DUI Process by DUI Attorney

What you need to know before you go to court.

So you were pulled over for a DUI in Arizona and you have a ticket that tells you need to go to court in a few weeks. You’re probably stressed, confused and preoccupied about the fact you have a criminal charge against you. If you are worried about going to court alone, worried about what will happen when you get there, this website is for you.

We believe that you should do as much research as you can to arm yourself with the information that you need. When you speak with a DUI attorney, you will be better prepared to ask the right questions.


We will cover the basics of Arizona DUI law. How the court system works, what the penalties are, and some of the defenses an attorney can use to win your case. First, you need to understand that every year thousands of good, law abiding people get charged for DUI. Celebrities, teachers, executives find themselves charged with DUI. It is far more common than you think. Because of this, the court system is almost overrun with DUI cases. Go to the city of Phoenix Court on a Monday morning and look at the line that snakes out the courthouse entry. Go across the street and look at the security line in Superior Court. Any DUI Lawyer will tell you that huge numbers of people face DUI charges every year.

The First Court Date: What to Expect

Contrary to what you may have seen on television, it’s highly unlikely that the judge or prosecutor is dedicating significant time to thinking about your case. The police officer who arrested you has likely encountered hundreds of similar cases, and to them, you’re just another statistic. So, there’s no need to fret about the embarrassment of appearing in court. You’ll be among many others facing their own legal challenges, and nobody will single you out.

Your initial court appearance for a misdemeanor DUI isn’t a trial; it’s typically not a particularly critical hearing. It’s essentially a not-guilty arraignment. Some individuals worry about pleading not guilty at this stage because they feel it might involve lying to the court. Rest assured, this initial not guilty plea is a procedural formality.

Pleading not guilty here doesn’t mean you’re committing to taking your case to trial. It merely signifies that you’d like some time to explore your legal options. In the case of felony DUIs, the arraignment process can be more complex.

Keep in mind that judges can impose release conditions that might result in your incarceration during ongoing proceedings. Therefore, it might be wise to consult with a DUI attorney before proceeding. We generally advise clients to enter a not-guilty plea at the arraignment, allowing the case to move to a pre-trial conference. During this conference, you’ll have the opportunity to review police reports and consult with an attorney who can negotiate a more favorable outcome with the prosecutor. There’s no need to rush the resolution of your case.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor DUI in Arizona

Arizona has various types of DUI charges, each with its own distinctions. People often confuse extreme DUI and super extreme DUI with felony aggravated DUI. While the terminology may sound similar, the cases are quite distinct. In Arizona, a DUI is classified as a misdemeanor if the defendant meets specific criteria: having one DUI prior within the past seven years, an unrestrictive driver’s license at the time of the offense, no involvement in a serious injury accident, and no child under 15 in the car.

The seriousness of a misdemeanor DUI depends on the driver’s blood alcohol level and whether there’s a prior DUI within seven years. The most severe misdemeanor DUI is super extreme DUI with a prior, carrying a mandatory six-month jail sentence. However, a DUI with a blood alcohol level below .10 and no prior DUIs typically results in a 24-hour jail sentence.

DUI Penalties in Arizona

For a first offense DUI (with a blood alcohol concentration between .08 and .15) and no other DUI convictions within seven years, penalties typically include one day in jail, fines around $2,000, and mandatory drug and alcohol classes. Conviction also necessitates the installation of an alcohol interlock device in your car for 6 to 12 months. Most people with this type of DUI lose their license for 30 days but can obtain a 60-day restricted permit for work or school purposes. It’s essential to note that jail time and fines can vary between courts.

Upon a DUI arrest, the police may confiscate your license and provide a temporary 15-day restricted license. If this happens, you must request a hearing with the MVD before the 15 days expire if you wish to challenge the suspension. Dealing with the MVD can be challenging, so it’s advisable to consult with a DUI attorney for guidance regarding your license.

For a second DUI within seven years (as long as your driver’s license wasn’t suspended at the time of the impaired driving), you face 30 days in jail and mandatory drug and alcohol classes. An interlock device is required, and a second DUI offense will suspend your license for one year. Additionally, extreme DUI and super extreme DUI are two other forms of misdemeanor DUI. Extreme DUI has a legal blood alcohol limit of .15, while super extreme DUI sets the limit at .20. Convictions for these DUIs entail jail sentences ranging from 30 days to six months, depending on the blood alcohol level and prior convictions.

How Jail Works for DUI in Arizona

If convicted of DUI, you won’t be taken directly to jail from the courtroom. Instead, you receive an order from the court to self-surrender. You can choose a date within approximately 30 days of your court hearing to start your jail sentence. For most DUIs, individuals with sentences of two days or longer qualify for work release.

Work release permits individuals to be released from jail for 12 hours a day, five days a week. Home detention may also be an option depending on the court’s discretion. If your sentence exceeds 15 days, you may serve the remainder of your time from home, wearing an ankle monitor and adhering to the same schedule as work release. For felony DUIs, jail time and work release might not be available. Felony aggravated DUI is charged when the driver is impaired to the slightest degree and either has a suspended license at the time of the impaired driving or has two other DUI convictions within seven yeaAnother form of aggravated DUI involves driving impaired with children aged 15 or younger in the car. If facing aggravated DUI charges, it’s advisable to consult with an attorney before going to court, as depending on your criminal history, you could be looking at substantial prison time. DUI fines can be significant, but many courts offer payment plans. Nevertheless, some courts are stricter than others. If you have the means to pay immediately, most courts will likely accommodate you.

How to Win a DUI Case

Facing a DUI charge in Arizona can be incredibly stressful. However, there are strategies to challenge DUI charges in the state. Here are the top six DUI defenses:

  • Lack of Reasonable Suspicion for the Traffic Stop: If there was no valid reason to stop your vehicle, the DUI case could be dismissed.
  • Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest: If there was insufficient evidence to arrest you, it could lead to case dismissal.
  • Issues with Blood Testing Procedures: Violations of blood test rules can result in the blood evidence being excluded.
  • Blood Retesting: If a retest of your blood sample shows significantly different results, it could impact the case.
  • Lack of Proof of Driving: If there are no witnesses or evidence proving you were driving, the case may be dismissed.
  • Inaccuracy of Breath Testing Machines: Problems with breathalyzer machines can lead to the dismissal of a DUI case.

We understand that being charged with a DUI in Arizona can be distressing. If you have further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to call us at 602-989-5000. Our former DUI prosecutors can discuss the specific details of your case. Remember, every case is unique, which is why we offer a free consultation for anyone with questions about a DUI. If you decide to hire us, we provide affordable fees and payment options to fit your budget, without performing credit checks. If you have any questions, call us at 602-989-5000 now. Please be aware that DUI laws are subject to change, and this information should not substitute for advice from a DUI attorney who can analyze your case. Here are some of the issues we’ll consider:

The DUI Traffic Stop in Arizona

A DUI arrest in Arizona typically begins with a traffic stop. A police officer only requires “reasonable suspicion” of a traffic violation to pull you over. Generally, minor traffic infractions like speeding, running a red light, disregarding traffic signals, weaving between lanes, or driving without headlights provide valid grounds for a traffic stop. While you should provide your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request during the stop, most evidence used against you is gathered during this initial stop. Therefore, Alcock & Associates, P.C. recommends exercising your right to remain silent, contacting one of our DUI defense attorneys before answering any questions from a police officer, and before agreeing to any field sobriety tests.

Arrest Process

An arrest can occur for either a felony or a misdemeanor, including traffic offenses. For a felony, police must have “probable cause,” meaning objective and reliable information indicating the person committed the offense. For a misdemeanor, “reasonable suspicion” suffices, which depends on the arresting officer’s subjective judgement. An arrest for a misdemeanor can happen if the officer suspects a warrant exists or if a crime occurs in their presence. It’s crucial for a motorist to recall the officer’s actions and words during the arrest. For instance, neglecting to read Miranda rights could lead to case dismissal or exclusion of specific evidence. Our DUI defense attorneys often leverage an officer’s failure to follow standard conduct to benefit the client.

Booking Process

Post-DUI arrest, a motorist undergoes booking at a jail or transitional facility, usually followed by prompt release. Booking entails recording personal details in the police database, which may include a lawful search, fingerprinting, and photographing. To find information about a detained DUI suspect, one can call the jail with details like booking number, date of birth, and full name, to learn about charges, court dates, arresting agency, and bail amount.

Post-Arrest Charges

After booking and release, the police prepare to submit charges to the prosecutor. This might be delayed if awaiting blood alcohol results from a chemical test. Charges are filed once all pertinent evidence is collected. For a misdemeanor DUI, a citation with a court date is issued, and it’s the individual’s responsibility to attend court, as missing a court date can lead to a warrant.

DUI Court Proceedings

Our DUI attorneys tailor their approach to each unique case, explaining events and expectations. The DUI court process typically includes:

  • Arraignment: The first court appearance, where charges are formalized, bail is set, and pleading “not guilty” preserves various rights.
  • Preliminary Hearing: A judge assesses if enough probable cause exists to support the DUI charge.
  • Pretrial Conference: Allows for document exchange, plea negotiations, and potentially entering a plea.
  • Trial Management Conference: Final preparations before trial.
  • Trial: Can be a jury or bench trial, involving jury selection, opening statements, presentation of evidence, and jury deliberation.
  • Sentencing follows a conviction or plea agreement. Factors influencing sentence severity include community standing, offender status, and family support. Our attorneys strive to present factors favorably for a lighter sentence.

MVD Process

Separate from the criminal case, an MVD hearing addresses license suspension. Failing to request an MVD hearing within 15 days of arrest can lead to automatic suspension.

For further information or a free consultation, contact Alcock & Associates at 602-989-5000. Thank you.

Nick Alcock, Attorney at law, Alcock & Associates Law Firm, 2 N. Central, 26th Floor, Phoenix, Az 85004

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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004