Local

July 24, 2014

DUI in Arizona: You can’t afford it

1st Lt. James Vicchairelli
56th Fighter Wing Legal Office

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. —  Arizona has some of the toughest drunken driving laws in the United States. The average overall cost of a DUI in the state of Arizona is around $10,000. Crazy, right? Ten thousand dollars may seem hard to swallow at first, but first time offenders often find themselves paying considerable unforeseen expenses throughout the course of their prosecution and sentencing. Bottom line, a DUI arrest in Arizona can leave you without transportation, without a bank account and, in some instances, without your freedom. You simply cannot afford a DUI while in Arizona.

How much is too much?

In Arizona, Airmen may be arrested for drunken driving even if their blood alcohol content is below the federal intoxication limit of .08 percent. According to Ariz. Rev. Stat. 28.1381.A1 (2013), a person may be found guilty of drunken driving if it is established that they are “impaired to the slightest degree” while operating a motor vehicle. Consuming approximately two drinks in an hour will place a 160-pound male at risk for being arrested; for a 120-pound female, one drink per hour may create the same risk.

How much will it cost?

It depends on whether the Air Force or the state of Arizona has jurisdiction over the case. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Article 111, an Airman may receive Article 15 nonjudicial punishment or trial by court-martial, which may result in a federal conviction. Under Arizona law, the average overall cost of a DUI is $10,000. Keep in mind that a repeat offense will likely result in the doubling of these fines and that a BAC of .15 percent or higher will be punished more severely as an extreme DUI.

However, financial punishment is not Arizona’s only means of punishing drunk drivers. Arizona law requires a mandatory 10-day jail sentence for first-time offenders (up to nine days may be suspended), mandatory counseling, a minimum license suspension of 90 days, one year use of an ignition interlock device, and if death results from the drunken driving, up to 21 years in prison.

A DUI conviction under Arizona law does not preclude administrative action by the commander. Airmen convicted in Arizona will likely face additional punishment from the Air Force including, but not limited to, a day after arrest appointment in service dress with the wing commander, counseling, reprimand, substance abuse treatment, demotion and possible administrative discharge.

In summary, anti-drunken driving enforcement and prosecution is on the rise locally and nationally. The costs resulting from an arrest and prosecution are increasing in severity and often result in debilitating consequences for offenders.

Every day 28 people will die in the United States because of drunken driving. Do not risk your career, your family’s welfare or the lives of other drivers. Name a designated driver, call a friend or pay the money for a cab. Do not gamble with drunken driving. You can’t afford it.




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(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Adam Grant)

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