Why Are There Four DUI Charges on My Ticket?
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.