Why Are There Four DUI Charges on My Ticket?
A common question we get when people come to our office after being charged with DUI is why do I have four different DUI charges on my one ticket?
I was only stopped one time. I wasn’t driving four times, so why on my citation do I have four different line items for DUIs?
Why not just one. Well, there’s a reason they do it that way. In Arizona, the way that DUIs work are there are different levels of DUI charges that you can have based on the level of your blood alcohol content.
What you’ll see on a citation is something that looks like this. The first charge will be a DUI that says impaired to the slightest degree.
It’ll say DUI impaired to the slightest degree, impaired to the slightest degree and what that means under Arizona law is that it doesn’t matter what your blood level is, if you’re impaired at all, if you’re impaired to any degree whatsoever, they can cite you with that. In most cases, that’s the first charge in a DUI case.
The next one you’ll see is the legal limit DUI.
This is the 0.08 BAC, that’s the legal limit. If you’re under a 0.08, you’re under the legal limit, but you can still be charged with the impaired to the slightest degree, but if you’re above the 0.08 then they’ll charge you with that one as well.
The next one you may see if your blood alcohol content is higher is what’s called the extreme DUI and this is with a BAC that’s over a 0.15. So a 0.15 or above, then they will stack on that additional charge and the highest level that we have that is still a misdemeanor is what’s known as a super extreme DUI.
This is when a blood alcohol content is 0.20 or above. We call this a super extreme and this is a 0.20 or above.
People will look at this and they’ll say, well, why am I charged with four of these? It really has to do with the levels. It doesn’t mean you’re gonna get four DUI penalties.
They’re not gonna stack these penalties on top of one another, but they can stack the charges. There’s a strategic reason why the prosecutor’s office and the state legislature and the government does this.
It’s because depending on where your blood level falls or your breath intoxilyzer test or whatever the sample that you gave, wherever that falls in terms of this scale, they can adjust the charges.
They can tack on more charges. They can take off charges or they can negotiate plea deals based on the different levels. Say, for example, a person is at a 0.021.
They’re right here at this limit, just above that.
Well, came in and was able to show that the blood was within the margin of error and it’s actually not a 0.21 or a 0.201 or it’s not just barely above that, but it’s actually, it could be plus or minus 0.05.
It could be under that limit, and so you can beat this charge.
You can beat that level. Well, the government doesn’t want to just throw out the whole DUI.
They don’t wanna just get rid of, dismiss everything, so what they may do then is dismiss this charge and then only proceed on these remaining charges. That’s how they will still move forward in a DUI case. Let’s take another example.
Let’s say there was some sort of contamination issue with the blood or let’s say that the officer who was transporting the blood from the crime lab to, or from the DUI van over to the crime lab and that officer was fired, that officer was let go because of the fact that he was doing something unethical, well, now the content of that blood may be under question because the person who transported it could have done something to it.
They could have interfered with it.
That blood result may become totally unreliable. Now, if they have no chemical test that they can rely on, really all of these charges could theoretically be dismissed, but if the government, again, they don’t wanna just say just because the blood has been thrown out or the breath test is unreliable that the whole DUI goes away.
Now, they will delete these charges and they’ll fall back on the impaired to the slightest degree charge, and the impaired to the slightest degree charge is the charge that they will move forward on based on your field sobriety tests, based upon things like admissions or certain driving conduct.
They can still try to prove that even without any chemical test results.
They stack all these charges so it gives them some options and it also gives them some wiggle room when it comes to a plea deal.
If you’re at an extreme DUI, but you’re just barely above it, they may say if you take a plea deal we’ll dismiss the extreme DUI charge presuming that you plead guilty to these two other charges. It gives them some room to help negotiate these cases down, but it’s important that you understand that.
If you are charged with all four of these charges, it doesn’t mean you have four different DUIs. It just means you have four charges related to the same incident.
I hope that answers some questions.
Some people come into our office, they have a ton of anxiety, because they think they’re facing four different DUI cases when in reality that’s not how it works.
This is how it works and if you find yourself in this position, that means that you’re at one of these levels.
You’re at a higher level and the penalties increase pretty substantially when you get up to the extreme and the super extreme level.
Do yourself a favor, if you or a loved one have been charged and you’re facing four charges of DUI, give our office a call.
We offer free case evaluations.
We can sit down with you, put together a plan to make sure that you have an understanding of how this works and build some defenses to make sure that you get out of this case with the least amount of damage, as little damage as possible.
Thanks for watching.
A very common question among those who have been charged with a DUI is: Why are there four different charges on one ticket?
There is a reason why the State structures DUI citations that way.
In Arizona, there are different levels of charges that can be brought against you regarding a DUI. These charges are based on the level of your blood-alcohol content, or BAC. The charges will be listed on a citation in the following ascending order:
DUI/ISD: Impaired to the Slightest Degree
Regardless of your BAC, if you are impaired at all, you can be cited with a DUI/ISD. In most cases, this is the first charge.
0.08 BAC: Legal Limit
If your BAC is under 0.08%, you are under the legal limit but, you could still be charged with DUI/ISD. However, if your BAC is above the legal limit, then you will be charged with that as well.
EX. 0.15+: Extreme DUI
A BAC that is at or above 0.15% is an Extreme DUI, and that will be an additional charge stacked on to the other two.
S.EX. 0.20+: Super Extreme DUI
This is the highest-level DUI that is still a misdemeanor. This is referred to as a Super Extreme DUI, and it is when the BAC is at 0.20% or above.
When one is charged with the four levels of DUI, it does not mean that they are going to be subject to four different penalties. However, they will be facing the stacked charges.
There is a strategic reason why the State handles DUI cases in such a way. It is so they can adjust the charges depending on where your BAC falls. It also facilitates the negotiation of plea deals.
For example, assume that someone is being charged with a DUI, and their BAC was 0.21%. They are just above the threshold for a Super Extreme DUI. If an attorney was able to show that the blood level was within a margin of error, and can beat a Super Extreme DUI, the State does not want to throw out the case altogether. Instead, what will happen is they will dismiss the highest charge, being the Super Extreme DUI, and proceed on the remaining charges.
Another example is if there is some sort of contamination issue with the blood altogether. If the blood sample is no longer reliable, and the State doesn’t have a chemical test that they can rely on, all three of the latter charges could be dismissed.
However, again, just because the blood evidence has been thrown out, the State does not want to dismiss the DUI charge altogether. Instead, after dismissing the three charges, they will fall back on the Impaired to the Slightest Degree charge. At this point, what the State’s case will hinge on are things like field sobriety tests, admissions, or certain driving conduct.
Essentially, the State will stack on additional DUI charges in order to give them a range of options, including negotiating room in plea deals.