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Ambien DUI

How Ambien Puts You Under the Influence

Ambien DUI

Ambien, also known by its generic name, Zolpidem, acts as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant. When you take Ambien, your brain activity slows down, allowing insomnia sufferers to get some much needed sleep. However, drugs that act as CNS depressants can have some serious side effects in regard to your memory and motor function. When brain activity is slowed down due to a CNS depressant, the parts of your brain responsible for memory, motor skills, and decision-making are slowed down too.

Combined with the changes in your brain during sleep — or worse, when taken with another depressant, like alcohol — this drug can lead you to engage in dangerous behavior that you may not even be aware of and will likely not remember in the morning.

Sleep walking, sleep eating, and even sleep sex are not uncommon side effects of Ambien, but unfortunately, these sleep behaviors don’t end there. Some insomnia sufferers taking Ambien wake up behind the wheel of a car with police lights flashing in the rearview mirror. “Sleep drivers” perform the complex task of driving while in a half-conscious state between sleeping and waking. Motor function impairment makes sleep driving incredibly dangerous. Sleep drivers are often discovered running into parked cars or driving the wrong way on one-way roads and freeways. Some sleep drivers are even completely unconscious when this behavior occurs.

Sleep drivers charged with driving under the influence often ask, “How can I be held responsible for a DUI when I didn’t even know what I was doing?” That’s a complex question with answers that vary depending on the exact details of your case. In Arizona, voluntarily taking a substance that impairs your ability to drive — even if you didn’t intend to get behind the wheel — makes you accountable for a DUI, despite being unable to remember it later.

The second question sleep drivers ask is, “How can I get in trouble for taking a medication prescribed by my doctor?” While other states limit DUI charges to illicit substances and alcohol, Arizona does not make such a distinction. In fact, Zolpidem is specifically listed as a “dangerous drug” by statute 13-3401. Any amount of Zolpidem in your system puts you legally under the influence of a dangerous substance. This law makes it difficult to defend yourself against DUI charges without legal counsel, even when you’re simply following your doctor’s orders.

That being said, you can still fight Ambien DUI charges — and win your case. A defense attorney with experience trying Ambien DUI cases can help you develop a case that may limit the consequences of this type of charge. The fact that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently recommended lowering doses is also an asset to defendants, as judges increasingly become aware of the involuntary risks of this drug. Courts are also increasingly marking the distinction between amnesia and unconsciousness while driving under the influence. Amnesia implies that the driver was aware of his or her actions and later forgot, while unconscious drivers took the wheel without any awareness or control of his or her behavior and therefore can’t be held entirely responsible.

Other Ambien DUI cases arise when law enforcement officers order a urine or blood test to establish whether or not a driver was under the influence. If this test reveals any amount of Ambien, you may still receive a DUI, even if you’re not impaired. However, legal precedent has recently tipped in favor of the driver in these situations. In a recent Arizona case, a medical expert informed the court that although the DUI defendant had an involuntary eye-jerk reaction during a sobriety test, Ambien could cause this eye dysfunction without causing any driving impairment.

Each Flagstaff DUI attorney at the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier has a high-level understanding of the unique issues associated with Ambien DUI cases. If you’ve been charged with an Ambien-related DUI that you may not even remember, contact our office to find out how we can help you achieve the most beneficial outcome for your case.

Person Drinking & Driving

Consequences for Arizona DUI Conviction

Person Drinking & Driving

In Arizona, you may be charged with varying degrees of DUI offenses depending on the level of your blood alcohol content. These charges are categorized as follows:

Driving While Impaired to the Slightest Degree

This is a class 1 misdemeanor and codified in A.R.S. 28-1381(A)(1). This offense takes place if a driver is at all impaired. Though many believe that 0.08 is the legal blood alcohol concentration limit, they might be surprised to learn that an individual with a BAC lower than 0.08 can be charged with a DUI. Furthermore, an individual need not have consumed any alcohol, but might also be charged with a DUI impaired to the slightest degree if under the influence of some other substance. Persons guilty of this offense are subject to the following penalties: a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, a minimum fine of $250, possible restitution, two additional fees of $500 each, and the installation of an ignition interlock device on the defendant’s vehicle. As far as DUI related offenses go, this charge is the most common and if you or someone you know is charged with a greater DUI offense, they will most likely be charged with this offense as well.

DUI Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Above 0.08 Percent

Also a class 1 misdemeanor, A.R.S. 28-1381(A) states that an individual may be convicted of a DUI “If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle.” However, this offense is not limited to these circumstances, as this statute provides that an individual may be convicted of DUI if the defendant is driving while under the influence of any intoxicating liquor, drug, or vapor releasing substance; or if the vehicle driven at the time of the offense requires a commercial driver’s license and that driver’s BAC is above 0.04. Persons guilty of this offense are subject to a minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, a fine of $250, community restitution, two additional fees of $500 each, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Arizona Extreme DUI

Also a class 1 misdemeanor, this offense is codified in A.R.S. 28-1382 which states, “It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state if the person has an alcohol concentration as follows within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle: (1) 0.15 or more but less than 0.20 (2) 0.20 or more.” Persons guilty of this offense are subject to the following penalties: a minimum jail sentence of 30 days, a fine of $250, an additional fee of $250, payment of restitution, installation of an ignition interlock device, and an additional fee of $1,000.

Arizona Aggravated / Felony DUI

Codified in A.R.S. 28-1383, this offense is classified as either a class 4 or class 6 felony, depending on the elements of the offense. This statute states “A. A person is guilty of aggravated driving or actual physical control while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs if the person does any of the following: 1. Commits a violation of section 28-1381, section 28-1382, or this section while the person’s driver license or privilege to drive is suspended, canceled, revoked, or refused or while a restriction is placed on the person’s driver license or privilege to drive as a result of violating section 28-1381 or 28-1382 or under section 28-1385. 2. Within a period of 84 months commits a third or subsequent violation of section 28-1381, section 28-1382, or this section or is convicted of a violation of section 28-1381, section 28-1382, or this section and has previously been convicted of any combination of convictions of section 28-1381, section 28-1382, or this section; or acts in another jurisdiction that if committed in this state would be a violation of section 28-1381, section 28-1382, or this section. 3. While a person under 15 years of age is in the vehicle, commits a violation of either: (a) Section 28-1381. (b) Section 28-1382. 4. While the person is ordered by the court or required pursuant to section 28-3319 by the department to equip any motor vehicle the person operates with a certified ignition interlock device, commits a violation of section 28-1381, section 28-1382, or this section.” Persons convicted of this offense are subject to the following penalties: a minimum sentence of 4 months in the Arizona Department of Correction, a maximum jail time of 2.5 years, mandatory drug/alcohol screening and any applicable counseling, a minimum fine of $750, an additional fee of $250, an additional fee of $1500, a three-year license revocation, and the installation of an ignition interlock device.

Further Information About Arizona DUIs

If an additional offense is committed within a specific time period of the original offense, any sentences, fees, or other penalties will become significantly greater. For instance, if someone who has been convicted of either DUI above 0.08 or DUI to the slightest degree is convicted of a second offense within a period of 84 months of the original offense, the defendant is subject to a minimum sentence of 120 days in jail, a fine of $250, 30 hours of community restitution, a revocation of driving privileges for at least one year, and two additional fees of $1,250 each.

Arizona DUI Representation

If you’ve been charged with DUI in Flagstaff, Arizona, take a moment to speak with experienced trial lawyers Gonzales & Poirier about your case. Our no-obligation consultation will help you to determine your legal situation and the possible consequences if convicted to the full extent of the law. Our lawyers aggressively negotiate with prosecutors; fighting to get your charges reduced or dismissed altogether. Please call (855) 774-5400 or click here to schedule a meeting today.

Man Being Pulled Over for DUI

What Are the Costs for an Arizona DUI?

Man Being Pulled Over for DUI Getting a DUI in the state of Arizona is a big deal. You are heavily fined, spend time in jail, could potentially lose your job, and also have your insurance suspended. Add in the potential for injuring someone while you drink and drive, coupled with the social stigma, and you have one bad decision with serious consequences.

As you may know, you can be arrested for DUI if you are found to be in control of a vehicle while having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or above. This falls to 0.04 percent when driving a commercial vehicle. Given the relatively low price of alcohol from stores, finding yourself over the limit is a rather cheap endeavor. Unfortunately, the costs associated with a DUI in Arizona are substantial — some would say surprising — and we outline them below.

The True Financial Cost of a DUI Conviction

You would be forgiven for thinking the cost of a DUI is relatively low. Yet this completely overlooks all the associated costs, which are considerable, as you can see:

  • Basic Fines: An average of $1,600 for a first offense. This increases to an average of $4,000 on a second offense and can be as high as $10,000 for a third offense.
  • Towing: After an arrest, your vehicle will get towed. This can cost a basic fee of $100 plus a cost-per-mile charge. At least it is not Chicago, where towing costs $1,200! You can also expect to pay for the cost of storing your vehicle.
  • Court Costs: Up to $1,500.
  • DUI Classes: Up to $185.
  • DUI Attorney Fees: Up to $2,000 but can be as low as $500. You can, of course, try to defend yourself, but if you want to have the best chance of winning the case, you need an knowledgeable DUI defense attorney.
  • Bail: Anywhere from $200 to $5,000.
  • License Reinstatement: You may need to pay up to $500 to have your license reinstated after a DUI conviction.

Ignition Interlock Device

Expect to pay for installation and a monthly service fee.

Woman Using Ignition Interlock Device

Arizona commonly requires individuals convicted of a DUI offense to install an ignition interlock device (IID), which can cost approximately $1,200 annually.

The state of Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country. Even if it’s your first offense, you will be required to place an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on your vehicle. It is a machine that records your BAC when you blow into it, and if you are over the limit and attempt to drive, the vehicle will not start. An IID normally costs up to $200 to install, and the monthly rental fees can be as high as $100. Over the course of one year, that’s $1,200! Then you have to pay more money for calibration and regular maintenance.

Loss of Income

If you are employed, a DUI conviction could prove disastrous since jail time is mandatory even for a first-time offender. Depending on the severity of the conviction, you could spend anywhere from 10 days to 4 months in prison. Then you need to appear in court, which also eats into work time. Assuming you earn the average Arizona annual wage of $47,000, a one-month stint in prison could cost you almost $4,000.

Cost of Second and Third DUI Offenses

There are a number of factors taken into consideration during DUI cases in Arizona, including a judge’s interpretation of the facts. Jail terms and financial penalties depend on whether property damage, bodily harm, or dangerous driving were results of the driver’s actions. As we already outlined, first offenses carry relatively stiff penalties along with license suspension, so things only get much worse for repeat offenders.

If you commit a second DUI offense within the state of Arizona inside a 10-year period, the initial fines and overall costs get higher, along with more severe jail terms. By your third conviction, there is a chance your driver’s license will be permanently revoked. Fines can be as high as $10,000 for a third offense, and if you get four months in jail, your loss of earnings will be close to $16,000, assuming you are on the average annual salary mentioned above. Frankly, loss of employment is likely in this scenario.

Rising Cost of Insurance

This really hits hard, as it is not unusual for insurers to double the cost of your insurance after a DUI charge. If you want to get your license reinstated, it is necessary to file an SR-22 Proof of Responsibility form. This makes it impossible for drivers to conceal their DUI conviction from insurance companies.

In the world of automobile insurance, there are three kinds: standard, secondary market, and assigned risk pool. Standard policies are the cheapest and don’t include drunk drivers and other motorists who have filed SR-22s. Secondary market insurance is much more expensive and is for people who have been convicted of a motoring offense in general. Assigned risk pool insurance is exorbitant and is only for those who can’t get insurance anywhere else.

Additional DUI Costs

A number of other costs can bring the total financial damage of a first-time DUI conviction in Arizona towards the $15,000 barrier. While some individuals may be fortunate enough to get a temporary hardship license that allows them to drive to and from work or school while their license is suspended, others are not so fortunate. A DUI conviction in Arizona is also likely to hinder future employment opportunities, as the conviction will be a matter of public record and will show up on a company’s background check.

Conclusion

Overall, the cost of a first-time DUI varies depending on the state, and in Arizona it can be anywhere from $8,000 to $24,000. If you are convicted again, this cost absolutely skyrockets to the point where it could put you in financial peril.

It’s clear that getting convicted for DUI in Arizona is one of the most expensive mistakes of any person’s life. If you believe you have been wrongfully arrested, take action now and contact an respected DUI attorney in Arizona to help fight your corner.

References

Car keys gavel alcohol

The Consequences if Convicted of a DUI in Arizona

Car Keys, Gavel & Alcoholic Drink One of the worst things you can do when arrested for DUI in Arizona is nothing. Most people are familiar with the typical fines and penalties associated with a DUI conviction, but few stop to consider the long-term negative consequences. Not only will you suffer financially, you could find your employment status, credit record, and even your very reputation irreparably damaged.

Immediate Consequences of a DUI Conviction in Arizona

In Arizona, a standard DUI is classified as being caught driving a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher. This level is lowered to 0.04 percent if you drive a commercial vehicle. An extreme DUI is the charge if your BAC is over 0.15 percent, and there is now a super extreme DUI if your BAC is above 0.2 percent. The immediate penalties are as follows:

  • Fines: These can range from a base fine of $250 for a first offense to over $2,400 if convicted of extreme or super extreme DUI. This does not include any payments for damages you may have caused.
  • Jail Time: In the state of Arizona, you can expect to spend a minimum of 10 days in jail if convicted for DUI for the very first time. A third DUI conviction will see you hit with a minimum of four months in jail.
  • Ignition Interlock Device: This is similar to a breathalyzer but is connected to your vehicle dashboard, and drivers previously convicted of DUI will be legally required to blow into the device before driving. If the IID finds your BAC to be above the legal limit, your vehicle will not start. You have to pay for installation, which is around $100, and another $50 to $100 per month as a “lease” payment.
  • License Suspension: Your license will be suspended for 90 days as a minimum on a first offense, and this rises to 12 months if you are a repeat offender. In some instances, your license may be revoked entirely.
  • Preventative Programs: The court’s sentence could also include programs for alcohol teaching and prevention. You may even be sentenced to community service.

Employment Status

However, the negative consequences of a DUI conviction in Arizona extend far beyond the immediate punishment. Here are five ways it hurts your employment status as well:

  1. License Suspension: Assuming you don’t get an exemption for work, a license suspension forces you to rely on public transportation or expensive taxis to get to work. It wreaks havoc with your schedule, and if your job requires you to drive, say hello to the unemployment line. Additionally, a DUI stays on your commercial driving record for decades, so getting another job in this field is nigh on impossible.
  2. Loss of Employment: An increasing number of organizations have mandatory firing policies, which allow them to terminate an employee’s contract for extreme misconduct and/or criminal convictions. If your company has such a policy, you are required to notify them immediately, and then you can expect to be fired.
  3. Job Applications: While not all employers ask about convictions and arrests, the vast majority will, and the DUI stays on your record for up to five years. Though they won’t tell you, the employer is likely to reject your application because of this, and you’ll never know whether or not you would have got the job otherwise.
  4. Missed Work: Even if you’re not fired, a DUI conviction will cause problems at work. There is the small matter of taking days off to go to court, and you may also be required to attend a program for alcohol treatment. Finally, you will miss work in Arizona since even a first DUI conviction will see you in jail for 10 days!

Escalating Insurance Costs

As your driving record will show insurers your DUI conviction, expect your rate to increase by an average of 25 to 35 percent, according to Bill Martin, a senior vice president at Farmers Insurance. However, it is not unusual for drivers to see their insurance quote double when it’s time for renewal, assuming the insurer even wants your business. The level of increase depends on a number of factors, including age, driving history, circumstances of arrest, and number of previous DUIs.

Additionally, if you have been convicted of DUI in Arizona and are looking to renew your license, you need to get a form called (Certificate of Insurance) SR-22 from your insurance company to have your license suspension removed. The DMV needs this form as proof you have liability insurance. If your current insurer does not offer SR-22 policies, you will be forced to change insurers.

Injury/Death

Although Arizona has among the harshest set of DUI laws in the United States, accidents caused by drunk drivers are still a major problem. On the plus side, the absolute number of deaths due to drunk driving is down by 46 percent in the 2007 to 2012 timeframe, but the number of drunk driving deaths as a percentage of all road deaths in the state of Arizona has actually increased by over 7 percent from 2011 to 2012.

In 2012, there were 227 road deaths due to drunk driving, over 5,400 alcohol-related crashes where the driver had a BAC of 0.1 percent or more, and over 30,000 arrests. Can you imagine how those who caused the deaths of others feel? It is common for people in such situations to suffer serious psychological trauma as they are unable to come to terms with what they did. Don’t allow yourself to endure this misery; next time you’ve had a few drinks and are tempted to drive, take a taxi or allow a sober and fully licensed friend to drive instead.

There is simply too much to lose; the simple solution is to plan ahead and not drive if you intend on drinking alcohol or abstain and become a designated driver. With punishments including heavy fines, prison, potential loss of employment, and license suspension, a DUI in Arizona is a life-changing occurrence and one you want to avoid at all costs. If you believe you have been wrongfully arrested on a DUI charge, get in contact with knowledgeable DUI attorneys in Arizona to ensure you are not convicted.

Resources

Man Under Arrest for DUI

Real Criminal Case Result

Man Under Arrest for DUI

Lawyer Matthew Poirier fights for his clients legal rights and gets charges reduces, preventing up to 120 days in jail and $3,800 in fines.


The State of Arizona is widely known for having a tough stance on DUI offenders, with penalties ranging from fees, jail time and license suspensions, to prison sentences in some cases. At the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, we represent hundreds of clients each year in DUI related offenses; the results we have obtained for our clients speak for themselves and vouch for our commitment to aggressive, affordable, and effective representation in courts across the State of Arizona.

Our attorneys have amassed a record of consistently achieving impressive results for our clients with DUI charges, including reduced charges (such as numerous reductions to reckless driving, a traffic offense), prevention of license suspensions and multiple outright dismissals in which cases against our clients are thrown out of court.

Just recently, Matt Poirier successfully negotiated a plea agreement with the City of Flagstaff for a charge of Extreme Second DUI to an Extreme DUI. If our client was found guilty for an Extreme Second DUI he would be facing a mandated 120 days in jail and $3,800.00 in fines!

We were able to negotiate a plea agreement to an extreme DUI with with 9 days of jail instead of 120 days, work furlough so our client would not lose their job and a $2,800.00 fine. Matt was able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement because of his effective and aggressive representation. Matt pointed out legal issues about the stop and arrest and presented mitigating information about our client to the prosecutor.

If you have any questions about your criminal case or if you were recently stopped for a DUI contact the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier at 928-774-5400 or visit our website. We have obtained favorable results for clients throughout Arizona and Northern Arizona.

Car Driving at Night Time

Real Case Results – Arizona DUI Charges

Car Driving at Night Time

Our client was stopped and charged with an Extreme DUI for a blood alcohol content over .015. Matt was able to negotiate a plea agreement in both cases for a DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree.


The State of Arizona is widely known for having a tough stance on DUI offenders, with penalties ranging from fees, jail time and license suspensions, to prison sentences in some cases.

At the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, we represent hundreds of clients each year in DUI related offenses; the results we have obtained for our clients speak for themselves and vouch for our commitment to aggressive, affordable, and effective representation in courts across the State of Arizona. Our attorneys have amassed a record of consistently achieving impressive results for our clients with DUI charges, including reduced charges (such as numerous reductions to reckless driving, a traffic offense), prevention of license suspensions and multiple outright dismissals in which cases against our clients are thrown out of court.

Real Criminal Case Results: DUI

Through the aggressive representation of Matt Poirier we obtained a DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree plea agreement for our client in Verde Valley Justice Court. Our client was charged with Extreme DUI for a blood alcohol content over .015. The potential penalties for an Extreme DUI: Persons guilty of this offense are subject to the following penalties: a minimum jail sentence of 30 days, a fine of $250, an additional fee of $250, payment of restitution, installation of an ignition interlock device, and an additional fee of $1,000.

Just last week we fought for and obtained a DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree Plea Agreement for our client in Camp Verde Municipal Court. Our client was stopped and charged with an Extreme DUI for a blood alcohol content over .015.

Matt was able to negotiate a plea agreement in both cases for a DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree, which meant our clients paid a smaller fine and did not have to serve any additional jail time.

The attorneys at the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, PLLC carry vast amounts of experience and provide aggressive and affordable representation aimed at attaining the best possible results for our clients. Approaching each case with an individualized strategy tailored to the circumstances surrounding that case allows our lawyers to achieve optimal results while building meaningful relationships with our clients during what is often a very difficult period of time. Call us today for a free initial consultation at (928) 774-5400; or email us at matt@triallawyersaz.com. We help clients in DUI’s across the State, including Flagstaff, Sedona, Cottonwood, Camp Verde, Prescott, Holbrook, & Winslow

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