Section ARS 28-1381 of Arizona’s criminal code is focused on driving while under the influence (DUI) and driving while intoxicated (DWI). If you’ve been charged with “DUI (ARS 28-1381 (A)(1))” specifically, this means you’ve been charged with driving under the influence of intoxicating substances such as liquor, drugs, or intoxicating vapors.

Contrary to what many people believe, you can receive a DUI charge even if you haven’t been drinking any alcohol. Receiving this charge can be intimidating. Will you lose your license? Will you go to jail? Will this charge prevent you from getting certain jobs? Let’s break down these questions and more.

Under what circumstances can I be charged with a DUI?

Arizona is known for its extremely strict DUI laws. In fact, WalletHub rated Arizona as the #1 strictest state in the nation when it comes to DUIs. While ARS 28-1381 (A)(2) is charged for having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.08%, ARS 28-1381 (A)(1) can be charged if you’re “intoxicated to the slightest degree.” Some people have even received DUI charges from taking their prescribed medicine!

Ultimately, it’s easier to be charged with a DUI in Arizona than in most other states. It’s a “zero-tolerance” state, and it’s one of eight states that adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for young (under 21) drivers.

What are the penalties for a DUI (ARS 28-1381 (A)(1)) charge?

The penalties for an Arizona DUI charge depend on how many times you’ve been charged. Below are the penalties for the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd offenses:

  • DUI - 1st offense: 24 hours - 10 days in jail, at least a $250 fine, license suspension between 90 and 360 days, and a required interlock ignition device.
  • DUI - 2nd offense: 30 days - 90 days in jail, at least a $500 fine, license suspension for 1 year, and a required interlock ignition device.
  • DUI - 3rd offense: At least 4 months in jail, at least a $750 fine, license suspension for 1 year, and a required interlock ignition device. A 3rd offense is automatically classified as a felony.

What are my rights? What can I do if I’ve been charged with a DUI?

“What are my rights?” This is one of the most important questions to ask yourself before and after you’ve been charged with a DUI. For future reference, here are the steps you can take to help avoid that charge to begin with:

  • Comply with the officer when they ask for your license, registration, and proof of insurance — but do not offer any additional information beyond what they ask of you.
  • Speaking of this, don’t say or imply anything about how intoxicated you may be — even if an officer directly asks questions like “Have you been drinking tonight?” Even offhand comments can be used as evidence against you, so it’s best to simply remain silent and respectfully decline any questions that may incriminate you.
  • You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests, including the breathalyzer test, following a light or pen with your eyes, walking and turning, counting, and the one-leg test. All of these tests are voluntary, and a police officer has to abide by your refusal — they can’t force you to take a test you don’t consent to.

When you’ve already been charged, there are two key rights you need to remember: remain silent, and hire an attorney. Your best bet is to remain silent toward the officers immediately after the charge, but this also refers to discussing your charge with anyone. Don’t talk to anyone or post on social media about your charge until you’ve hired an attorney for your DUI case. Anything you say during and after your charge can lead to a conviction.

What will happen to me if I’ve been charged with a DUI?

The good news is that, even if you’ve been charged, there is hope to get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Your attorney can help you analyze the details of your case, review the police officer’s conduct and methods at the checkpoint, audit the evidence against you, and work to reduce the jail time and fines you’re facing.

If you can get the charge dismissed, you may not lose your license or go to jail. Getting the charge dismissed will also wipe the incident from your record, leaving your opportunities wide open in terms of future employment.

Even if your charge isn’t dismissed altogether, it’s so important to fight for reduced penalties. Even your first DUI offense can result in 10 days in jail and a $250 fine. For many people, serving 10 days in jail would completely disrupt their personal and professional lives. Working with an attorney can help you reduce that time as much as possible.

Click here to learn more about DUI defense in Arizona, including next steps and how to get in touch with an experienced DUI defense attorney.