Friday, November 5, 2010

Arizona DUI Charges Become a Felony If Kids Are in the Car

You may not realize that aggravated DUI charges aren't necessarily dependent on your blood alcohol content. While a BAC reading over 0.15 will convert your DUI from a misdemeanor to a class three felony if you live in Arizona, other factors can increase the severity of the charges as well.

For example, according to Arizona law, if you are charged with your third DUI within a seven year time period, you are automatically charged with a felony. Another factor that can lead to the increased penalty is the presence of minors in the vehicle at the time of the arrest. If you had passengers in your car who were children under age fifteen when you were stopped for your DUI, Arizona law dictates that you may be charged with felony DUI. The higher penalty for the involvement of minors applies whether or not you have any previous drunk driving convictions or previous criminal history. This is especially worrisome because even though your record has been entirely clear up until this point, you could be hit with the DUI law's most extreme penalties.

Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws in the nation; charged with felony, or aggravated, DUI means a person will usually face mandatory jail time, higher fines and court costs or fees, loss of their driver's' license for up to three years, mandatory counseling, therapy, and treatment, and continuing monitoring and probation after release from jail.

In addition to the automatic bump from misdemeanor to felony, the prosecutor may decide to make an example of you. If you had minors under fifteen in your car when you were arrested the state of Arizona may decide to also charge you with child abuse or child endangerment. Suddenly, your already serious criminal charges rise to a completely different level of severity. While such charges are generally assessed at the prosecutor's discretion, they are always a possibility.

Felony charges are some of the most serious charges you can be confronted with. A felony record can cause life-long complications, affecting your career prospects, educational opportunities, ability to parent, and numerous other aspects of life that you may take for granted.

In light of the serious implications of felony charges, and the severity of Arizona DUI laws, if you live in the Phoenix area it is imperative that you hire a Phoenix DUI attorney to assist you in your defense. An Arizona DUI attorney will have the experience and knowledge required to obtain the best possible outcome for you. An attorney may be able to obtain a reduced sentence which avoids any jail time, get the charges reduced, or establish that probable cause was lacking when you were initially pulled over.

In order to have the best possible chance of clearing your name, contact an attorney to advise you today.


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