Extreme DUI Attorney Serving Mesa and Tempe
Under Arizona law, driving under the influence (DUI) is categorized in levels of severity. Standard DUI is escalated to Extreme DUI when a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) surpasses 0.15 but is still less than 0.20. A charge of Extreme DUI is one of the most serious offenses, and it carries harsh penalties that can wreak havoc on a person’s life if they are convicted.
If you have been charged with Extreme DUI in the Mesa or Tempe area, speak to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Ryan McPhie served as a Deputy County Prosecutor for Maricopa County, and he has years of experience in DUI criminal defense. Contact McPhie Law today at (480) 400-5555 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to serve you.
Arizona’s Legal Definition of a DUI
While drinking and driving is the most common cause of DUI, drivers using others substances may also be charged with DUI.
Most states share a similar definition of DUI. However, some variance exists. Under Arizona law, the legal definition of DUI makes it illegal for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in any of the following circumstances:
- Being slightly impaired because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, a vapor releasing substance, or any mixture of the three;
- Consuming alcohol before driving or while driving that causes a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of being in actual physical control of a vehicle;
- Being under the influence of cannabis, cocaine, dangerous drugs, or their derivatives; and
- Driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of drugs or with an alcohol content greater than 0.04 if the driver holds a commercial driver license (CDL).
In the case of Extreme DUI, a person’s blood or breath alcohol concentration is a key factor. Regardless of whether other drugs are present in their system, if a driver reaches a blood or breath alcohol threshold of 0.08, they may be charged with Extreme DUI. If a breath or blood test reveals a level higher than 0.15, a driver will be charged with Super Extreme DUI. Additionally, special circumstances such as a child passenger under age 15 will automatically result in Aggravated DUI, which is a felony and carries the highest penalties of all types of DUIs in Arizona.
Penalties for Extreme DUI in Arizona
Even for drivers on a first offense, an Extreme DUI conviction may yield substantial penalties. Arizona lawmakers consider Extreme and Super Extreme DUI as serious crimes, and prosecutors aggressively pursue convictions, even for those with an otherwise clean criminal history.
The minimum penalties for a first-time Extreme DUI include:
- 30 days of jail time, which might be reduced to nine days upon completion of a mandatory court-ordered alcohol or drug screening, education, or treatment program;
- More than $2,500 in fines and assessment fees;
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID);
- Mandatory community service;
- Mandatory traffic survival school course and associated costs; and
- One-year suspension of driver’s license.
Penalties increase for second offenses, and include:
- Minimum 120 days in jail; and
- In excess of $4,000 in fines and fees.
A third DUI, of any type, within seven years triggers felony charges that carry a minimum of four months in prison for conviction.
In addition to the aforementioned penalties, Extreme DUI may have other life-changing consequences, including but not limited to:
- Increased auto insurance premiums (by thousands of dollars per year);
- Loss of income, from inability to attend work to loss of employment;
- Loss of future career and professional opportunities;
- Reputation damage; and
- Personal and family relationship damage.
If you have been charged with Extreme DUI, use an experienced criminal defense attorney to give yourself and your future the very best chance for a better outcome of your case.
Defending an Extreme DUI in Maricopa County
Every DUI case is unique, but generally a driver does not reach the threshold necessary to be charged with Extreme DUI if they simply had a couple too many drinks at a happy hour. More often, it is a driver who was engaged in heavy and sustained drinking over a significant period of time before driving, or an incorrect reading of a Breathalyzer.
A good defense lawyer will individualize their strategy for every case based on the specific facts. However, some common defense strategies that an attorney might use for a client who has been charged with Extreme DUI include:
Procedural Issues and Rights Violations
A DUI defense attorney may get a case dismissed if the police officer who made the stop violated the defendant’s rights, or failed to follow proper procedure and protocols. If the officer did not have a legally valid reason to make the stop, or probable cause, the entire stop may be challenged, nullifying the DUI charge. Additional bases for challenge include if an officer failed to read Miranda Rights before a defendant’s arrest, if an officer did not provide access to an attorney after a defendant’s request, or if an officer conducted questioning of a defendant without their attorney present.
Breathalyzer and/or Blood Test Issues
If an officer stops a driver and administers a breath test or takes a blood sample, they must adhere to Arizona law regarding using, maintaining, and testing breathalyzers and taking blood. Officers that fail to follow required practices create an opening for a DUI defense attorney to challenge the results, possibly resulting in the prosecutor dropping the charges. The officer might have administered the breath test wrong, the machine might not have been calibrated correctly, or the officer administering the test may not have been properly trained on how to use the machine. Furthermore, Arizona law bars officers from taking a blood sample for a DUI blood alcohol content test without a warrant. If an officer took blood without the defendant’s consent, the results may be inadmissible in court.
Lack of Evidence
Regardless of the charge, a court must find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to issue a conviction. If a police officer has no evidence other than a breath or blood test result, or other evidence that can be challenged, a lawyer may successfully raise a reasonable doubt argument. Perhaps the officer that conducted the stop did not have the defendant do field sobriety tests, or they didn’t find any evidence of intoxication when administering them, such as problems with balance, slurred speech, or bloodshot eyes. This evidence is necessary to establish probable cause for arrest, and if absent, raises an argument of insufficient evidence.
A driver with certain health conditions might show signs of intoxication, and some prescription medications will register on a breathalyzer, even when that person is sober. Fatigue, brain injuries, and medications may also cause slurred speech. Persons with asthma and who use an inhaler will typically register on a breath test. The smallest amount of alcohol in the vapor may cause a high reading. Diabetics are especially at risk for exhibiting symptoms of intoxication and registering on a breathalyzer. Low blood sugar can cause slurred speech, fatigue, disorientation, and poor motor control; high blood sugar might lead to ketoacidosis which produces acetones in a diabetic’s breath. The breathalyzer will read the acetones as alcohol and show high level results.
Lack of Actual Physical Control
Arizona law dictates that a driver must have had “actual physical control” of a motor vehicle when they were intoxicated for a court to issue a DUI conviction. Law enforcement sometimes has difficulty ascertaining who was driving if there are multiple people in a vehicle. If a person was charged with Extreme DUI at the scene of an accident but was not the person driving, or the officer did not verify with the evidence that they were driving, a lawyer may be able to challenge the charges. Anyone who has been charged with Extreme DUI when they were sleeping in their car might also be able to fight the charges based on the fact that they did not have actual physical control of the car.
Hire an Extreme DUI Attorney Serving Mesa & Tempe
Between court costs, costs associated with alcohol screening and education, high-risk insurance premiums, and more, an Extreme DUI conviction might cost a defendant well over $15,000–and this figure does not take into account the impact a conviction might have on a job, the ability to drive, personal relationships, and other aspects of a person’s life. If you have been charged with Extreme DUI, you have a lot on the line. Get the best advocate available to help you challenge the charges and protect your future.
Whether you are in jail, have been released, or you are looking for an experienced DUI attorney for a friend or family member in Mesa or Tempe, let the experienced legal team at McPhie Law review your case. The best defense takes time, so the sooner you take charge of your case, the better your results may be. Contact McPhie Law today at (480) 400-5555 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to serve you.