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Auto Theft Laws in Arizona

Motor vehicle theft crimes are classified under three different types under Arizona law:

  • theft of means of transportation
  • unlawful use of means of transportation
  • unlawful failure to return rented or leased property

“Means of transportation” refers to any type of vehicle, whether it is a car, a truck or a motorcycle. A crime of theft of means of transportation is committed in Arizona when a person knowingly, without legal authority, does any of the following:

  • taking control of someone’s vehicle with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of that vehicle
  • converting someone’s vehicle for an unauthorized use or period of time when the vehicle is entrusted to them for a specific time period
  • obtaining someone’s vehicle unlawfully, using a material misrepresentation, lie or fraud, with the intention to deprive the owner of that vehicle
  • taking over a vehicle as their own personal property after it has been delivered to them by mistake and making no effort to inform the actual owner, especially when the owner’s information is available
  • taking control of a vehicle knowingly that it is stolen

Theft of means of transportation is considered a class 3 felony in Arizona which carries a basic sentence of 2 – 7 years in prison. If the defendant has prior felony convictions, then the sentence can be higher.

Unlawful Use of Means of Transportation

If a person commits a crime of unlawful use of means of transportation, also called joyriding, then they will be charged with a class 5 felony. If it involves riding or being in a stolen or misappropriated vehicle, then it will be classified as a Class 6 felony.

Joyriding consists of any of the following acts without the intent of permanently depriving the owner of the vehicle:

  • knowingly taking control of the vehicle without authorization
  • knowingly riding the vehicle or knowingly having control of the vehicle even when they know they are not legally authorized to have possession of the car

With prior felony convictions, the sentence and penalties will increase for a repeat or subsequent offense.

Unlawful Failure to Return Rented or Leased Property

When a person rents a motor vehicle in Arizona and fails to return it to the lender within 72 hours of the agreed upon return time without notice and permission from the owner, they can be charged with unlawful failure to return rented or leased property. This is a Class 5 felony and is punishable by six months to two years imprisonment.

When someone has committed the crime of unlawful failure to return a rented or leased property, including a motor vehicle, they need to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney in order to come up with a realistic defense strategy. Some of the defenses that can be used include:

  • the defendant was physically incapacitated or was unable to request or secure permission from the owner to keep the property longer
  • the defendant could not return the property on time because of its poor condition

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney

Anyone facing a conviction for an Arizona motor vehicle crime will have to defend a felony charge. Without proper defense, the felony conviction will become part of their permanent criminal record. Any similar offenses after that will be considered repeat offenses and will carry heavier penalties. Moreover, a felony conviction will hurt them when they are looking for a job, going for higher studies, or even looking for a house or apartment for rent. Convicted felons also lose their right to vote and carry firearms. They may also lose their professional license. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to contact a criminal defense attorney in Arizona if you are facing an Arizona motor vehicle crime charge. Contact the Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan at 480-900-0384 or 602-900-0384 for a Free Initial Consultation.

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Brian Douglas Sloan


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Best DUI Lawyer in Phoenix

Why DUI Attorney Brian Douglas Sloan?


19+ Years SOLELY Focused on DUI Defense


4,200+ DUIs Successfully Defended

Top Accolades

  • Only DUI "Power Lawyer" in the Nation Featured in USA Today, 2022

  • Top 10 in Arizona

Top 1%

Top One Percent in the Nation

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brian sloan on the cover of attorney at law magazine

“I am one of only a handful of Phoenix DUI Lawyers that focuses solely on DUI Defense representation.”

I have spent my entire career SOLELY focused on Arizona DUI Defense Representation, having personally defended more than 4,400 Driving Under the Influence (DUI) clients in the past 19+ years.

If you’re looking for a Divorce Attorney, Tax Attorney, Civil Attorney, etc., I can comfortably say, "I’m not the one for you." I ONLY defend DUI cases in most of Maricopa County, Arizona.

Coming up with traditional, as well as outside-the-box motions and defenses for my clients, often with good results, is the hallmark of my practice.

Lawyers that say they are "aggressive" or "will fight for you" are a dime a dozen. They use these phrases because it is a proven advertising phrase. Being "aggressive" isn’t the same as being good, and is often used to put on a show to hide the fact that they aren’t doing anything meaningful for the client.

The same is true for the Lawyers claiming to do DUI Defense, and Criminal Cases, and Accident Cases, and Divorces, etc. A Jack-of-all-Trades is a master of none! By handling all sorts of cases, they take away from their ability to truly focus on DUIs, and keep up-to-date on the latest changes in DUI Defense Representation.

What I offer is intelligent, quality DUI Defense at an exceptional price. Unlike many other law firms, if you hire The Law Offices of Brian D. Sloan, you actually get me representing you, doing all the work, and working the case. You aren’t hiring one guy with all the experience, but getting the underling with very little knowledge or experience.

I work seven days a week on my client’s cases, and spend hours laying all my thoughts out for my clients in writing, so they can understand their options, and my recommendations. No other DUI Lawyer in the state does this. I try to do what I can to go above-and-beyond for my clients. I hate when the businesses I deal with nickel-and-dime me with hidden costs, and I take pride in not doing that to my clients.

I have not only taught other lawyers how to do DUI Defense Representation at statewide seminars, but I have produced DUI Legal Guides used by defense lawyers across Arizona.

I am one of Arizona's most award-winning DUI Defense Lawyers, as well as being recognized nationally. I was the only DUI Defense Lawyer in the United States named a "Power Lawyer" in a 2022 issue of USA Today

There are no other private Lawyers in Arizona that have personally defended more DUI cases than I have. And as a bonus, I offer a very reasonable flat rate for my legal services, with a payment plan, and without any hidden charges. This guarantees that I offer some of the most competitive rates among all Arizona DUI Attorneys, while being a well-documented and preeminent leader in the field of DUI Defense Representation.

Over the years, countless people have come to me after discovering that their first lawyer made a mistake, gave them false hope or false promises, or simply took their money and didn't do much to advance their case. And you would be surprised at how often this happens.

So, instead of wasting time and money on the wrong DUI Defense Attorney, do yourself a favor and get the proven and well-recognized best DUI Lawyer in Phoenix and the surrounding areas of Maricopa County.

You can reach me on my personal cell phone at 480-720-7839 for a Free ‘In Depth’ Consultation.

I personally defend DUI cases in urban Maricopa County City, Town, and Justice Courts, including:

Ahwatukee / Agua Fria / Arcadia Biltmore / Avondale / Buckeye / Chandler / Country Meadows / Desert Ridge / Dreamy Draw / Downtown / East Mesa / El Centro / Encanto / Gilbert / Glendale / Goodyear / Guadalupe / Highland / Kyrene / Litchfield Park / Maryvale / McDowell Mountain / Mesa / Moon Valley / North Mesa / Peoria / Phoenix / Queen Creek / San Marcos / San Tan / South Mountain / Scottsdale / Tempe / University Lakes / West McDowell / West Mesa / White Tank

For any other Courts in the State of Arizona, including Felony cases, I would recommend my associates on The Arizona DUI Team, whom I work closely with, but I am not the one personally representing the client.

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Brian Douglas Sloan

DUI Attorney

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