DUI Arizona First Offense Laws

by Aaron M. Black • December 07, 2023

This is the second installment of a four part series concerning Arizona DUI Law 2024 to explain a first time DUI offense and the consequences if convicted.

DUI Arizona 1st Offense Laws


In our previous post on Arizona DUI Laws 2024 we covered...

What Are the DUI Laws in Arizona?

There are several, including Admin Per Se, the Implied Consent provision in AZ DUI laws, Zero Tolerance, Actual Physical Control, and underage drinking.

There are different types of DUI cases based on the BAC test results (Blood Alcohol Concentration) which include Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI, and Aggravated DUI. There are even rules regarding drug content in your system and being under the influence of any intoxicating substance including prescription drug DUI's.

Prescription Drugs

The strictness of Arizona DUI laws is legendary.Blood Alcohol Concentration

What qualifies as a DUI in AZ?

Driving a motor vehicle and exceeding the baseline blood alcohol concentration standard of 0.08 percent. A BAC as low as 0.05 may be considered with other competent evidence by police officers at a traffic stop in determining whether or not you are impaired to the slightest degree under ARS 28-1381(A)(1). Note an officer must have reasonable suspicion before stopping you.

Note underage drinking, a Baby DUI, occurs for drivers under the age of 21 if their BAC is .01 or higher.

What Does "Impaired to the Slightest Degree" Mean?

Under Arizona Revised Statute §28-1381(A)(1) a person who is a bit tipsy when stopped by law enforcement 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.

Should a First DUI be Taken Seriously?

Yes! DUI's are criminal cases in AZ. Besides the humiliation of being labeled a drunk driver, mandatory minimum jail time, jail costs, criminal charges, court costs, legal penalties, administrative penalties, SR-22 insurance, driver's license suspension, professional license revocation, restricted permit, being assigned a probation officer, possible home detention, suspension of voting, and 2nd amendment privileges for felony convictions all await you for exceeding the blood alcohol level, getting caught by a law enforcement officer and facing Arizona DUI charges which are some of the strictest DUI laws in the nation.

First Offense DUI in AZ

First Offense DUIA first-time DUI offense places the driver in an unfamiliar arena of police contact, submitting to a field sobriety test, and arrest. The booking process at the police station is embarrassing with fingerprinting and a photograph.

Court proceedings are entering a plea at the arraignment, pretrial motions, potential plea agreement negotiations, a trial by jury or a judge, sentencing if convicted, and the appeal process.

An experienced DUI attorney can help you through the process after receiving Arizona first-time DUI charges.

First-time offenders, in the first contact with authorities, those who answer questions are placing evidence in the officer’s arrest report even though a constitutional right allows a suspect to take the Fifth Amendment and remain silent to avoid self-incrimination.
First time impaired driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious in the misdemeanor range and how a first time DUI is charged. A second DUI, is considered having another DUI within a seven year period. A DUI can also be a felony Aggravated DUI if it is...
  1. Felony DUI Means Jail Timea third DUI within 7 years
  2. a DUI with wrong way driving
  3. a DUI while your license is suspended
  4. a DUI while you are ordered to have the interlock installed in a car
  5. or you receive a DUI while there is a child under the age of 15 in the vehicle

Next, let's cover "What is the punishment for DUI in Arizona?"

What Is the Penalty for First-Time Misdemeanor DUI Conviction in Arizona?

Arizona's DUI laws are strict. The unwanted consequences of a first offense DUI for a standard first-time misdemeanor DUI Class 1 conviction requires spending time in county jail time up to a maximum of six months and a minimum jail sentence of not less than ten consecutive days.

However, on a minimum DUI impaired to the slightest degree or with a .08 BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration), the time in custody can be as short as one day, with the other nine days suspended upon the completion of court-ordered alcohol screening and education.

Note, that the driver's BAC may not exceed .04 at the time of the DUI arrest by police officers while driving a commercial vehicle as the limit for a commercial driver license is half of a normal drivers license.

Your Arizona driving license is suspended for 30 days, followed by a driving privilege restriction of only traveling to work or school for 60 days before the license can be reinstated at the defendant’s expense.

Drivers License Suspension

DUI FinesBase fines for a first-time standard DUI offense total more than $1,500, plus jail costs for your mandatory minimum jail time.

Certified ignition interlock device

The Arizona Motor Vehicle Division will require the use of a certified ignition interlock device, a breath alcohol testing instrument, to prevent driving if the defendant had anything to drink—just one more expense and part of the DUI penalties assessed by the state for exceeding the legal limit. This order will be for one year. However, if you do not have a prior DUI, you were not in a car accident, and you do not have any violations with the interlock, MVD may allow you to remove it after 6 months.

The state also has the authority to order you to spend time performing community service as part of the punishment, and attending an alcohol treatment program may also be required.

First-time felony Aggravated DUI offense

A felony Aggravated DUI is charged if the defendant was: driving on a suspended license; was driving on the wrong side of the road; court ordered to have the ignition interlock installed, or if a child younger than 15 was a passenger.

Consequences of a first time felony Aggravated DUI

An aggravated DUI with a child in the vehicle under 15 years-old is a Class 6 felony. The presumptive penalty for Class 6 felony is a year in state prison for your jail time, and if an aggravated factor is proven the prison sentence is two years. All other Aggravated DUI charges are Class 4 felonies. A Class 4 felony raises the presumptive sentence to 2.5 years in prison.

Aggravated DUI for having a suspended license or driving the wrong way require a minimum of 4 months in prison if convicted as a term or probation. An Aggravated DUI sentence can also carry a term of probation for up to 10 years.

Having an aggravated DUI first offense reduced by an experienced Arizona DUI attorney can literally give you months to years of your life back.

Felony sentences have discretion under Arizona’s sentencing guidelines, which have ranges of seriousness, mitigated, presumptive, and aggravated. Mitigated is applied for a first felony DUI conviction.

Beyond incarceration, felons lose the Second Amendment right to own and possess a firearm and the right to vote in local and federal elections. Landing a job can be difficult, and landlords can refuse to enter into a rental contract for an apartment or home. Criminal penalties for DUI offenders are no joke.

Aggravated DUI, prior DUIs, subsequent offenses or offenses classified as second offense extreme DUI, or second offense super extreme DUI or even a third offense DUI violation will result in tougher sentencing.

As we said, the DUI penalties in Arizona law are an extreme treatment for DUI offenders exceeding the legal limit for alcohol concentration. If you are facing DUI charges, hiring experienced DUI defense attorneys may result in the reduction of or even getting charges dismissed depending on the circumstances of your Arizona DUI charges.

DUI Traffic Stop

Common first time DUI defenses

Several defenses are available under Arizona law. Some of the most common DUI defenses include...
  • The traffic officer may not have a legal reason to stop the vehicle.
  • If 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.
  • The blood collection may not have been handled correctly and became contaminated.

All cases are unique, so 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, it is imperative that you have an experienced DUI defense attorney such as myself to defend you at the earliest possible time.

The clock starts ticking on your arrest immediately, and delaying getting help can impact your outcome. For instance, you have only 30 days after your DUI arrest to request a license suspension hearing with the Arizona MVD (Motor Vehicle Department).

During my career spanning almost two decades as a DUI defense attorney, I know that good people can find themselves in legal difficulty and that is why I ensure they have the best defense possible. My goal is always to win.

While others may pawn you off to staff, Aaron M. Black Law provides personalized legal services, help, and encouragement. You will always be talking directly to me at every stage of a first 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 or at a trial. You may also request assistance by using the online contact form on my website.

As a Phoenix criminal defense attorney, I defend DUI cases throughout Arizona, including Maricopa, Pinal, Yavapai, and Coconino County Superior Courts.

Previous: What Are the DUI Laws in Arizona in 2024 Next up: Arizona DUI Laws Third Offense

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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