Arizona law authorizes the Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to take action against a driver’s license or privilege to drive if they have frequent traffic violations (28 A.R.S. § 3306.A.3).
Various traffic violations lead to the assessment of points, for example, DUI is an 8-point assessment and Speeding a 3-point assessment (17 A.A.C 4, R17-4-404, Table 1 at Page 19).
The actions MVD can impose include an assignment to complete a Traffic Survival School (TSS) and suspension for the accumulation of points. Restricted licenses are not available during a points suspension, therefore no driving at all is authorized. The accumulation of points within 12 months results in an assignment to: 8-12 points, TSS; 13-17 points, a 3-month points suspension; and 18-23 points, a 6-month points suspension. Accumulating 24 or more points within 36 months results in a 12-month suspension.
Since 1983 the Arizona Supreme Court has made it clear that the MVD can only assess 8 points for DUI convictions from one incident, no matter how many different counts (or charges) of DUI the person has been convicted of. Anderjeski v. City Court of City of Mesa, 135 Ariz. 549. For example, if a person is arrested for one incident of DUI above a .20% alcohol level and is charged with and later convicted of 4 counts of DUI, namely, 1. 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.1, Driving Under the Influence, 2. 28 A.R.S. § 1381.A.2, Driving With an Alcohol Level of .08%, 3. 28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.1, Extreme Driving With an Alcohol Level of .15% and 4. 28 A.R.S. § 1382.A.2, Super Extreme Driving With an Alcohol Level of .20%, the driver may only be assessed 8 points, not 32 points.
In 2020 the MVD had their computer system reprogrammed, and apparently now their computer system generates 8 points for each charge of DUI a person is convicted of, even if all the charges arose from the same incident. Therefore, if the person in my example above is convicted of 4 DUI charges arising from the same incident, they are assessed 32 points (8 for each charge) and receive a 12-month suspension (of no driving whatsoever), and not the 8 points (and no suspension) the Supreme Court has said applies.
This change in MVD practice is directly contrary to Arizona law. Hopefully this is a computer error which will be fixed shortly. (Today’s date is December 3, 2020.) It is very important to note these points suspension orders are appealable and if anyone receives one, rather than accepting the order, they should immediately request a hearing with the MVD’s Executive Hearing Office to contest the suspension order.
It is also important to note due to MVD’s computer system issues I have seen instances where suspension orders were issued against a person’s license without any notice to the person, and I recommend all my clients, and anyone who is a licensed driver in the State of Arizona, sign up for an AZ MVD Now account as soon as possible. In addition to monitoring the status of your license you can update your address, receive notifications, request a copy of your Arizona Motor Vehicle Driver License Record, and download copies of notices the MVD has mailed to you, even if you did not receive them.
For more information about Arizona DUI and criminal law issues please contact Gordon Thompson who has used his experience to write a blog on topics of interest. You can also chat with Gordon about your specific questions.