Arizona prosecutes DUI cases aggressively. With the number of highway and roadway fatalities reported yearly, it is not difficult to see why. Every type of DUI in Arizona, misdemeanor or felony, carries at least some incarceration, heavy fines and stringent license and ignition interlock device requirements.
What Conduct Makes DUI a Felony in Arizona?
A.R.S. §28-1383 is the controlling statute in Arizona for Aggravated DUI. Arizona criminalizes five types of conduct as Aggravated DUI:
- License Suspension while DUI per A.R.S. §28-1383(A)(1)
- Third or More DUI within 84 months per A.R.S. §28-1383(A)(2)
- Person under the age of 15 years is in the vehicle per A.R.S. §28-1383(A)(3)
- Ignition Interlock Device Required in the vehicle per A.R.S. §28-1383(A)(4)
- Driving the Wrong Way on a Highway per A.R.S. §28-1383(A)(5)
Aggravated DUI: License suspension, revocation, cancelation, restriction
Aggravated DUI under this section is a Class 4 Felony. Basically, a person committing DUI with a license suspension, revocation or restriction (for a prior DUI) commits this offense. The State typically only charges this theory if one’s license issues are for prior DUIs, but not always. And the statute does not require prior DUI issues, except for a “restriction”.
A first-time offender here faces a mandatory minimum sentence of not less than 4 months in the Arizona Department of Corrections as a term of supervised probation. Supervised probation is up to 10 years. However, a person with prior felony convictions may face up to 15 years’ prison. In addition, Aggravated DUI is a “felony moving violation” for Department of Motor Vehicle (“DMV”) and driver’s license purposes. As a result, a person convicted under this section faces a minimum one-year driver’s license revocation, which may often be longer. Indeed, there is no option for a restricted license.
Aggravated DUI: 3rd or more violation of Arizona DUI statute within 84 months
Aggravated DUI under this section is also a Class 4 Felony. This DUI theory is a felony for obvious reasons. The State has significant and compelling interests in regulating highway accidents, injuries, and death. It has been a known fact for decades that there is a direct relation to highway accidents and impaired driving.
Like the felony theory above, a first-time offender here faces a minimum mandatory 4 months department of corrections as a term of probation. A term of supervised probation could last for up to 10 years. Also, a person with prior felony convictions faces up to 15 years in prison. Like above, this is a “felony moving violation” with a minimum one-year driver’s license revocation.
Aggravated DUI: Passenger under age 15
Aggravated DUI under this theory is a Class 6 Felony. Basically, it is a felony in Arizona to commit a DUI with anybody 14 years of age and younger in the vehicle. Here, the State has an interest in protecting minor’s safety. Indeed, this theory recognizes a minor’s inability to protect themselves from an adult’s poor decisions.
Unlike the two sections discussed above, this theory does not require a mandatory minimum prison sentence as a term of probation. Rather, a first-time offense carries the same consequences as a first-offense misdemeanor DUI. However, one is exposed to up to 10 years supervised probation. And a person with a history of felony convictions faces a maximum sentence of 5.75 years in prison. Significantly less than the 15 years for the Class 4 felony DUIs. This theory is also a felony moving violation and is subject to a year-long license revocation. However, the DMV grants restricted licenses after a 90-day “hard suspension”.
Aggravated DUI: Ignition Interlock Required
This section is a Class 4 Felony. An ignition interlock requires a person to provide a breath sample before and during driving a vehicle. Indeed, the Arizona DMV requires installation after all DUI convictions. And it is a felony for a person to drive impaired while required to have it. The State’s compelling interest to make this conduct felonious is to protect the public from a person who has shown DUI predispositions. And bypasses safeguards in place to protect against them.
Unlike the above Class 4 felony sections, there is no requirement for prison as a probation term here. However, a person faces up to 10 years supervised probation. Also, one with felony priors faces up to 15 years in prison. Moreover, this is a felony moving violation and a conviction will result in a minimum one-year revocation of one’s driver’s license.
Aggravated DUI: Driving Wrong Way on Highway
This section is also a Class 4 Felony. It is important to note what “wrong way on highway” means. A.R.S. § 28-1383(P)(2) states that:
Wrong way means vehicular movement that is in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic. Wrong way does not include median crossing or a collision where a motor vehicle comes to a stop facing the wrong way.
The section quoted directly above eliminates a State felony prosecution for Aggravated DUI if an impaired driver crosses over the median into another lane of travel. Rather, the plain language makes behavior an Aggravated DUI if a driver enters the wrong way on a freeway or highway while impaired. The State’s interest in criminalizing this behavior as felonious is obvious. Impaired drivers entering Arizona freeways is alarming and places society at risk of serious injury or death in high-speed collisions.
This section requires a first-time offender to serve not less than 4 months prison as a term of probation. A person faces up to 10 years supervised probation also. A person with prior felony convictions faces 15 years prison for a conviction under this section. Also, the State revokes a person’s license for at least 1 year.
To understand and appreciate the full complexities and details of Arizona Aggravated DUI law, one should retain an attorney experienced in these matters. Jeremy L. Huss has been lead trial counsel in many DUI jury trials and has significant experience to protect the interests and rights of anybody charged with Aggravated DUI in Arizona.Categories:: DUI