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What’s the Process if I get a Misdemeanor DUI in Arizona?

What’s the Process if I get a Misdemeanor DUI in ArizonaIf you are arrested for a DUI, extreme DUI, or super extreme DUI in Arizona, you will face a court proceeding to determine if you are guilty or innocent of the charge and what your punishment, if any, will be. You may feel confused and overwhelmed by what the process is and what to expect at each step.

In Arizona DUIs, extreme DUIs, and super extreme DUIs are all misdemeanor charges. They are governed by Arizona Revised Statutes §§ 28-1381 – 1382. If you are charged with a misdemeanor DUI, here’s the process you will face.

  1. Arrest: When you are arrested for DUI, you must comply with a blood, breath, or urine test to determine your blood-alcohol content. Failure to comply with this test will result in an automatic 1-year suspension of your driver’s license. Most people are released after they are processed by the police at the police station or in a mobile DUI unit. You will receive paperwork that informs you of your charges and your date for your arraignment.  You will most likely be ordered to appear at the city court where you were arrested. Do not confuse this with justice court, which is where other traffic violation cases are decided.
  2. Arraignment: Your arraignment is your first court appearance. It usually occurs within 30 days of your arrest. You will be formally informed of the charges against you and you will be asked to enter a plea of “not guilty,” “guilty,” or “no contest.” Except in rare circumstances, you should plead “not guilty.” If you do not say anything, a plea of “not guilty” will be entered upon your behalf. You will be informed of your right to an attorney, your right to remain silent, and whether you are eligible for a court-appointed attorney.  You will also be given the date for your pretrial conference. (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rules 4.1, 5.8, and 14.1)
  3. Pre-trial Conference: Your pre-trail conference will occur within 45 days of your arraignment. Here, your DUI attorney will negotiate with the prosecutor to see if the State can offer you a plea bargain. Your attorney will discuss the offer with you and whether you should take it. If you take the plea agreement, you may plead guilty to a lesser charge and accept the consequences of that plea. If you don’t come to an agreement, your case will go to trial. (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rules 16.4 and 16.5)
  4. Pre-trial Motions and Hearings: Your DUI attorney will file pre-trial motions and attend pre-trial hearings in an attempt to keep certain pieces of evidence from being used against you at trial. These motions must be submitted at least 20 days before trial and the prosecutor will have 10 days to respond. These motions and hearings may result in the charges being dismissed. (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rules 16.1-16.3 and 16.6)
  5. Trial: If your case gets to trial, your case will be heard by a judge and a jury, and the jury will decide if you are guilty or not guilty of DUI. If you opt for a bench trial, you case will be decided by the judge. For most people, it’s best to have your case decided by the jury. At your trial, your attorney and the prosecution will select the jury, present opening statements, question witnesses on the stand, and end with their closing arguments. The prosecution has the burden of proving that you are guilty. You are not required to testify on your behalf. (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rules 18-23)
  6. Sentencing: If you are found guilty of DUI, you will face a mandatory sentence in Arizona that will include jail time, fines, a suspended driver’s license, an ignition interlock device, probation. It also may include community service, drug and alcohol treatment, and an impounded vehicle. You may be sentenced at your trial or at a sentencing hearing that will occur within 30 days (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rules 26.2-26.3, 26.9-26.12, and 27)
  7. Appeal: If you feel you were unjustly convicted, you may appeal the conviction.  (Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 30)

If you have been arrested for DUI, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced Arizona DUI attorney as soon as possible to serve as your advocate. If you are arrested but not convicted of DUI, the above Arizona law will not apply to you if you have no other DUI or drug convictions. If you have been arrested for DUI, please contact an attorney for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case.

Photo credit: KeithBurtis from Flickr