Under Arizona law, people are guilty of impaired and reckless driving if they drive recklessly or aggressively while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Drivers in this scenario can get charged with DUI per ARS 28-1381A1 and also reckless driving per ARS 28-693, aggressive driving per ARS 28-695, and/or extreme DUI per ARS 28-1382. Impaired and reckless/aggressive driving is a misdemeanor offense (as opposed to a felony) punishable by several months in jail.
- texting while driving fast and having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08%.
- tailgating when driving drunk.
- swerving a motor vehicle between cars during rush hour traffic when under the influence of marijuana.
People facing charges under one of the above statutes can challenge them with a legal defense. A few common defenses include an accused showing that:
- he/she was not driving impaired,
- the arresting officer did not follow proper procedure, and/or
- law enforcement violated one of their constitutional rights.
Drivers guilty of impaired and reckless driving will have to face the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol. A judge will likely also impose penalties for reckless or aggressive driving. These can include:
- additional jail time, and/or
- a fine of up to $2,500.
In this article, our Phoenix DUI defense attorneys/criminal defense attorneys will discuss what the law is under these statutes, defenses available if charged, the penalties for a conviction, and related crimes.
1. How does Arizona law define “impaired and reckless driving”?
According to Arizona DUI law, a prosecutor generally has to prove the following elements to successfully convict a driver of impaired and reckless/aggressive driving:
- the defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence (of alcohol and/or drugs), or
- the defendant drove or was in actual physical control of a vehicle with a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08%, and
- the accused drove recklessly or aggressively.
In these types of DUI cases, a prosecutor will typically charge a person with DUI along with a charge of either:
- reckless driving, per ARS 28-693, or
- aggressive driving, per ARS 28-695.
Under ARS 28-693, people are guilty of reckless driving if they:
- drive a vehicle, and
- do so in reckless disregard for the safety of other people or property.1
People drive in reckless disregard for others if they endanger any property or person.2
Under ARS 28-695, people are guilty of aggressive driving if they drive at an unreasonably high speed and do any two of the following acts:
- fail to obey a traffic control device,
- overtake and pass a vehicle by driving on the right shoulder of the road,
- unsafely change lanes,
- follow a vehicle too closely, and
- fail to yield the right of way.3
Note that prosecutors can even charge a driver with extreme DUI in these cases. Under ARS 28-1382, drivers are guilty of extreme DUI if they drive with a BAC of 0.15% to 0.199%.4
2. Are defenses available?
Yes. DUI lawyers draw upon several legal strategies to help clients challenge DUI charges under these laws. Three common defenses include an attorney showing that:
- an accused was not driving while impaired.
- the arresting officer did not follow the correct procedures.
- the police violated one of the accused’s constitutional rights.
2.1. Not driving while impaired
Recall that defendants are only guilty in these cases if they were driving recklessly or aggressively while driving “under the influence.” If the police were not able to conduct a BAC test or blood test, a defendant can contest a charge by showing that he/she was not intoxicated. If successful, the defendant may still have to face a charge of reckless or aggressive driving.
2.2. Did not follow proper procedures
A common defense in DUI cases is for an accused to show that the police did not follow the correct procedures when making an arrest. For example, officers generally have to read a person his/her Miranda rights before or during an arrest. If an officer does not follow proper procedures, an accused can try to get certain evidence in a case dismissed. This could result in a judge dismissing or reducing a DUI charge.
2.3. Violation of a constitutional right
Defendants can always contest DUI charges by showing that law enforcement violated one of their constitutional rights. For example, maybe the police arrested the defendant without probable cause. As with the defense involving improper procedures, a defendant can attempt to use a violation of his/her rights to get a DUI charge reduced or even dropped altogether.
3. What are the penalties for this DUI offense?
A person guilty of impaired and reckless driving will have to face the standard penalties for a DUI conviction. For a first offense of drunk driving, some of these DUI penalties include:
- jail time,
- a driver’s license suspension or revocation,
- installation of an ignition interlock device (IID), and
- community service.5
A judge can impose additional penalties if a driver is guilty of violating another law.
For example, the penalties for reckless driving under ARS 28-693 include:
- up to 120 consecutive days in jail, and/or
- a maximum fine of $750.6
Further, the penalties for aggressive driving under ARD 28-695 include:
- a jail sentence of up to six months, and/or
- a maximum fine of $2,500.7
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to impaired and reckless driving. These are:
- DUI on an invalid license – ARS 28-1383A1,
- super extreme DUI – ARS 28-1382A2, and
- underage DUI – ARS 4-244.
4.1. DUI on an invalid license – ARS 28-1383A1
Per ARS 28-1383A1, DUI on an invalid license is the crime where people drive under the influence after a driver’s license suspension, license revocation, or license cancelation.
As with charges of impaired and reckless driving, defendants can contest charges under this law with the defense that law enforcement violated one of their constitutional rights.
4.2. Super extreme DUI – ARS 28-1382A2
Per ARS 28-1382A2, super extreme DUI is the crime where people drive with a BAC of 0.20% or higher.
As with impaired and reckless driving, super extreme DUI is a misdemeanor offense.
4.3. Underage DUI – ARS 4-244
Under ARS 4-244, underage DUI is the crime where people under 21 years of age drive a motor vehicle while there is any alcohol in their body.
Note that this is a type of zero tolerance law. People are guilty of the crime with an alcohol level of the slightest degree.
As with reckless and aggressive driving, underage DUI can result in jail time and a significant fine.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, we invite you to contact our law firm/law office at the Shouse Law Group. Our legal team provides both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
Our DUI attorneys also represent clients throughout the State of Arizona, including those in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and Tempe.
- A.R.S, 28-693.
- Urs v. Maricopa County Atty’s Office, 201 Ariz. 71 (2001).
- ARS 28-695.
- ARS 28-1382.
- Note that a first time DUI or a first DUI offense is a misdemeanor DUI.
- ARS 28-693.
- ARS 28-695.