How can I be Charged with an Aggravated DUI in Phoenix, AZ?

by Aaron Black • March 19, 2020

Aggravated DUI FelonyA conviction for any level of a DUI is bad enough in Arizona but if you’re charged with an aggravated DUI it opens the door to more serious trouble by raising a DUI from a class 1 misdemeanor to a class 4 felony or a class 6 felony both with mandatory time in jail or prison.

Law enforcement has several ways to attach an aggravated allegation and its enhanced penalties under Arizona Revised Statutes §28-1383.

Aggravated DUI Enhancements

Specific criteria are in place for an aggravated DUI felony enhancement, which is based on what the officer sees when you’re pulled over, compared to a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) that is used for determining the level of intoxication in DUI cases.

These are Aggravated DUI class 4 felonies:
  • Driving while knowing your license is suspended, canceled, revoked, refused or restricted.
     
  • Repeat offenders who have a third DUI conviction within 84 months of the first.
     
  • Being charged with a DUI while currently under an order to have the ignition interlock installed.
     
  • Driving the wrong way on a highway while under the influence of alcohol and impaired to the slightest degree.
The class 6 felonies:
  • A class six felony is charged if a minor under the age of 15 was in the vehicle with an impaired driver.

Aggravated DUI Penalties

Raising a DUI to the aggravated felony means more severe punishments including mandatory jail time.
  • A mandatory minimum of four months of incarceration for the class 4 felonies, except for driving without the ignition interlock
     
  • Suspension of the privilege to drive
     
  • Steep fines up to six figures
     
  • A term of probation that restricts your freedom.
     
  • You may also be ordered by the court to work many hours in a community service project.
     
  • Increased car insurance premiums, and paying for SR-22 insurance, which tells the DMV if your insurance lapses.
     
  • Substance abuse screening and attending a minimum of 16 hours of alcohol abuse classes at your own expense.
     
  • The court or Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) ordered the installation of an ignition interlock device that prevents the engine from starting if the device detects alcohol on your breath.

Aggravated DUI Consequences

A felony conviction can invade your life by the loss of your right to vote in elections, to possess and carry a firearm, revocation or suspension of a professional license required by teachers, physicians, financial consultants and other professions regulated by professional organizations.

A felony also makes it difficult to get or keep employment and rent a place to live. A felony conviction will stain your reputation in the community. Your conviction becomes a public record for anyone to see and negative news media coverage happens in severe crashes and with high profile people.

Being jailed for at least four months and perhaps longer can result in your employer terminating you and college students being expelled from their schools.

Actual Physical Control

It’s important to know that an aggravated charge can be filed even if you weren’t driving and the vehicle doesn’t need to be moving either. The law only requires that you were in “actual physical control” of the vehicle under Arizona Revised Statute §28-1381. But the law doesn’t define what actual physical control means.

It’s up to a jury to determine if actual physical control was reached by addressing a number of factors, including these:
  • Was the ignition turned on?
  • Where was the ignition key?
  • Was the engine running?
  • Where and in what position was the occupant in the vehicle?
  • Was the occupant asleep or awake?
  • Where was the vehicle stopped?
  • Were the vehicle’s headlights on?
  • Were the windows up or down?
  • Did the driver voluntarily leave the roadway?

Defenses for Aggravated DUI

If you’re facing this charge, you’ll need an experienced and aggressive DUI defense attorney at your side to challenge the state’s evidence and protect your legal rights. All cases have individual fact patterns and several standard defenses are available under the law.
  • Did law enforcement have the legal authority to make the traffic stop by having a probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a law was broken or about to be broken?
     
  • Did the traffic officer violate your constitutional rights by failing to inform you of your right to remain silent so you won’t convict yourself and your right to have an attorney with you during questioning?
     
  • Were the field sobriety tests inaccurate or administered improperly?
     
  • Were the breathalyzer, blood, or chemical tests flawed in some manner?
     
  • Did the police report have factual errors or omissions?
     
  • Did you have an order to install the ignition interlock?
     
  • Can the state prove you knew or should have known, that your license was suspended?

Free, Confidential Legal Consultation

If you or a loved one is under investigation or has been arrested for aggravated DUI anywhere in the greater Phoenix area, you should immediately arrange for a confidential legal review of your case with a DUI Defense Attorney that is experienced in handling DUI cases.

Contact Phoenix DUI Defense Attorney, Aaron Black or call (480) 729-1683 for a free legal consultation.

I’ll weigh your side of the event, explain the applicable law, and answer your questions.

I am available day and night all week and on holidays and I defend aggravated DUI cases in Arizona’s justice, city, county, state and federal courts.
 
In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to inform clients and potential clients I am still available for consultations. I am always available by phone, text and/or email. We can also use Facetime for social distancing. The criminal justice system is not stopping due to COVID-19.


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