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In many states, including Arizona, driving under the influence (DUI) is taken extremely seriously due to the potential harm intoxicated drivers can cause to themselves and others. Arizona has some of the harshest DUI laws in the country, and amongst these is a classification known as “Aggravated DUI.” But what distinguishes an Aggravated DUI from a regular DUI? This article delves into the specifics of what constitutes an Aggravated DUI in the Grand Canyon State.
1. Understanding DUI in Arizona
Before delving into the specifics of Aggravated DUI, it’s essential to comprehend what a basic DUI entails. In Arizona, a person can be charged with DUI if they operate a vehicle:
- With a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or higher.
- While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, drugs, or vapors, if they are impaired to the slightest degree.
2. Factors that Lead to Aggravated DUI
While a basic DUI charge can lead to significant penalties, there are certain circumstances under which a DUI can be elevated to an Aggravated DUI, carrying much stiffer consequences. Here are the primary conditions that can lead to such an enhancement:
- Third Offense within 84 Months: If a person has two prior DUI convictions within the past seven years (84 months) and gets arrested for another DUI, this third offense will be charged as an Aggravated DUI.
- Driving with a Suspended, Canceled, or Revoked License: If someone is arrested for DUI while driving on a suspended, revoked, or canceled license, the charge will automatically be elevated to Aggravated DUI.
- DUI with a Child Under 15 in the Vehicle: Driving under the influence with a child younger than 15 years old in the car can instantly turn a regular DUI charge into an Aggravated DUI.
- DUI After an Ignition Interlock Device Requirement: In Arizona, certain DUI offenders may be ordered to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicles. If someone is caught driving under the influence and they either don’t have the required device installed or are operating a different vehicle without the device, they can be charged with Aggravated DUI.
3. Consequences of an Aggravated DUI
An Aggravated DUI conviction in Arizona comes with severe penalties. While specifics can vary based on the exact circumstances and any prior convictions, some general consequences include:
- Mandatory prison time, often with a minimum of several months to years.
- Hefty fines and surcharges.
- License revocation for an extended period.
- Mandatory alcohol education or treatment programs.
- Installation of an ignition interlock device upon license reinstatement.
- Potential forfeiture of the vehicle.
4. Defending Against an Aggravated DUI Charge
Given the dire consequences of an Aggravated DUI conviction, it’s paramount for those charged to seek legal representation. An experienced attorney can evaluate the evidence, challenge the legality of the traffic stop, or even the accuracy of the blood or breath tests.
Arizona’s tough stance on DUIs, particularly Aggravated DUIs, underscores the state’s commitment to keeping its roads safe. It’s always best to err on the side of caution – if you plan on drinking, arrange for a sober ride home. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, especially Aggravated DUI, it’s essential to understand the charges and seek qualified legal counsel immediately.