May 1, 2023

Why is Arizona so Tough on DUI Offenses?

why is arizona tough on dui offenses

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Contributors & Editors

Dane Perikly

Director of Virtual Services & DUI Education

Last Update on June 5, 2023

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Why Is Arizona So Tough On DUI Offenses?

Arizona DUI laws are one of the toughest compared to other states. You will learn why they are so strict, the tiers in which offenses are classified, and the penalties for each offense. When charged with a DUI, you should not take this lightly and work to rectify it.
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Why are Arizona DUI laws so strict?

Compared to other states, Arizona DUI is a serious offense. The reason is that DUIs kill many innocent people. Arizona has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to DUI.

Because of the highly strict DUI laws, the state of Arizona has seen a drop in DUI-related deaths. In 2021, there were 150 fatalities due to DUI-related accidents. In 2020, there were 226 fatalities in this group. Hence, there were 76 fewer deaths in 2021 than in 2020 due to tightening DUI laws and penalties for committing the crime.

Arizona is the harshest of first-time DUI offenders in all state laws. If your BAC is lower than 0.08 and a police officer believes you are too impaired to operate a vehicle, you can be charged with a DUI.

What are the penalties for Arizona DUI?

Arizona DUI laws and offenses fall under four different tiers in Arizona. The tiers are as follows:

  • Standard DUI.
  • Extreme DUI.
  • Super Extreme DUI.
  • Aggravated DUI.

Each offense goes from serious to much more serious in the sequence listed. The penalties are based on the level of your BAC and how severe a vehicular accident could have been if it did not happen. If an accident occurred

Standard DUI

A standard DUI encompasses if you are driving over the designated blood alcohol content (BAC) level in your bloodstream. For adults 21 and over, this is 0.08 BAC. If you are 20 and under, your BAC should be 0 if law enforcement stops you on the road.

If you drive a commercial vehicle, the mandated BAC level is halved at 0.04. It would be best if you were not intoxicated while on the road. However, commercial drivers have a halved BAC compared to standard adults because they currently perform a job while operating a commercial vehicle.

Extreme DUI

An extreme Arizona DUI means you have a BAC level of 0.15 or higher. This means that you may experience a higher fine to pay or additional jail time to serve. If an accident results from you being drunk, it will escalate to even more severe consequences.

Super Extreme DUI

If you have a BAC level of 0.20, you will suffer even higher fines, more jail time, and having your license revoked. No matter the extremity of a DUI offense, you will have your license suspended because a DUI is an automatic 8 points on your license.

You will have to attend a driving school to be able to start driving again. If you do not attend these classes, you cannot drive until you have signed up and at least started attending an ADOT-approved driving school.

Aggravated DUI

Many offenses can be considered aggravated DUI. If this is your third offense or higher within the past seven years, you can be charged with a DUI under these circumstances:

  • If you are driving drunk while you have a minor aged 15 or younger in the vehicle.
  • If you are drunk driving while an interlock device is in your vehicle.
  • She was driving while having a suspended license.
  • You are driving if your license has been canceled in Arizona or if revoked for whatever reason.

What type of penalties exists in Arizona for DUI?

All sentences include jail time, fines, and additional consequences depending on the penalty tiers in which an offender is classified. You will be surprised to learn the strict penalties and how they differ from those of other states.

First Offense

Unlike other states, Arizona DUI institutes at least a minimum of a 10-day jail sentence because of their strict DUI laws. A $750 fine or lower will be charged for committing the crime. If you are charged as a first-time offender and had a BAC of 0.08 or higher at the time of conviction, you will have an ignition lock device installed in your car for one year.

Second Offense

Arizona mandates nine times longer jail sentences for second-time offenders. You will serve a minimum 90-day sentence if this is your second time committing a DUI offense. Surprisingly this is a lower sentence than other states that mandate a 180-day jail sentence for second-time offenders. The fine skyrockets to you being charged as low as $1,750.

Third Offense

If you have committed your third DUI offense in Arizona within the past seven years, this is known as an instant felony. While this is still strict, some states designate the second offense as an instant felony.

What should I do if I get a DUI in Arizona?

If you get a DUI in Arizona, there are many things that you can do. Consider legal counsel, comply immediately, and sign up for DUI classes are the three main things you can do when in this situation.

Consider Legal Counsel

You can seek legal counsel if you believe you have been falsely charged with a DUI offense. Just know that this can be the pricier route, but you have the right to defend yourself in a court of law!

Comply Immediately

Complying immediately would mean showing up to scheduled court dates and fulfilling your mandated consequences that match the offenses. Sometimes you may not have a working memory while drunk because it affects your brain. However, if you recognize that you committed the offense, comply immediately to make the process smoother.

Get DUI Classes

DUI classes, whether court-ordered or not, can help you turn around your life and get you back on the right track. Consider them to learn helpful information that will help you become more responsible before you get on the road and while driving.

What are DUI Classes, and how do you take them?

Getting a DUI in Arizona means you may have to take DUI classes. They educate you on the seriousness of drunk driving and how it can lead to fatalities for yourself and other drivers and pedestrians. We offer online DUI assessments and classes ranging from 8-56 hours.

In a DUI class, you will learn about:

  • How to get home safely if you are drunk.
  • Contact numbers for community resources to help you arrive home if drunk.
  • The illegal BAC for Arizona.
  • Myths versus reality on sobering up after being drunk.

Depending on your schedule and other commitments, you can take your DUI classes in person online. As long as it is an approved program via the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), it does not matter the class format as long as you show up on time to each in-person or virtual event.

At Cornerstone Healing Center, we work with the Motor Vehicle Division and the Arizona courts to learn about the details of your court-ordered DUI classes.

We will accordingly offer you the mandated time and content to finish your DUI class and reform your life back on the right foot. Getting a DUI in Arizona can be scary, but we will walk you through every step of the way.



[2] AZ Central: DUI Fatalities

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Author & Reviewers

dane perikly dui writer headshot

Dane Perikly


Dane is the Director of Virtual services at Cornerstone. He contributes guides on DUI education so that you can understand all there is to know about DUI charges, education, and the overall process of meeting Arizona requirements after a DUI. He cares deeply about raising awareness of the dangers of DUI and illustrating the impact on victims and on those charged. 

lionel estrada lisac clinical director

Lionel is the Clinical Director of Cornerstone’s Scottsdale treatment facilities. He has had over 4 years at Cornerstone. He is personally in recovery and passionate about helping others overcome substance abuse and mental health challenges, he is trained as an EMDR, adopting a trauma-informed approach to treat the underlying issues of conditions.

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