourself, your life, and your future. We will fight relentlessly for the best possible outcome. We will take the time to consider the circumstances, review the evidence, and craft the best defense strategy for you. DUI and DWI defense is not a one-size-fits-all situation, and you need an advocate you can trust. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.