Most people understand that these days any DUI charge is a serious matter. Even if it’s your first arrest for driving under the influence, and you are charged with misdemeanor DUI, you face the possibility of some fairly severe consequences, including fines, license suspension, a short time in jail, installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and increased insurance premiums. And that assumes there are no other factors present that would increase the level of the charge and/or the applicable penalties. But in some situations, circumstances may exist that could turn what would otherwise be a misdemeanor charge into a felony.
What Is Felony DUI?
The law on felony DUI is contained in A.R.S. 28-1383. Under that section there are five different circumstances that could lead to a charge of aggravated (felony) DUI. While some of those provisions relate to past DUI convictions, some do not; accordingly, you could be charged with felony DUI even as a first-time offender! Aggravated DUI charges include:
- Being arrested for DUI while your license is revoked suspended or canceled due to a prior DUI;
- Being arrested for DUI if you have two or more prior DUI convictions within the prior 84 months;
- Being arrested for DUI while you are subject to a court order to equip your vehicle with an IID.
The previous aggravated/felony DUI charges relate specifically to the driver’s prior DUI convictions. But other circumstances could lead to a felony charge even if this is your first arrest. Those circumstances are:
- Being arrested for DUI while a passenger under the age of 15 is in the vehicle; or
- Being arrested for DUI while traveling the wrong way on a highway. This provision was just added in March of this year.
In addition to facing a felony, as opposed to a misdemeanor, the penalties for aggravated DUI are significantly more severe than those for a simple DUI. They include, among other things, increased jail time and higher fines and fees.
In view of the potential downside of any DUI conviction, it pays to have an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer at your side.
The Feldman Law Firm PLLC
1 E. Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85004