Arizona’s harsh DUI laws call for mandatory jail sentences even for a first time offense. In addition, certain circumstances may lead to a DUI being upgraded to a felony as an aggravated DUI. An aggravated DUI is a class 4 felony when a driver who committed a DUI:
• Had a suspended or revoked license
• Had two previous DUI convictions within the last seven years
• Violated or circumvented an ignition interlock requirement
If a DUI was committed while a minor under the age of 15 was in the vehicle, it is a class 6 felony aggravated DUI.
Penalties for a Class 4 Felony DUI
A class 4 felony DUI carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 120 days in jail. Additional penalties include:
• Recommended 1 to 3.75 years in prison
• Fine of up to $150,000
• Revoked license for 3 years
• Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device for 2 years
• Substance abuse treatment
• Court surcharges
Penalties for a Class 6 Felony DUI
A class 6 felony DUI carries similar penalties to a class 4 felony DUI, but the period of incarceration is different. The recommended prison sentence is 4 months to 2 years. The mandatory minimum sentence is determined by the underlying misdemeanor offense that corresponds to the driver’s BAC. For a BAC less than 0.08 but less than 0.15 that would have been charged as a misdemeanor DUI, the minimum sentence is ten days in jail. For a BAC of 0.15 or higher that would have been charged as an extreme DUI, the minimum sentence is 30 days in jail.
Defending an Aggravated DUI Charge
Because the factors leading to an aggravated DUI charge are largely black and white, a typical defense attacks the underlying DUI charge itself. That is, the defense attorney may present factual arguments that the defendant’s BAC was not above the legal limit at the time they were actually driving, or they may present legal arguments that the police did not have reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop or probable cause to conduct sobriety testing.
If a person is convicted, one of the most frequently asked questions is how to avoid the mandatory minimum sentences. The short answer is that the minimum sentence is just that and cannot be further reduced. One of the only exceptions is that the 10 day minimum jail sentence for a DUI with a BAC of 0.08 to 0.15 may be reduced to one day if the defendant participates in a substance abuse treatment program. However, the defense may present mitigating factors to show that the judge should impose a sentence at or near the minimum instead of the maximum penalties.
The attorneys at the Schill Law Group have years of experience in DUI cases both as defense attorneys and as former prosecutors. We understand the ins and outs of DUI law and how to use it to your advantage. If you choose our firm, you will work with one attorney from start to finish and will never be charged an additional fee to exercise your constitutional right to go to trial. Call today to schedule a consultation.