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Driving While Impaired to the Slightest Degree/Driving Under the Influence

The first charge on almost every DUI ticket in Arizona is that the person drove while impaired to the slightest degree.  Here is the most simply stated version of the law:

It is unlawful for a person to drive if the person is impaired to the slightest degree by intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances.

The law used to say that the person's ability to drive must be impaired but the jury instructions no longer require that nexus.  So the bottom line is that you are guilty of a DUI if if the State can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are buzzed by alcohol or drugs.

The State relies on the language "to the slightest degree" to make their case and it is that language that makes the DUI laws in Arizona the toughest in the country.  To prove its case the State relies on the statements of the Defendant and Field Sobriety Tests.

I know the studies that validated the Field Sobriety Tests and how they work and, more importantly, don't work.  The officer is often under trained and does not perform those these accurately.  Therefore, the results are  often suspect.

To beat the charge of Driving while Impaired to the Slightest Degree you need an experienced attorney that can fight the FST's and explain that the law is not quite as harsh as the State wishes it was.

The Law Office of Michael A. Burkhart

Michael A. Burkhart has over ten years of experience defending the accused throughout Phoenix, including cases in Mesa, Maricopa County, Tempe, Gilbert, Chandler, and Queen Creek.


Arizona has the toughest DUI laws in the country. The State will try to put you in jail for up to six months, take away your license, make you pay thousands of dollars in fines, go through alcohol classes, and put an alcohol sensor on your car.