Holiday Season 2023 DUI Enforcement In Arizona

by Aaron M. Black • December 18, 2023

Bartender with Santa hat for the holidays‘Tis the season to be jolly… but keep the merry in Christmas and the happy in New Year celebrations by arranging a safe ride home. Choosing to risk driving home if impaired may result in an introduction into Arizona’s criminal justice system.

Nearly 90 law enforcement agencies recently trained 1,800 officers to participate in the December holiday season and made almost 2,000 DUI arrests by the end of December.

A driver does not need to be driving to get arrested for impairment. This is called “actual physical control.”

Keys in a cars ignition switchMotorists who leave the road and park to sleep it off can be charged with a DUI if the engine is running to keep the heater working. All that is needed is for the ignition key to be handy, such as in the ignition or in your pocket or purse.

Also, in Arizona, drivers can be arrested for DUI even if they think they are sober after having a few drinks under Arizona's zero tolerance policy DUI laws. This law also applies to illicit and prescription drugs, including medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.


DUI enforcement

Authorities use two tactics: checkpoints and increased roving patrols in search of those who should not be behind the wheel. Law enforcement agencies roll out enforcement, particularly on New Year’s Eve, and one of the tactics they use is patrolling areas with bars watching for impaired patrons leaving the establishment.
Officers trained to detect impairment by drugs are part of the holiday enforcement.
DUI Enforcement

Police must have a legal reason to conduct a traffic stop, such as weaving or making wide turns, not signaling lane changes, or even driving with a burned-out brake light bulb, provides the probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain a driver.

Authorities set up sobriety checkpoints at various locations, sometimes even announcing the location. Officers randomly detain drivers looking for evidence of impairment to the “slightest degree.” They look into the car and can check the person’s driving license for suspension, revocation, or expired licenses.

Sobriety checkpoint officers do not need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain a driver because officers randomly choose what vehicles to stop. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that these checkpoints do not violate the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution which protects us from unlawful searches and seizures.

DUI charges

The baseline of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious of the misdemeanor offenses. The extreme DUI range begins at a BAC of 0.15. A super extreme DUI begins at 0.20 The Extreme range carries far more serious jail time and expensive fines.

Punishments for a first misdemeanor DUI

A first-time Class 1 misdemeanor DUI conviction requires spending time in county jail, up to a maximum of six months and a minimum of 10 days. However, on a minimum DUI impaired to the slightest degree of a .08 BAC, 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.

The license to drive is suspended for 30 days, followed by a restricted license for traveling to work or school for 60 days before the license can be reinstated at the defendant’s expense.

Suspended Drivers License

Base fines total more than $1,500 plus the cost of jail. The Motor Vehicle Division requires the installation of a certified ignition interlock device to prevent driving if the defendant has anything to drink. The court will also order alcohol screening, education, and a treatment program at your expense. Serving time in service to the community may also be part of the punishment.

Penalties for a Class 6 felony DUI

DUI with child in the carThe penalties for a Class 6 felony DUI (driving with a child in your vehicle under the age of 15), the least serious in the felony class, is a year in state prison, substantial fines, and a criminal record that will follow the person for life and prevent the person from the right to own and possess a firearm, the right to vote, and trouble finding employment and renting an apartment.

Should an impaired holiday celebrant cause property damage or injure or kill someone, prosecutors can file other serious charges, such as manslaughter, and the victim’s survivors can sue for wrongful death and financial damages in civil court.


DUI defenses

It is crucial that you decline to answer any questions because anything you say will be used against you. Everyone has the Constitutional right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning.

Common DUI defenses in the State of Arizona:

  • The arresting officer did not have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop you.
  • The field sobriety test was not performed correctly.
  • The breathalyzer test result was inaccurate because the device was out of calibration.
  • The blood test is invalid because the sample was tainted
  • The arresting officer failed to recite the Miranda rights advising you that you have the right to not answer any of the officer’s questions and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.

All cases are unique, so other DUI defenses may be available.


Aaron M. Black Law for DUI defense

Should you or a loved one be arrested in a roving patrol or a checkpoint for a DUI, it is imperative that you have an experienced Phoenix DUI defense attorney such as myself to defend you. In my extensive career as an aggressive DUI defense attorney, I have learned that good people can find themselves in legal trouble, which is why I work to build the best defense possible. My goal is always to win a dismissal of the charge.

To do that, I will scrutinize the state’s evidence and the personnel records of the investigators involved, looking for inconsistencies, omissions, and errors. I also will work to develop information and evidence that is favorable to your case.

At Aaron M. Black Law, you will receive personalized legal services and encouragement. You will always talk directly to me at every step of your case.

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 trial. Or use the online contact form on my website.

I defend DUI cases throughout Phoenix and Scottsdale, 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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