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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.