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How Is A DUI Defined Under Arizona Laws?

Arizona DUI Laws: How is a DUI defined in Arizona?

Driving under the influence, more commonly known as “DUI,” is a legal term you likely hear often, but its meaning is more specific than you think. Arizona DUI laws clearly line out the answer to common questions surrounding DUI, and our DUI lawyers are here to answer them:

POV of drunk driver in a car with blurry streetlights illustrating Arizona DUI laws by Phoenix Arizona DUI lawyers

What is a DUI? How is a DUI defined in Arizona? What are Arizona DUI laws? What will happen to me if I get a DUI in Arizona?

Below, our team of Phoenix, Arizona DUI lawyers will teach you everything you need to know about Arizona DUIs. Keep reading for the definition of “DUI”, how Arizona DUI laws interpret that definition, and how different DUI cases differ according to Arizona DUI laws.

The 2 Basic Elements to Arizona DUI Laws

According to Arizona DUI laws, there are two basic elements to Driving Under the Influence or “DUI.”

  1. Actual Physical Control: An individual must be in “actual physical control” of a motorized vehicle
  2.  Under the Influence: That individual must also be “under the influence”

As we’ll point out, the legal descriptions of “Actual Physical Control” and “Under the Influence” can be a bit misleading. Here’s a deeper dive into how Arizona DUI laws define these two elements:

How Arizona DUI Laws define DUI: Actual Physical Control

In order to be convicted of DUI in Arizona, the State must always prove that you were in actual physical control of a motorized vehicle. That being said, “actual physical control” doesn’t necessarily mean “driving” as the title suggests.

First of all, you could be convicted of a DUI for being in control of a boat– an activity that obviously doesn’t require driving.

Secondly, and perhaps more surprisingly, if you are in a car, you don’t even need to be moving to be convicted of DUI! Actual physical control could be sitting in a parking lot, with the car running, and you in the driver’s seat. Additionally, the car could be in the parking lot, the car not running, but the keys in are your hand or in the ignition.

When defining DUI in Arizona, there is a lot of grey area surrounding the question of actual physical control. 

Are you in control if the keys are sitting on the floorboard and you’re sleeping in the driver’s seat? Are you control if the car is running but you have no intention on moving?

These are the types of questions a jury would consider while deciding the outcome of an Arizona DUI case. Further, the subject of these questions are a major reason that having a persuasive Arizona DUI lawyer can make a huge difference in a DUI case.


How Arizona DUI Laws define DUI: Under the Influence

The second element that defines Arizona DUI, “under the influence,” splits into two categories: being under the influence of alcohol and being under the influence of drugs.

Alcohol DUI in Arizona

There are two ways for the State to prove a regular alcohol DUI. Further, among alcohol-related DUIs, there are four different types:

The Four Types of Alcohol DUIs in Arizona
  1. Driving with a blood-alcohol concentration (“BAC”) above 0.08%
    This is the type of DUI most people are familiar with, because it’s the same in nearly ever state in the U.S. A BAC above 0.08% is the level above which you can be convicted of a DUI in Arizona.
  2. “Extreme DUI” with a BAC above 0.15%
  3. “Super Extreme DUI” with BAC above 0.20%
    According to Arizona DUI laws, there are additional consequences for Extreme and Super Extreme DUIs.
  4. Impaired to the slightest degree
    The other alcohol DUI that many are not as familiar with is driving while you are impaired to the slightest degree by alcohol. In that case, the state really does not have to prove any particular level of alcohol in your system. They just have to prove that you are actually in control of a car, that you had alcohol in your system and you were impaired by that alcohol.

Drug DUI in Arizona

In addition to alcohol DUIs, there are also drug DUIs, of which there are two types:

The Two Types of Drug DUIs in Arizona
  1. Impaired to the slightest degree by a drug (just as with alcohol)
  2. Having a controlled drug or metabolite in your system

This is where the title “under the influence” can be misleading. When a person ingests drugs, their body breaks down those chemicals into various variations before flushing it completely out of your system. Those variations of the original drug are called “metabolites.”

According to Arizona DUI laws, it’s illegal to drive with any prohibited drug or it’s metabolite in your system, regardless of whether or not those drugs and metabolites are actually impairing your ability to drive.

However, there is one exception to that rule, pertaining specifically to marijuana. When charging a marijuana DUI, the state must prove that the person’s blood contained a metabolite that is actually capable of causing impairment.

As you can see, the way drug and alcohol DUIs are defined by Arizona DUI laws mean that the laws can be interpreted in many ways. Hiring an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer will grant you the best likelihood of success in your own DUI case.

Arizona DUI Laws: Misdemeanor DUI vs. Felony DUI 

According to Arizona DUI laws, all alcohol DUIs or drug DUIs are considered misdemeanors except in three scenarios:

  1. If your license has a restriction placed on it for a prior DUI;
  2. If you have been convicted of two or more prior DUIs within the past seven years; or
  3. If there are passengers in the car who are under 15 years of age. 

Further, there are other scenarios that make an Arizona DUI a felony:

You can get a very serious felony for drinking and driving, or having drugs in your system and driving, if you get into a car accident. When you cause some harm to somebody else, then the DUI becomes a very serious felony where you’re looking at many years in prison.

If you hurt someone, even someone in your own car, you can be charged with aggravated assault. Even worse, if someone dies in the accident, then you may be looking at manslaughter charges. Regardless of the charges, felonies are very serious– you will always be best off supported by an Arizona DUI lawyer who can represent you in court.

Phoenix, Arizona DUI Lawyers

DUIs are one of the most common criminal charges in Arizona; the consequences can be severe and life-changing. With the help of an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer, your chances of success in court with exponentially increase.

If you’ve been charged with a DUI, seek help TODAY. Here at Tait & Hall, our Arizona DUI attorneys have helped thousands of Arizonans beat the odds and achieve outstanding results in court.

Get the legal help you need to overcome your DUI charges: schedule a FREE initial consultation with our Arizona DUI lawyers.

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