Can You Get A DUI Without Drinking Alcohol in Arizona?

Can You Get A DUI Without Drinking Alcohol In Arizona?

You might assume that to be arrested for a DUI in Arizona, you must be under the influence of alcohol. However, this is not the case. The reality is more complicated and deserves a better understanding of Arizona's DUI laws. It's important for anyone who lives in or plans on visiting Arizona to understand the legal circumstances under which someone might face DUI charges without having consumed alcohol.

In this article, we will explore what constitutes impairment under Arizona driving law, the various substances and conditions that could lead to a DUI charge, and the evidence prosecutors might use to prove impairment without a traditional alcohol-related BAC reading. Understanding these aspects is crucial for anyone navigating the roads, whether you consume alcohol or not, as it sheds light on the broader scope of what DUI encompasses and the importance of being informed about your rights and the law.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI in Phoenix, Arizona, you should consult with one of Arizona's specialized criminal defense attorneys at Pajerski Law. Attorney Chad Pajerski has over two decades of experience in criminal law. He is one of the few criminal defense attorneys who is a certified specialist in criminal defense law. Our firm only takes on select cases, so our attorney can devote full attention to resolving your case. Contact our firm today for a free consultation and learn how we can help protect your rights.

The Two Ways You Can Be Charged With A DUI In Arizona

It's true: in Arizona, a DUI conviction is possible even if you haven't touched a drop of alcohol. Understanding Arizona DUI laws is crucial to avoiding legal trouble.

Prosecutors have two main ways to build a DUI case: one based on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) and one that doesn't.

  1. DUI Based on BAC: Section 28-1381.A.2. of the Arizona Revised Statutes states that driving with a BAC of 0.08% or higher within two hours of driving is illegal. In this case, proof of impairment isn't necessary. A breathalyzer result above 0.08% equals a DUI, regardless of your behavior.

  1. DUI Without a BAC: Section 28-1381.A.1. Prohibits driving "while under the influence of intoxicating liquor... if the person is impaired to the slightest degree." Here, BAC doesn't matter. If the police can convince a court you were even slightly impaired by alcohol, you're facing a DUI charge.

What Counts As Impairment?

Defining the "slightest degree" can be subjective. Common signs of impairment include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Delayed reactions
  • Erratic driving
  • Prescription medications
  • Illegal drugs
  • Fatigue

How do Prosecutors Prove Impairment?

In Arizona, driving under the influence (DUI) extends beyond alcohol consumption. Even without a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading, prosecutors can still build a strong case against you, raising the question: how is impairment proved in Arizona?

When BAC isn't available, prosecutors must demonstrate "impairment to the slightest degree" through various forms of evidence, such as:

  • Officer observations and testimony: The officer's report on your behavior, speech, physical coordination, and response to questions can be key evidence.
  • Body camera footage: If available, body camera footage can visually capture your impairment.
  • Field sobriety tests (FSTs): Performance on standardized tests like the walk-and-turn or one-leg stand can suggest impairment, although their reliability can be challenged.
  • Driving behavior: Erratic driving, weaving, speeding, or difficulty maintaining lanes can be strong indicators of impairment.
  • Chemical testing refusal: While refusal cannot directly prove impairment, prosecutors may use it against you to assume that you were guilty of being impaired.

What Happens If You Refuse A Breathalyzer?

While refusing the breathalyzer won't automatically lead to a DUI conviction, it has its own set of challenges:

  • "Implied consent" violation: Arizona law requires drivers to comply with chemical testing upon lawful arrest. Refusal results in an automatic driver's license suspension of up to 12 months, regardless of the DUI outcome.

  • Prosecutors may present your refusal as an admission of guilt, implying you knew you were too impaired to pass the test.

Penalties For A DUI Conviction in Arizona

A DUI conviction in Arizona can have far-reaching consequences, impacting your life after the initial incident. These consequences can range from immediate penalties to long-term repercussions, affecting your freedom, finances, and reputation. Here's a more detailed breakdown of what you might face:

Immediate Penalties:

  • Jail Time: This can range from 10 days for a first offense to two years for an aggravated DUI.
  • Fines: Expect substantial fines, starting at $1,250 for a first offense and increasing significantly for subsequent offenses and higher classifications of DUI.
  • Driver's License Suspension: Arizona imposes a driver's license suspension ranging from 90 days to one year for a first offense, with longer suspensions for repeat offenses. You may also face an interlock ignition device requirement, restricting driving only with a breathalyzer installed in your vehicle.
  • Court costs and fees: Additional fees for processing, probation, and other expenses add up quickly.

Long-Term Repercussions:

  • Increased Insurance Rates: Your car insurance premiums will likely skyrocket, adding significant financial burden for years to come.
  • Employment Issues: A DUI conviction can lead to job loss, difficulty finding new employment, and limitations on certain professions.
  • Professional Licensing Issues: Depending on your profession, a DUI conviction could jeopardize your licenses or certifications.
  • Immigration Consequences: For non-citizens, a DUI conviction can complicate immigration status and potentially lead to deportation.
  • Social Stigma: A DUI conviction can damage your reputation and relationships within your community and impact your personal life.
  • Emotional trauma: Dealing with the legal process, guilt, and social repercussions can take a significant toll on your mental and emotional well-being.
  • Addiction awareness: A DUI can be a wake-up call for underlying substance abuse issues, prompting necessary steps towards recovery.

Every DUI case is unique, and the consequences depend on various factors, including the severity of the offense, prior offenses, and whether anyone was injured. Consulting an experienced DUI lawyer is crucial to understanding the specific penalties and potential mitigation strategies in your case.

Contact a DUI Attorney in Phoenix

While alcohol is often associated with DUIs, you can still face DUI charges in Phoenix, AZ, even without touching a drop of alcohol. Being impaired while driving for any reason, from prescription medications to fatigue, can lead to life-changing consequences. A DUI conviction's effects can be far-reaching and severe, from hefty fines and driver's license suspensions to jail time and long-term repercussions for your career and reputation.

Specialized defense attorney Chad Pajerski can defend your rights if you have been charged with a DUI in Phoenix. At Pajerski Law, attorney Chad Pajerski understands the complexities of Arizona's DUI statutes and has a proven track record of building strong defenses for his clients. Contact him today for a confidential free consultation. Let Chad Pajerski and Pajerski Law stand by your side if an unfortunate DUI charge happens. You don't have to face this alone.

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The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Pajerski Law's legal team is licensed to practice law in Arizona. We invite you to contact us, but please be aware that contacting us does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

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