Arizona CDL DUI

A commercial driver’s license, or CDL, can be a great way to earn a solid income for your family, even if it means spending long periods away from them on the road. When a vehicle, plus any trailer being towed, has a gross combined weight rating, or GCWR, of 26,001 pounds or more with a trailer of at least 10,000 pounds, the driver operating the vehicle is required to hold a Class A CDL. If the driver’s tow doesn’t exceed 10,000 pounds, the driver will need to have a Class B CDL. If the vehicle is less than these weight requirements but is meant to transport hazardous materials or transport more than 16 passengers, the driver must hold a Class C CDL. Additionally, the driver must have a P endorsement for passengers or an HME (hazardous materials endorsement) to carry hazardous materials. All types of CDLs can be put at risk if the holder is ever arrested for driving under the influence. Arizona has strict DUI laws, especially for those who drive a commercial vehicle for a living. Read on to learn more about getting a DUI with a CDL in Arizona, and if you’d like to schedule your free consultation with one of our experienced Arizona DUI defenders, call 602-661-0988.

DUI law in AZ

Commercial Drivers’ Licenses In Arizona

Obtaining a CDL in Arizona or any other state is no simple task. As of February 7, 2022, Arizona added a requirement that CDL applicants complete training from a certified organization. The applicant will need to prove their right to work in the United States with the proper documentation. A CDL holder who moves to Arizona has 30 days to have their licensure changed over to their current state. The MVD can revoke a CDL for failure to complete any of these requirements, along with other reasons. Lying or otherwise presenting inaccurate information on your CDL application can get your license suspended. It is also improper to apply for a CDL in Arizona while facing driver’s license penalties (such as suspension, revocation, etc.) in another state. An Arizona CDL must also be revoked if it is discovered that the driver is younger than 21 years old. Another surefire way to put your CDL in jeopardy is by drinking and driving. 

Driving Under The Influence

DUI is usually charged as a misdemeanor in Arizona, but it is still treated as quite a serious offense. Arizona is considered to be one of the strictest, if not the absolute strictest, states when it comes to DUI laws. Some of the reasons Arizona’s DUI laws are considered so strict are:

  • Mandatory jail time, even for a first-time offender 
  • Expensive fines and other legal costs
  • Vehicle impounded if driver arrested for Extreme DUI or above
  • The legal limit of 0.08 can be reduced to 0.05 if the driver seems to be impaired or 0.04 for commercial vehicles
  • DUI laws require “actual physical control,” which doesn’t mean that the driver necessarily has to be driving to receive a DUI
  • Long driver’s license penalties, including permanent CDL revocation upon a second DUI conviction

Plea Bargaining

When the evidence is stacked against you, it may seem highly unlikely that a jury will find you not guilty at trial. Here, the defense’s best strategy may be to convince the prosecutors to reduce the charges rather than drop them. One of the most common examples of plea bargaining is when a defendant accused of DUI accepts a deal from the prosecution to instead plead guilty to reckless driving. This benefits the defendant because reckless driving doesn’t have a mandatory jail sentence like DUI does. However, some offenses are ineligible for plea bargaining. Additionally, prosecutors aren’t always willing to engage in plea bargaining. It may take an experienced Arizona defense attorney with extensive relationships with members of the court to pull off a favorable plea deal under certain circumstances. It can also take patience and persistence to obtain the best deal possible, which are resources that might not be as available to a public defender as to a private defense attorney. A consultation with one or more Arizona defense attorneys will let you know if your charges are eligible for plea bargaining and your odds of success with this strategy. 

Mandatory Jail Time

While there is an exception for first-time offenders under the age of 21 who were arrested with trace amounts of liquor in their systems (and it also opens up the risk of an extremely long driver’s license suspension,) anyone else convicted of DUI in Arizona must spend at least one day in jail. Technically, the minimum jail sentence for a DUI is 10 days, but up to 9 of those days can be suspended. The defendant will need to complete drug and alcohol treatment, driving school, and other requirements to have part of their jail sentence suspended. If the defendant is arrested with a high BAC, has previous DUI convictions or other factors against the defendant are present, the jail sentence can be much longer. The minimum prison sentence for a felony DUI is 4 months in Arizona. 

Fines & Other Legal Costs

Just like jail sentencing for a DUI conviction, DUI fines will mostly be based on the level of DUI at which the defendant is charged. The minimum fines for a base-level DUI start at $1,250. The defendant will need to pay fees to complete their driver’s education and drug and alcohol treatment, and could even be charged for their time in jail. Defendants who use a public defender as legal counsel may be required to reimburse the county, at least partially, for the costs of their legal defense. Otherwise, the defendant will be responsible for hiring and paying for their attorney. The defendant could be liable for any property and/or bodily damage they caused as a result of their impaired driving. They can also expect to pay fees to reinstate their driving privileges and pay much more in auto insurance once that happens. The defendant will also need to install an ignition interlock device which comes with a monthly fee and other miscellaneous fees.

Arizona’s BAC Limit

Some states have a clear-cut legal limit of 0.08. In Arizona, a driver with a BAC of 0.08 or higher is presumed to be under the influence. However, a driver with a BAC of 0.05 or higher may also be determined to be impaired to the slightest degree, which is penalized just like a normal DUI. Additionally, a driver can be charged with DUI for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs, including legally prescribed drugs that impact driving ability. 

“Actual Physical Control”

It is illegal to operate or maintain actual physical control over a motor vehicle while under the influence of a mind-altering substance in Arizona. So what does “actual physical control” mean? The police can arrest any intoxicated person who seems to be likely to operate their vehicle- this is why some people are arrested while “sleeping it off.” The police and the court may consider factors like where the defendant was positioned in the vehicle, where the keys were, and more. 

Driver’s License Penalties

The minimum driver’s license suspension or revocation for a DUI conviction will depend on factors like the defendant’s BAC and previous offenses. But there are special considerations for an Arizona DUI defendant that holds a CDL. A CDL holder convicted of DUI in Arizona will have their CDL suspended for 12 months. Without exception, a second DUI conviction will result in a permanent CDL suspension. 

Contact Our Arizona Criminal Defense Team To Protect Your CDL Today

If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Arizona, your CDL and livelihood could be at risk. This could make the results of a DUI conviction even more devastating than they would be for the average person. If you want to protect your CDL and the rest of your interests, you will be discerning in your choice of defense counsel. At Arizona Zero Down DUI, we can help you craft the strongest possible legal strategy to reduce the negative effects of DUI arrest/conviction can have on your life. Our attorneys are skilled negotiators who will fiercely defend your case through trial, if necessary. Schedule your free consultation with one of our skilled Arizona defense attorneys, pick up the phone, and call 602-661-0988.

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Arizona Offices:

Mesa Location:
1731 West Baseline Rd., Suite #100
Mesa, AZ 85202

Office: (480) 448-9800
Email: [email protected]

Phoenix Location:
343 West Roosevelt,Suite #100
Phoenix, AZ 85003

Office: (602) 609-7000
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Glendale Location:
20325 N 51st Avenue Suite #134, Building 5
Glendale, AZ 85308

Office: (602) 509-0955
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Tucson Location:
2 East Congress St., Suite #900-6A
Tucson, AZ 85701

Office: (520) 441-1450
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Avondale Location:
12725 W. Indian School Rd., Ste E, #101
Avondale, AZ 85392

Office: (623) 399-4222
Email: info@arizonazerodowndui