How Is A DUI Defined In Arizona?
We have what I would call a threshold finding and that is a DUI, which is Driving Under the Influence. It has to be under the influence of something, such as alcohol, they actually refer to it under the law as Intoxicating Liquor. That is the technical term, under the influence of intoxicating liquor. One might say alcohol, as we will refer going forward. In some cases when a judge is talking about spirit, he is referring to liquor. The definition is if you are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or any vapor-releasing substance that contains a toxic substance, which is where people puff through a vapor like cigarette. I am not going to even consider that one now, it is so rare that I would ever see something like puffing, but you have to be impaired to the slightest degree by any of the substances aforementioned.
If you use alcohol or drugs, you are considered impaired even to the slightest degree. You do not have to actually be driving in Arizona. It is driving or being in “Actual Physical Control”, and I may sometimes just refer to it as physical control, but the technical definition is actual physical control. You do not have to have your hands on the steering wheel, the cars turned on or drive, and it does not require that of you. Therefore, it is very easy to get a DUI in Arizona. The only other thing I want to point out is it is anywhere in the state, that does not say on a road, a highway or a street in Arizona. It also includes private property, even in your own driveway, or somebody else's private property, such as a store.
That is the threshold, with DUI driving under the influence or physical control, if you are under the influence of one of those substances, and you are impaired to the slightest degree, that is just the first step. After that, there are other charges in Arizona for a DUI based on the level of a chemical test. It depends on what the level of alcohol is in your system. There are different gradations or steps; I refer to them usually as steps as if someone is going up a staircase, so different steps depending on how much alcohol is in your system. The process begins when they give you the test as long as it is within two hours of driving.
We do not care now when you are driving, but right after what happens, two hours later, we do. I just want to point that out. Remember, they may even take the test beyond the two hours of driving. They can try to use that test by using a scientist, criminalist, or an expert who can calculate formulas. It is also called retrograde extrapolation. It is not fatal even if they have actually gone beyond the two hours. We also have some DUIs in Arizona related to drugs. This is not a chemical test, but you must begin with that threshold which is being under the influence and impaired to the slightest degree.
If a drug is under the definition of the statute, the DUI statute states, if you are on one of those drugs, and it is under that drugs statute or it is metabolite in your body, then that is another way to receive a DUI. The defense suggest that if you have a prescription, like marijuana, but it was over time that you smoked the marijuana, and it is no longer active in your system, meaning the metabolite is now ineffective, but you have the drug in your car, that could still be an issue.
It has to be the active metabolites. You still have to make sure you are not under the influence to be able to get out of that. We do have felony DUIs if you are impaired to slightest degree or having a certain chemical in your system, such as alcohol or drugs. Then if you add one of four different factors that are called aggravating factors, you now have transformed what would have been a misdemeanor DUI into a felony DUI. That means you are going to go to prison if convicted. However, if you have an experienced defense attorney working hard on your case, myself included, then you might end up with only probation.
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