Is Jail Time Mandatory for DUI in Arizona?

Don't drink and drive

Driving is considered a privilege, not a right, in the United States and the state of Arizona is no exception. Getting behind the wheel of a motorized vehicle is a great responsibility because your actions come with serious consequences if mistakes are made.

While driving can be inherently dangerous, driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol drastically increases the amount of danger to yourself, your passengers and others that are sharing the road. Because of the life-threatening perils that can happen, driving infractions related to impairment carry severe penalties under Arizona DUI laws.

Arizona Law

In the great state of Arizona, residents and visitors are subjected to some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Starting out, Arizona has a “zero tolerance” policy in place that dictates that it is illegal for any person operating a motorized vehicle to be under the influence of any impairing substance.

Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, a DUI can be charged based on the discretion of the officer to decide the level of impairment. This may be confusing for some because the legal limit of Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is 0.08%. This means that there is no tolerance for any BAC if you are driving impaired as determined by the officer.

Under the state law, a person is guilty of driving under the influence if:

• Under the influence of alcohol, drug, vapor or toxic substance that causes impairment
• BAC higher than 0.08%
• Any drug in the driver’s system that falls under A.R.S 13-3401
• If operating a commercial vehicle and the BAC of the driver is greater than 0.04%.

Because of the serious consequences, Arizona enforces strict DUI laws in order to reduce the number of drunk motorists on the roads. Even if your breathalyzer test shows less than 0.08%, the officer has the authority to deem you too impaired to be driving and can still be charged with a DUI. If your breathalyzer shows 0.08% or higher, you are automatically guilty of a DUI.



If you’ve found yourself testing Arizona’s DUI laws and are now facing a charge, you should know that the Arizona DUI penalties are very harsh. The two most commonly asked questions are, “what happens when you get a DUI in Arizona?” and “do you go to jail for a DUI?” Below we will lay out what consequences you can expect with your DUI charge.

First DUI Offense

Even though it was your first violation of the DUI laws in Arizona, that does not mean that the law will be lenient with you. You can expect the following punishments to be enforced for the class 1 misdemeanor:

• Minimum of 10 consecutive days in jail unless you complete an alcohol/drug screening treatment program and the court may reduce to one day in jail. The sentence could be up to a maximum of six months.
• Pay $250 base fine but could total more than $2500 in fees and fines.
• Sentenced to complete community service and potentially up to three years of probation.
• The court can order you to pay an additional $500 to prison construction and operation fund.
• The court can order you to pay an additional $500 to public safety equipment fund.
• Must install a certified ignition device into your vehicle.
• Your license will be suspended between 90 and 360 days.

So, the answer to the question; yes, there is one-day mandatory jail time for DUIs, even if it is your first offense. The jail time you can face increases significantly depending on what number offense it is and the type of DUI you are charged with. As you can see, facing mandatory jail time can make things extremely difficult if you have a job. However, the judge may set certain days and times for DUI work release.

Types of DUIs

• Second/Third Offense
• Extreme DUI- this charge is mandated when the BAC is over the legal limit but below 0.15%
– Mandatory jail sentence of 30 days.
– Fines from $500-2,500.
– License suspension and certified ignition device must remain installed for at least one year after the license has been reinstated.
• Aggravated DUI
– With no license
– With prior convictions
– With children under 15 years of age in the car
• Super Extreme DUI- offenders are charged with this DUI when they are pulled over with a BAC greater than 0.20%

Pulled Over?

Seeing the lights flash in your mirror can be a terrifying sight, especially if you have been drinking. While you may not think that you were impaired but there is probably a reason for why the officer stopped you. Before letting the panic set in, remember the following advice:

• Pull over safely
• Remain silent and let them know that you wish to remain silent
• Refuse the field sobriety test
• If you have been drinking, the breathalyzer test can be refused, but this will result in the officer arresting you on the spot and taking you in for the chemical test at the station.
• If you have not been drinking, you can agree to take the breathalyzer test.
• If you are arrested, do not say anything and ask to speak with an attorney.

What to do if You’ve Been Charged with a DUI

If you are facing a DUI charge, having an experienced attorney on your side is absolutely crucial for minimizing the punishments and long-term damage. At Sonoran Law Group, we understand the aggressive and unreliable tactics that police officers try to use to seek DUIs and we believe in fighting hard for your rights.

With years of experience on both sides of the courtroom, we know how to present your best possible defense to achieve the best results possible. Seek our expertise today and contact us for your free case evaluation at by clicking here.