Arizona’s Early Release from Prison in Felony DUI Cases

by Aaron M. Black • September 09, 2022

In Arizona’s felony DUI convictions, the offender may be released from incarceration well before finishing the criminal sentence by being placed on community supervision, similar to probation. Other states using this early release include California, Oregon, and Texas among others.

The two methods each have certain strict conditions of behavior and if any of these conditions are violated, community supervision (like probation) is halted and the felony DUI offender is returned to prison to complete the sentence.

Businessman in Jail for DUI - Open Jail Cell

Community supervision is designed to change from punishing the offender, to promoting the individual’s future law-abiding success.

Arizona eliminated parole from the state’s criminal code on New Year’s Day in 1994 and replaced it with community supervision, which can reduce the time in custody by 15 percent of the imposed sentence while under community supervision.

A lot of people go to prison for four months and then are sentenced to one to 10 years on probation, but those individuals do not serve community supervision because they are on probation. This prison term could go up to 12 months as a term of probation. If a person is sentenced to prison as a term of probation they are NOT entitled to community supervision early release. This sentence will be a FLAT sentence – in other words, every day of the sentence must be served in prison.

Clemency Board Hearings

The Arizona Board of Executive Clemency was formed to protect the safety of the public and work toward achieving a fair and effective system of justices, by ensuring that inmates who are a threat to the public safety stay in prison and those who are not a risk to society are released.

The board has five members who are appointed by the governor, and hearings are held on various dates and locations. Inmates in Arizona can have legal representation at these hearings.

Clemency Board Hearing

Common terms of community supervision include:
  • Do not commit another criminal offense
  • Pass all random alcohol and drug testing
  • Complete court-ordered alcohol or drug testing and treatment plan
  • Report regularly to a community supervision officer
  • Perform community service
  • Comply with any restraining orders
  • Do not leave the area without approval
  • Notify the community supervision officer if moving to another residence
  • Maintain gainful employment
Those who violate the conditions of community supervision are returned to prison to finish the sentence.

The national population of community supervision since 1980 has “ballooned by almost 240 percent” and as of 2016 nearly 4.5 million people are on probation or parole, which is one in 55 adults nationwide, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

The state has a financial interest in releasing prisoners early. Arizona spent $25,397 for every person incarcerated in Arizona during 2015. Now, with transferring prisoners to private prisons, the cost is $85.12 per diem, which is higher than the average $78 per diem for state run facilities.

Felony DUI offenses in Arizona

The blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) or the amount of drugs involved in an Arizona DUI does not matter when a DUI is a felony. BAC only matters in misdemeanor DUI cases. Arizona has six levels of seriousness with Class 1 the most serious.

DUI as a felony charge:

1. When the license to drive is suspended is a Class 4 felony

2. If the DUI is the third DUI conviction within seven years is a Class 4 felony

3. If a minor under 15 years old is in the vehicle is a Class 6 felony

4. A required ignition interlock device is not on the vehicle is a Class 4 felony

5. Driving on the wrong side of a highway or a residential roadway is a Class 4 felony

If a crash happens while driving impaired, endangerment, manslaughter, or vehicular homicide felony charges for those offenses will be added. These are called aggravated factors.

As a first-time aggravated DUI defendant, who is convicted, will face a mandatory minimum of four months in state prison. The maximum prison time for a Class 4 felony is 3.75 years. After release, the inmate will be placed on community supervision or a lengthy term of probation for up to 10 years. Fines and surcharges for a Class 4 felony can total $4,675.50.

Aaron M. Black Law for Executive clemency hearing representation

Should you or someone you know be imprisoned for a felony DUI, it is imperative that you have an experienced DUI defense attorney such as myself to represent you at a community supervision or probation hearing. Having legal representation will improve your chance to enter community supervision and begin to take back your life and earn your freedom.

In my long career as an aggressive DUI defense attorney, I know that good people can find themselves in legal trouble and that is why I ensure they have the best defense possible for the least disruption of your life.

At Aaron M. Black Law, you will receive personalized legal services. You will always be talking directly to me at every stage of your case.

In some cases it may be possible to reduce a Class 6 felony to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Begin your quest to be released from prison 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 that is on my website.

I defend DUI cases and early release situations 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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