Phoenix Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer

Have you been arrested for DUI?

If you have been charged with DUI, you are not alone. Arrests for drunk driving or drugged driving are on the rise, and law enforcement agencies all over Arizona have put a massive amount of money and energy into sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and other activities specifically designed to nab people suspected of driving under the influence.

At Castañeda Law, we know that more and more people are facing DUI charges. We also know that there are a significant number of defenses that might be available in your case. The DUI laws are complicated, and the consequences of a conviction are serious. Even though a simple DUI, without more, is generally a misdemeanor, loss of your driver’s license alone can create huge problems for your career, you family, and even your everyday activities. When you add the thousands of dollars in fines and assessments, along with the possibility of jail time, the consequences can be enormous.

If you are facing a DUI charge, you need to know what your rights are, and how to protect them. Call Castañeda Law today to schedule a consultation.

How is DUI Defined in Arizona?

The laws on driving under the influence are contained largely in Chapter 4, Article 3 of Title 28 (Transportation Code) of the Arizona Revised Statutes. A.R.S. 28-1381 says that driving (or being in actual physical control) or a vehicle is unlawful if you are (1) under the influence of drugs and/or liquor and you are impaired to the “slightest degree, (2) if you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 or more, or (3) if there is any one of thousands of drugs (or a metabolite of any one of those drugs) in your system. The standard for commercial drivers is more rigorous, and if you are driving a commercial vehicle, a BAC of 0.04, or half the legal limit for other drivers, will support a DUI charge.

Defenses to a DUI Charge

Having defined the offense, many questions remain. And the answers to those questions could well provide a defense in your case. Here are some examples:

  • Example 1. You are charged with drunk driving based upon a breath test that showed your BAC to be 0.08. Who performed the test? Was the person qualified to administer it? When was the testing equipment last calibrated? These questions can raise issues that could well affect the outcome in your case.
  • Example 2. You are charged with drunk driving. Field sobriety tests (FST’s) were performed by an officer who says you failed the FST’s and therefore were drunk. Was the officer qualified to administer the tests and evaluate the results. Were the tests actually standard FST’s? Or did the officer deviate and administer tests that were designed to confuse the listener? FST results can be challenged and challenged successfully.
  • Example 3. You are charged with drugged driving. You were examined by an officer who says he is a drug recognition expert. In fact, the officer has little or no training, and is not certified. The lack of qualifications can be used in your defense.
  • Example 4. You received a DUI after being stopped at a sobriety checkpoint. The checkpoint did not utilize neutral standards to determine who would be stopped. In fact, most of those stopped, including you, are Hispanic, even though most of the drivers passing through the checkpoint were white. An illegal stop means that all the evidence collected as a result, including breath tests, may be inadmissible, leading to the dismissal of the charge against you.

These are just a few examples of defenses that could lead to a dismissal or a not guilty verdict in your case.

Medical Marijuana as a DUI Defense

Taking a particular medication prescribed by a doctor, even if you are taking it as prescribed, is generally not a defense to a DUI drug charge. However, in the case of medical marijuana, the Arizona Supreme Court has ruled that having a valid medical marijuana card may be used as an affirmative defense in a DUI case. Using the medical marijuana defense successfully requires that you show (by a preponderance of the evidence) that the level of THC and/or its metabolites in your system was insufficient to cause actual impairment.

Aggravated DUI and Extreme DUI

Not all DUI’s are the same. Aggravated DUI is a felony, and consists of DUI plus an additional factor, such as committing a third DUI within 84 months (known as the “lookback” period); DUI with a child passenger (under the age of 15); DUI while under an order to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle; or DUI while you license is suspended or revoked for a prior DUI.

Extreme DUI is a class 1 misdemeanor, and depends entirely on your BAC. Under A.R.S. 13-1382, if your blood alcohol level is 0.15 or more, you could be facing a charge of extreme DUI. If the level is 0.20 or more, it is commonly known as “super extreme DUI.”

What are the DUI Penalties in Arizona?

In the simplest first time DUI case, you can expect the following:

  • Fines and assessments in excess of $1,000;
  • Revocation of your driver’s license;
  • Points on your license;
  • Community restitution;
  • Installation, at your cost, of an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle(s);
  • Completion of an alcohol assessment/treatment program; and
  • Jail time of at least 10 days. Under certain circumstances, all the jail time except one day may be suspended.

If you have a prior DUI history, or if the charge is aggravated DUI or extreme DUI, the potential penalties will increase, in some cases dramatically.

Defending DUI Charges in Phoenix, AZ

The DUI laws are complex, and the consequences of a conviction are significant. If you are facing a DUI charge, you need to know what to expect, and whether there are any defenses you can raise. At Castañeda Law, our attorneys are experienced at defending clients charged with DUI. We will provide you with an honest and accurate assessment of your case. Contact us today to see how we can help.

Call us at (602) 560-3131 for a consultation

Contact Castañeda Law for a consultation


4001 N 3rd St. Suite 405, Phoenix, AZ 85012
(602) 560-3131


999 18th St., Suite 3000, Denver CO 80202
(303) 386-7136


Castañeda Law is a criminal and immigration law firm with offices in Arizona and Colorado.

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