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DUI

In the state of Arizona, it is against the law for any person to drive or otherwise be in control of any motor vehicle while under the influence of liquor or drugs to the degree that a person would be classified as intoxicated. This is the crime that is known as DUI or driving under the influence. Anyone in the Phoenix, Arizona area who has been accused of a DUI infraction should probably consider consulting a qualified criminal attorney who is aware of the details surrounding DUI cases. The Phoenix Criminal Attorney office specializes in this type of defense and wants you to be informed when it comes to the procedures of a DUI case.

Arizona is among the states that have an “implied consent” law with regard to testing for blood alcohol content (also known as BAC). When any law enforcement officer suspects you may have been driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that officer can request that you submit for a BAC exam involving your breath, your blood, your urine or another bodily substance in order to gauge the amount of drugs or alcohol present in your bloodstream.

Penalties for DUI

Should you be stopped for suspicion of DUI while driving a private vehicle and asked to submit to a BAC test, if the BAC test shows that the alcohol in your bloodstream has a concentration of 0.08 percent or higher, you will immediately lose your privilege to drive. If you are driving a commercial vehicle requiring a commercial driving license, the BAC limit for losing your privilege to drive is 0.04 percent.

You will most likely have to complete additional alcohol and/or drug screening procedures before your driving privilege can be restored.

Even if your BAC is found to be less than 0.08 percent, you may still be found guilty on a DUI charge (including alcohol or drugs, or both). For those who are under the age of 21, any alcohol concentration in the bloodstream while driving a motor vehicle will result in a suspended license.

Refusal or failure to successfully complete any requested tests during a DUI traffic stop can result in automatic suspension of your driver’s license for 12 months. A second refusal within a period of 84 months can result in a 24-month suspension of your driver’s license.

The following penalties are stated in Arizona law for first, second and subsequent DUI offenses:

  • On a first offense, you can spend not less than 10 consecutive days in jail and be required to pay a fine of not less than $1250. You will be jailed for not less than 10 consecutive days and fined not less than $1,250. Alcohol education and or treatment may be required, as well as the requirement that you install a certified ignition interlock device (IID) on your automobile in order to regain a restricted driver’s license. It is possible that you will be ordered to perform community service, as well.
  • For a second and any subsequent convictions of DUI, you will spend not less than 90 days in jail and will be fined not less than $3000. You will lose your license for 12 months. You will also be required to undergo treatment and/or education and screening for alcohol use, as well as have an IID installed on your vehicle. You will also be ordered to perform additional community service.

A Case of Extreme DUI

When a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) registers a concentration of 0.15 percent or higher, they are considered to be guilty of extreme DUI. The penalties for this crime are much more severe.

  • For a first offense, your time in jail will be not less than 30 days, served consecutively; additionally, you will not be eligible for probation or a suspended sentence. Your fine will be not less than $2500. Alcohol screening, treatment, and education will be required, as well as the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. You will also be ordered to perform community service.
  • For second and subsequent offenses, your jail time will be not less than 120 consecutive days and your fine will be not less than $3250. You will receive a 12-month suspension of your license and will be required to participate in alcohol treatment and education, as well as undergo alcohol screenings. Any vehicle you operate will be required to have a certified ignition interlock device. You will also perform community service as a part of your sentence.

A Case of Super Extreme DUI

When a person’s BAC reaches 0.20 percent or higher, they are guilty of Super Extreme DUI under Arizona law. This carries penalties of at least 45 consecutive days in jail and can reach as high as 6 months. The fines for Super Extreme DUI begin at $500 and go up to $2500 and can have additional assessments of as much as $2250 for items such as an assessment fee, a fee for prison assessment, and other costs.

The normal terms of community service, ignition interlock device requirements, and treatment/education/screening for drugs and alcohol also apply.

A Case of Aggravated DUI

Anyone who commits a DUI offense while under a suspension, revocation, or cancellation of a driving license is automatically guilty of what is known as aggravated DUI. This also applies to anyone who commits their third DUI within a 7-year period or is cited for DUI with a person 15 years old or younger in the motor vehicle. Additional qualification for aggravated DUI is committing a DUI infraction or the refusal of a blood alcohol content test while you are under court order to drive with an ignition interlock device.

Aggravated DUI will require that you are sent to prison for as many as two years, in addition to all the other penalties described above for DUI convictions.

For your reference, detailed explanations of all Arizona DUI laws are available in the following statutes as outlined by the Arizona Legislature:

  • Title 4 - 241: Concerns the sale or provision of liquor to an underage person; illegally obtaining liquor for an underage person; violation; classification; definitions
  • Title 28-1381: Driving Under the Influence
  • Title 28-1382: Driving Under the Influence with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .15 or more (Extreme DUI)
  • Title 28-1383: Aggravated Driving Under the Influence

Possible Defenses Against DUI Charges

Many people assume that a DUI charge in Arizona is impossible to defeat in court. This is absolutely not true. There are a number of reasons that your DUI charge may be able to be dismissed or reduced, even if you did not submit to a field sobriety test (or if you did submit and failed the test). An experienced DUI attorney can help you understand your rights and think through your options for fighting your DUI charge in court.

There are a number of questions that you should ask and consider for your possible DUI defense case.

Did Your Arrest Happen Due to Probable Cause?

Under Arizona law, probable cause for a DUI arrest does not include refusal to take a field sobriety test. While you are required to submit to a BAC test under Arizona’s implied consent provision, that does not include field sobriety tests such as “walk and turn” or “stand on one leg.” If a law enforcement officer asks you to submit to these kinds of tests, you may refuse until you have had a chance to speak to your attorney.

Arrest for DUI in Arizona requires that there be a logical and reasonable suspicion that you are driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Simply having the smell of alcohol on your breath does not qualify as reasonable suspicion. There must be other mitigating factors present, such as slurred speech, being observed as weaving in traffic, or any of a number of common indicators of drug or alcohol use.

Even if you have submitted to a field sobriety test, there are certain conditions that make the results invalid. These can include being over the age of 65, having a shoe with a 2-inch or greater heel, or having any type of disability that affects your balance.

Was Reasonable Suspicion Part of Your Traffic Stop?

One of the most often-cited reasons for an invalid DUI traffic stop is the use of “profiling”, wherein law enforcement officers stop drivers for invalid reasons such as driving after “last call” at a bar. Law enforcement officers are not allowed to pull drivers over simply because they fit a particular profile. These types of traffic stops are illegal and can cause your case to be dismissed in a court of law.

Could the Results of Your Blood or Breath Test Be Inaccurate?

All law enforcement agencies that rely on breath or blood analysis devices are required to have those devices checked and maintained on monthly and quarterly schedules. If the device used in your DUI stop were not properly maintained, the results they render may be found inadmissible in court.

There are a number of situations that can render a blood test as inadmissible. For example, if the officer who administered a blood test happened to use a needle that was contaminated with alcohol or had been stored in an expired container the results of the test could be rendered inaccurate. The sample testing method generally used in Arizona by law enforcement agencies is not accepted by any other medical profession because of the inaccurate readings often given. Experience shows that inaccuracy rates of up to 10 percent are common in Arizona DUI cases.

The most common breath alcohol testing device in the state of Arizona is known as the Intoxilyzer 5000. This device has been shown to deliver inaccurate results on a consistent basis. The prosecution must be able to show that any device used in a breath analysis test for a DUI charge was capable of measuring the BAC within an acceptable range of accuracy at the time the accused was arrested. If the device cannot be shown to have been testing accurately at the time of a person’s arrest, those results cannot be used in court.

Also, the prosecution is required to give your DUI attorney all records of the testing history of the device used in your case. The Arizona Department of Public Safety and the Phoenix Police Department were discovered, in 1999, to have engaged in a systematic practice of not disclosing the accuracy tests for devices they used in DUI cases; they were found guilty of creating false impressions as to the accuracy of the devices. Many defendants prior to that time were convinced by this practice that they had no basis to challenge the results of their BAC tests. The truth was shown to be otherwise.

Were You Allowed to Seek Counsel as Part of Your Arrest?

Throughout the United States – and certainly in Arizona – you have the right to consult an attorney before you answer any questions or make any statements in connection with an arrest, no matter the charges. Law enforcement officers must provide you access to a phone and phone book or directory if you ask to speak with a lawyer at any time during your arrest procedure. The response from law enforcement officers must also take place within a reasonable amount of time.

If a law enforcement officer ignores your request or simply waits too long to grant it, this action could provide grounds for the dismissal of your charges. The length of time that you wait to speak with a qualified DUI attorney can have serious repercussions on your case, as much of the evidence that may be used against you will be biological in nature.

While you are still on the scene, a qualified attorney can ask you important questions about whether you have been drinking, how much alcohol you have consumed, and how long it has been since you last drank. The attorney can also advise you on your options for responding to requests for testing. All conversations between you and your attorney are considered private, and cannot be used against you as part of your case.

Did You Physically Control Your Vehicle?

The concept of Actual Physical Control (also known as APC) has been a legal definition that has undergone considerable change in recent years. Some years ago, if you were in a vehicle with the keys in the ignition, you were considered in actual physical control whether or not the car was started or moving. There have been a number of court cases that have helped to question and challenge this assumption.

The Arizona Supreme Court has clarified this definition to include considering the totality of the circumstances to determine if a defendant could be considered as a real danger to himself or to others and whether a person accused of DUI had current or imminent control of the vehicle at the time of the arrest procedure. The ability to potentially use a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol was eliminated.

All of this means that an attorney could help to determine whether you were in actual physical control of the vehicle at the time of your arrest by considering such factors as whether your transmission was actually engaged, whether your parking brake was set, or other similar actions that could indicate you were out of the line of traffic in order to rest and recover from the effects of alcohol or drugs without the intention of driving.

What About Having My Sentenced Reduced in a Pre-Trial Conference?

It is possible to have your sentence for DUI reduced at a pre-trial conference when you are represented by an attorney. This conference is an opportunity for your defense lawyer to negotiate with a prosecuting attorney in an attempt to get a deal for you as the defendant. While the state of Arizona is not required to offer you a plea deal if one is offered your attorney will be required to discuss it with you. It is completely up to you as to whether you would like to accept any deal offered by the state.

Some of the features that are common to pre-trial conference arrangements include:

  • You could receive a conviction on a lesser charge, such as reckless driving.
  • You could be convicted of the same charge but could receive a reduced sentence (in other words, less punishment).
  • If you are accused of multiple counts, the number of counts could be reduced.
  • You could be eligible for alternative forms of sentencing.

A qualified DUI attorney has several options for filing pre-trial motions on your behalf. You would do well to ask questions and be sure that you understand all of your options under Arizona state law for your DUI charge.

Contact a DUI Attorney Near Me

If you have been accused of driving under the influence (DUI) in the Phoenix, Arizona area, a qualified attorney such as Phoenix Criminal Attorney could be an invaluable resource in building the case for your defense. You can call 602-551-8092 to speak with a member of the legal staff at Phoenix Criminal Attorney about your DUI charge.

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