Here at Hastings & Hastings, we have been defending the rights of accident victims for over 35 years. We know that accidents have a wide variety of causes.No one means for an accident to happen. They are termed“accidents” for a reason after all.Typically, accidents happen because a driver is inattentive, distracted, or driving recklessly. Accidents of these types are often preventable. Perhaps the at-fault individual was driving over the speed limit, looking at their phone, or failed to check their rear-view mirror when changing lanes. Each of these incidents could have been avoided had proper driving protocol been followed.
DUI related accidents are not only the most preventable, they are also the deadliest. It is never excusable to get behind the wheel of a car when intoxicated. It is extremely dangerous and unlawful to drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. According to statistics gathered by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, 29,989 fatal car accidents occurred in the Unites states in 2014 resulting in the deaths of 32,675 people. It is estimated that 15,479 people were killed in accidents involving alcohol consumption. Only 32 percent of these individuals were killed with a blood alcohol content (BAC) above the legal limit of .08. This means that consuming alcohol and driving can be dangerous even if a driver is below the legal limit.
Today, we are going to discuss Arizona DUI laws and regulations. We are also going to take a close look at alcohol-related accident statistics and cover the important topic of drunk driving prevention.
The Specifics of DUI Laws and Regulations
All states place the legal limit in terms of driving while intoxicated at .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). BAC is the most commonly used metric to define intoxication. It is typically expressed in terms of a percentage of ethanol (alcohol) in the blood. A BAC of .08 means that an individual’s blood currently contains .08 percent alcohol by volume. The most common method for reading BAC during a traffic stop is through the use of a breathalyzer.
Breathalyzers function by detecting the presence of alcohol in an individual’s breath. Standard hand-held field breathalyzers us electrochemical platinum fuel cells to perform the analysis.
If someone is stopped by an officer and found to be driving a vehicle while possessing a BAC at or above .08 they are determined to be driving under the influence. It is important to note that you can be determined to be driving under the influence even with a BAC under .08 percent.
The purpose of a preliminary alcohol test such as those performed during a traffic stop is do determine if there is reasonable cause to arrest you for driving under the influence. You may refuse a field sobriety test, however, this refusal may supply the officer with the probable cause they need to arrest you. If you refuse to submit to a test after you have been arrested your license will be automatically suspended. Next, we will discuss specific DUI penalties.
First Offense – First-time DUI offenders will be jailed for no less than 10 consecutive days and be subject to fines no less than $1,250. In addition, offenders will be required to undergo alcohol screening, treatment, and educations. Finally, their vehicles will be equipped with a certified ignition interlock device and they will be required to perform community service.
Subsequent Offenses – Subsequent DUI offenses after the first will result in jail time of no less than 90 days and fines of no less than $3,000. Offender will also have their license suspended for 12 months. As with first-time offenses, individuals will undergo alcohol screening, treatment, and education. They will also be subject to the installation of a certified ignition interlock device in their vehicle. Finally, subsequent offenders will be ordered to perform community service.
Extreme DUIs occur when an individual is found to be driving with a BAC of 0.15 or greater.
First Offense – First-time extreme DUI offenders will be jailed for a minimum of 30 consecutive days and be fined no less than $2,500. They will additionally be subjected to all the previously listen penalties for standard first-time DUI offenders.
Subsequent Offenses – Subsequent extreme DUI offenses after the first will result in a minimum jail sentence of 120 days and a fine of no less than $3,250. Offenders will also have their driver’s license suspended for 12 months and be subject to all the previously listen penalties include the installation of a certified ignition interlock device in their vehicle.
The category of aggravated DUI applies when an individual commits a DUI while their license has been suspended or revoked; commits a DUI with an individual under 15-years of age in the vehicle; commits a third DUI in 84 months; or commits a DUI or refuses to submit to a BAC test while subjected to an ignition interlock device.
The consequences for committing an aggravated DUI are extremely harsh and include prison sentences of no more than two years. An offender will also have their license revoked for three years and be subject to other penalties as required by law.
Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock device is a BAC measuring instrument that is connected to the ignition and power systems of a car. A diver must register a reading into the device before attempting to start the car. If the driver’s BAC is above a certain level, the ignition interlock device will disable the vehicle. In addition, the driver must provide readings at random intervals while driving the car. If the driver fails to provide a reading while the car is in use or if the reading exceeds a specific BAC level the ignition interlock device will make a digital log of the event, then provide a warning to the driver before setting of an alarm. The alarm will continue until the car is turned off or until a clean sample is provided.
Ignition interlock devices are mandatory for all DUI convictions.
Sobriety checkpoints, also known as DUI checkpoints are locations in which law enforcement officers set up a fixed spot to check divers for signs of intoxication. Field sobriety checkpoints are utilized in 38 states. In Arizona they are performed at least once per month. The legality of field sobriety checkpoints has been challenged and subsequently upheld under the federal constitution. The cost of conduction a sobriety checkpoint averages $8,900 although it is estimated that they save approximately $62,500 in potential property damages while reducing fatalities by 15 percent.
Dram Shop Laws
If an intoxicated person injures another individual, the injured individual may seek damages not just from the person who caused the injury, but also from the business or vendor who provided the intoxicated individual with the alcohol. Such actions are governed by “dram shop” laws.
Arizona’s dram shop laws hold vendors and businesses who retain liquor licenses liable for selling alcohol to individuals who are obviously intoxicated as well as minors if the licensee failed to request ID or knew the minor was under 21-years of age.
Arizona’s dram shop laws define obvious intoxication as “inebriated to the extent that a person’s physical faculties are substantially impaired as shown by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction that would have been obvious to a reasonable person.”
Arizona Revised Statutes section 4-301 protects individuals who provide alcohol to guests in social situations. It is important to note that dram shop cases are civil proceedings. Liability will always be expressed in terms of monetary damages, not in legal penalties.
Driving while under the influence is an extremely serious issue. Drunk driving directly results in the death of thousands of individuals a year. If you are going out and you know you are going to be drinking, make sure you take steps to avoid drunk diving. Nominated a designated driver. Utilize ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft. Call a conventional taxi. Whatever you do, you should never get behind the wheel of a car while intoxicated.
If you have been involved in an accident of any kind, it is important to explore your legal options. Call Hastings & Hastings today at (480)706-1100 to schedule a FREE legal consultation. With over 35 years defending the rights of accident victims in Arizona, Hastings & Hastings has the experience and knowledge necessary to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.