What Happens to Out of State Residents Arrested for Drunk Driving DUI in Arizona?

Maybe you were in Arizona for a spring training game. Maybe you were here visiting relatives. Maybe you were here for a business conference. Maybe you were just passing through on a road trip. Whatever the case may be, if you live out-of-state and were arrested for drunk driving and got a DUI while you were visiting Arizona, here’s what you need to know.

It’s pretty much common knowledge that Arizona has harsh penalties for DUI offenses, particularly in and around Scottsdale where the nightlife is constantly booming.

So it seems second nature to us Arizonans to always plan ahead—carpool, designate a sober driver or take a cab. We’ve heard too many stories of friends getting DUI’s and we’ve learned that it’s not worth it.

But what about the millions of visitors who come in and out of Sky Harbor International each year? What happens when visitors from out-of-town happen to land themselves a DUI while out at night enjoying themselves on vacation?

Technically, it is always a citizens’ responsibility to know the laws of the land. Being somewhere that you don’t consider “home” doesn’t get you any pity points from police officers. If you break the law, you must serve the sentence.

Can I Really Get a DUI with a BAC Under 0.08?

Yes. In Arizona, you can be convicted of DUI even if your blood alcohol content was below 0.08. The law here only requires that your driving be impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Will I Have to Serve Jail Time?

Arizona has strict DUI laws with mandatory incarceration for all DUI convictions. If convicted, you may be required to serve jail time in Arizona. A conviction may also affect your driver’s license, your vehicle insurance rates, and your employment.

For the Arizona resident, 30 days jail is a tremendous burden. However, at least with work release, you should be able to keep your employment. If you live out-of-state and are sentenced to 30 days jail in Arizona, your job and your career is now in jeopardy. How many employers are going to say, “sure, take thirty days off to go serve a jail term in Arizona, no problem?” This misdemeanor offense can have penalties that could ruin someone’s livelihood.

There are a few solutions that may help remedy the problem. An out-of-state visitor can request an order to do their jail in their home state. That request is almost always granted. However, the judge will tell you it is your responsibility to find a jail in your home state that will comply with the incarceration order. This is easier said than done because jails are overflowing as it is, so it may be unlikely they will house you for a full 30 days!

Do I Need To Hire an Arizona DUI Attorney?

As a non-resident, it is important to hire an experienced Arizona Drunk Driving (DUI) attorney to defend you. As opposed to out-of-state attorneys and lawyers, a local law firm will better know the Arizona DUI laws and the most effective defenses. If you did not commit the crime, you should not pay the time.

If this was your first drunk driving DUI arrest, your attorney may be able to make arrangements so that you will not have to personally appear in court. Your Arizona DUI attorney will appear on your behalf, participate in the pretrial hearing, and negotiate your case with the prosecution. If the two sides reach a deal that is agreeable to you, you can attend the final hearing telephonically.

If your Arizona DUI case goes to trial, you will have to return to Arizona for your court date.

What If I Go Back to my Home State and Do Nothing about my DUI?

If you are arrested for DUI in Arizona, do not go back to your home state and think that ignoring it will alleviate your problems. When you do not show up for your court appearance, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If you are ever in Arizona again and you have contact with the police, you will be arrested. Likewise, if you have contact with police in your home state, they will see the warrant for your arrest in Arizona and they will arrest you. Your home state will then inform Arizona authorities that they can come get you if they want. Arizona will notify your home state about your arrest, which may interfere with your ability to renew your driver’s license in your home state.

If you live out-of-state have been arrested for DUI in Arizona, contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case. Let us take the worry out of your life and get you back on track to a brighter future.

Photo credit: Ken Lund from Flickr