No one enjoys being pulled over by the police, but if you’ve had a few drinks, it may just be the first of an unpleasant series of consequences that can affect you for years to come. The state of Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the nation. Even a first-time DUI arrest can lead to jail time if you’re convicted, and your criminal record can haunt you for the rest of your life. If you’ve been arrested for DUI in Phoenix, AZ, the criminal defense lawyers at Future First Criminal Law can provide you with tough, aggressive representation.
The Elements of DUI in Arizona
In order for the prosecution to have a DUI case against you, they must prove that your blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeded the legal limit and that you were in actual physical control of your vehicle at the time of the arrest. The police are responsible for gathering the evidence to make your conviction possible. If the police make a mistake or go outside of protocol, a good defense lawyer can use the investigative errors to weaken the case against you or get it dismissed.
Stages of a DUI/DWI Investigation in Arizona
Probable Cause for the Stop
In order for a DUI investigation to be viable, the police must have a legally justifiable reason to stop you. Here are a few of the legally acceptable reasons to stop a suspected drunk driver:
- The driver has committed a traffic violation
- The driving pattern is consistent with intoxication
- The vehicle was involved in an accident
- The officer suspects the driver or vehicle was involved in an independent crime
- The driver/vehicle was stopped at` an authorized DUI checkpoint
- The officer received a tip from a civilian that you are suspected of drunk driving
Physical Indicators in DUI Investigations
Most of us can recognize signs of drunkenness in others, but police officers must be able to articulate these subtle tells in the charging documents. Like all law enforcement officers in the state of Arizona, Glendale police officers receive specific training in identifying drunken behavior. The arresting officer must be able to testify about the physical indicators that they witnessed during the course of arrest. These may include all or some of the following:
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Emitting the odor of an alcoholic beverage
- Unsteady stance or gait
- Slurred speech
- Red, flushed face
- Aggressive or belligerent behavior
Voluntary Roadside Exercises
While there have been a number of roadside exercises developed to detect drunk driving, police officers in the state of Arizona are trained to administer three: the walk and turn, the one-leg stand, and horizontal gaze nystagmus. Before the officers ask you to perform these tests, they should locate a flat, well-lit surface that’s safe from traffic and clear of debris. The officer should also demonstrate the exercises before asking you to do so.
- Walk-and-Turn – The subject takes nine heel-to-toe steps, pivots, and takes nine steps back. The officer will be watching to see if the subject leaves gaps between steps, holds their arms out to the side to maintain balance, or makes a mistake on their count.
- One-Leg-Stand – The subject will raise either foot six inches off of the ground and hold it while they count to 30, using a “one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand, three-one-thousand count.” The officer will watch to see if the subject drops their foot to the ground, holds their hands out to maintain balance, miscounts, or rushes their count.
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus – The subject will follow the tip of a pen or finger with their eyes. The test tracks the smooth pursuit of the eye. As a subject becomes more intoxicated, there is an involuntary flutter that occurs in the eyes. The officer will look at bouncing of the eyes as they follow the tip of the pen.
Voluntary roadside exercises are just that—voluntary. A police officer cannot make an arrest based solely on a refusal. On the other hand, Glendale-area police officers often video record their DUI investigations for courtroom presentation. Refusing roadside exercises may not keep you from being arrested, but it does prevent your poor performance from being played back for a jury when the case goes to trial.
AZ Implied Consent Law
Arizona has an implied consent law, which means that in order to receive your driver’s license, you must agree to submit to a blood, breath, or urine BAC chemical test upon demand. If you refuse, your license will be suspended for the refusal, but you also face suspension if your chemical test BAC exceeds .08.
Penalties for an Arizona DUI Conviction
Like most crimes in the state of Arizona, DUI penalties increase with each successive conviction.
First-Time DUI – Up to 10 days in jail; $1250 fine; completion of an alcohol/drug screening, treatment, and education program; ignition interlock device; and community service.
Second Offense – 90 days in jail; $3000 fine; revocation of driver’s license; completion of a alcohol/drug screening, treatment, and education program; ignition interlock device; and community service.
Third Offense – 4-24 months in jail; fines up to $150,000; vehicle impoundment; three-year license suspension; ignition interlock device; and 30 days of community service
Arizona also has enhanced penalties for the above offenses for extreme DUI, where the subject has a BAC of .15 to .20 and super-extreme DUI when the subject has a BAC over .20.
The state has enhanced penalties for aggravated DUI. Aggravated DUI is charged when a child under 15 years old was in the car; the subject has two prior DUI convictions; the DUI occurred while the subject was driving on a suspended/revoked license; or the driver was required to use an ignition interlock device. Aggravated DUI is always a felony.
DUI Attorneys in Phoenix, AZ
There is no such thing as a petty or insignificant DUI arrest in the state of Arizona. One mistake and you could be facing jail, fines, and a criminal record. But you do have rights. The veteran criminal defense attorneys at Future First Criminal Law can examine your case and develop an ironclad defense strategy. Contact us immediately to discuss your DUI case.