Arizona DUI Laws

by Aaron M. Black • November 03, 2023

This begins a four-part series explaining Arizona’s DUI laws, starting with what are the DUI laws in Arizona 2024, followed by DUI Arizona First Offense, Second Offense DUI Arizona, and Third offense DUI laws in Arizona, and the consequences if convicted.

Arizona’s DUI Law in 2024

Arizona DUI laws are some of the strictest laws in the United States. Arizona DUI penalties for drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs under the state’s no tolerance policy, consisting of impaired to the slightest degree, actual physical control and underage drinking, are harsh criminal penalties.

Arizona DUI Laws

Implied Consent

First, remember that Arizona law has an Admin Per Se / Implied Consent provision. When you apply for a motor vehicle license, you are agreeing to consent to a chemical test for impairment if stopped by a law enforcement officer. Many don't know about this provision in AZ DUI laws.

Arizona’s Zero Tolerance / Slightest degree laws

Under Arizona Revised Statute §28-1381(A)(1) a person who is a bit tipsy faces the same charge and consequences as someone who is legally drunk with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent, the state’s baseline level. This is impairment to the “slightest degree” and can be charged if there is any detectable amount of alcohol in an alcohol screening. It does not matter how little a person has to drink. Any amount of impairment fits the “slightest degree” law.

Actual physical control of a vehicle

A motorist does not need to be driving at the time of arrest. All that is necessary for a conviction is to be in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while impaired and under the influence of alcohol under Arizona Revised Statute §28-1381.

This law applies if the DUI suspect had “present or imminent” control of a motorized vehicle, including electric scooters. Numerous situations comprise the definition. A motorist who is stopped at the side of the road or in a parking lot can attract an officer’s attention to investigate.

To be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle is determined by several factors. These include...
  • Car Key In IgnitionWas the vehicle’s engine running?
  • Was the key in the ignition?
  • Where was the key?
  • Was the key on the person's body?
  • Was the driver asleep or awake?
  • Where was the driver positioned in the vehicle?

Avoiding this charge can happen if the engine was stopped, the ignition key was not handy, or even outside of the vehicle, such as placed on a tire or in the trunk. Simply saying there was no intent to drive will not avoid a driver’s arrest.

Underage drinking

Underage DrinkingMinors are violating Arizona’s DUI law for nearly any amount of liquor consumption as the alcohol concentration for underage drivers can be as low as 0.01 to 0.02. This is commonly referred to as underage drinking or a Baby DUI. They also will be charged with underage drinking under Arizona Revised Statute 4-244(34)(41). The exception is if alcohol is used in religious or ceremonial services. Underage possession or consumption of alcohol is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The driver’s license of a convicted minor can be suspended for as long as as two years.

Blood-alcohol concentration (BAC)

BAC determines how an Arizona DUI is classified. A blood test will be performed after your arrest by a police officer.

The baseline blood alcohol concentration standard in AZ is 0.08 percent. But the BAC can be even lower in some cases at 0.05 may be considered with other competent evidence in determining the guilt or innocence as to if someone is impaired to the slightest degree under ARS 28-1381(A)(1).

The legal limit for commercial vehicles and long haul truckers with a commercial driver's license is an even lower standard of 0.04 percent, and for underage drinkers, it's any amount, no matter how small.

It does not matter how little liquor a person has had to drink. Any level of impairment fits the slightest degree doctrine. The slightest level is determined by the traffic officer trained in detecting impairment and alcohol intoxication.

Driving a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs.

The DUI law also applies to any illegal drug and even prescription drugs, including medical marijuana and vapes. Driving while under the influence of any vapor releasing substance or any combination of liquor, drugs, or vapor releasing substances are all causes for a DUI. All are charged as Class 1 misdemeanors, the most serious of the misdemeanor range.

Are Arizona DUI's Misdemeanors or Felonies?

The majority of first time DUI's, a so-called first offense or regular DUI offenses, are Class 1 misdemeanors, the most serious of the misdemeanor range.

A DUI becomes a felony Aggravated DUI when a person is arrested for a DUI and either:
  1. Their license is suspended, revoked, canceled or refused;
  2. They were driving the wrong way;
  3. It is a third DUI within 84 months;
  4. The person was ordered to have an ignition interlock installed; or
  5. There was a child in the vehicle under the age of 15.

Extreme DUI in AZ

Extreme DUI charges are levied in cases where the driver’s alcohol level is above .15, but BAC test results show less than .20.

Jail Time

If arrested by police officers, receive a DUI conviction, and are sentenced by a judge, you'll receive no less than 30 days of jail time for your first-time DUI arrest at the .15 level.
A second DUI conviction within 84 months of an extreme DUI will result in a minimum jail time of 120 days if a .15 BAC and a maximum of 6 months.


Your privilege to drive will be taken away for 90 days (driver's license will be suspended) for your first offense.

A 2nd offense will result in driving privileges being revoked for one year. However, after 45 days you would be able to get a restricted license with the ignition interlock and SR22 insurance.

Arizona’s Extreme Dui Penalties

  • Minimum fines of over $2,500 for a first offense
  • Fines over $3,700 for a second offense
  • Addition of an IID (Certified Ignition Interlock Device) will be required on any vehicle you drive as a penalty for those who are convicted of a DUI
  • You may be required to obtain SR22 insurance
  • You may be required to attend alcohol treatment or education classes
  • Possible community service for a first offense
  • 30+ hours of mandatory community service or community restitution for a second offense
  • Possible probation up to 5 years

Super Extreme DUI in AZ

A Super Extreme DUI is charged for a blood alcohol content on your blood test of greater than .20.

Jail Time

If arrested by police officers, convicted, and sentenced by a judge, DUI offenders will be sentenced to at least 45 days of jail time for your first-time DUI Arrest, with a maximum of 6 months in jail.

A second offense of a super extreme DUI will result in jail time of 180 days.


Your privilege to drive will be taken away for 90 days (driver's license will be suspended) for your first offense.

A 2nd offense will result in driving privileges being revoked for one year. However, after 45 days you would be able to get a restricted license with the ignition interlock and SR22 insurance.

Severity of Penalties Increase to...

  • Minimum fines of over $3,200 for a first offense
  • Second Time DUI offenses result in fines over $4,600
  • In addition you'll pay for your jail incarceration and possibly for monthly parole fees
  • Mandatory addition of an ignition interlock device installed on any vehicle you drive for 18 months for your first offense, 2 years for a second offense as a penalty for those who are convicted of a DUI
  • You may be required to obtain SR22 insurance.
  • Possible community service for a first offense
  • You may be required to attend alcohol treatment or education classes.
  • 30+ hours of mandatory community service or community restitution for a second offense
  • Possible probation of up to 5 years

Felony DUI

Felony DUIDUI charges that have an aggravated factor are felonies under A.R.S. § 28-1383.

Class 4 felonies are: The defendant is convicted of a third DUI within seven years of the first DUI conviction; the defendant had a suspended or a revoked driver’s license; the driver failed to have a court-ordered ignition interlocking device that prevents the engine from starting; and driving on the wrong side of the road.

A passenger younger than 15 in the vehicle is a Class 6 felony as you are now putting others' lives at risk.

Those who are impaired by alcohol or drugs and drive the wrong way on Arizona's roadways, including surface streets or highways, can be charged with a Class 4 felony.

An impaired motorist who causes a crash that kills someone in their car or another vehicle may be charged with a Class 2 felony for vehicular manslaughter, negligent homicide, or even second-degree murder.

Felony DUI Accident

Waterway enforcement

Arizona’s tough Operating Under the Influence boating laws are enforced by officers from different agencies - Arizona Game and Fish, the State Park Department, county sheriff’s deputies, and in certain places, such as Lake Havasu, the U.S. Coast Guard and federal officers. The only difference is that open liquor containers are allowed on a boat but not a car.

Common DUI defenses

Several defenses are available for a DUI arrest. The traffic officer may not have a legal reason to stop the vehicle. The officer did not recite the Miranda rights to avoid self-incrimination or the right to have an attorney involved during questioning. There may be physical ailments that eschewed the field sobriety test, and the level of intoxication can be challenged in a DUI arrest. All cases are unique, and other defenses may come into play.

Aaron M. Black Law for DUI defense

Should you or someone you care for be charged or are under investigation for a DUI, seek attorneys who specialize in DUI defense. It is imperative that you have an experienced DUI defense attorney such as myself to defend you at the earliest possible time, especially if you have a prior DUI and this is a subsequent offense.

During my almost two decade career as a DUI defense attorney, my concern has been that good people can find themselves in legal trouble. That is why I ensure they have the best defense possible. My goal is always to win a dismissal.

Aaron M. Black Law provides personalized legal services. While other attorneys may have you work with someone else on their team, you will always be talking directly to me at every stage of your DUI case. My goal is always to have all charges dismissed.

Begin your DUI defense immediately by calling 480-729-1683 at any time on any day, and I will respond promptly unless I am in court on at trial. Or use the online contact form on my website.

I defend DUI cases throughout Arizona, including Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai, and Coconino County Superior Courts.

About the Author

Aaron Black Phoenix DUI LawyerAaron Black is the founder and sole attorney of the Law Office of Aaron Black. Located in Phoenix, Arizona, his DUI and criminal defense law firm provides legal services to people who have received felony or misdemeanor charges from the state.

Aaron has developed a strong interest in defending people who have been arrested and received criminal charges for driving under the influence. With his professionalism and knowledge of Arizona DUI and criminal law, he has acted as a check and balance on the police, prosecution and courts and has protected a great number of his clients from excessive and unfair sentencing.

Along with DUI defense, Aaron handles a range of other criminal defense matters, including aggravated assault, burglary, domestic violence, drug possession, drug trafficking, fraud defense, insurance fraud, sex crimes, and white-collar crime cases.

After graduating college in 2003 from the University of Arizona, Aaron decided to pursue a law degree. He followed a family long tradition and went to the University of South Dakota School of Law where he pursued his goal of becoming a criminal defense lawyer.

After passing the Arizona and South Dakota bar exams, Aaron joined the Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender where he defended hundreds of people charged with serious criminal offenses. His work as a public defender helped him sharpen his litigation skills and gave him a unique insight into the Arizona criminal justice system.

Over the course of his 15-year legal career, Aaron has spent a considerable amount of time in both Arizona justice, municipal, state and federal courts. He has argued over 50 jury trials, tried over 100 bench trials and has become one of the highest-rated criminal and DUI defense attorneys in Phoenix and the surrounding areas. He has received a 10/10 rating from the legal directory Avvo because of his legal background and successful case record. Since 2014, he has received the Super Lawyer rating for his work as a Phoenix DUI Attorney and criminal defense attorney.

You can review Aaron’s Attorney Bio page for more information about his background, education and experience as a Phoenix DUI and criminal defense attorney.
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