Aggravated DUI

Arizona Aggravated DUI on a Suspended, Revoked, or Restricted License

Arizona is notoriously strict about driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Drunk driving charges can remain on your driving record for a lifetime. Arizona has two levels of aggravated DUI charges, both of which are felonies.

A DUI conviction in Arizona can result in severe fines, revocation of your driver’s license, a permanent criminal record, and even mandatory jail time. The Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC is proud to represent defendants in this type of DUI case through every stage of the process.

Attorney Karl A. Mueller worked on aggravated DUI cases for over five years as an Arizona state prosecutor. He knows the strengths and weaknesses of prosecutors’ cases, and he can respond accordingly.

Call the Best Gilbert DUI Attorney Today at 602-697-8761 for your free consultation.

What Behaviors Can Lead to Aggravated DUI Charges in Arizona?

Drunk driving charges fall under a broad umbrella. The difference between a regular DUI charge and an aggravated one depends on your blood alcohol content, your prior driving history, and even who else was in the car with you.

Some of the behaviors that lead to aggravated DUI charges in Arizona include:

  • Accumulating multiple DUI convictions in a five-year period
  • DUI driving with a suspended, revoked, or restricted license
  • Driving with a child under the age of 15 in the car
  • Driving against the flow of traffic while intoxicated
  • Intoxicated driving when a judge has required you to install an ignition interlock device

Each of these charges is a felony in Arizona. Some are class 4 felonies, while others are class 6 felonies, and the state lays down strict penalties for both. Class 4 aggravated DUI felony convictions come with a minimum of four months of jail time, thousands of dollars in fees and fines, probation, mandatory counseling, an ignition interlock device (IID) on your car, and possible revocation of your driver’s license. The penalties for a class 6 felony are similar but lower.

What Penalties Are There for Aggravated DUIs?

Arizona’s mandatory minimum sentences for aggravated DUI charges vary based on the exact nature of the charge. In some of these cases, a DUI lawyer may be able to negotiate a less severe penalty than the law requires.

Having Multiple DUI Convictions

One of the first things police officers and prosecutors will examine in any DUI case is your driving history. If you have accumulated two or more DUI charges in the five years leading up to your third DUI arrest, the charges automatically become a class 4 felony under Arizona law.

The minimum penalty for a third DUI conviction includes at least four months of jail time, at least $4,000 in fines, 12 to 24 months of having an IID on your vehicle, and traffic survival school. A judge can also require you to participate in alcohol or drug treatment, including support groups and regular blood or urine testing. In the most severe cases, the state may even confiscate your car.

If you have a history of prior felony convictions, expect the prosecutors in your case to push for much higher penalties. With one prior felony, the maximum jail time for a felony DUI conviction goes up to 7.5 years. With two or more, that maximum time increases to 15 years.

Driving with a Suspended, Restricted, or Revoked License

Driving without a valid driver’s license is a crime in its own right, and driving while impaired compounds the penalties you face. If an officer of the law catches you driving under the influence while your license has been revoked, suspended, or otherwise restricted, this is a class 4 felony with a minimum of four months of jail time.

DUI with a Child Under 15 Years Old

If a child aged 14 or under is in your car at the time of your DUI charge, you will face a class 6 felony. The exact minimum prison term you face depends on your blood alcohol content and previous driving history.

Blood Alcohol Content First Offense Subsequent Offenses
0.08%-0.49% 10 days 90 days
0.15%-0.199% (Extreme DUI) 30 days 120 days
0.20% or greater (Super Extreme DUI) 45 days 180 days

In addition to the risk of jail time, you face suspension of your driver’s license, traffic survival school, regular drug and alcohol screening, thousands of dollars in fines, and a permanent criminal record.

Driving the Wrong Way

In 2018, Arizona added driving against the flow of traffic to its list of behaviors that can lead to an aggravated DUI charge. If police find that you were driving the wrong way and they can prove that you were intoxicated, you face class 4 felony charges.

DUI With an Ignition Interlock Device

If you have a history of driving under the influence of alcohol, a judge may have ordered you to install an ignition interlock device (IID) in your vehicle. These devices regularly measure your blood alcohol content and prevent the car from running if you have been drinking.

Getting a DUI under one of these orders is an automatic class 4 felony charge in Arizona. If convicted, you can expect your IID order to get at least 24 months longer, on top of your fines and other penalties.

What Happens After an Aggravated DUI Charge in Arizona?

One of the consequences of an aggravated DUI charge is that the state will automatically suspend your driver’s license for at least one year. It’s important to know that you can fight this. The only way you can get your license back sooner is to win both your court case and administrative case with the Arizona Motor Vehicles Department (MVD). These are separate processes with different burdens of proof.

If you win one of these cases, you may still lose the other. This is common in Arizona, and you shouldn’t lose hope if this happens. The MVD hearing is not a criminal trial, and vice versa, so their consequences are vastly different.

Your MVD hearing involves a very low standard of proof. The only thing the MVD needs to do is prove that you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This vastly limits the number of ways you can defend yourself. Your criminal court case, meanwhile, requires the prosecutors to provide proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” before a conviction. Even if you win in court, the MVD may suspend or revoke your license.

If you want to have a chance of winning either your MVD hearing or your court case, the first thing you have to do is show up. If you fail to defend yourself, you will lose by default. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is instrumental because your lawyer understands the court system and can tell you what to expect at each stage of the process.

Why Is It Important to Hire a DUI Defense Lawyer?

In any criminal case, the law entitles you to legal representation. This representation can make the difference in the outcome of your court case since a DUI lawyer can take the time to examine all the evidence and build a thorough argument to put your best foot forward.

Having a DUI defense lawyer on your side means you won’t be alone. In many cases, defense lawyers have been able to plead felony charges down to misdemeanors and, sometimes, even get the charges dismissed entirely. This can greatly reduce the lifelong consequences you face after DUI charges. Although no lawyer can guarantee such an outcome, having a dedicated attorney on your side should always be the first step toward that outcome.

A DUI lawyer is also instrumental when it comes to sentencing. If you go to court and plead guilty without defending yourself at all, the penalties you face will generally be more severe than if you fight your charges. Having an experienced, dedicated defense lawyer to argue for mitigating circumstances can make a huge difference in this phase of a court case.

Criminal law is a highly complex field. To navigate it, you need someone well versed in how it works. It may be possible to defend yourself, but if you want to succeed, it will take up nearly all your time and energy. Public defenders can be skilled, but they face a huge caseload and may not be able to give your case the attention you need. A dedicated DUI defense attorney is nearly always worth the investment.

What Are the Other Consequences of an Aggravated DUI Conviction in Arizona?

In Arizona, aggravated DUI cases automatically become felonies. Having a felony conviction on your criminal record can lead to a lot of negative effects down the line. Felonies show on your background check for the rest of your life. If you have one on your record, you may have trouble obtaining employment. Spending time in jail and losing your driver’s license could jeopardize your current job as well.

In addition to the minimum four months in prison, you may also be subject to a period of probation. This period is much more difficult than many of our clients think it will be. While you’re on probation, any criminal act—no matter how trivial—can land you back in jail. A felony probation period in Arizona includes frequent check-ins and a monthly fee, so it’s no small commitment.

Any criminal conviction comes with psychological consequences as well. People with felony records face more obstacles in life than people without them. These obstacles take a very real toll on your mental and physical health in ways that can be hard to imagine.

When you get your driver’s license back after your DUI conviction, you should also expect to pay much higher car insurance premiums than before your arrest.

After any DUI conviction, your judge may require you to perform community service. Although this is not a life-changing consequence compared to jail time or having your vehicle confiscated, it’s important to be aware of it and follow through with the judge’s orders to the letter.

Can a Judge Dismiss Your Aggravated DUI Case?

It isn’t common for judges to outright dismiss cases of aggravated DUI, but it does happen from time to time. This is where having an experienced DUI defense attorney can make a huge difference in your case. A lawyer may be able to make any of several arguments to the court. Depending on the facts of your case, these arguments may include:

  • Your breath or blood alcohol tests were inaccurate, poorly calibrated, or performed too late
  • You don’t have a history of driving under the influence
  • You have a medical condition that can cause inaccurate blood alcohol tests

If you plead guilty to criminal charges, your judge will not be able to sentence you to less jail time than the mandatory minimum. However, a skilled DUI defense lawyer may be able to negotiate with the prosecutors to allow you to plead to a lesser offense instead.

What Happens After You Serve Your Aggravated DUI Sentence in Arizona?

Arizona does not expunge or seal felony convictions under any circumstances. Once a judge convicts you of a felony, that felony is on your record for life. However, if you have an aggravated DUI felony on your record and you have completed all the terms of your sentence, you can petition the court to set the conviction aside.

A “set aside” notice tells anyone looking at the results of your background check, such as future employers, that you have complied with all the court’s orders and that you are finished with your case.

Contact the Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC as Soon as Possible After a DUI in Arizona

The Law Office of Karl A. Mueller, PLC has been representing the people of Gilbert, Tempe, Phoenix, and Arizona’s entire East Valley for decades. From the smallest traffic violations to the most complex aggravated DUI charges, our experienced team has seen it all.

We accept calls 24/7 and will do our best to accommodate your schedule. Contact us online or give us a call at 602-697-8761 to schedule your free initial consultation today.



1760 E. Pecos Road, Suite 332 Gilbert, AZ 85295


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