Can Felony DUI Charges Ever Be Reduced In Arizona?
Yes, they absolutely can. Obviously, the starting point for a felony defense is to fight the reason for the aggravation. If it was a person’s third DUI but they got a DUI in a different state, we can get that DUI to not count as a prior and that’s going to take it out of the aggravation statute and drop it back down into the regular category of a misdemeanor DUI. But certainly, we get felony DUIs reduced regularly. A lot of our clients will have significant mitigation material, so we can talk about the extenuating circumstances that they have going on in their lives.
We had one client who got a DUI while he was required to have an interlock device, and that individual subsequently got an aggravated DUI, but he didn’t go to prison because his mother had just died, which really pulled some heart strings with the prosecutor and the judge. By making that person’s story known to the other side, the court agreed that an aggravated DUI was not an appropriate penalty for him. So we got that reduced back down to a misdemeanor. So, it certainly is possible.
Another example of a reduced charge was a client who was unknowingly driving on a suspended license and was pulled over for a DUI. If you can go back through the MVD records and show that that person didn’t have actual knowledge of their suspension, then the driving on a suspended license component of the charge would be gone, and again, it would take it out of the aggravating factor and drop it down from an aggravated felony DUI to a misdemeanor DUI.
There is an interesting dynamic in how these statutes work. For example, if you get a second DUI, with a BAC level of 0.20, it becomes a super extreme DUI and the penalty for that is 180 days of jai. If you get a third DUI, the penalty for that is technically four months in prison, which is a shorter period of time than the second DUI, but you are in prison and not in jail, which is certainly more severe. But when you take that case or that situation to a judge and you say, “Look, my client could be pleading to a lesser time by pleading to an aggravated DUI,” it just doesn’t make a lot of sense the way that they work it. The penalty is not aggravated more than a misdemeanor would be; it’s still a shorter period of time. You can generally use that logic to go to the judge and say, “Look, we can reduce it from prison to jail so that person does four months in jail,” which would certainly be far better for the client because then they can get work release and not lose their job.
There is a lot of negotiation that goes back and forth between the defense and the prosecutor’s office. Much of it has to do with two different components. Legally speaking, we have to do a thorough review of the case, make sure that the statutes have been met and the police have not screwed anything up in terms of processing a blood sample, conducting a breath test, or whether there was probable cause for a traffic stop. We are also really focused on the mitigation side: we want to tell the human story and talk about our client in context. Most of our clients are very good people who simply got caught up in a mistake.
It’s our job to convey to the other side all the positive things that our clients have done over their lives, whether they have families or careers, whether they have done well in school, served our country, done volunteer work, or are involved in a church. We show that our client is more than just a case number. We can use that to mitigate some of the severe penalties that Arizona has.
How Do You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty To DUI Charges?
First of all, we try to make sure that people are in a good frame of mind or at least a non-destructive frame of mind. When people get charged with DUI, it’s a very traumatic experience for them. They go through a battery of field sobriety tests, or they get stuck in the arm to get blood drawn. They get yelled at by police officers and it usually happens at night, on the side of a road. It can be a sort of scary situation for people. People are upset when they come into our office. They may feel hopeless, like there is nothing else that they can do. First of all, I like to tell them that it’s not their fault. It was a mistake that happened and we are going to get through it.
This is not the crime of the century. With the right help, people are able to continue, or if needed rebuild, their lives. With the right representation, this may just be a temporary hiccup that we have to get through. At R&R Law Group we try to make sure that people understand that there is going to be some compassion and there are people who care about making sure that they get through this process in one piece. Another thing that we tell people to do is to stop Googling, get off the Internet, stop trying to read everything and digest everything because there is really a lot of bad information out there and there are a lot of attorneys who don’t know what they are doing in terms of representing people for DUIs.
There are many horror stories of people who have hired lawyers and not had good outcomes with their court case because they hired somebody who didn’t know what they were doing. Sure, they have a law degree and a bar license number, but they really don’t know what they are doing, so that person had a bad experience, and then they are the first ones to get online and share that with everybody. DUIs are complicated. The attorneys at R&R Law Group are ranked in the top one percent and in the top one hundred trial lawyers in the nation. We have a team fighting for favorable outcomes every single day.
There is no point in somebody trying to hop on the Internet and try to decipher every little thing that they can find. They are just going to work themselves up into a panicky state and be filled with anxiety. What we like to do is walk you through the process, give you an explanation of what’s going to happen over the next four-to-six months and then break it up piece by piece so that we can explain to you how the case is going to work in different phases so you are not completely overwhelmed with the whole process. One of the biggest benefits of hiring an attorney is we get to take that problem that you have and give it to our office to handle so that you are not thinking about it every single day, worrying about it, staying up at night, wondering what’s going to happen.
You can turn it over to us and we are going to walk you through it. This is a traumatic experience for our clients and we certainly want you to understand that our entire team is focused on your well-being in getting you through this and ultimately getting the charges reduced to the absolute greatest extent possible.
For more information on the Reduction Of Felony DUI Charges, a free initial consultation with our Scottsdale DUI lawyer is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 833-5280 today.