Interviewer: Around Arizona, there are a few counties where it seems pretty popular for the legislature to say if you’re arrested for DUI, you can expect to receive the maximum penalties. What are they talking about specifically in regards to DUI? Is it reasonable to surmise that some of the people arrested should expect to have the “book thrown at them” and they’re going to be sentenced to the max on all charges?
Brian: I’ve never had a client who has done the max on anything. Technically the penalties could refer to jail time, or could refer to prison time, and they could refer to the amount of fines and fees.
Arizona’s Penalties for Misdemeanor, Aggravated and Felony DUI Charges
On any misdemeanor DUI, the maximum sentence is 6 months in jail. On any class 6 aggravated DUI, the maximum sentence for a first time offender is 2 years. On any aggravated DUI charged as a class 4-felony, the maximum sentence is 3.75 years.
For misdemeanors, the maximum fine is $2,500 plus an 83% surcharge. On any felony, the maximum fine is $150,000 plus an 83% surcharge. I have never had any of my clients receive anywhere close to the maximum on anything.
Misdemeanor DUIs can also have a maximum amount of probation of 5 years, and an aggravated DUI can have a maximum probation term of 10 years. I’m not sure if I ever have had a client that was sentenced to the maximum amount of probation. As far as hearing, “Expect the max;” I believe that is a scare tactic, and the statement is especially untrue when I’m representing someone.
Most of the time I successfully get the minimum sentence for my clients. Now, that is only in cases where I am not able to negotiate a more beneficial plea agreement other than the minimum sentence on the charge that they are originally charged with. “Expect the max” is kind of a fallacy.