Arizona is recognized has having the stiffest DUI penalties in the nation. If you are charged with Driving under the Influence (DUI) in the Grand Canyon State, the only way you will be able to drive is by installing an ignition interlock device in your automobile for a year, even if it is your first offense.
Arizona’s DUI laws
In 2007, Arizona’s DUI laws were toughened in part to help reduce DUI fatalities. Since the laws were enacted, DUI fatalities have plunged by 46 percent while it has fallen by 20 percent in the rest of the country.
Previously, ignition interlock devices were only meant for those convicted of extreme or repeat DUI. But the current law requires interlock devices for all DUI offenders.
Strict penalties for first time offenders
If you are stopped and have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) above .08 you will be considered to be DUI. First time offenders face the following penalties:
- Jail. Jail time is 10 consecutive days in jail. The court may suspend 9 of the 10 days if you agree to get an alcohol and/or drug evaluation and submit to treatment.
- Fine and additional costs. You will receive a $250 fine plus a surcharge. In addition, you will be assessed $500 for a Deferred Prosecution Agreement (DPA), as well as another $500 fee, which goes to the Arizona Prison Construction Fund.
- License suspension. The Motor Vehicle Department will suspend your license for 90 days.
- Counseling. If recommended in your evaluation and you want the judge to suspend all but 1 day in jail, you will be required to undergo counseling.
Penalties for a second offense are more severe, as are the penalties for having a BAC above .15, which is considered “extreme.” If your BAC registers at .20 percent or higher, this is considered “super extreme” and you will be required to serve a compulsory 45 days in jail.
In Arizona if you drink, do not drive!
Under Arizona law, all motor vehicles operating on public roadways are required to show proof of financial responsibility. According to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) this includes golf carts, motorcycles and mopeds.
Proof of financial responsibility can be in the form of a certificate of insurance, a bond or certificate of deposit or cash in the amount of $40,000.
You are required under Arizona law to have insurance with liability limits of at least 15/30/10. This means:
- $15,000 – bodily injury for one person
- $30,000 – bodily injury total for one accident
- $10,000 – property damages
Who is liable
Arizona is a tort liability state, which means that the person who caused the accident is responsible for medical bills, rehabilitation costs, repairs and lost wages. The at-fault driver in a car crash can be sued by the other driver and also by the other driver’s passengers for medical expenses, loss of wages, pain and/or suffering caused by the accident.
Proof of insurance
Insurance companies notify the Arizona MVD of all policy cancellations, non-renewals and new policies. Failure to maintain proper insurance could lead to the suspension of your vehicle registration and/or driver’s license.
Crossing the border
If you are planning on driving your automobile in Mexico, before crossing the border you will need to buy separate coverage that meets Mexico’s legal requirements of liability insurance. This must be purchased from an authorized Mexican insurance agent. Discuss this with your own auto insurance agent, and treat this seriously, as failing to meet the requirements of Mexican law could land you in serious trouble. If you are in an accident in Mexico while driving your car, you could be fined heavily and even face being jailed.
Ask your insurance company what discounts it offers. According to the Arizona Department of Insurance, most insurers provide discounts for at least some of the following:
- Accident free drivers discount
- Package discount for insuring your home and auto with the same insurer
- Multiple auto discount
- Good student discount
- Nonsmokers discount
- Passive restraint discount (for vehicles with air bags or automatic seat belts)
Average annual cost of insurance
The cost of insuring your automobile in Arizona is among the lowest in the U.S. The 2011 average annual premium for Arizona auto insurance, according to Insure.com, is $1,280. The national average in 2011 is $1561.
Insurance Information Institute www.iii.org
Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles www.azdot.gov/mvd
Arizona Department of Insurance
Tel 602-364-2499 or (800) 325-2548 (In Arizona, but outside the Phoenix area)
Tel 602-364-2977 (Spanish)