For many people, a DUI charge is their first exposure to the criminal justice system in Arizona. Everyone has heard that having a felony conviction is bad and can cost you your job, professional license, or even your housing. So one of the most frequent questions I get is “Is my DUI charge a felony?” In most circumstances, a first time DUI charge in Arizona is a misdemeanor, not a felony.
Misdemeanor DUI Charges
A first or second-time charge for DUI is a misdemeanor offense in Arizona – absent special circumstances noted below. However, those charges can still come with substantial jail time and fines. They may also impact employment or your ability to drive. You should always take a DUI charge seriously, regardless of whether it is a misdemeanor or felony.
Is an Extreme or Super Extreme DUI a Felony?
No. A first or second-time charge for Extreme or Super Extreme DUI is a misdemeanor - absent the special circumstances noted below. While Extreme DUIs are Class 1 misdemeanors just like regular DUIs, the mandatory minimum sentences go up drastically. See our sentencing chart for more details.
When can my DUI charge be a felony?
There are several circumstances which can result in an aggravated (felony) DUI.
You were driving impaired on a suspended license from a prior DUI
You were driving impaired, required to have an ignition interlock device installed and did not have it installed.
This is your third or more offense for DUI within the last seven years
You were driving impaired with a child under 15 in the car.
The consequences for felony DUIs go up drastically. For example, a third DUI offense has a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 months in prison (not jail). They also have collateral consequences, such as your loss of rights (right to bear arms, right to vote, etc.).
Can I be charged with a felony in addition to a misdemeanor DUI?
Yes. You can be charged with a misdemeanor DUI along with a felony for another charge. This typically occurs when you crash your car while driving impaired. In that situation, you could be charged with felony criminal damage if you caused damage exceeding $2,000. You could be charged with endangerment if you “recklessly endangered another person with a substantial risk of imminent death or physical injury.” This may occur if you hit another car while there were people in it.
It is important to take all DUI charges seriously. Even misdemeanor charges can have serious long-term effects. If you are facing a DUI charge, call us today for a free consultation.