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Arizona’s “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed” DUI Enforcement Heats Up

Extreme & Aggravated DUI on Priority Arrest List; but all Impaired Drivers at Risk

The Arizona Department of Public Safety announced today that it expects heavy travel traffic in the state this week.  Officers will be looking out for motorists driving impaired due to drugs or alcohol, distracted, drowsy, and impatient driving. History reveals that these factors result in arrests, and have proven to cause serious injury and deadly crashes.

During the winter months, the state of Arizona draws many visitors for its warm sunny weather, to visit family and friends, and to enjoy the many outdoor activities and attractions our sunny state has to offer. This is particularly true around the holidays.

Arizona has earned a reputation for being a leader in DUI enforcement, and having some of the toughest impaired driving laws and punishments in the country.  What might be legal the state you have traveled from, might not be lawful in Arizona.

If you are a new driver to Arizona, visiting for the holidays, or in town for the 2015 Super Bowl, you should be aware of impaired driving laws, and increased DUI and Law enforcement

“Drive Hammered Get Nailed” – Campaign Apply to all Impaired Drivers  

The state is the midst of its 29th annual DUI enforcement Campaign for the end of year holidays.   So if you are driving in Arizona this holiday season you will see electronic billboards that read “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed”.  The signs and media announcements are warning drivers to stay off the road if they plan to drink as part of their holiday festivities.

The “Drive Hammered…Get Nailed” message used in the Arizona’s DUI enforcement campaigns, on signs, bill boards and in the media for over last two decades has often been misunderstood. Some motorists perceived it as applying only to those motorists who are “falling down drunk” or “hammered” are at risk of DUI arrest. But the fact is, that it applies to all impaired drivers. A person can be arrested for DUI even if their BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08 percent in Arizona.  That is the case if their driving abilities are “impaired to the slightest degree” by drugs or alcohol in violation of A.R.S. 28 – 1381 (1) of Arizona State Law.   Also, impaired driving arrests are not limited to driving under the influence of alcohol. A motorist can also be prosecuted if they are under the influence of drugs in violation of A.R.S. 28 – 1381 (1) (3).

Arizona Efforts for Increased DUI Enforcement during the Holidays

A few weeks ago, the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AGOHS) released the following DUI enforcement statistics that reflected an increase in over last year in DUI categories. They include Extreme DUI, Aggravated DUI (Felony), and the average Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels for drivers that were arrested for impaired driving.   The average BAC for an impaired driver arrested was .0152 percent, in violation of A.R.S. 28 -1382 Arizona’s Extreme DUI Laws.

Law enforcement officials generally respond to these statistics with vigilance and increased law enforcement efforts.  Consequently, drivers can expect heightened presence in police identification, arrests, and prosecution of Extreme DUI and Felony DUI charges.   Increased Police DUI enforcement generally includes DUI Safety Checkpoints. This is where drivers are stop randomly at a predetermined location to seek out motorists impaired due to alcohol or drugs.  Arizona has adopted many of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration NHTSA Guidelines for DUI checkpoints.  As part of these guidelines police are required to stop vehicles according to a mathematical formula that is decided in advance by police agency authorities and city officials.

For example, Police may stop every vehicle or use a regular interval such as every other vehicle or every fifth vehicle. Arizona conducts these checkpoints at least once per month, and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) states that the costs of conducting a checkpoint average about $8,900 although checkpoints reduce alcohol-related fatalities by at least 15 percent and save approximately $62,500 per checkpoint.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that checkpoints reduced alcohol-related fatal, injury, and property damage crashes by about 20 percent each. Sobriety checkpoints are designed and publicized more to discourage impaired driving rather than result in increased DUI arrests.

Another police enforcement strategy you will likely see is a large number of police officers saturating a specific geographic area. This usually takes place in traffic routes where a larger number of impaired motorists are expected to be driving. The police officers usually patrol in higher numbers, than those found at safety checkpoints.

During come saturation patrols, DPS may provide additional resources to assist with the processing of motorists arrested for DUI so officers can return to patrol duty much more quickly after making an arrest.

All of these efforts are designed to have a deterrent effect of impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol, as well as violations of other criminal and traffic violations.

According to the Arizona Republic, roughly 4,000 drivers have been arrested for drunken driving in the holidays for the past several years.  If drivers know they will be consuming alcohol it’s important to plan ahead.  Drivers who plan to drink alcoholic beverages should make alternative arrangements beforehand for a designated driver or other alternative arrangements for transportation, to avoid driving while under the influence of alcohol.  If you didn’t plan to drink, but did, you should consider calling a taxi, or other trusted person to drive you home.

Arizona DUI Laws and Penalties

DUI convictions can result in serious adverse impacts on a person’s life, freedom and future. Criminal penalties for any impaired driving conviction are harsh.  All Misdemeanor impaired driving convictions call for jail terms.  All Aggravated DUI charges (Felonies) expose a person to prison terms.

Below are some of the specific penalties for various and common types of DUI:

  • First DUI — Driving “impaired to the slightest degree” below 0.08 percent; or 0.08 percent but less than 0.15;  call for 10 consecutive days in jail a driver’s license suspension of 90 days; one year installation of ignition interlock device, $1,250.00 in fines, fees, costs and assessments; alcohol/substance abuse education, screening or counseling; and probation.
  • Second DUI — A second DUI with a prior impaired driving conviction within 7 years calls for $3,000 in fines, fees, costs and assessments;  driver’s license revocation of one year;  one year installation of ignition interlock device: and up to 90 days in jail: alcohol/substance abuse education screening or counseling; and probation.
  • Extreme DUI — A first offense violation of Extreme DUI laws with a BAC of at least 0.15 but less than 0.20 calls for a minimum of 30 days in jail;  $2,500 fines fee, and assessments;  driver’s license suspension of 90 days, one year installation of ignition interlock device, alcohol/substance abuse education screening or counseling; and probation.
  • Super Extreme DUI — A BAC of 0.20 or higher calls for calls for a minimum of 45 days in jail; $2,750.00 fines fee, and assessments; driver’s license suspension of 90 days, installation and use of ignition interlock device for 18 months after reinstatement, alcohol/substance abuse education screening or counseling; and probation.
  • Aggravated DUI — An Aggravated DUI is a Felony.  It is an impaired driving offense that involves what the state considers to be “Aggravated factors”.  These factors include a third DUI or subsequent DUI or with two prior convictions within 84 months or 7 years; a DUI while on a suspended, revoked or cancelled license; a DUI while driving with a passenger under the of 15 in the vehicle; or an impaired driving incident that resulted in a serious injury or wrongful death of another; DUI while an ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle, which may also result in a minimum fine of $750 plus surcharges.  Penalties expose a person to a minimum of 4 months in prison, $4,000.00 fines, fees, costs, and assessments, a driver’s license revocation of one year,   installation of ignition interlock device for two years, alcohol/substance abuse education screening or counseling, and possible vehicle forfeiture, and a felony criminal record. Other penalties may apply.
  • Under Age DUI – A person under the age of 21 driving with any alcohol in their system at all, regardless of whether or not they are driving impaired is in violation of Arizona’s Underage 21 Drinking laws.  Penalties for first time underage DUI conviction include two year driver’s license denial, or suspension; $500 fines, alcohol/substance abuse education, screening & counseling, and community service.

Other Consequences of DUI Convictions

In addition to criminal penalties, criminal offenses and impaired driving convictions result in civil consequences sometimes referred to as collateral consequences.  Spending time in jail or prison along with paying hefty fines is for most people, overwhelming and traumatic. Losing driving privileges at any age can be devastating as well.

But there are other adverse consequences that result from a conviction which include being suspended or terminated from job or school;  difficulty obtaining a job; inability to obtain credit , loans, or financial aid for school; adverse impacts on residency; inability to pay financial obligations or bills, lack of transportation, and adverse impacts on loved ones.

Criminal Rights for DUI Arrest

If you are arrested for DUI, keep in mind that this is only the beginning of the criminal process.

An arrest is not a conviction. Once the police have made a decision to arrest you or file a formal complaint, you are not going to change their mind. Attempting to do so will only make matters worse for you.  In fact, your stand the risk of being hit with additional charges such as resisting arrest,  aggravated assault on police, disorderly conduct or other charges. Resisting arrest can often cause bodily harm if the officer feels threatened by your actions in any way.

Here is the best way to handle the ordeal if you’ve been arrested:

  • Be cooperative during the arrest and booking process;  
  • Provide routine identification if requested at the arrest or police department;
  • Invoke your rights to remain silent, even if you have not been read your Miranda Rights;
  • Do not discuss details of your case with friends or family, or social media as they can be subpoenaed for statements that may incriminate you;
  • Consult a criminal defense attorney as soon as reasonably soon as possible

10 Common Defenses Used to Defend DUI Charges

People often wonder how an attorney can help them defend their DUI, particularly in the case of an Extreme BAC, Super Extreme, or Aggravated DUI charge. The fact is that there are many defenses that can be used to challenge evidence and defend DUI charges. If effective, they may lead to suppression of evidence, dismissal, acquittal or other favorable outcome.

Below are common defenses criminal defense attorneys may use to defend your charges:

  • No reasonable suspicion for the stop;
  • Stop was unlawful for other reasons such as Mistake of Law;
  • Challenging the validity and accuracy of Field Sobriety Tests;
  • Breathalyzer test challenges;
  • Blood Test or other Chemical Test Challenges;
  • Prior DUI charges not valid for use for increased sentencing or reclassification of current charges;
  • Miranda Warning not read;
  • Jurisdiction challenges
  • Trial Defenses
  • Other Constitutional Rights violations

The most effective way to defend your charges is have an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you.  If retained they will evaluate your case to determine the defenses strategy that will likely lead the most favorable outcome in your case.  Your defense case should be carefully tailored to the unique circumstances surrounding the incident and your arrest.

Experienced Criminal Defense for All Types of DUI Charges in Tempe, AZ

If you have been arrested for any type of DUI offense in Maricopa County, you should immediately seek the legal assistance of a highly experienced criminal defense attorney. You only have 15 days to dispute an administrative suspension of your license, and you will want to begin developing the best legal defense as soon as possible.  The most successful outcomes in cases are those that involve early and effective legal representation.

About the Author

With 17 years of DUI and criminal law experience, James has a vast amount of knowledge and litigation experience.  For the majority of his career he has exclusively defended DUI and criminal cases.  He is also a former prosecutor in Maricopa County.  He provides a free consultation, and if retained defends active clients who face active charges in Tempe, Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, Scottsdale, Phoenix, and surrounding Phoenix-metro cities.

In addition to his profound legal acumen, James Novak has also written three books about winning DUI defense strategies.  He has a baccalaureate degree in engineering that provides him with in-depth knowledge of forensics, lab testing and possible inaccuracies or errors in this aspect of the criminal process.  He also has an advanced degree in psychology which assists brings to the case a great deal of knowledge in the areas of Drug DUI defense.

He is dedicated to protecting the constitutional rights of every person he represents, and will treat everyone case, large or small with priority, and labor intensive representation.

Additional Resources

Overview on Arizona DUI Laws

Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Plan

Arizona Motor Vehicle Crash Facts 2013

Arizona DUI Enforcement Statistics (2004-2013)

National Highway Traffic and Safety

Other Articles of Interest

Holidays busy for DUI Task Force

Officers cracking down on impaired drivers

Celebrating the holidays make sure to have a designated driver