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Your Tucson DUI Case: The Basics

You said you would never drink and drive again. You really tried this time. Your brother-in-law was all set to be the designated driver after La Fiesta de los Vaqueros. That's before he started taking tequila shots and boasting how he can still do a keg stand. Between all the barrel racin', steer wrestlin', bareback ridin', and beer drinkin', this year's rodeo was becoming quite a blur.

You both get in your truck and head towards home, but you end up being the "designated driver." You're having serious trouble focusing on the road. You aren't surprised when Tucson PD pulls you over. Major problem. You are still on DUI probation from last year and really drunk this time.

You're going to jail and bro-in-law is going to sleep it off in the drunk tank until your sister can pick him up. What's going to happen next? Here's some general information on a Tucson DUI case.


Whether this is your first DUI or your third, we are sure you'd rather not spend an extended time locked up.

If you committed a felony, you'll have spent some time in jail until your arraignment. If not, you'll have been released with a promise to appear at one of the Tucson courts at a later time. During the arraignment, a judge will inform you of the charges and set bail. She may impose additional conditions such as alcohol testing. You will enter a plea of not guilty, guilty, or no contest. You can hire a lawyer, represent yourself, or ask for a public defender.

What About My License?

Now that you've been arrested, you're facing two legal processes. The first is the Tucson DUI criminal case. The second is the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles administrative process. If your blood alcohol result is a 0.08% or higher, the police could seize your Arizona Drivers' License and give you a temporary license that is valid for 15 days. You may request a hearing within 15 days. That will put a temporary stop to your license suspension until the DMV hearing is resolved. Note that you may still have your license suspended or revoked even if the Tucson DUI criminal matter is dismissed in court.

It is best to consult an attorney to understand this complicated process.

What About Implied Consent?

Arizona's implied consent law says that if you are stopped for suspected driving under the influence, you must submit to a chemical test or there will be consequences.

Refusing to take an alcohol test will result in an automatic one-year driver's license suspension. This is in addition to any penalties you'll receive if you are convicted or plead in the criminal case. Even worse, in your criminal case, the district attorney could tell the jury you refused the test and that it's strong evidence you are guilty.

DUI Charges

In Arizona, there are a variety of ways drivers are charged with being impaired by drugs or alcohol:

First Misdemeanor DUI

If you are driving a car and any of the following are true, you are in violation of the law.

  1. Impaired to the "Slightest Degree": You are driving and determined to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs;
  2. Driving With a BAC Over 0.08%; or
  3. Under 21 and DUI.

What does "impaired to the slightest degree mean"? You don't have be a .08% to commit this offense. To prove impairment the cop will usually focus on bad driving, poor performance on field sobriety tests, your appearance and demeanor, and any other things that he or she thinks demonstrate impaired judgment or performance.

Penalties range from jail time, to probation and a fine.

Under Age 21 DUI

Arizona has zero tolerance for underage drinking and driving. If you are under 21, have any alcohol in your system, and decide to drive, you are violating the law. Bottom line: if you are under 21 and have been drinking, don't even think of getting behind the wheel. It's just not worth it.

Arizona Felony DUI

If you are driving a car and any of the following are true, you are in violation of the law and can be charged with a felony.

  1. DUI with a Child Under age of 15 in Vehicle;
  2. DUI with a Suspended Driver's License; or
  3. DUI with Two Prior DUIs Within last 60 Months.

Felony penalties are severe and can include prison time, large fines, license repercussions, and more.

Ignition Interlock Device

For all DUI convictions, Arizona requires you to install an "ignition interlock device" in any car you own or operate. It designed to make sure you aren't drinking alcohol and driving. Anytime you attempt to start your car, you must blow into the device. Here's a useful guide to ignition interlock devices.

Will a Arizona DUI conviction go on my driving record?

Yes. A DUI conviction will go on your Arizona driving record and remain for at least seven years. 

If I'm Convicted or Plead, What Happens to My Insurance?

If you are convicted of Tucson DUI, one of two things will likely happen. Either your insurance company will raise your rates or your policy could be cancelled (or not renewed). You'll also need to furnish the DMV with an SR-22 certificate to reinstate a license after suspension (as proof of insurability). This results in an extra charge for your policy. Most people will have to keep the SR-22 insurance on their policy for 3 years after a DUI conviction in Arizona.

Remember, it's best to never drink or use drugs and drive. Select a designated driver ahead of time who will stay sober. You can also ask someone else to give you a ride, call a taxi, or use public transportation.

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You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Complex DUI situations usually require a lawyer
  • DUI defense attorneys can challenge Breathalyzer/Intoxilyzer or blood test results
  • A lawyer can seek to reduce or eliminate DUI penalties
  • A lawyer can help get your license back

Get tailored advice and ask your legal questions. Many attorneys offer free consultations.


 If you need an attorney, find one right now.

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