Arizona is often touted as the state with the harshest DUI penalties. Arizona takes DUIs seriously, but its hold at the top spot is being challenged as some states impose stricter and harsher DUI penalties.
DUI in Arizona won’t just cost you a few days attending traffic school and watching victim impact videos — you’ll probably be locked up behind bars. Arizona is one of the few states that penalize DUIs with mandatory jail time. Even on your first offense, you can get sent to jail for a minimum of 10 days (you’ll usually get a 9-day suspension) and a maximum of 6 months. Georgia has passed similar penalties, while a DUI in Alaska will have you spending 3 days in the slammer.
Utah has the lowest legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit in the nation at 0.05 percent. Arizona maintains the standard 0.08 percent BAC limit. However, you can still get charged with a DUI even if you don’t go over that limit. If a police officer notices you driving haphazardly or recklessly, you can get pulled over and charged with a DUI — even if you’re not technically drunk. If an officer records you driving badly, swerving, or putting other cars at risk, the tiniest bit of alcohol counts as a DUI.
Get ready for hefty fines once you get slapped with a DUI conviction. DUI fines in Arizona go for a minimum of $250 but can go up to $2,500. These fines might not be as high as Massachusetts or Washington, where penalties range from $500 to $4,000 and above. However, you won’t be just paying DUI fines in Arizona; that $250 fine comes with a $200 state surcharge, a $500 prison construction fee, and a $500 DUI assessment charge. You’ll probably need to switch to SR-22 insurance that costs around $1,500 a year and install additional devices for your vehicles.
Almost all states require the installation of a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID), or simply an interlock device, on all vehicles that can be driven by a DUI violator. Installing an interlock device will cost you around $200, and you need to have it serviced monthly — usually costing $60-$100. An interlock device is like a built-in Breathalyzer for your car. You’ll need to take a test before you can start your car, and a failed test will keep your engine from starting.
Time in the System
A DUI violation in Arizona gets you in the system for 7 whole years. You need to keep a clean record in those 7 years before the state gets rid of those records. A subsequent DUI violation after the 7 years will again count as your first violation, but getting a second violation within those 7 years will have harsher penalties. Though 7 years might be a long time, it doesn’t compare to Illinois. DUI violations in Illinois go on a permanent record, and only a pardon from the Governor can wipe it off.
Arizona’s reputation as the state with the harshest DUI laws might be in jeopardy, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take DUI laws seriously. A DUI violation will cause massive headaches in fines, paperwork, jail time, and many other inconveniences you can avoid by just driving safely.