Arizona DUI Law Just Got Tougher, Wrong Way DUI

Arizona’s reckless and aggressive driving law and DUI law just got tougher for anyone driving the wrong way on a controlled access highway. Governor Doug Ducey signed HB 2243 into law on March 27, 2018, making it a felony crime under certain circumstances to drive the wrong way on a freeway or controlled access highway while impaired on drugs or alcohol. Here’s what to expect from the new legislation.

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Wrong way DUI driving – new Arizona aggravated felony

New Civil Traffic Offense

Even if unimpaired, driving the wrong way on a controlled access highway could result in being cited for a civil traffic offense. The punishment? A civil penalty of $500 and mandatory participation in a Traffic Safety School course. The new ARS § 28-694 reads as follows:

ARS § 28-694. Wrong-way driving; civil penalty; traffic survival school; definition

  1. A person who drives the wrong way on a controlled access highway commits wrong‑way driving.
  2. A person who is found responsible for a violation of this section is subject to a civil penalty of $500.
  3. A person who is found responsible for a violation of this section shall attend and successfully complete approved traffic survival school educational sessions that are designed to improve the safety and habits of drivers.
  4. For the purposes of this section, “wrong way” means vehicular movement that is in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic. Wrong way does not include median crossing or a collision where a motor vehicle comes to a stop facing the wrong way.

But there’s more.

New Aggravated DUI Offense – Wrong Way DUI

Before HB 2243 was signed into law, someone convicted of DUI did not directly experience harsher penalties or separate felony conviction for having driven the wrong way on a controlled access highway while intoxicated. The DUI rules have changed! Now, if the driver operated a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or vapor releasing toxic substance and was driving the wrong way on a controlled access highway, then he or she may be charged with a Class 4 Felony offense.

HB 2243 also amended ARS § 28-1383 regarding Aggravated Felony DUI by adding (A)(5) to the existing list of Aggravated DUI offenses. Specifically adding a violation of “§ 28-1381 or § 28-1382 or this section while driving the wrong way on a highway.” Furthermore, wrong way “means vehicular movement that is in a direction opposing the legal flow of traffic. Wrong way does not include median crossing or a collision where a motor vehicle comes to a stop facing the wrong way.”

To learn more about this new legislation, contact a DUI criminal defense attorney with Stewart Law Group.