What is a DUI? What is a DWI?
There are many types of DUI’s. Each have a different range of punishment.
Impaired to the Slightest Degree
The charge of Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor does not always require a breath or blood alcohol reading. DUI Slightest Degree is driving with any alcohol in the system which causes a person to be impaired to the slightest degree. Prosecutors like to argue that any alcohol at all causes impairment to the slightest degree. Juries know this is not true. Types of evidence prosecutors like to use to prove this charge includes the officer’s testimony as to the manner of driving, physical symptoms of impairment, Field Sobriety Tests and a driver’s confession. Police like to ask a trick question such as “On a scale of zero to 10, how is the alcohol affecting you?” Any number a driver says except for zero is later used as evidence of impairment. This charge requires an aggressive defense by an experienced DUI Attorney.
The reasons a driver is stopped can often innocuous, such as having a head or tail light out. This is not evidence of bad driving. Even speeding is not a evidence of impairment. Effective cross-examination of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidelines can be very effective in this area. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s guidelines recognize that speeding is not a symptom of impairment. But this does not stop prosecutors from claiming that it is. Prosecutors also like to argue that the odor of alcohol (which actually has no odor and can be caused by non-alcoholic substances), blood shot eyes (often caused by allergies and dust) slurred speech (caused by many different types of physical impairments), and even messy clothes are signs of impairment when often they are not. Field Sobriety tests are also not a reliable test for impairment. They are often done on the side of the road, in the dark and are extremely subjective.
The charge of DUI Slightest Degree has the same penalties as a person who has a blood alcohol content of .08 or above. The penalties can be up to six months in jail and a $2,500 fine. The minimum penalty is 10 days in jail (9 can be suspended if the driver attends a drug and alcohol screening and evaluation followed by 16-36 hours of classes); $1,470 fine, license suspension and 12 months of mandatory ignition interlock device. It can also include community service, reimbursement of jail costs and attendance at a MADD Impact panel.
DUI .08 or Above
Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or Above is another type of DUI. Often people are charged with both Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor and Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content of .08 or Above. This is because if a jury does not find a BAC of .08 or above, they may convict on DUI Slightest Degree.
Whether the police use breath or blood tests, there are defenses. These tests are not 100% accurate. Prosecutors will go to trial against people with a breath test result just slightly over .08 (even though the machine has a built in error of 10%) and sometimes will go to trial even if the BAC is under .08 in an attempt to get a DUI Slightest Degree conviction. You need an aggressive defense if charged with DUI.
Extreme DUI – BAC .15 or Above – BAC .20 or Above
The jail time and fines go up if the BAC is above .15 and .20. A first offense DUI with a blood alcohol reading of above .15 requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 consecutive days in jail in addition to fines, jail costs, mandatory ignition interlock device and license suspension. A first offense DUI with a blood alcohol reading of above .20 requires a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 consecutive days in jail in addition to fines, jail costs, mandatory ignition interlock device and license suspension. Jail time and fines go up even further if this is a second offense committed within the last seven years.
Aggravated DUI’s are felonies and require prison time. Aggravated (or felony) DUI’s include Driving Under the Influence of Intoxicating Liquor (or drugs) while license suspended or third DUI /DWI within seven (7) years (even if committed in another state) and Driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater within two hours of driving while license suspended or third DUI /DWI within seven (7) years (even if committed in another state) .
The mandatory minimum penalty for felony DUI is four (4) months in PRISON; mandatory alcohol screening and classes; MVD will revoke driving privileges for at least three (3) years; and supervised probation. The presumptive sentence is 2.5 years in prison and the maximum can be up to 3.75 years in Prison.
Defenses to DUI
Many people will ask; “How do I beat a DUI?” These cases are not hopeless. The Law Office of Daniel DeRienzo aggressively defends DUI charges. We will interview the police, all of the involved parties (such as lab technicians and Quality Assurance Specialists), and any possible witnesses to expose any lies or exaggerations; we make sure that no evidence was obtained illegally in violation of the United States or Arizona Constitution; conduct a thorough pre-trial investigation; employ expert witnesses on Breath or Blood testing if necessary to testify on behalf of our clients; and negotiate with prosecutors to make sure our clients face the minimum possible penalties.
In many cases, we have had the charges dismissed prior to trial. We represented a man who did nothing but drive out of a parking lot after hours. While the store was closed, the parking lot was not, so it was not illegal for him to have been in the parking lot. He was stopped illegally and all evidence after the illegal stop was suppressed. In another case the officer lied about the reasons for the stop and lied about how long he had been following the driver. All evidence was suppressed.
Daniel DeRienzo is an experienced litigator and experienced DUI Attorney. He has won many DUI cases at trial and has had many cases dismissed prior to trial.
The best thing to do if you are charged with DUI is see a DUI or DWI attorney immediately.
If you, a friend or a relative are charged with DUI in Yavapai County, Mohave County or Coconino County, Contact Daniel J. DeRienzo. (Also available throughout Arizona on a case-by-case basis). Call 928-493-1177 or click here for a consultation.
Even if you do not hire an attorney, at the consultation I will discuss your rights, possible defenses, DUI penalties and how to get your driver’s license or a work permit as soon as possible. Call for a consultation.