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What Does Zero-Tolerance Really Mean?


Compared to many states in the United States, Arizona has some of the harshest penalties when it comes to DUI. Unlike other places where a first time DUI might only result in a slap on the wrist, Arizona drivers convicted of DUI will spend at least one day in jail. Other penalties include heavy fines and mandatory ignition interlock device placed on your vehicle for a minimum of 12 months.

If you live in Arizona, you have undoubtedly heard law enforcement tout their DUI “zero-tolerance” policy. But what does that really mean? While many people understand the extreme consequences that come with a DUI conviction, some are unsure exactly how a “zero-tolerance” policy might possibly affect them. Here’s how:

Underage Drinking

Zero-tolerance DUI laws will definitely impact any minor found operating a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol found in his or her system. According to Arizona law, even the smallest

amount of alcohol found in a minor’s system while driving leads to an automatic DUI arrest. There is no minimum amount or legal limit. Not only will the minor be immediately arrested and charged with DUI, but their driver’s license will also be revoked at once. It often takes a year or more before driving privileges are restored.

Commercial Drivers

Being charged with or convicted of DUI is burden for anyone, but it can be absolutely devastating for a commercial driver. When convicted of DUI, a commercial driver automatically loses their commercial driver’s license for at least one year no matter what vehicle they were driving at the time of the incident. In other words, even if a commercial driver is caught driving their own personal vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, they would still lose their CDL. Additionally, commercial drivers face a tougher BAC level of .04 instead of the standard .08. It’s also important to note that a 2nd DUI conviction will lead to a lifetime suspension of a commercial driver’s license.

Strict Enforcement

Another way that DUI zero-tolerance laws can affect Arizona drivers involves the actual arrest and testing procedures. Even if you’re not eventually convicted of a DUI, the process of being tested and arrested for possible DUI can still be a huge inconvenience and embarrassment.

To illustrate this point, consider the story of a man pulled over for suspected DUI in 2014. At the time of the incident, the man admitted to officers that he had one beer earlier that evening. However, officers felt confident that he was under the influence and proceeded to arrest him. Subsequent tests showed that the man’s blood alcohol content was at 0.00%, well below the legal limit for a DUI conviction. Even though the man was ultimately let go and charges were dropped, he was still placed in handcuffs, booked into custody and spent the night in jail. Law enforcement officials argued that they don’t want to take any chances when it comes to potential threats to other drivers on the road.

This example goes to show how zero-tolerance laws and policies might affect an Arizona driver even if they haven’t been drinking before driving. It also shows how important it is to have an attorney on your side as you face DUI charges. Just because you have been charged with a DUI-related crime does not

necessarily mean you will be convicted or face the harsh punishments mentioned earlier.

It’s important that you contact an experienced DUI attorney as soon as possible if you or someone you know is facing DUI charges. Gilbert DUI attorney Charlie Naegle has an in-depth understanding of the DUI laws in Arizona and can help build a strong defense as quickly as possible.

For more information on how Charlie can help you, call Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys today at 480-378-9000 for a free consultation.

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