Published on:

Arizona’s 7 Year Extreme DUI Trend: .015% BAC Average, Not Exception

Arizona DUI Arrest Statistics

In looking back over the last six years of DUI arrest statistics released by the Arizona Governor’s Office on Highway Safety (AGOHS), we see an alarming trend in DUI arrests with Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the “Extreme” levels, which is 0.15 percent or higher. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013 the average Blood Alcohol Content has been over 0.152 percent. Initial reports released for the first quarter of 2014 are showing relentlessness in this trend. Drinking in excess of the extreme impaired driving laws has evidently become the norm, rather than the exception.

The legal limit for driving under the influence of alcohol in Arizona is 0.08 percent. However, a motorist may still be arrested if they are driving under the influence with a BAC lower than 0.08 percent if they are found to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while “impaired to the slightest degree”.Extreme DUI BAC in Arizona is .015 percent; and Super Extreme BAC is .020 percent or greater.

Causes of Extreme DUI

According to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) binge drinking is the most common form of excessive alcohol consumption. In general, binge drinking is defined as a person drinking 4 to 5 spirituous alcoholic beverages on one occasion; usually during a short period of time. One drink is measured as a 12 ounce glass of beer or wine cooler 5 ounces of wine; or 1.5 ounces of 80 proof distilled spirits or liquor.

The practice of excessive or binge drinking increases a person’s chance of physical harm due to alcohol poisoning, being involved in a serious or fatal impaired driving crash, and being arrested for Extreme DUI.

Interestingly, the CDC reports that most people who engage in binge drinking are not alcoholics and are not alcoholic dependent. We seem surprised when we hear of police officers and judges being arrested for drunk driving. But the fact is that people in all walks of life may be the subject of an Extreme DUI arrest. This includes young adults as well as senior adults, teens, parents, teachers, nurses, pilots, celebrities, professional sports players, legislators, trucker drivers, doctors, lawyers, farmers, military personnel, or faith ministry leaders. Being aware of causes and what factors increase the risk of excessive BAC levels, can help prevent extreme or any other impaired driving arrests.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified other factors that contribute to higher BAC levels. These include but are not limited to the following:

  • Increasing the number of drinks per hour
  • Higher strength proofs of alcohol
  • Lower body weights and builds
  • Drinking on an empty stomach
  • Low metabolic rate
  • Alcohol combined with medications
  • Female’s usually reach higher BAC levels than men, given the same amount of liquor during the same amount of time, due to stomach enzyme differences and lower water content in their bodies than males.
  • Persons who are ill, under a great deal of stress, or drowsy will rise to a higher level of BAC than if those factors are not present, given the same amount of alcohol

Level of Driving Impairment for Extreme DUI levels

The degree of a driver’s impairment is usually judged by the investigating officer at the DUI stop. The police use a series of roadside tests in combination with questions and observations of the driver before, during, and after the stop.

NHTSA research has concluded that drivers with a 0.15 percent or higher BAC level will experience “substantial impairment in vehicle control”. This includes impairments in attention and tasks necessary to drive, including visual and auditory abilities.

At the extreme level, the driver will experience far less muscle control, major loss of balance, and vomiting if the BAC is reached within a short periods of time.

Extreme DUI Laws in Arizona

A person is in violation of A.R.S. §28-1383 and Extreme DUI laws if they are found to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or spirituous liquor with:

  • A Blood Alcohol Content of .15 percent through .1999 percent – Extreme Influence
  • A Blood Alcohol Content of .020 percent or greater – Super Extreme Influence

Both Extreme and Super Extreme DUI offenses are Class 1 Misdemeanors, in absence of “Aggravated Factors”.

However, even though the charges are classified as misdemeanors, the criminal penalties are severe, and the higher the BAC, the more harsh the penalties.

Extreme DUI Penalties for first time conviction:

Penalties for first offense DUI 0.15%, but less than 0.199% or greater (Extreme):

  • 30 consecutive days in jail;
  • $2,500.00 in fines, fees, costs, and assessments;
  • Ignition interlock device (IID) for 1 year;
  • Alcohol or drug education, counseling, or treatment program;
  • Driver’s License suspension for at least 90 days;
  • Probation;
  • Possible Community Service and/or restitution

Penalties for first offense DUI 0.20% or greater (Super Extreme):

  • 45 consecutive days in jail;
  • $2,750.00 in fines, fees, costs, and assessments;
  • IID for 18 months;
  • Substance abuse counseling, or treatment program;
  • Driver’s License suspended for at least 90 days;
  • Probation;
  • Possible Community Service and/or restitution

Penalties for DUI BAC 0.015% to 0.199%- 2nd Extreme Violation within 7 years:

  • 120 days jail with 60 consecutive;
  • Fines, fees, costs, assessments up to $3,250.00
  • Driver’s license revocation for at least 1 year;
  • IID 1 year (after driver’s license is reinstated)
  • At least 30 hours of community service
  • Drug or Alcohol Education Classes or Counseling;
  • Probation;
  • Possible Community Service and or restitution

Penalties for DUI BAC 0.020% or greater – 2nd Super Extreme Violation within 7 years:

  • 180 days jail with 90 consecutive;
  • Fines, fees, costs, assessments up to $3,750.00
  • Driver’s license revocation for at least 1 year;
  • IID 2 year years (after driver’s license is reinstated)
  • At least 30 hours of community service
  • Substance abuse counseling or treatment;
  • Probation;
  • Possible Community Service and or restitution

Penalties for Third and Subsequent Impaired Driving Convictions (Extreme and Super Extreme)

Impaired driving offenses of any kind, including those under those under the extreme level, are considered “Aggravated DUI” felony charges. Penalties include but are not limited to at least:

  • 4 month prison terms for the third offense;
  • 8 month prison terms for any subsequent offense thereafter.
  • $4,000.00 fines, fees, and assessments;
  • License revocation one year;
  • IID 2 years;
  • Possible forfeiture of vehicle;
  • Restitution or community service;
  • Felony Criminal Record;
  • Loss of some civil rights including right to vote and right to possess firearms.

Defenses for Extreme and Super Extreme Impaired Driving Charges in Arizona

Any kind of impaired driving charge in Arizona is serious. Higher BAC levels and repeat offenses carry the highest punishments. If you have been arrested, you have the right to hire an attorney to defend you against your charges.

Often people think that because their BAC was to the extreme there is nothing an attorney can do to help them. To the contrary, it is even more important to retain a qualified DUI lawyer to defend their charges and protect their rights.

Defenses are multifaceted for impaired driving charges. An experienced criminal defense attorney will protect your rights, evaluate your case and tailor a defense that has potential to obtain the most favorable outcome in your case.

Examples of some common impaired driving defenses include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Constitutional Rights violations;
  • Unlawful stops by police;
  • Improper field sobriety test administration (FST);
  • Unreliable or invalid FST results;
  • Inaccurate breath tests results or readings;
  • Lack of calibration, maintenance or maintenance records for breath machines;
  • Breath results inaccurate due to contamination, other external, or medical factors;
  • Discrepancies in police DUI chemical testing results to independent results;
  • Mishandling, improper processing, or storage of chemical evidence

These are just a sample of some common areas where defenses may apply to a particular case. Successful challenges of weak evidence can lead to dismissal, reduction of charges, mitigation of penalties, and other favorable outcomes in DUI cases.

DUI Attorney in Tempe, Arizona

If you have been charged with any DUI in Tempe, Mesa, Phoenix, or other East Valley Cities, contact the Law Office of James Novak, for a free consultation to discuss your matter and defense options.

Additional Resources: