DUI First Appearances

Drunk Driving Defense Lawyer for Phoenix Residents

It can be intimidating to go before a judge to face DUI charges. It is normal to be fearful. DUI charges are criminal charges, not administrative charges, which means there is a lot at stake. If you are concerned about a first appearance in a drunk driving case, a seasoned Phoenix DUI attorney may be able to help. James E. Novak is a former prosecutor who is dedicated to fighting for criminal defendants, and understands what’s at stake in a DUI charge.

What’s at Stake in a DUI Charge?

Many DUIs in Arizona are misdemeanor charges. Arizona Revised Statutes section 28-1381 defines drunk driving, and sets forth penalties and related issues. Barring aggravated circumstances, a first offense is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor. This is punishable by a minimum of 10 days in jail. However, if you go an alcohol screening and complete classes, you may be required to serve just 24 hours in custody.

However, you should be aware that first offense misdemeanor DUI convictions are also expensive. You can face fines, surcharges and fees that are around $100, plus $130 for a day in jail. You can face a $50 alcohol screening fee and be required to take an alcohol treatment class that may cost you about $585. Courts can also order you to install an ignition-interlock device on your car to the tune of $1200 on a yearly basis. These devices serve to measure blood alcohol concentration, and you can be stopped from starting your car if you have higher than an acceptable amount.

Often car insurance rates go up after a first offense DUI. You may need to get an SR-22 insurance policy waiver for three years. This costs $500 each year. The total expenses for fines and related charges can be more than $14,000.

What’s at stake in a felony DUI case is greater. You can face harsher penalties if you have been convicted of two prior DUIs in the last seven years, if there was a child under age 15 in the car when you were stopped, if you were ordered to drive only with an ignition interlock device and didn’t, or where the DUI came about while your driver’s license was suspended because of a prior DUI arrest, conviction, or chemical test refusal.

DUI First Appearance

Often the first appearance in a DUI case occurs within about a month of your arrest on drunk driving charges. This first appearance isn’t a trial. When what is being charged is a misdemeanor DUI charge, the first appearance is a chance to enter a plea and have the matter moved to another date. Generally, a not guilty plea should be entered so that you can review your options and look at whatever evidence the prosecutor has. While it’s not as high-stakes as other appearances, it is a sound plan to be represented by an experienced defense attorney in a DUI first appearance.

However, if you are charged with a felony DUI, the first appearance can be crucial. At this hearing, the judge may set bond or restrictive terms of release. Sometimes when there is a warrant for other offenses, you can wind up incarcerated as a result of a first court appearance. Further, if you don’t have ties to the community (for example, if you are from out-of-town or out-of-state), the court may set bond to ensure that you come to the other appearances in your case. Retain a Knowledgeable DUI Attorney in Phoenix

If you are concerned about a DUI first appearance, it’s helpful to talk to someone who can go over your options with you, and assist you in building a strong defense. Mr. Novak represents defendants charged with DUIs and other crimes in the Phoenix area including in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, and across Maricopa County. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact us via our online form.

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