Know Your Rights Regarding Arizona’s Zero-Tolerance Policy

The base DUI is a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 percent. Arizona is a zero-tolerance state that charges any driver who is even “slightly impaired” despite a BAC less than 0.08 (“impaired to the slightest degree”). “Extreme DUI” requires at least a BAC of 0.15 and “Super Extreme” requires a BAC of 0.20. The legislature has sent a message to drivers, imposing class 1 highest misdemeanor status for all DUI charges. For first-time offenders in the Valley, a “Base DUI“ requires one day in jail, but after the check-in, in our experience, it could be reduced to something less than a full 24 hours, but not always. Second-time offenders with a Base DUI will receive a sentence of 90 days in jail, but may be eligible for home detention after the first six days incarcerated. First-time offenders charged with Extreme DUI will receive a sentence of 30 days in jail, but are eligible for home detention after two days in jail. A second Extreme DUI imposes a sentence of 120 days in jail, with eligibility for home detention after 24 days. Super Extreme first-time offenders may receive a sentence of 45 days in jail, but can be eligible for home detention after three days. A second Super Extreme offense results in a sentence of 180 days in jail, with home detention eligibility after the first 36 days. Home detention is an optional program which not all courts will offer, and not all judges will order.

If you are stopped and are being questioned because perhaps the officer suspects you of DUI, please decline to answer all questions, and decline to participate in any field sobriety tests (the “eye” tests, the “portable breath tests”, the “walk and turn”, reciting the alphabet, etc.) — they are never required, and will only establish probable cause. If they don’t have enough to arrest you before these ‘side-of-the-road’ tests, when they are done, they will, so it does you no good. Ask to speak to an attorney first, decline to answer all questions (other than giving your name, providing your ID, insurance, and registration). If you are arrested, that is not the same as convicted, and anyone who has served time in jail or prison will tell, it is a big difference.

Your refusal to submit to a blood test (or to blow into a large device to measure your BAC) will automatically result in an order that your license is suspended for 12 months … but police will almost certainly secure a warrant to draw your blood. In some cases, the time it takes for police to obtain a warrant for blood may exceed the “within 2 hours of driving” accuracy period, but usually not, and even then, they will have witnesses available at trial to extrapolate the BAC to what it was within 2 hours of driving. So, there is no easy avenue out of a side-of-the-road pull-over by police if you have been drinking.

Our best advice to you – celebrate the 4th safely. Don’t drink and drive, and don’t hurt anyone or yourself. And if you have an issue, that’s why Udall Shumway has criminal defense and DUI attorney Michael Kielsky among its valued partners.

We at Udall Shumway wish you a Happy 4th of July.  As always, we stand by you as a ready legal resource.  Stay safe.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice please feel free to contact us at 480.461.5300. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the East Valley.