The Difference between Misdemeanor and Felony DUI in Arizona

Arizona treats DUIs extremely seriously. This is a criminal offense and it will result in either a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Obviously, the severity of the violation will be determining for the sanctions that a driver could potentially face. So what is the difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI in Arizona? 

DUI Misdemeanor in Arizona

Driving under the influence in Arizona can result in misdemeanor charges in several situations.

People who have a blood alcohol content (BAC) test reading of 0.08 percent or higher will be charged with misdemeanor. When a person holds a commercial license, the threshold is lowered to 0.04 percent.

The penalty for this misdemeanor will depend on whether the person is committing such an offense for the first time. A first-time offender will face up to 10 days in jail, a fine of at least 250 dollars and a license suspension for 90 days.

These penalties will be higher for second and third-time offenders. Such individuals face anywhere between 30 and 90 days in jail, a fine of at least 500 dollars, license revocation for a period of one year and the installation of an ignition interlock device (IID).

The first-time offense is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. A second-time offense will also be classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, unless there are aggravating circumstances.

People whose blood alcohol content is at least 0.15 percent will commit extreme DUI. Extreme DUI is also considered misdemeanor in Arizona.

Anyone who commits extreme DUI for the first time will be charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor. The potential sanctions include up to six months in jail, counseling, a fine of at least 250 dollars, license suspension for a period of 90 days, IID installation and a probation period of five years.

Second-time extreme DUI offenders face misdemeanor charges and a maximum jail time of six months. Other sanctions include a fine of at least 500 dollars, a one-year license revocation, IID installation and a probation period of five years.

When does a DUI Result in Felony Charges?

Under certain circumstances, a DUI in Arizona could result in felony charges. Some of the most common aggravating circumstances include the following:

  • A person commits a DUI when their license is suspended or revoked
  • A person has committed at least two prior DUIs over the course of a seven-year period
  • A driver has BAC of 0.20 or higher
  • A DUI is committed while a person under the age of 15 is in the vehicle
  • A person refuses to submit a blood alcohol content test while an IID is installed in the vehicle

These circumstances lead to aggravated DUI charges. If a person is found guilty of an aggravated DUI, they will face the consequences for a Class 4 felony in Arizona.

A Class 4 felony comes with a minimum prison sentence of four months and a maximum sentence of 2.5 years. Some of the additional sanctions include a minimum fine of 750 dollars, a three-year license revocation, the installation of IID and a probation period of 10 years (for first-time offenders who are eligible).

difference between misdemeanor and felony duiThe conditions mentioned above are the ones that most commonly lead to felony charges in the aftermath of DUI but they are not the only ones. People who cause an accident that leads to injuries and death while intoxicated are also going to face serious legal consequences.

The difference between misdemeanor and felony DUI can effect the penalties. A combination of the factors mentioned above could lead to more serious charges and potentially harsher penalties. Thus, anyone who has committed DUI (whether a misdemeanor or a felony charge) will need to seek qualified legal assistance immediately. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can either challenge the charges or reduce the potential sanctions whenever there’s convincing evidence.