Myths about Facing a DUI Charge in Arizona

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Being charged with driving under the influence is a serious legal matter in every state. All states have unified the .08 blood alcohol content level as a presumption of intoxication but the associated legal penalties with a conviction differ significantly from state to state. Sometimes penalties are relatively administrative and standard for a first conviction, then they are enhanced with subsequent convictions.

In addition, look back periods for determining the enhancement of charges is also not consistent, ranging from 7 to 10 years depending on the state. Most defendants do not realize the severity and potential long-term outcome of a DUI conviction, and often they attempt to deal with their court dates without solid legal representation and merely plead guilty as though they have no defense in the case.

It is always essential to have an experienced DUI attorney when going to court for impaired driving because the outcome has a significant impact on the future of all defendants. Here are a few myths people accept regarding DUI cases in Arizona.

Texting and Driving in Arizona

Intoxicated driving is a standard traffic charge.

A charge of driving under the influence is not a mere traffic violation.

It is a serious criminal charge in the state of Arizona, and prosecutors are serious about making the charges stick. There are also mandatory minimum penalties in every aspect of the punishment, which is a comprehensive approach in Arizona.

Prosecutors often have little room to plea bargain a conviction down, and most will not even consider this without solid legal counsel.

The law applies equally to all drivers.

The standard for a charge conviction in a typical passenger vehicle case for an individual over 21 years of age is set at .08 BAC.  But any level of intoxication while driving is a violation of Arizona law due to the restrictions on alcohol use for those under age 21. And commercial drivers are held to a .04 BAC standard when operating a vehicle, and this does not necessarily apply only to those driving tractor-trailer rigs. There are varying degrees of commercial driver licenses, and all classes are set at the .04 BAC standard.

First offenders do not receive a jail sentence.

Arizona impaired driving law is indeed one of the strictest, if not the most restrictive, in the United States. All convicted individuals are required to spend a minimum of one day in jail, along with nine additional suspended days of jail. However, judges have upward latitude regarding potential incarceration periods, and it is possible to receive the full 10-day sentence recommended by the prosecutor and accepted by the court without having an experienced criminal defense lawyer representing the case. The allowed 9-day suspension is not mandatory.

Minimum penalties are the standard for first offence charges.

Courts in Arizona are not required to issue the basic minimum punishments for a conviction, and prosecutors often have set policy for dealing with cases that exceed minimums in every aspect. Penalties are determined by the specifics of the case, and reasonable doubt is difficult to establish without solid legal counsel.

Defendants are not required to have legal representation.

All defendants in an impaired driving charge in Arizona are required by law to have legal counsel because some jail time is mandatory.  This is actually set by federal precedent for anyone who may receive a jail term of any amount in the United States. It is an adequate counsel requirement. A defendant can waive that legal right to counsel  A public defender will be appointed to represent a defendant, but only if the defendant is financially eligible under the court’s guidelines. Public advocates often have huge caseloads and limited time to devote to one particular case. It’s always best to have a private criminal defense lawyer who understands the implications of an intoxicated driving charge, who can spend the proper time on a case.

These are just a few of the concerns and myths that defendants should consider before deciding to plead guilty to an impaired driving charge regardless of the strength of the state’s case. In fact, the more severe cases or felony DUI cases require the most effective and aggressive criminal defense measures. A conviction assuredly has a lasting effect on the life of the defendant, including completing alcohol or drug education and having an ignition interlock device installed in the vehicle at their own expense. Never accept the idea that you have no defense in your case. If you are charged with a DUI in Arizona, you should call Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, for solid and aggressive legal representation.

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