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DUI Defense – Frequently Asked Questions

What you can expect from our firm?

An arrest is not a conviction. Our lawyers are going to investigate and develop the evidence in your case. We will analyze the purported reason the officer stopped you, the testing that was done, and the procedures that the officer followed in administering the testing, as well as any viable defenses. If appropriate we will request that the court keep certain evidence out of your case. Our goal is either an acquittal (not guilty), or to mitigate your risk of a conviction to DUI and lengthy jail time. However, before making any decisions, we highly recommend you schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

What happens first?
The police officer has written your initial appearance date on your ticket. The initial appearance will be combined with your arraignment. You must attend the hearing or hire a lawyer. If you hire our firm, we will appear for you and enter a plea of not guilty on your behalf, and you will not need to appear in court on the date written on your ticket. The court will mail our firm another court date for the prehearing conference.
What happens to my license?

People often ask us, what happens to my driving privilege after I am cited for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs?  There is no short answer.  Generally you may drive for the first fifteen (15) days after the law enforcement officer issues you an “Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Affidavit.”  (the pink form).  You must either request a hearing or summary review with the Arizona Department of Transportation before the fifteenth (15) day, or stop driving.  This is one of the reasons why it is critical to consult with a qualified DUI attorney immediately.

What happens after that?
Typically the next court date is approximately thirty (30) days from your initial appearance. You must attend the prehearing conference, unless otherwise directed by one of our legal professionals. At the prehearing conference your lawyer will meet with the prosecutor. During the first prehearing conference, your lawyer will be discussing the evidence and collecting the police report. You may have one (1) to three (3) prehearing conferences in your case. Your lawyer will determine the best course-of-action to investigate the charges against you and measure the risk of conviction of the charge, as well as all lesser included charges.
What is on the ticket?
Arizona has several levels of DUI. In this state, you may be charged even if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is below .08. The ticket you received most likely cites ARS §28-1381, DUI slightest degree, and DUI > .08. It may also cite ARS §28-1382, DUI extreme. Most DUIs are Class 1 misdemeanors. Depending on the level of your alleged BAC, you are exposed to a minimum of one (1) day to forty-five (45) days in jail, and a maximum of six (6) months.
Why are there two cases?

You must understand that the criminal case in Justice or Municipal Court and the administrative case before the Executive Hearing Office are separate and distinct matters–two different cases. The outcome of one will not affect the other.

If you wish to contest the suspension/revocation of your driver’s license, we must appear at the hearing before an administrative law judge.  The Executive Hearing Office does not determine whether you are innocent or guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  That determination is made in criminal court, in other words, the Justice or Municipal Court.

What happens if you are sentenced?

If you are convicted of DUI, your sentence will include jail time. The court will sign an Order of Commitment directing you to report at a specified time to the Cochise County Jail in Bisbee. You will be given additional instructions on what to expect in jail. Your sentence will also include a requirement to attend alcohol screening and counseling at an approved agency. The screening will determine how many hours of counseling is required. You will need to attend a MADD Panel. In Sierra Vista the MADD Panel is held every other month at the Sierra Vista Police Station. Go to www.madd.org/victim-impact-panels/ for the dates and times. Finally, you will be required to pay a fine. The fines are approximately $2,000. You can make monthly payments on your fine if you pay a time payment fee.

You must return your certificates of completion for the alcohol counseling and MADD class to our office immediately so that we can file them with the court.

What is the purpose of the administrative hearing?

Once we have timely requested a hearing with the Executive Hearing Office, we will receive notice of the administrative hearing in approximately four (4) to six (6) weeks. The purpose of the hearing is to:

(1) determine whether the evidence supports a finding that the law enforcement officer had reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving under the influence of intoxicating alcohol or drugs;

(2) whether you were placed under arrest;

(3) whether a test indicated an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more (0.04 or more in a commercial vehicle) at the time the test was administered or any drug defined by the law or its metabolite is in your body, except if you possess a valid prescription for that drug;

(4) whether the testing method was valid and reliable and whether the results were accurately evaluated.

The law enforcement officer must appear and give testimony on these issues and bring the intoxilyzer results or blood test lab reports.

In Cochise County your hearing will be conducted from our office over the telephone with you present in the attorney’s office. In Pima and Maricopa County, the hearing with be conducted in person at the Executive Hearing Office, 3838 N. Central Ave., Suite 200, Phoenix, Arizona 85012.

What is a sentence review hearing?
At the sentencing hearing, the court will set a specified time, typically in approximately ninety (90) days, for your sentence review hearing. This is a final hearing to determine whether you have completed all of the sentencing requirements. You do not need to attend this hearing so long as you have provided our office the proof that you have completed the terms of your sentence and our legal professional has indicated that the hearing is cancelled. Our legal professionals will go to great lengths to ensure you have submitted the required proof. Once you have submitted the proof, we will file a request to cancel the hearing. If you are unable to complete the requirements you must notify our legal professionals so we can file a request to continue the review hearing. It is rare that we must attend a review hearing.
What is the standard of proof?

The standard of proof at the Executive Hearing Office is reasonable grounds to believe, the lowest standard of proof in our system. It is not difficult for the law enforcement officer to meet this standard. We are permitted to present evidence on your behalf at the hearing and argue your case to the administrative law judge. Often, however, because the standard of proof is low, if the law enforcement officer shows up, and has the requisite evidence, it is in your best interest to stipulate to a suspension of your driving privileges.

What happens next?

Once the Executive Hearing Office has made its decision, it will issue an order, either vacating your driving privilege suspension, meaning you get your license back, or imposing a suspension for ninety (90) days. The administrative law judge may delay the suspension of your driving privilege for up to thirty (30) days to allow you time to make appropriate transportation arrangements.

What is a motion to set aside the judgment?

A motion to set aside the judgment is a written request to the court to cancel or revoke the conviction. We will assist you in filing the request with the court so long as you have provided us with the proof you have timely completed the sentencing requirements and you have paid your fine within one (1) year. The application can only be filed after the sentence is complete and the fines are paid. If you have not paid your fines within one (1) year, you may still file an application on your own with the court within seven (7) years of the DUI conviction.

Although setting aside the judgment means that the court cancelled the conviction, you are advised to disclose the misdemeanor conviction if asked on an employment or security questionnaire because the case will show on your record and on a background check. Your record will show all the details of the case, but should show “set aside” as the final disposition. You may include “set aside” in your explanation of the charge.

What happens to my driving privileges if convicted of DUI?

If you are ‘convicted’ of DUI the conviction will be reported to the MVD. Your driving privileges will be automatically suspended. At a minimum, the law requires two additional steps for license reinstatement. First, you must attend alcohol or other drug screening, education or treatment at an approved DUI treatment facility and provide proof from the facility that you have completed a minimum of sixteen (16) hours of the program. It may be more. Second, the law requires the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device in your car when your driving privilege is limited or restricted after being convicted of DUI.

Once your ninety (90) day suspension is up you will receive a written order from ADOT stating that an ignition interlock will need to installed in your vehicle.

The interlock must be installed within thirty (30) days of receipt of the order from ADOT. You will apply for a special restricted driver’s license after the ninety (90) day suspension. Failure to have the interlock installed will result in an immediate suspension of your driving privilege. The certified installer must send ADOT proof that the interlock has been installed.

How do I get to work?

You will not be able to drive for the first thirty (30) days. After the first thirty (30) days of your suspension, you may go to the MVD and apply for a restricted permit. This restricted permit is issued for travel to and from work, on the job, to and from school, and to and from a treatment center for the next sixty (60) days.

If you are not ‘convicted’ of DUI in Justice or Municipal Court, you may get your license back after ninety (90) days, unless you refused the alcohol testing when you were placed under arrest. If you refused testing, your driving privilege is suspended for one (1) year.

What is an SR22?

SR22 (sometimes referred to as a certificate of insurance) is a vehicle liability insurance document required by DMV for “high-risk” insurance policies. DMV may require an SR22 from a driver to reinstate his/her driving privileges following a DUI. To reinstate these privileges, fees and future proof of financial responsibility must be filed with DMV. You must maintain an SR22 for three years from the date of suspension, unless it is a judgment suspension. Because judgment suspension requirements can vary from case to case, you will need to contact DMV for them to review your record and determine the length of time you need to maintain the SR22 for a judgment suspension.

What if I’m convicted in criminal court?

If you are ‘convicted’ of DUI by the Justice or Municipal Court, at a minimum, the law requires two additional steps for license reinstatement. First, you must attend alcohol or other drug screening, education or treatment at an approved DUI treatment facility and provide proof from the facility that you have completed a minimum of sixteen (16) hours of the program. It may be more. Second, the law requires the installation and maintenance of an ignition interlock device in your car when your driving privilege is limited or restricted after being convicted of an alcohol and/or drug related violation.

Once your ninety (90) day suspension is up you will receive a written order from ADOT stating that an ignition interlock will need to installed in your vehicle.

The interlock must be installed within thirty (30) days of receipt of the order from ADOT. You will be applying for a special restricted driver’s license after the ninety (90) day suspension. Failure to have the interlock installed will result in an immediate suspension of your driving privilege again. The certified installer must send ADOT proof that the interlock has been installed.

How long must the interlock be in my car?

Under the law, the length of time that you must have the interlock in your car varies based on the level of DUI for which you were convicted. e.g., > .08 BAC; > .15; BAC; .20 BAC–the amount of alcohol in your blood. You may have the interlock in your car for as little as six (6) months and at most twenty-four (24) months.

How do we help?

We assist you in determining whether to request a hearing, a summary review, or allow your driving privilege to be suspended for ninety (90) days.  If you request a hearing or summary review, you can drive, using the ‘yellow copy’ of the Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Affidavit as proof of your driving privilege until the Arizona Department of Transportation Executive Hearing Office makes a decision about your driving privilege.

The first step in assisting your defense is for you to contact our office today, to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

Where do we go from here?

If, together, we determine that it is in your best interest to accept a plea agreement, often to a lesser charge, a change of plea hearing will be set, so long as you are, in fact, guilty of the lesser charge. Your lawyer will fully explain the terms of the plea agreement and the consequences. At the change of plea hearing you will enter your plea of guilty to the agreed upon charge and the court will announce the agreed upon consequences.

If, together, we determine that a trial is in your best interest, a trial date will be set. You and your lawyer will work closely to prepare for trial. Preparing for trial will take a large investment of your time and you will be working closely with your lawyer. At the close of the trial, you will be found either not guilty, guilty of the charge, or guilty of a lesser included charge. The court will subsequently determine your sentence which will include the mandatory jail time, fines, alcohol screening and counseling, as well as Mother’s Against Drunk Driving Victim Impact Panel (MADD) attendance. If convicted, the MVD will also require you to install an ignition interlock on your car for six (6) to twelve (12) months.

*State laws can change at any time. The information in this brochure is just a guideline. For the most up to date information, visit:

www.azdot.gov/mvd/faq/driver-services/ignition-interlock