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Reduction in Jail Time for Misdemeanor DUI Offenses

In Arizona, even the first-time basic DUI offender receives jail time – although it is usually just for the minimum of one day. But that is just for the "basic" DUI, i.e., a DUI where the blood alcohol concentration is greater than .08%, but less than .15%. But where the offense isn't the first-time "basic" DUI, the law can get pretty severe with respect to jail time. For example, in second offenses, third offenses, or in the cases of "Extreme DUI" (blood-alcohol concentration greater than .15%) or "Super Extreme DUI" (blood alcohol concentration greater than .20%), the jail can be pretty substantial.

By way of example, the required minimum jail sentence for a first time Super Extreme DUI in Arizona is 45 days. When jail time is measured in weeks rather than days, it can have a pretty burdensome impact on people's lives. As a result of these severe jail sentences, we are repeatedly asked whether there is any way to avoid the jail time.

There are a few statutory provisions that lessen the blow with these lengthy misdemeanor jail sentences. Those provisions allow, in certain circumstances, for jail time to be reduced and/or served at home rather than in the jail itself.

House arrest or home detention – house arrest can be a great comfort to people who are being sentenced in jurisdictions where a house arrest or home detention program is approved. The Arizona legislature has provided local governments and court systems the option of setting up a home detention program. If the program is available in a particular jurisdiction, and that's a big IF, then the latter 80 percent of the jail time imposed can be served in the offender's home with electronic monitoring.

Interlock devices – the legislature has also given the courts the option of suspending part of the jail sentence in exchange for the offender providing ongoing proof of the installation of an ignition interlock device. If a judge opts to take advantage of this sentencing option, and again that's a big IF, then the sentence on a first time Extreme DUI can be reduce from 30 days to 9 days. Likewise, the sentence on a Super Extreme DUI can be reduced from 45 days to 14 days.

Work release – most courts will allow the offenders to take part in a work-release program which enables the offender to leave the jail (or the home in the case of home detention) for work up to 6 days per week.

Note that there is no guarantee that any of these options will be available in any particular jurisdiction and/or with any particular judge. It is completely arbitrary. If the jurisdiction does not have a home detention program in place, and many don't, then home detention is simply not available. Likewise, it is completely within the judge's discretion as to whether to allow for the interlock reduction and/or for work release.