Arizona DUI – All you need to know   Recently updated !


PHOENIX DUI DRUNK DRIVING RIGHTS

Under Arizona DUI law and the Constitution, every person has legal rights. As with all criminal cases, those legal rights are numerous, and are set forth below. Because the DUI law penalties are so severe, it is extremely important that you be aware of your DUI rights.

The Right to Remain Silent

If you are stopped by the police, or under criminal investigation, you have the right to remain silent. It you are stopped, give the police officer your drivers license, registration, and proof of insurance, but do not answer any other questions or admit anything.  If you begin talking, it may hurt your case and could be a waiver of your rights.  Resist answering questions despite repeated efforts by the police officers.

The Right to Refuse Field Sobriety Tests

If you are suspected of DUI, and stopped, most likely, a police officer will request you to submit to field sobriety tests or an HGN eye test. Arizona DUI law does not require any person to submit to these tests. The HGN eye test is when the police officer uses a small light and asked you to follow the light from side to side.  These tests can be very inaccurate, and extremely subjective.  Therefore, it is advisable that you respectfully and politely decline these tests.

The Right to Speak with an Attorney

Immediately upon arrest you should ask to speak with an attorney.  Before you choose to submit to any chemical test (blood test or Breathalyzer), you have the right to consult with an attorney, if it does not unreasonably delay the testing.

The Right to Request Independent Samples

Following the administration of a blood or breath test, you should request the police officers preserved a sample for independent testing.  Depending upon the method administered, they may or may not be required to provide you with an independent sample.

PHOENIX DUI DRUNK DRIVING TESTS

There are a variety of tests employed by law enforcement to try to determine if a driver is under the influence.  Each of these tests, however, has its deficiencies, which we can use in your defense of a DUI charge.

Field Sobriety Tests

You are not required, under Arizona Law to submit to field sobriety tests (“FST”), which include a variety of different tests such as walking heel to toe, saying the alphabet, balancing on one leg, touching your nose with the point of your index finger, and also the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, which is the test that the officer does when an he or she looks into your eyes and asks you to follow a light or their finger with your eyes.

In the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, the officer is attempting to assess how smooth, or jerky, your eyes are when moving side to side. Police officers do not generally have any training in the physiology of the eye, and are typically are not qualified in court to testify as an expert regarding any eye dysfunctions.  You have the right to refuse field sobriety tests. Unlike chemical testing, Arizona DUI law does not require any person to submit to field sobriety tests.  Therefore, it is best to politely refuse performing any FST for the officer.

Blood-Alcohol Content

After a person is arrested for DUI, the most common inquiry is the blood alcohol content (“BAC”) level was. In Arizona, if someone is positive for a BAC of .08 or more, they are charged with DUI or DWI. If the BAC  level is .15 or more, the charge is Extreme DUI. If the BAC level was .20 or more, the charges “Super Extreme DUI.” A Super Extreme DUI as severe penalties, so it is important to get legal advice as soon as possible.

Of course, you can still be charged with DUI even if your BAC is lower than .08, if your driving has been impaired. There is medical literature arguing that a person becomes impaired at a blood alcohol level of .05.

Breathalyzers and Blood Tests (Chemical Testing)

Police officers most commonly use a breath testing machine called the “Breathalyzer” to determine the blood alcohol level of a driver. When someone consumes alcohol, it is absorbed into their bloodstream.  Alcohol is water soluble and the vast majority of alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and small intestines. If you have food in your stomach, that will slow the absorption rate. Once, however, alcohol reaches the bloodstream, it is very quickly distributed throughout the body.

Blood is then pumped into the lungs, where alcohol then moves across the alveolar sacs in the lungs. The breathalyzer then attempts to measures the concentration of alcohol present in one’s breath. This test is not 100% accurate, and there are several sources for error.  Breathalyzers must be property calibrated and are sensitive to the temperature of the surrounding air and also of the subject. The machines can also give false readings.

Unlike field sobriety tests (FST) it is normally advisable to take the breath test or submit to the blood test because refusing either test results in an automatic one year suspension of your license, irregardless of the outcome of your DUI case, and even if your DUI case gets dismissed.

PHOENIX DUI DRUNK DRIVING BAC CALCULATOR

Blood/Breath Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is the amount of alcohol in the bloodstream or on one’s breath. BAC is expressed as the weight of ethanol, measured in grams, in 100 milliliters of blood, or 210 liters of breath. BAC can be measured by breath, blood, or urine tests.

Arizona defines legal intoxication for purposes of driving as having a BAC of 0.08 or greater, in most cases. But alcohol may affect driving skills at BACs of 0.05 or even lower.

Driving skills, especially judgment, are impaired in most people long before they show signs of drunkenness. The public usually associates BAC with “drunk driving.” But it’s more accurate to refer to “alcohol-impaired” driving because you do not have to be “drunk” to be impaired in your ability to safely drive a car.

Generally, each of the following types of alcoholic beverages are equivalent:

  • 12 ounce beer (alcohol concentration 4-5%)
  • 1 ounce of 80 proof liquor
  • 5 ounce glass of wine

What can affect your BAC

  • How much alcohol you drink.
  • How fast you drink. The quicker you drink, the higher your peak BAC will be.
  • Body size. Heavier people tend to have lower BACs than lighter people, assuming the same amount of alcohol.
  • Food in your stomach. When there is food in your stomach, alcohol is absorbed more slowly into the blood stream. The BAC rises more rapidly when you drink on an empty stomach, because there is no food in which to dilute the alcohol.
  • Type of mixer used. Water and fruit juices mixed with alcohol may slow the absorption process, while carbonated beverages may speed it up.
  • Gender differences. Women have higher BACs than men.

PHOENIX DUI DRUNK DRIVING DEFENSES

Even if you are pulled over and arrested for DUI/DWI, there are numerous defenses and we can use to fight your DUI charge.  These defenses can relate to challenging the reason why you were pulled over, challenging your rest, challenging evidence presented by law enforcement, challenging chemical blood-alcohol content (BAC) tests, challenging field sobriety (FST) tests, and challenging the felony aggravated DUI charges.

Fighting The DUI Stop

A police officer must have reasonable grounds to pull you over.  If the police officer did not have a valid reason to pull you over, or did not actually see you driving, we can challenge the entire stop, and fight to have all the evidence excluded.

Fighting Probable Cause for Arrest

Before a police officer can arrest you, you must have a sufficient basis for concluding that you were driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.  There are a variety of factors a police officer can assess, but the police officer must be able to identify the specific basis on which probable cause was established.

Fighting the Chemical and Field Sobriety Tests

There are numerous defenses to challenging a Breathalyzer including that the machine was not working properly, the test was not properly giving, the operator was not knowledgeable or certified in the operation of the machine, that observation periods were not maintained, and that body temperatures were higher than assumed giving a false positive results.

Blood test can be challenged on the basis of chain of custody, contaminated samples, improper blood draw procedures, and improper training of the phlebotomist. The blood sample is not the defendants.

Field sobriety tests can be fought on the grounds that there is not sufficient experience or training on the part of the police officer giving the tests, the tests are empirically subjective, that the defendant is uncoordinated, or simply physically unable to do the tests.

Fighting the Felony Aggravated DUI

Because of the extremely serious, and overly punitive, penalties for convictions of felony aggravated DUI, it is extremely important to fight those charges at each step along the process.  The prosecutor must establish beyond a reasonable doubt the prior convictions, a suspended license, or a person under the age of 15 present in the vehicle while the defendant was operating the vehicle under the influence.  Therefore, we fight these charges on the basis that the defendant was not aware that their license was suspended, where it was truly not suspended.  We may be able to fight the introduction of the prior convictions for DUI.

PHOENIX DUI DRUNK DRIVING OFFENSES

DUI / DWI Lawyers in Phoenix, Arizona

Depending upon your blood alcohol content (BEC), and any prior convictions, there are a variety of potential charges and DUI penalties that a person could face.  The majority of DUIs are misdemeanor, however, there are several Felony Charges.  Listed below are the various charges.

MISDEMEANOR CHARGES

First ConvictionDUI/DWI (BAC above .08)Class One Misdemeanor
MinimumMaximum
JailOne to 10 days180 days
Fines and Fees$1250.00 + surcharges$3500.00 + surcharges
ProbationNoneFive years
License Suspension90 daysOne year
Ignition InterlockOne yearMore than one year
Alcohol Screening/CounselingRequiredRequired
Community ServiceNoneCourt Could Order
First ConvictionExtreme DUI (BAC above .15)Class One Misdemeanor
MinimumMaximum
Jail30 days180 days
Fines and Fees$2500.00 + surcharges$4750.00 + surcharges
ProbationNoneFive years
License Suspension90 daysOne year
Ignition InterlockOne yearMore than One Year
Alcohol Screening/CounselingRequiredRequired
Community ServiceNoneCourt Could Order
Impoundment30 day30 day
First ConvictionSuper Extreme DUI (BAC above .20)Class One Misdemeanor
MinimumMaximum
Jail45 days180 days
Fines and Fees$3750.00 + surcharges$4750.00 + surcharges
ProbationNoneFive years
License Suspension90 daysOne year
Ignition Interlock18 MonthsMore than 18 Months
Alcohol Screening/CounselingRequiredRequired
Community ServiceNoneCourt Could Order
Impoundment30 day30 day
Second ConvictionDUI/DWI (if within 7 years)Class One Misdemeanor
MinimumMaximum
Jail30 to 90 days180 days
Fines and Fees$3000.00 + surcharges$5000.00 + surcharges
ProbationNoneFive years
License RevocationOne yearOne year
Ignition InterlockOne yearMore than one year
Alcohol Screening/CounselingRequiredRequired
Community Service30 Hours30 Hours
Impoundment30 Day30 Day
Second ConvictionExtreme DUI/DWI (if within 7 years)Class One Misdemeanor
MinimumMaximum
Jail120 days180 days
Fines and Fees$3250.00 + surcharges$5250.00 + surcharges
ProbationNoneFive years
License RevocationOne yearOne year
Ignition InterlockOne yearMore than one year
Alcohol Screening/CounselingRequiredRequired
Community Service30 Hours30 Hours
Impoundment30 Day30 Day
Second ConvictionSuper Extreme DUI/DWI  (within 7 years)Class One Misdemeanor
MinimumMaximum
Jail180 days180 days
Fines and Fees$3750.00 + surcharges$5250.00 + surcharges
ProbationNoneFive years
License RevocationOne yearOne year
Ignition InterlockTwo yearsMore than two years
Alcohol Screening/CounselingRequiredRequired
Community Service30 Hours30 Hours
Impoundment30 Day30 Day

FELONY CHARGES

Class Four Felony Aggravated DUI (third DUI or DUI with a Suspended License)

If you are convicted for a third DUI within seven years, or receive a DUI with driving on a suspended or restricted license, you can be charged with a class four felony, which is Aggravated DUI.  There is a minimum of four months in prison before eligible for probation.  Your drivers license will be revoked for three years.  You may be placed on probation for up to five years.  You may be required to undergo counseling for up to five years.  Your vehicle may be taken away from you.  You can be fined up to $150,000.

Class Six Felony Aggravated DUI (with a child under 15 years old in vehicle)

If you’re convicted for this charge you will have to serve at least the minimum sentence for the misdemeanor DUI. Your drivers license will be revoked for three years.  You may be placed on probation for up to five years.  You may be required to undergo counseling for up to five years.  Your vehicle may be taken away from you.  You can be fined up to $150,000.

PHOENIX DUI DRUNK DRIVING FAQ’s

Below are the most common questions related to DUI/drunk driving in Phoenix, Arizona.

What do police officers look for to spot drunk drivers?

According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, there are a variety of cues police officers look for, including the following:

  • Problems maintaining proper lane position, including weaving, drifting, swerving, wide radius on turn.
  • Speed and braking problems, including stopping too far from a curb, stopping short, jerky or abrupt stops, rapid acceleration or deceleration for no reason, driving too slow.
  • Vigilance problems, including signaling inconsistent with driving actions, or driving into opposing or crossing traffic.
  • Judgment problems, such as turning a illegally

When I am stopped, what should I tell the police officer?

You should provide the officer with your license, registration, and proof of insurance and inform the police officer that you would like to speak with an attorney.  You should not make any admissions, answer any other questions, or take any field sobriety tests.

Do I have to answer the police officers questions?

No.  You have the right to remain silent.  This right includes the right not to make any incriminating statements.  No matter how many questions do police officer asks, or how much the police officer pressures you, you should not answer his or her questions.

Am I required to take the field sobriety test?

Under Arizona DUI law, you are not required to take the field sobriety tests.  If you
a elect to exercise your right not to do field sobriety tests, that cannot be used against you.

Am I required to take a chemical test?

Under Arizona DUI law, if you do not submit to a breath or blood test upon request, your license can be suspended even if you win your DUI case, and the police officers will ultimately get a court order allowing them to obtain a blood sample from you.  Therefore, in most circumstances, it is usually advisable to consent to a chemical test.

Will I go to jail overnight after I am arrested?

In Arizona, you generally do not have to spend the night in jail if you are arrested for DUI, although it is a possibility.  You have the right to request an independent chemical test upon your release, and, therefore, you should request to be released to obtain an independent test.

What are the penalties for a DUI/drunk driving conviction?

The penalties for DUI conviction are severe.  They include jail time, findings, probation, license suspension, ignition interlock, alcohol counseling, and impoundment of your vehicle.  In felony cases, it can include prison time.

What defenses are there in my DUI case?

There are numerous defenses to DUI charges, including challenging the initial stop, probable cause for arrest, challenging the evidence, challenging the field sobriety tests, challenging chemical tests, and in felony DUI cases, challenging prior convictions, and challenging license suspensions.

Can I avoid a suspended license after getting charged with DUI?

There is a 15 day window to request a hearing to avoid a suspension of your license following a DUI arrest.

Can I have my car released from the impound earlier than 30 days?

There is a procedure under the ARS 28-3511, where you can request a hearing to determine if your vehicle is eligible for early release.

Phoenix, Arizona Suspended License and Traffic Tickets

Driving on Suspended License and Traffic Tickets in Phoenix, Arizona

In Phoenix, Arizona, is extremely common for many drivers to be driving on a suspended license without realizing or knowing that their license is suspended.  It is only after they get pulled over for a traffic citation that they realize their license is suspended.

Driving on Suspended License

A driver’s license can be suspended for a variety of reasons, including the failure to appear in court on a traffic ticket, failure to pay a fine related to a traffic ticket, being charged with DUI/DWI, and other reasons.

Unfortunately, reinstatement of a driver’s license is not automatic.  Unless a driver demonstrates having satisfied all the requirements to reinstate the license, the license will not be reinstated, even if fines are paid, or penalties paid, such as in the case of the DUI.

Driving on a suspended license is a serious matter and can result in criminal penalties.  It can carry with it continued suspension, or even revocation or cancellation of your drivers license.

Worse, a conviction for DUI/DWI while driving on a suspended license can result in a felony conviction and a prison sentence, among other very serious penalties.

Many times, if our office is retained to represent you on a charge for driving on a suspended license, we can genetically decrease, and sometimes eliminate, the standard penalties related to a conviction for driving on a suspended license.

We offer very affordable attorneys fees, and have significant experience in defending these charges while obtaining good results for our clients.

Traffic Tickets

Many people take their drivers license for granted until traffic violations may put a risk a person’s driver’s license.  Only then do we realize the privilege of possessing a drivers license, and how important it is to our everyday life.

Our office works to protect your drivers license, so that you can continue your driving privilege.  No matter what you are charged with, our office can assist you with your traffic violations, including:

  • Criminal speeding (20 mph over the speed limit)
  • Civil Speeding
  • Reckless Driving Drag Racing
  • Hit-And-Run
  • Vehicular Endangerment

RESOURCES

Maricopa County Superior Court

United States District Court, District of Arizona

Arizona Revised Statutes

State Bar of Arizona

Arizona DUI – All you need to know
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Originally posted 2016-12-13 13:32:06.