Charged With a DWI? Here’s What You Need To Do

Were you charged with a DWI? Here’s what you need to do: read this article for guidance, then contact our Phoenix lawyers to get started now.

Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)

Charged With a DWI? Here’s What You Need To DoArizona, the 48th state of the United States of America, is a very fast-growing state, particularly here in the Phoenix metro area. There’s a lot of immigration, if you will, internal immigration from other states here. People migrate to Arizona because of the cost of living, and they have various concepts as it relates to DUI and what the acceptable blood alcohol content limit is.

What people find when they get here is that Arizona, in a lot of ways, is standard with the rest of the country.  The BAC level 0.08 is the standard when you’re starting to charge folks with DUI. It’s the same in California and a lot of our neighboring states. That 0.08 blood alcohol content is the legal limit once you start charging people with DUI under specific statutes. Here, the statute is 28-1381(A). I would caution everyone that some impairment is still impairment, and just because you don’t reach the 0.08 limit does not mean that you’re not impaired and that you can’t be charged with impaired driving. It may not be under 28-1381(A), but you can be charged with impaired driving, and so the rule of thumb is, don’t gamble. Don’t negotiate. If you’ve been drinking, don’t drive.

Now, I like any other lawyer would love your business, but this is the kind of business that we don’t chomp at the bit for, because it puts the public in danger, and so if you think you’ve been drinking, if you’re starting to feel it, there are plenty of opportunities not to drive. There’s Uber, and Lyft, and so many other options. You can call a friend, or you can stay where you are until you know you’re not under the influence. The reason why I say that so strongly is, again, it may not make good business sense, but it makes public safety sense. Once you realize how expensive DUI charges are, not only do you have the court fines and the inconvenience of having your license suspended, time in jail, and an interlock device that could cost $1,200, then you have a huge lawyer bill. The minimum for a basic DUI is somewhere around 3,500. Should they go to trial, you’re talking $7,000- $10,000.

Is it worth it to chance it? It’s absolutely not, and so if you think you’re anywhere near that 0.08, and again, it could be less than that, find some other means to get home for the interest of public safety and yourself. DUIs happen to be very expensive, and here in Arizona there are some mandatory penalties. The judges don’t even have discretion on some of these things, so you’re going to sit down and talk with a lawyer if you’re ever charged with DUI so they can seek out what little wiggle room there may be.

Commercial Drivers License DUI (CDL DUI)

Most people with commercial driver’s license use that driver’s license for employment purposes, and the impact of DUI is widespread, because it does bleed over into employment, not only for those that have commercial driver’s license, because in Arizona, the threshold for commercial driver’s license is lower than the 0.08.

It affects different areas of your life. If you drive for a living, it’s certainly going to affect that. On employment applications that involve driving or usage of company vehicles, you have to disclose that. If it involves taking kids to school, and you have a custody matter before the court that’s going to require you to drive the kids back and forth to school, all of these things count.

I often tell clients stay away from DUI, because while we’ve been able in some cases to work miracles for clients that have been charged with DUI, it does have substantial effect outside of just the legal ramifications for being charged with DUI. Being charged with DUI will have an effect on your commercial license. Some of the same mandatory guidelines are imposed on the commercial driver’s license as they are with regular driver’s licenses, so if you have a commercial driver’s license, and you’ve been charged with DUI, please let your attorney know immediately. There are remedies and safeguards that can be put in place to preserve the license if possible so that you can continue to work, because that is what your livelihood is attached to.

DUI Penalties

In 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.

DUI Costs

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.


Were you charged with a DWI? Here’s what you need to do: contact our dedicated Phoenix DUI lawyers for a free confidential consultation and let their experience work for you.

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