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In Arizona, Standard DUI, Extreme DUI and Super Extreme DUI are all misdemeanors. The statute of limitations for misdemeanor DUI in Arizona is one year from the time of your arrest, as is true of all misdemeanors according to A.R.S. § 13 – 107. During that year, the State can formally file charges for DUI against you. There are exceptions to this rule, however. For those exceptions you will need to gain the representation and consultation of an Arizona DUI criminal defense lawyer.

For felony Aggravated DUI, Arizona prosecutors have seven years to file charges. As with misdemeanor DUI, statute of limitations laws are very complex. You need to seek the guidance of an Arizona DUI criminal defense lawyer for the most correct information regarding the statutes of limitations in your specific circumstances and for your case.

If the statutes of limitations expire before charges are brought against you, the charge is completely dismissed.

How long will the Arizona DUI process take?

We have established that your Arizona misdemeanor DUI charges must be filed within one year of your arrest on suspicion of DUI, or within seven years of that arrest for felony DUI. Beyond arrest, your Arizona DUI case will follow the standard process governed by the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure. These rules form a map of how your case will be processed through the courts.

Below is a brief, general look at how an Arizona DUI is handled from the traffic stop through post-conviction sentencing and appeal:

Traffic Stop and Arrest

DUI arrest begins at the traffic stop by a law enforcement officer. This traffic stop may consist of you being pulled over by a patrol car or could be the result of a DUI checkpoint. Once you are arrested, the arresting officer must read you your Miranda rights. This is when you can invoke your right to remain silent, as well as to gain the counsel of an attorney. At this time you should call an Arizona DUI criminal defense attorney, so he or she can guide you through the rest of the DUI process as it pertains to your specific case. Usually following arrest is administration of a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) test at a mobile BAC station, in a hospital or at the police station.

Booking and Processing

Most people arrested for their first offense of Standard DUI in Arizona will not go to jail or through booking. If you are taken to jail for booking, you will be searched. You will also be asked some questions, fingerprinted and photographed for a mug shot. After these steps are completed, you will be placed in a cell. The jail will provide details to your friends or family specifying bail amount, location of where you are being held and other important information.


Most first time offenses of Standard DUI focus on the BAC results. When the DUI arrest is on a felony Aggravated DUI charge, the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement will work together to gain more information about your criminal history. At some point following their investigation they will file charges, issue a citation for you to appear in court and provide you with a court date. Felony DUIs are prosecuted through Superior Court while misdemeanors are handled in a city court or by a justice court. The prosecutor will decide which charges to file against you.

Court Appearance, Hearings, Arraignment and Bail

If you are taken into custody after arrest, you will generally gain a hearing within 24 hours. The judge will consider bail and conditions of your release when you appear for the first time. Bail is usually granted but can range in amount. For a felony case there will be a preliminary hearing. In that hearing the judge will decide if the prosecutor’s charge is supported by enough probable cause and evidence to go to the Superior Court for trial.

When you are represented in these appearances and hearings by an attorney, your concern regarding the DUI is reflected by that representation. This shows you are trying to be responsible in regard to your charges and do not take them lightly. Your attorney will provide the court with factors or circumstances that may weigh the case in your favor, such as a clean criminal record and your reputation in the community.

During Arraignment, you will be informed of the charges against you in the courtroom. You will enter the plea of guilty, not guilty or no contest, according to the decision you made about your charges in consultation with your attorney.


Pretrial provides your attorney the time and place to negotiate your charges with the prosecutor. A deal may be arranged between your DUI Lawyer Phoenix AZ and the prosecutor based upon your background and other factors. Your attorney will then discuss the deal with you, if there is one offered. He or she will help you weigh options and the lawyer will make a recommendation for your decision based upon their experience in DUI cases.  

Trial and Selection of the Jury

Most trials for DUI are tried by jury. This is your right in these matters and your lawyer will participate in jury selection.

During the trial, the prosecutor and defense lawyer provide opening statements and discuss evidence that will be reviewed as part of your case. The State will present its case against you first, followed by the Defense. The Defense may make a motion for your case to be dismissed if the State has not presented sufficient evidence against you. If your case is not dismissed, your side of the case will then be presented. Closing arguments are presented by each side with a case summation. The jury then deliberates and renders their verdict.

Sentencing and Appeal

If you are found guilty, your sentencing will follow. This is when you will be provided with the terms of your sentence, such as prison time, required substance abuse education, fines and other penalties.

You Need Specialized DUI Criminal Defense Representation against Your DUI Charges

When you or someone you love have been arrested for misdemeanor or felony DUI, it is critical that you are represented in court by an experienced DUI criminal defense lawyer. You need an expert’s help in presenting the right evidence to prove your innocence and help you gain the best possible outcome for your case.

Staff (65 Posts)