4 Common DWI Questions

Did you or a loved one receive a DWI or DUI and have questions? Check out these 4 common DWI questions that we are often asked, then call our office today.

What are the Penalties for a DWI?

4 Common DWI QuestionsIn the state of Arizona, our revised statute has detailed out three main DUI statutes. Of course, there are others, but there are three main DUI statutes that are used to charge persons suspected of driving under the influence. The first one is 28-1381(A) of the Arizona revised statute. That’s virtually, in laymen’s terms a basic DUI. If your BAC is 0.08 – 0.14, that’s a basic DUI. If you are charged with basic DUI, nine times out of ten, if it’s your first offense, you’re going to get charged with 28-1381(A) for a first offense.

If you have a blood alcohol content that’s 0.15 to 0.199, you’d be charged with 28-1382(A)(1) of the Arizona revised statute. We refer to that as extreme DUI. In each one of these cases, the penalties increase. In Arizona, there are mandatory sentencing requirements for each of the levels of DUI, and then, if you happen to blow a 0.20 or higher within two hours of operating a motor vehicle, you’d be charged with 28-1382(A)(2), which is what we call super extreme DUI, and that’s what we call DUI per se. It has some harsh penalties; 45 days mandatory jail sentence, and 18 months interlock ignition. It doesn’t matter how much family support you have, how many college degrees you have, how long you’ve been on your job. None of that stuff matters once you start getting up to that area.

There are some waivers that could take place under extreme DUI where if you take the interlock device early on, you may be able to suspend maybe 21 days of the sentence. But again, in all of those three statutes as given, there’s certain mandatory sentencing requirements. Your license is suspended for at least 90 days. You may get a 60-day work-to-work permit. In some cases of the extreme DUI, if it’s your second offense of it, your license could be revoked for one year. If you’re ever arrested for DUI or charged with DUI, you would want to sit down and talk with a lawyer that understands these laws. You want someone that knows how to look into the facts and make sure that the stop was a good stop and that you can actually be charged with it. The attorney will walk you through the process, try to mitigate down some of these mandatory sentencing that can be moved. There are also fines that are associated with it, but those are the three big statutes that we normally see in the normal course of people being charged with DUI in Arizona. You would want to talk to a lawyer, an experienced lawyer that knows how to deal with handling DUI cases.

How Much Does a DWI Cost?

One of the things that we’re often asked by clients is, how much is this DUI going to cost me? Should I go with the public defender, or should I go with private counsel? A lot of public defenders are really burdened with many cases with indigent clients that can’t afford private counsel. If you can afford private, competent counsel, you’re always going to be better off with that. This is no slight to public defenders. If you can afford private counsel, I would always suggest private counsel, because you’ll know what you’re getting into.

One of the things that the law prohibits us on in criminal matter, DUI and other ones, is we as lawyers in Arizona are restricted by the rules for accepting criminal matters on a contingency basis. We can’t take the case now and have you pay us later if we are successful. The law restricts us from that in criminal cases and family law cases. We can’t take them on contingency, so oftentimes what you will see in a DUI matter is an hourly rate based on that attorney or a flat fee upfront. Flat fees can range anywhere from $3,500 on the very low end for small DUIs that are not heavily based in fact up to $6,000 for the more complicated DUI that involves a few things, and those are basic, run-of-the-mill DUIs.

Those that are fact-heavy that are going to trial and involve accidents will be more expensive. That’s just attorney’s fees. That doesn’t count the fines that are mandatory in some instances, 2,000 to 4,000 dollars’ worth of fines, and you have the interlock device, which are somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 dollars, depending on where you get it from. The number of fines for DUI and attorney’s fees can rack up pretty quickly.

One of the things that we do at Smith & Green is we try to work with our clients, put you on a payment plan, sometimes retainer upfront, payment plan. Every client is different, so there is no single answer for everybody, but there is a cost associated with it, and you have to pay for great defense, someone that’s going to be there to answer the phone, and so the DUI costs can vary.

Once you come into the office, you’ll meet with one of our attorneys and our staff, who will assess your case personally on an individual basis, look at the facts, estimate what it’s going to take to get it done, to get you the best result possible. We then we work with you on an individual basis as to how we accomplish that goal financially, but the sooner in the process that you contact us, the better off things will be so that discovery and other things can begin soon.

What is the Jail Time for a DWI?

In my years as a police officer and certainly now as a lawyer who represents a vast number of DUI clients, one of the things I’m often asked is, am I going to jail for DUI? The short answer to that is yes, there is a mandatory sentencing statute in the state of Arizona that you have to serve some time in jail. Don’t let my yes answer scare you, because there’s a range of things, and I’ll give you an example here. 28-1381(A) of the Arizona revised statute says the minimum sentencing guidelines that the judges must comply with a ten-day jail sentence, but nine days can be suspended after completion of the court-ordered screening and alcohol process. That’s to the discretion of the judge. After that, then the judge can suspend nine days.

That means that you’d have to serve one day in jail. Now, how does that one day in jail look? Some of that is left up to the discretion of the court. If you were arrested for driving under the influence at nine o’clock in the morning, and they booked you into 4th Avenue Jail or Madison Downtown, or you were transferred to Lower Buckeye, and you stayed there for eight hours until your detox, could that eight hours count as your day in jail? Sure, if the judge writes the order that way. Can the judge write an order that says you spend 24 hours in jail? Yes, I’ve seen it happen both ways, depending on which court it comes through, depending on the judge that you’re in front of, but that mandatory one day in jail, it’s a part of the mandatory sentencing requirements, so the chances are, you’re going to spend at least that day in jail.

The length of DUI jail time increases with the number times that you’ve been arrested for DUI, and the level of your blood alcohol content. If it’s extreme DUI, the number of days go up. They can go up to as high as 180 days, 90 days of which must be consecutive. That’s for a second offense under the super extreme DUI. That’s the 0.20 or higher, so you could end up in jail for up to six months, or it could be that eight hours. That eight hours could’ve been completed if you were sitting in jail detoxing, so by the next time you come back to court, you won’t have to get remanded back into custody, but again, it’s a case-by-case scenario. The short answer to it is, yes, there are mandatory sentencing requirements that require you to spend at least one day in jail up to 180 days in jail.

You’d want to sit down and talk with your attorney about that, the specifics of the case, to determine if more DUI jail time will be required if you’ve already been booked. If you weren’t booked, you still have that mandatory sentencing in front of you, but your lawyer, would go and argue those points before the court to try to ensure that you got the minimum amount of time that could be sentenced to you. You’d want to discuss the specifics with your lawyer.

Will my License Be Suspended Because of a DWI?

Driving is one of our key assets of life. We’re not on buggies and horses anymore. You have to drive  getting to and from work. When you’ve been charged with DUI, it can often make things quite difficult, because under the Arizona DUI law, there is a mandatory 90-day DUI license suspension. If it is a super extreme DUI, or if it’s a second offense, it could go up to an entire year of your license being revoked. That is a separate process that is implemented under the statute. It is a part of the sentence, but it’s functioned by the Department of Motor Vehicles, and there are some stringent requirements. An attorney would walk you both of those processes, not only the court proceedings but also the administrative proceedings as it relates to the DUI license suspension.

Sometimes we’re able to get the 60-day to-and-from work permit so that they can still get to work, because the purpose of the statute is not to restrict your livelihood. It’s to restrict your ability to drive a vehicle until the state can reasonably ascertain that you’re not driving under the influence and putting other peoples’ lives in jeopardy.

Another thing in Arizona that’s often done even for basic DUI is the interlock device where you have to blow into the device to make sure that you are not intoxicated, or the vehicle won’t start. With the basic DUI, that’s at least 12 months with the interlock device. For super extreme DUI, if it’s your second offense, it could go as far as 24 months, and again, this is after being incarcerated and the other fines and things that are associated with that. You will lose your license 99.9 percent of the time, because these are mandatory sentencing guidelines in the state of Arizona.

How long you lose your license depends on which DUI statute you are charged with and the facts surrounding that. There are some exceptions where administrative hearings can be requested with the DMV, and sometimes some of those things can be waived if certain requirements are met, but you would want to sit down and talk with your lawyer and express those concerns to them. They’ll be able to sit down and go through those facts with you and determine if there’s some type of loophole or opportunity to where the DUI license suspension either can be mitigated or if it can be shortened or if you can get a day-to-day work pass to drive back and forth to work so that your livelihood is not hindered.

Were you arrested for DWI and have questions? After reading these 4 common DWI questions, contact our dedicated Phoenix DWI lawyers for a free confidential consultation. Let us fight to protect your rights.

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