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Can DUI Charges Get Dropped?

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and fact-checked by an addiction expert.
Clinically Reviewed By: Karen Williams, LPC
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and fact-checked by an addiction expert.

DUI charges may be dropped to a reckless driving charge if certain conditions are met. If a first-time offender commits a DUI, it can be dropped by attending educational classes and/or getting regularly tested for a specified period.

Contents

Can You Get DUI Charges Dropped?

Getting DUI charges dropped can only happen in certain sets of circumstances. If the defendant (the person charged with the DUI crime) is not found guilty, it can be negotiated with the prosecutor to drop the charges. 

However, this circumstance has a slim to no chance of happening, especially when the prosecutor catches wind of evidence that incriminates the defendant of the DUI charges.

If you have committed a DUI in the past and already had one charge dropped, there is a lesser likelihood that you will have the charges dropped or placed on a lesser charge for your second offense. 

Having charges dropped is mainly a courtesy for people who have committed the crime for the first time or it is justice being served if no proper facts are found to convict the person of the DUI charge.

Special Circumstances That a DUI Charge Can Be Dropped

The main ways that you can get DUI charges dismissed are if:

  • If you are a product citizen.
  • If driving history does not contain any past DUIs.
  • If you do not have any criminal history on your record.
  • If you were high as the result of taking a prescription medication.

According to Arizona, the only way that a DUI can be truly dismissed is if there are no facts to support the DUI charge. 

In general, some courts will allow a reckless driving charge as a lesser infraction to lower the severity of the incrimination. 

However, some of the Arizona courts like in Phoenix will not grant this lower charge of DUI in any case whatsoever.

How to Get a DUI Dropped for First-Time Offenders

For first-time offenders, the DUI charge will still be imposed for the time being, but a criminal conviction can be avoided as long as they meet specific conditions. 

As part of their charge, they may have to take educational classes about the effects of drugs and alcohol on the body. 

The classes will also highlight all the possible dangers of driving while intoxicated with any substance.

Another way to avoid a criminal conviction is to receive regular drug or alcohol testing throughout a specified period of months. The individual must pass all the mandated tests to drop the charges.

Can You Get DUI Charges Reduced?

If courts allow the DUI charge to be reduced to a lesser one, the only one available would be ARS 28-693 which is a reckless driving charge. However, charge reduction would be considered in varying circumstances.

If you had a prior DUI charge dropped or reduced already, there is a very slim chance that it can happen to you again. Let’s go over the consequences for each offense in the state of Arizona.

The Consequences for DUI Offenses in Arizona

Each offense for DUI involves fines and jail time. The Arizona Department of Transportation highlights the consequences for every DUI offense based on how many times the person has already committed the crime.

Offenses are classified based on whether it is a standard DUI charge or an extreme DUI charge. An extreme DUI charge is classified as such if the person found guilty has a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of 0.15 or higher.

As the number of offenses increases, the time that your license is suspended lengthens. If at one point too many DUI offenses have been committed, you may have even more trouble getting your license back, seeking employment, or being able to travel to different countries.

First DUI Offense

First-time offenders of a standard DUI charge will have at least 10 days of jail time and pay a fine of at least $1,250. For extreme DUI charges, jail time will be 30 days long with a fine of $2,500.

Second DUI Offense and Thereafter

Second-time standard DUI offenders will be jailed for 90 days, fined $3,000, and have their driver’s license suspended for a year. For extreme DUI offenders on their second offense, consequences are jail time of 120 days, one year of their driver’s license being revoked, and a $3,250 fine.

Aggravated DUI Offense

A new Arizona law implemented in September 2021 states someone who committed an aggravated DUI offense will lose their license for at least three years once found guilty. An aggravated DUI offense is charged if:

  • Someone commits their third DUI offense within 84 months since they committed their first offense.
  • Is found guilty of a DUI while a minor aged 15 or younger is in the vehicle with them.
  • A DUI offense is committed if their license is invalid from cancellation or revocation.
  • A DUI offender does not submit a mandated BAC test when requested.

What is ARS 28-693?

Let’s first define the reckless driving charge. In general, reckless driving means not obeying posted speed limits, not using proper turn signals, passing individuals abruptly, and/or tailgating. 

Whatever behavior that puts other motorists at risk while the offender is on the road is grounds for a reckless driving charge.

Driving while intoxicated can also be classified as reckless driving because the person is not cognitively stable enough to operate heavy machinery. 

Hence, they will not be able to obey the rules of the road because of the alcohol or drug influencing their brain to not actively pay attention to their actions on the road. This can result in an intoxicated individual driving around to swerve and possibly causing an accident with another motorist.

Getting DUI charges reduced depends on the court in which your hearing takes place. As stated earlier, not every court allows for a reckless driving charge to replace a DUI one. Alternatively, each DUI case is not a cookie-cutter situation.

Every DUI offender has their reasons for receiving charges with different types of drug or alcohol utilized, the different blood alcohol content in the blood, and how they got caught driving while intoxicated. 

Was there a car accident as a result of the intoxication? Did an officer realize the person’s obstructive driving and pull them over without a car accident happening? All of these things are considered when the court decides to drop a DUI charge to a lesser one.

What Are My Chances of Getting a DUI Dropped?

Because of the severity of circumstances related to committing a DUI, getting charges dropped are very slim if you are a second-time offender.

First-time offenders have a higher chance of their charges getting dropped as long as they have not had any prior criminal convictions on their record. However, it would depend on the nature of the DUI case. 

If their BAC was low and they did not hurt another motorist while intoxicated, then they could have a 60/40 chance of the charge getting dropped.

If a first-time offender causes a vehicular accident that resulted in the death of the other driver, this is an automatic vehicular homicide charge. 

Hence, this will be classified as a more extreme DUI charge and due justice must be served.

However, if a person has committed other criminal convictions and then commits a DUI offense, they may have a much lower chance of having it dropped because they have done actions with criminal intent in the past before.

What Can I Do To Help My DUI Case?

To help your DUI case, you should hire an attorney that specializes in DUI litigation. Screen all of your possible lawyer options by looking at their years of experience, how many cases they have won, and their hourly rates.

If you do not have enough money to hire a lawyer, you can go to your local community legal center to petition for pro bono services. These are attorneys that will give you legal advice free of charge. Pro bono attorneys can also represent you in court at no cost.

When it’s the day of your court hearing, be sure to:

  • Dress professionally.
  • Be a good listener.
  • Respond only when the Judge or Prosecutor asks a question.
  • Talk slowly, courteously, and thoroughly to defend your case.

Reliving the night that you were charged with a DUI can be stressful and heartbreaking, especially if you have trouble recalling what happened. 

Take a deep breath and answer all the questions asked of you truthfully without lashing out. 

Acting courteously and professionally in the court setting will do you the best good as lashing out will cause more harm to your image in court than good.

Can Online Classes Help Get My Charges Dropped?

While online classes do not allow you to get your DUI charges dropped, they can help you to meet certain mandates in court to fulfill the consequences of your offense. Educational classes also help to reduce DUI charges to reckless driving offenses.

Overall, the classes are not only a great educational tool and helpful resource, but they are also a reminder to not drive while under the influence ever again. 

Just think that if you are found guilty of a DUI charge that you will have to deal with possible license revocation, thousands of dollars in fines, jail time, and many hoops to jump through before you can get your general privileges back.

How To Start Looking Into DUI Classes

Weigh out your options as you start looking into DUI classes. Are they in-person or is there the option to do them online? Which type of class setting do you prefer and what works best with your schedule?

Conduct a Google search to find rehabilitation centers in your local area to start looking into DUI classes. Call a few local rehabs to ask questions about the experience. Ask questions such as:

  • What days and times do the classes meet up?
  • What can I expect from the in-person DUI course?
  • If online, how often do I have to log on for class?
  • Can I do the online courses at any time or is there a deadline?
  • Are the online tests timed or do I have unlimited time to complete them?
  • How many modules are in the (specific hour class you have to take) course?

As you make a call to each facility, take notes so you know all the key details. Finalize your decision by visiting the facilities for a tour and maybe sit in one of the classes if they allow it (if you are doing it in person) to see what it’s like.

What Is a DUI Assessment?

A DUI assessment is usually mandated by the Motor Vehicle Division of Arizona to assess the habits of alcohol or drug-dependent person. 

Once the person has received their offense consequences in court, he or she will schedule an interview with an approved behavioral health professional to begin the DUI Assessment.

The interview takes place in person with a behavioral health professional. The overall treatment plan will be decided based on the information gathered during this interview.

People who undergo a DUI Assessment will need to take at least a 16-hour in-person or online DUI course to receive the education needed about driving while intoxicated.

 If the person has an extreme case of alcohol dependence with repeat DUI offenses, the behavioral health professional will recommend a longer course time during the rehabilitation period.

DUI Classes Right at Your Fingertips

Call to learn about our DUI assessments and online courses. We work directly with the courts and MVD to help you fulfill case requirements.

Cornerstone’s DUI Class Process

Cornerstone Healing Center works alongside Arizona courts and the state’s Motor Vehicle Division to know what type of online classes you are required to complete to fulfill the consequences of your DUI offense.

The center has six different classes available with varying time frames. Those with more extreme DUI offenses or who have committed them in the past will have to take the more lengthy classes. 

First-time offenders and those who commit standard DUIs will take the shorter classes.

There are eight-hour, 16-hour, 20-hour, 36-hour, 40-hour, and 56-hour classes available at Cornerstone Healing Center. 

All classes have the same content and background information, but some are for longer hours than others.

Everything in the course content for the DUI courses is approved by the Arizona Department of Health Services. Overall you will learn the following in one of these courses:

  • How to handle your issues in other ways than resorting to drugs or alcohol.
  • Recognizing the substance abuse stages to educate yourself on how it happened to you.
  • Psychological side effects of alcohol and drug use.
  • Social effects of using drugs or alcohol.
  • Community resources to help get you better from your dependency.
  • Ways to treat drug or alcohol dependency.
 

8-hour Class

The 8-hour class is the minimum amount of hours for an online DUI course. These classes are more for those who had drugs or alcohol while driving. They are not assigned to people with the worst of cases.

16-hour Class

A 16-hour class combines education about drug and alcohol abuse along with treatment. 

The education portion is more emphasized than the treatment as you will receive more of that from your assigned psychologist or therapist during your time at Cornerstone Healing Center.

20-hour Class

People with more extreme DUI cases will get assigned a 20-hour online course. They will have to be taken alongside a separate 16-hour class to reinforce overall education and treatment of alcohol and drug use.

In this class you will:

  • Learn how to patch up relationships affected by drug or alcohol misuse.
  • Find out the differences between toxic and healthy relationships during your recovery.
  • Find out your anxiety and depression triggers so that you can discover healthier ways to cope with them.
  • Group discussions on how alcohol and drugs affect the brain with repeated use.
  • Engage in family counseling for more socially therapeutic recovery.
  • View a film or do something else where you evaluate what is happening in a character’s life to discover why they have toxic relationships or what they are doing to self-sabotage themselves and how they can do better.

36-hour Class

The 36-hour class is a culmination of the 20-hour and 16-hour online courses. They are split up into more easy-to-handle class loads so attendees are not overwhelmed throughout their recovery.

The 16-hour course is more educational in learning about the history of drug and alcohol misuse and how it also affects your body. 

The 20-hour course will give you a therapeutic road map to recovery through a wide variety of social activities with peers at the facility, with your therapist, and undergoing family therapy. 

Refer to the information about those courses above for more information on the combined course load.

40-hour Class

The 40-hour class is not only for extreme DUI offenders but also for those that want to get their commercial driver’s license. Students will study drugs and alcohol and how it affects the brain and the body. 

You will build substance awareness so that you know when it is time to stop drinking alcohol. This substance awareness will also help you to be aware of when you should and should not operate heavy machinery if you are under the influence.

If you cannot attend a class in person, the 40-hour course is the best option to fulfill your court mandate. Once you finish each module, you will take a half-hour test to gauge your understanding of the content so that you can earn your completion certificate at the end of the course.

56-hour Class

The 56-hour class starts with a DUI assessment. It is a survey of 130 questions that evaluates the substance that you use, how much of it, how often you use it, and in what ways you have consumed the substance. 

Of course, if it was alcohol you could only drink it, but if you were also dependent on certain drugs, you would indicate if you took pills, snorted the substance, or received it via injection needles.

While this information may be painful to admit openly to our staff, please answer all questions honestly to the best of your knowledge. Coming to terms with your dependency and responding truthfully to the questionnaire will be the first step to seeking the help you need to get better.

The 56-hour course is needed to restore your license if you have experienced a 90-day or one-year revocation period. 

You must also conduct a background check over a virtual video chat and speak with a substance abuse counselor as other prerequisites before receiving your driver’s license privileges back.

Sources

[1] How alcohol affects driving ability

[2] Arizona Statistics

[3] Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Published On: 12/19/2022

DUI CLASSES RIGHT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS

Call to learn about our DUI assessments and online courses. We work directly with the courts and MVD to help you fulfill case requirements.
Author: Dane Perikly

Author: Dane Perikly

Dane is a DUI education expert, and is Cornerstone DUI's operations manager.

Clinical Reviewer: Karen Williams, LPC

Clinical Reviewer: Karen Williams, LPC

Karen is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 15 years experience. She not only specializes in DUI prevention, but addiction and recovery.

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