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Can You Lose Your Driver’s License on Your First DUI in Arizona?

Posted on May 26, 2023 in

Everyone makes mistakes, but drinking with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or over in Arizona is a serious mistake with significant repercussions. While most people charged with a DUI have immediate—and reasonable—fears of spending time in jail, the shame and stress of a trial, and the financial consequences of their arrest, for most DUI suspects, the realization that they may lose their driver’s license is a secondary consideration that often occurs to them after the initial trauma of the arrest. Many suspects facing a first DUI conviction ask DUI attorneys in Arizona, “Does this mean I’ll lose my driver’s license?”

How Does a DUI Arrest Affect Your Driver’s License? 

Once you’ve been arrested for DUI, the state of Arizona suspends your driver’s license immediately for 90 days. The suspension doesn’t require a conviction and occurs through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on arrest rather than waiting for the full playout of the legal process and trial. 

The administrative driver’s license suspension occurs upon your arrest for DUI or after a refusal to submit to a breathalyzer. Upon conviction, a second suspension occurs from Arizona’s criminal justice system, with a mandatory 90-day suspension for first convictions and longer suspensions for second or third convictions. The suspensions from the criminal justice system and from the DMV overlap rather than running back to back, but may not end on the same date. 

It’s also important to note that the state gives those charged with a DUI a driving grace period of 15 days by issuing an Admin Per Se form to use as a temporary license. This helps ensure that the suspect can have meetings with an attorney and make it to an arraignment and other legal proceedings.

What Happens to an Arizona Driver’s License After a Conviction?

If you’re convicted of a DUI, the state adds 8 points to your license. Arizona’s point system specifies that your license can be suspended for up to 12 months for 8 or more points, so the amount of time your license suspension lasts can depend on the number of points you already had against your license as well as the terms of your DUI sentence.

After a DUI conviction, the amount of time the justice system suspends your license depends on the type of conviction. In Arizona, there are 4 types of DUI convictions:

  • A Standard DUI conviction results in a 90-day license suspension. By passing regular BAC tests, a person convicted of a standard DUI could regain a restricted license for driving to work, school, and medical appointments after the first 30 days of the 90-day suspension
  • An Extreme DUI conviction for a first offense also results in a 90-day suspension but comes with longer jail time and higher fines
  • A Super Extreme DUI conviction comes with a 90-day license suspension for a first conviction and a 1-year suspension for a second conviction
  • An Aggravated DUI is a felony conviction and comes with a 1-year license suspension even for a first conviction.

Challenging a DUI License Suspension

Arizona citizens have a right to challenge a driver’s license suspension by requesting a hearing within 15 days of receiving the Admin Per Se form or notice of license suspension. If you have been charged with a DUI in Arizona and have concerns about the status of your driver’s license, an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney can help you understand your rights and obligations under Arizona law.