Recently in ARIZONA DUI TOPICS Category

December 16, 2013

"DUI arrests for "probable cause" doesn't mandate that the police officer show a driver was actually under the influence, only that it is probable that he was".

1066864_police_cruiser.jpg A police officer need only have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated a traffic law (like the speed limit) or engaged in criminal activity to stop you. "Reasonable suspicion" means that there is a "particularized and objective basis" for believing somebody had violated the law. Once you are stopped, there must be probable cause to arrest you.

In a recent case, the Arizona Court of Appeals considered whether there was probable cause where the defendant was convicted of four counts of aggravated driving under the influence (aggravated DUI). The defendant had been stopped in his vehicle after a police officer visually estimated he was going fifteen miles over the speed limit. According to the police offer, he'd been trained to accurately estimate vehicle speed within five miles per hour.

Once the officer stopped the defendant, he saw the defendant had watery bloodshot eyes, spoke with slurred speech, and smelled like alcohol. The defendant couldn't find his driver's license and gave the officer his social security number. It turned out that he provided his wife's social security number. When the officer learned this, he asked the defendant for his wife's social security number. This time, the defendant gave him his own number. The officer administered a test for alcohol impairment. When the defendant refused a breathalyzer test, he was arrested.

Continue reading "DUI Arrest without Breath, Blood, or Chemical Testing" »

November 28, 2013

How to avoid additional charges, and make sure your DUI stop does not turn deadly
police-car-126271-m.jpg

Recently a Mesa AZ police officer approached a vehicle and asked the driver if he had any weapons. The driver responded, affirmatively that he did in fact, have weapons in the vehicle. At that point he reached to the other side of the car and pulled a gun out of a holster from inside the vehicle. The officer apparently felt threatened, and reacted by drawing out his own sidearm. The police officer gave verbal commands for the driver to drop his weapon. The driver immediately dropped his weapon. The driver agreed to take a field sobriety test, which evidently did not go well for driver, since he was then taken to a command center to be booked for a DUI.

What went wrong that made this DUI stop potentially deadly?

Let's take a closer look at reported events; application of the law; and tips on how to avoid criminal charges that are unrelated to driving impairment. First, there is no legal duty to voluntarily tell an officer you are carrying a gun if you are pulled over while driving in Arizona. However, you should respond affirmatively to an officer who asks. You should never pull a firearm out or at the officer or cause those to feel threatened in anyway. The driver was fortunate that the officer responded apparently with levelheadedness.

Although most attorneys discourage suspects from volunteering any information to the officer in a stop, there are others who feel there are safety benefits for the driver to volunteer to an officer that they are carrying a weapon so long as they are prohibited possessor and it is a prohibited weapon. This will avoid the police officer being taken by surprise, it in the event a search is conducted of your vehicle. Some feel too, that volunteering this information will alert a law enforcement officer that you are not doing anything wrong.

With every widely observed holiday, you're likely you will see heightened police presence, enforcement and DUI Sobriety Checkpoints. DUI Roadblocks are set up with the intent to seek drivers for signs of intoxication or impairment, and make DUI arrests. The goal is to prevent motorists from driving impaired under the influenced of alcohol or drugs. DUI checkpoints can be considered "double edged sword" of sorts. Everyone wants impaired drivers off of the road. But if you've ever found yourself in a line-up waiting your turn through the checkpoint, you know it's no fun. Whether you are driving impaired or not, it's completely normal to feel a little nervous or anxious.

Most people sort of look around to make sure there is nothing in their vehicle that would give rise to the suspicion that they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Arizona, you should know that when the officer stops you at a DUI checkpoint, arrests can be made for violations of other crimes too, not just impaired driving.

In absence of a formal DUI safety checkpoint, a police officer needs a "reasonable suspicion" that a violation of the law or crime has occurred or is in progress to stop a driver and conduct a DUI investigation. However, DUI checkpoints bypass this usual step. Not all states have laws authorizing use of DUI checkpoints, but in Arizona their use is becoming more prevalent.

Always, (one more time) "always", keep both hands on the wheel while you are talking to the officer. The exception to this, is if he instructs you to show him your license which requires you to take your hands on the wheel; or otherwise. Talk to the officer as calmly as possible, and when you must take your hands off the wheel to reach for your driver's license and registration, do so calmly as well.

Like the situation in Mesa described above, an officer who sees you reach into an area of the car he can't see may think that you are about to shoot. You do not have to reach for anything to extend a verbal affirmative or negative response.

If an officer who pulls you over for suspected DUI asks for your driver's license, you need to show your driver's license to him. Otherwise you may give the officer probable cause to conduct a further search and seizure. If the officer asks to search your car, you should say that you do not consent to a search. However, if the officer searches anyway, you must cooperate and you cannot put up any sort of resistance.

Field Sobriety Tests are not mandatory in Arizona. They are simply tools for Police to conduct roadside DUI screening and due to their unreliability may result in false conclusions. You can politely and lawfully refuse to participate in a field sobriety test. You should let the officer know that your reason for refusal is that you understand it is not mandatory by law, and it is your understanding that field sobriety tests are often unreliable and could give false impressions that a person is impaired when in fact they are not. You should be aware that refusing to submit to a field sobriety test may be cause for arrest or further detainment. You can and should refuse to answer questions based on your rights under the Constitution and request to speak with an attorney.

Arizona is an implied consent state. What does this mean to drivers? It means that there are civil penalties through the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) for refusal. If a driver refuses to take a breath or blood test to determine your BAC, your license may be revoked or suspended, whether they are were driving impaired or not; or convicted of the charges or not. All a refusal of a DUI breath or blood test costs you is a suspension of your driver's license for one year. But the choice of course is ultimately yours.

Continue reading "Arizona DUI Stops: Weapons in Your Vehicle " »

November 4, 2013

Appeals Court overturns conviction holding that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant knew or should have known of the suspension.

mountain-road-1424189-m-1.jpgThere are several ways to get an aggravated DUI conviction in Arizona. Among the ways is driving while impaired by alcohol, drugs, medication, or illegal substances while having a suspended, cancelled, revoked, refused or restricted license. This is a class 4 felony.

However, you can also be charged with driving on a suspended license, which is a class 1 misdemeanor. Although the latter may not seem particularly important because it is a misdemeanor, it does give you a criminal record and can impact you in the future.

In a recent case, the defendant was charged with aggravated DUI while driving on a suspended license. The defendant did not appear for his trial and was tried without being present.

Continue reading "Aggravated DUI for Driving on Suspended License Defenses " »

August 27, 2013

Arizona V. Cooperman: DUI Partition Ratio relevant, competent evidence to show lack of DUI Impairment.

breathalyzer-465392-m.jpg Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) refers to the concentration of alcohol in the blood that can currently be measured either by a DUI blood test or a breath test. Interestingly, however, the results of a breathalyzer test for DUI may not always be the same as the results from a blood test. This may be the case even if the blood and breath are tested at the same time.


Partition Ratio in DUI Breathalyzer Tests

Breathalyzer tests produce a numerical score, only by mathematically converting the breath sample to a Blood Alcohol Concentration level. This conversion process is known as the "partition ratio" when the conversion factor is used. The conversion is considered problematic by some because it is not necessarily reflective of the actual partition ratio for an individual; actual partition ratios for individuals can vary. Factors that may cause the ratios to vary include but are not limited to body temperature, medical conditions and gender. This means a breathalyzer test for an individual may not accurately translate to a blood alcohol concentration level indicative of impairment.


Case Background: State of Arizona v. Cooperman

In a recent case, the Arizona Supreme Court addressed whether partition ratio evidence could be admitted in a DUI case where (1) the state chose to bring in breath test results to prove a defendant had a .08 percent or more BAC within two hours of driving, and (2) evidence related to how much partition ratios varied in the population was relevant to the defendant's level of impairment. The defendant here wanted to show how the partition ratio varies in the general population in order to introduce doubt as to whether the results of the breath test showed impairment.
In this case, a motorist charged with one count of driving while "impaired to the slightest degree" in violation of A.R.S. 28-1381 (A) 1; and the other was for having an alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more within two hours of driving in violation of A.R.S. 28-1381 (A) 2.

The Prosecution generally attempts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the latter charge (.08 percent BAC) by presenting a jury with evidence of a defendant's blood alcohol content and establishing a DUI test sample was taken within two hours of the defendant driving. When a person's BAC is .08 percent or higher, the presumption is that a person is under the influence, in violation of Arizona's legal limit. However, to have a level below the .08 percent BAC does not however, create a presumption. If the officer had probable cause to believe that a motorist's was still impaired, even though their BAC was below .08 percent, they may bring charges in violation of "impaired to the slightest degree". The impairment, however, cannot be presumed, and must be decided in connection with other probable cause evidence.

The prosecution in this case attempted to prevent the defendant from submitting evidence that showed the partition ratio used to convert the breath reading to a blood reading was variable, meaning inconsistent, or liable to change. The prosecution argued that it planned only to introduce the breath test results for proof that the defendant's BAC exceeded .08 percent; but not to prove the first charge of "impairment to the slightest degree". Since the prosecution was not going to introduce the breath test for the impairment to the slightest degree charge, they argued the defendant could not present the partition ratios related to that breath test to cast doubt on whether or not the defendant was impaired at all.

Experts for both parties testified regarding the partition ratio. The defendant again tried to introduce exculpatory evidence of the partition ratio to that would cast doubt on whether or not he was impaired to the slightest degree. The State argued the defendant's evidence was irrelevant and had the potential create unfair prejudice. The court ruled that partition ratio evidence was in fact relevant whenever breath test results are brought forward by the State. The court of appeals affirmed this ruling. The State then appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.


Arizona Supreme Court Analysis

The Arizona Supreme Court held that evidence is relevant where it can make a material fact in a case more or less probable. If evidence is relevant, it is permitted at trial, unless there is specific rule or provision in the law that prohibits it. In this case, the State was required to prove that the defendant was impaired because he drank alcohol. Therefore evidence of his impairment was relevant.

The AZ Supreme Court recognized the strong correlation between Blood Alcohol Content levels and intoxication. The prosecutors had argued that they had the unilateral ability to invoke the presumption that the defendant was under the influence and the partition evidence was irrelevant because they chose not to invoke the presumption of impairment to the slightest degree.

The Arizona Supreme Court disagreed with this approach by the prosecution. They held that there is nothing that precludes a DUI defendant from presenting partition ratio evidence to show he was not impaired in an impairment case. In fact, they cited specific Arizona Law, A.R.S. 28-1381(H) which specifically provides that any "competent evidence" on the issue of the question of the defendant's impairment in DUI charges brought against them.


Conclusions

In conclusion the Arizona Supreme Court cited Sandstrom v. Montana, 442 U.S. 510, 524 (1979). Which holds the need to satisfy constitutional requirement presumptions in criminal cases must be rebuttable, enabling either side to provide evidence or argument that challenges or opposes the presumption. Thereby The Arizona Supreme Court affirmed decisions made by all previous courts, Municipal, Superior, and Appeals Court of Arizona, which was to allow the exculpatory evidence regarding partition ratio variability to be admitted to show the defendant's lack of impairment.

Continue reading "Arizona Supreme Court: DUI Partition Ratios Evidence Admissible" »

August 9, 2013

DUI with passengers under age 15 in vehicle raises a DUI to Felony Charges, where penalties are steep.

photo_7587_20081004.jpgDrunk driving can subject you to harsh penalties in Arizona. However, driving drunk with children in the car can lead to even harsher penalties.

Recently, a middle-aged man was stopped in Arizona driving 89 miles per hour in a 65 mph zone. His ten-year-old and twelve-year-old daughters were in the car with him and the sheriff noticed his breath smelled like alcohol. His Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) was .253 percent over 3 times the legal limit for alcohol in Arizona. The man admitted to deputies that he drank a six-pack of beer before driving. He was then charged with aggravated felony DUI, Super Extreme DUI and excessive speed.

An Aggravated DUI charge means that Misdemeanor DUI charges were raised to a felony in violation of Arizona's A.R.S. 28-1383 Aggravated DUI Laws. An impaired driving charge without aggravated circumstances is generally charged as a Misdemeanor. The aggravated factor of having passengers under the age of 15 in the vehicle raise the charges to a felony violation.

Aggravated DUI charges alone are categorized as Class 6 felonies and expose a person to up to 20 days of incarceration; $4,000.00 fines; Driver's License Revocation for 3 years; 2 years Ignition Interlock Device (IID) after driving privileges are reinstated; substance abuse education and counseling; and possible forfeiture of vehicle. These penalties will be more severe if coupled with other DUI or criminal charges, or if they are repeat offenses.

An Extreme DUI is charged when someone has a BAC above 0.150 percent but below 0.199 percent. First-time violations of Extreme DUI convictions expose a person to driver's license suspension for 18 months; fines fees and assessments of $1500.00; 30 days in jail; installation of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for 1 year; and substance abuse screening and treatment.

The Super Extreme DUI charge was because his BAC level exceeded 0.20 percent under Arizona Super Extreme DUI Laws A.R.S. 28-1382. A first time DUI conviction with a BAC 0.20 percent or higher, calls for maximum jail terms of 45 days: fines, fees, and assessments of $1750.00; IID for 18 months; driver's license suspension; and substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment.

In Arizona, the higher the BAC, the more severe the sentencing related to most all the penalties. Repeat violations can also result in aggravated DUI charges, and exposes a person to prison sentencing.

The Aggravated DUI in this case may present even harsher penalties if the man is convicted than the extreme DUI charge. When children under the age of 15 are in the car of a drunk driver, a misdemeanor DUI or DWI is automatically charged as a more serious Class 6 felony, even if it is a first drunk driving offense and the driver has no criminal history. This is because of the significant risk to a child's life from being in the car with a drunk driver.

Someone convicted of felony aggravated driving while under the influence, may be sentenced to prison for 2 ½ years. Not only that but he or she must also attend and complete an alcohol education/treatment program, pay a fine of $750 and additional fees of $1750. His or her driver's license will be revoked for 3 years. He or she will also be required to install an ignition interlock device on any car he operates for more than a year. Installation of the device typically costs money, too.

DUI and child endangerment convictions will usually have an adverse impact on civil and parental rights as well as criminal penalties. Convictions may result in a court order reducing of parenting you have with a child, for example if you have joint custody. It can also impact your civil rights such as causing you to be classified as a "prohibited user" due to the felony charge; and other consequential losses.

DUI charges involve multi-facet circumstances, evidence, laws, penalties and consequences. And the punishments can impact your life, and that of your family, adversely for many years into the future. There is a lot at stake in the way of your future and freedoms that you currently enjoy.

Continue reading "Aggravated DUI Laws and Penalties in Arizona " »

July 17, 2013

Arizona has the toughest Sheriff in the Country, and now the toughest Marijuana DUI laws.

439288_roach.jpgDriving under the influence of marijuana is illegal in Arizona under Arizona Revised Statutes (Section 28-1381(A)).

In Arizona, motorists are prohibited not only from driving while impaired by the effects of marijuana, but also "while there is any drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person's body." Recent case law exists that allows for prosecution under this law in Arizona, even if the motorist was not driving impaired. That is, if the only substance found in their bodily system was residual trace compounds that were present due to Marijuana smoked or ingested weeks prior to the DUI stop, they may still be prosecuted.

Frequent Marijuana users, especially Medical Marijuana users, have been known to tolerate anywhere from 2 to 5 times of what would be considered the legal limit of Marijuana in some of the states that have legalized it in some fashion, and still drive without impaired function in driving skills.

We provided a post post on this ruling several months ago. This is refresher and update on the topic since the ruling could have broad impacts throughout the country. A US Supreme Court ruling that would hold this decision in favor of prosecuting the non-impaired motorist, could potentially have serious consequences not only for Arizona residents, but also for people from out of state who are driving to or through Arizona and used marijuana a month before their trip. We believe that the defendant is appealing the case to the Supreme Court, but there is no word on whether the court has decided to hear this case as of yet.

A first time marijuana DUI offense can be punished by up to six months in jail, as well as with a mandatory substance abuse program and the requirement that you install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. If convicted of only driving under the influence of marijuana (as opposed to marijuana and alcohol), your driver's license will also be revoked for a year.

The active ingredient in marijuana is the drug THC. Unlike blood alcohol tests, a blood test for marijuana cannot determine how intoxicated or impaired you might be from the THC. THC is rapidly metabolized in the blood stream and turns into about eighty different molecules called metabolites. These metabolites are stored in the user's body fat. Some of them have a half life of twenty hours, but others can take 10-13 days to be eliminated from the body. When a blood test is taken, certain non-active metabolites may show up on the test. Anecdotally, some heavy marijuana smokers have reported positive test results well over a month after stopping smoking.

Earlier this year in the case Arizona v. Shilgevorkyan, an Arizona appellate court ruled that any motorist with any metabolite or marijuana in their bloodstream could be convicted of driving under the influence of marijuana. The defendant had been stopped for speeding and unsafe lane changes and agreed to take a blood test. One metabolite, Carboxy-THC was found in his bloodstream.

The defendant argued that it was not "the" metabolite referred to in the statute. His attorney put forward an expert who testified that this metabolite was not psychoactive and could take 4 weeks to leave the body. The superior court agreed with him, but the State appealed. The appellate court looked at the legislative intent of the statute and determined that the statute intended to outlaw any of the metabolites into which THC metabolizes.

The medical marijuana bill barely passed in Arizona--it was defeated in 12 out of 15 counties and as the case described above shows, Arizona continues to penalize drug use very harshly even if it happened in the past.

Continue reading "Arizona Marijuana DUI Laws " »

May 29, 2013

Why Missouri v. McNeely won't have much impact in Maricopa County

1066864_police_cruiser.jpgA recent U.S. Supreme Court decision may not change Arizona DUI law, but it may bring the rest of the nation more in line with Arizona's policies.

Phoenix AZ court's Search Warrant Center is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for police to obtain a warrant via "eSearch". According to Phoenix Police, an officer can now obtain a search warrant within minutes. So the fact that the body's Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) levels naturally decrease over time should not compel police, to bypass a search warrant. This is because the BAC levels take hours to decline, and will not be reduced drastically within 10 minutes.

Recently, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that police must obtain a warrant before forcing someone suspected of drunk driving to take a blood test. The US Supreme Court's decision was that the mere fact that the body reduces BAC levels over time, is in and of itself not an "exigent" circumstance, and that each case should be decided based on it's own set of facts.

Generally, a warrantless search of a person (including invasive searches of the body like a blood test) is considered reasonable if it falls into a recognized exception to the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In Arizona, the police are required to obtain a warrant in order to proceed with a blood test.

One such exception exists when the "exigencies of the situation" present such a compelling law enforcement need that it is objectively reasonable for an officer to bypass getting a warrant. The Supreme Court found no such exception here.

The case arose when a state trooper saw the defendant driving erratically. When the state trooper pulled him over, the defendant refused to take a Breathalyzer test, so the officer drove him to a nearby hospital and ordered him to take a blood test to measure his alcohol levels.

The officer did not seek a warrant to test the defendant's blood and it turned out he had very high blood alcohol levels. When the defendant was put on trial, he moved to suppress the results of the blood test on the grounds that it had violated his Fourth Amendment rights.

The State of Missouri argued that the officer's failure to obtain a warrant was due to exigent circumstances that demanded he depart from the usual rule requiring a warrant. According to the State, because alcohol in the bloodstream slowly and predictably reduces with time, the evidence of the defendant's DUI would be lost or destroyed during the time it would have taken to get a warrant. Missouri's guidelines apparently allowed police officers broad discretion about whether to order a blood test under such circumstances.

The Supreme Court disagreed with the State's argument, stating that under most conditions, there is enough time to get a warrant to test blood by using email or cellphones to contact the magistrate. Justice Sotomayor wrote that whether an emergency made it necessary to forgo the warrant would have to be decided on a case-by-case basis with justification being offered in court later.

Around the same time that the Supreme Court heard this case, Phoenix police sped up the search warrant process by installing a program in all police patrol car computers called eSearch Warrant Application. This allows an officer to send a warrant from the car directly to a judge, who can approve or reject the document on a laptop from the bench. The application was first installed in seven police DUI vans last fall.

The expediency of the warrant process using this software application makes it more critical than ever that if you are pulled over for drunk driving, you call an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer to handle your case. Contact the experienced Phoenix DUI attorneys of The Law Offices of James Novak at (480) 413-1499 to build a solid defense.

Additional Resources
Arizona DUI Laws
Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety
National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration

More Blogs

Prescription Drug DUI Charges, Phoenix DUI Lawyer Blog, January 28, 2013
Marijuana DUI: The Impact of Montgomery v. Harris in Arizona, Phoenix DUI Lawyer Blog, March 13, 2013

May 25, 2013

DUI one of four main causes of fatal and serious auto accidents on Arizona roadways.

298987_bbq_1.jpgEnforcement of Arizona's tough DUI laws tend to ramp up in May, especially over Memorial Day weekend and around graduation festivities. Last year, police arrested 3,129 people for DUIs between May 1 and May 31st, 556 of those arrests were made over Memorial Day weekend.

Police agencies statewide have joined together over the past month to patrol for people who are drinking and driving. These efforts are funded by grants from the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, which also funds training for field sobriety tests, blood draws, drug recognition and equipment.

Tempe Police is at least one law enforcement agency that announced heightening enforcement from May 24th through May 27th. They have committed increased patrols and mobile units throughout the city and will be saturated in downtown Tempe AZ. Minor Consumption violations and prevention are a main focus.

Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that last year at this time 5 fatalities resulted from 4 separate collisions, and 85 people were injured. Arizona DPS indicated that impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs was one of 4 main causes of fatalities and serious injuries. Other causes included speeding, seat belt violations, and fatigue or drowsy driving. And while it was not mentioned in the AZ DPS press release, some recent studies and reports show that "texting while driving" is also one of the main causes of motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries.

It announced late last week that it will be "especially vigilant" on the state's highways for this weekend to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, traffic, and impaired driving violations. The AZ DPS is reminding everyone to be patient on the roadway while driving, get enough rest before trips, and obey traffic and seat belt laws, and refrain from drinking and driving; and "texting and driving".

Tips from the police for the weekend include using public transportation or a completely sober designated driver. All drivers should be aware that in Arizona, adults can be arrested for drunk driving even if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below .08, if they are impaired to the slightest degree by the amount they drank.

Over Memorial Day weekend, particularly at family outings, some parents may let their older teenagers drink. While some states allow those under 21 to have a BAC of .01 or .02, Arizona has a zero tolerance policy for drunk drivers under the age of 21. Those under 21 may not even have even a BAC of .01%. A relatively recent case looked at the issue of blood tests for BAC for juvenile drivers, and the facts of the case are worth considering if you are a teenager or a parent.

In that case, a monitor at a seventeen-year-old defendant's school smelled marijuana on his clothing in 2012. The monitor searched the vehicle the defendant and his friends had driven to school and found drug paraphernalia. School officials reported this to the police and the sheriff arrived and advised the defendant of his Miranda rights. Nonetheless the defendant admitted that he and his friends had smoked marijuana away from campus and driven back.

The defendant was arrested and charged with drunk driving. The sheriff read him admonitions related to the implied consent law for blood tests and the defendant agreed to submit to testing. His parents were called and came to the school. Meanwhile, the defendant's blood was tested without his parent's consent. His parents were told he was caught smoking marijuana and arrested, but weren't asked for permission to test the blood that had been drawn.

Before a delinquency hearing, the defendant moved to suppress the blood test results. He argued that, as a minor, he lacked the legal ability to consent to testing. The juvenile court granted his motion, reasoning that the Arizona Parents' Bill of Rights includes the right to consent before a minor's blood is tested, notwithstanding Arizona's implied consent law. It also found that the defendant's consent hadn't been voluntary.

The State appealed the juvenile court's decision. The State argued that the Parents' Bill of Rights was inapplicable because the parental right to consent did not prevent law enforcement officers from acting in their official capacities within the scope of their authority.

The appellate court reasoned that anybody who operates a motor vehicle in Arizona, including minors, gives consent to alcohol testing of blood, breath and urine in the context of a DUI allegation. Although someone cannot be blood tested in a DUI stop without a warrant, drivers are already assumed to have given consent. They can withdraw the consent that has been given, but they face penalties for doing so.

Continue reading "Statewide Arizona DUI Enforcement Increased over Memorial Day Weekend " »

January 28, 2013

If you plan to move or travel to Arizona; you should become familiar with Arizona's strict prescription drug DUI laws.

A person may be arrested in Arizona for a DUI, if they are not driving drunk, and even if they have had no alcohol at all. Last year Drug impairments accounted for 15% of all DUI arrests in Arizona. Police attribute many of these to Prescription DUI violations. If a motorist is driving impaired due to Prescription-only medications solely or in combination with alcohol, they may be exposed to a DUI Arrest. Convictions for drug related driving impairments are generally as severe as those for alcohol related impaired driving charges.


Arizona Prescription Drug DUI Laws

A.R.S. 28-1381 - In Arizona it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, if the person is "impaired to the slightest degree" while:

• Under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree;
• If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle;
• Due to any drug defined under A.R.S. 13-3401 or its metabolite in a person's bodily systems.


Prescription Drug DUI Penalties

A person found guilty of driving impaired due to prescription drugs will be convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties first offense Drug DUI convictions include 10 days in jail; substance abuse education and screening; fines, fees, costs of $1250.00; 90 day driver's license suspension; and probation; and Ignition Interlock Device (IID) one year.

A second violation, within 7 years is a Class 1Misdemeanor. Penalties include 90 days jail; $3,000.00 fines, fees, costs; license revocation for one year; probation; Ignition Interlock Device (IID); and probation.

A third DUI violation of any kind within 7 years, with two prior DUI convictions elevates a DUI to a Class 4 Felony, or Aggravated DUI to a Class 4 Felony. Penalties call for 4 months in prison for the third DUI; and 8 months for subsequent impaired driving convictions; fines, fees, costs of at least $4,000.00; driver's license revocation for 3 years; ignition interlock device (IID) 2 years; probation or community service; and a felon criminal record.

These penalties may vary slightly, and additional penalties may apply.

Prescription Drugs Defined

A.R.S. 13-3401 (28) includes the definition of "Prescription only drug" and means;

• Any toxic or potentially harmful drug as recognized in the general medical community; and
• Is considered safe to use only under the supervision of a licensed and qualified medical practitioner;
• Limited or approved for use as new drug under Federal Rules and medical supervision; of a medical practitioner.
• Potentially harmful drugs with labeling that includes proper directions for use;
• Drugs required by the Federal Rules to include labeling with the test "Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription" or "Rx only".


Criminal Attorney for Prescription Drug DUI defense Gilbert AZ

Arizona has some of the toughest laws and penalties for conviction in the county. If you are arrested for any type of impaired driving in Arizona due to alcohol or drugs, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. But you have the right to defend their charges, and by law are innocent until proven guilty. You should consult a criminal defense attorney, regarding your matter before deciding to plead "guilty". If retained, a qualified legal advocate will protect your rights and defend your charges. There may be defenses you are not aware of that could lead to a case dismissal, reduction of charges, or mitigation in sentencing.


Additional Resources:


Arizona Prescription Drug Definition

Arizona DUI Laws

Gilbert AZ Police DUI Enforcement Units

Criminal Court Gilbert AZ

Arizona MADD.org

Continue reading "Prescription Drug DUI charges " »

December 18, 2012

Combined Resources Creates Larger Valley-wide DUI Task Force December 2012


This year Phoenix AZ, East Valley, and West Valley are combining DUI Task Force Efforts to create one large task force, for better efficiency and safety.

The Special DUI Task Force will be in place for the rest of month of December 2012. A central Command Post will be set up at Devonshire Community Center. It is located at the intersections of E. Devonshire Ave and 28th Street, in Phoenix AZ. Police will also set up DUI Field Vans, with Preliminary Breath Test Units, throughout the valley.


DUI Charges

DUI charges represented the largest number of crimes in Arizona in 2011. A total of 35,505 arrests were made or 14% of all crimes committed in Arizona last year. In an effort to decrease incidents of drunk driving or Drug DUI, Maricopa County police have actively sought out DUI motorists with DUI Sobriety Checkpoints set throughout 2012. This year, they increased their presence and safety checkpoints around holidays, events, and times where high volumes of traffic were expected.

DUI Laws

Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the country. A first-time DUI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Under A.R.S. 28-2831 it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

• Driving "impaired to the slightest degree" due to any alcohol or drugs;

• If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle.

In Arizona the legal limit for alcohol or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08%. However, a person may be guilty of DUI even if their BAC was below 0.08%, if due to alcohol or drugs they were driving "impaired to the slightest degree".

Before making an arrest, the police will conduct an investigation to determine if they have probable cause for a DUI arrest. This may include Field testing, breath testing, and or blood testing.

DUI Penalties

First-time non-extreme DUI conviction will result in the following penalties:

• 10 jail sentence;
• Suspension of driver's license for 90 days;
• Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on vehicle following reinstatement of driving privileges;
• Fines, fees, costs and assessments of at least $1,200.00;
• Probation;
• Alcohol/drug abuse education and counseling which will reduce jail time to 24 hours if successfully completed;

The higher the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level found in a person's system, the higher the penalties.

Laws and sentencing are more severe for repeat offenses. If a person is found guilty of a third DUI within 7 years, even if the prior DUI charges occurred in another state, they will be convicted of an Aggravated DUI which is a Class 4 Felony. Penalties for Felony DUI call for:

• 4 months in prison;
• Fines, fees, and assessments of S4,000.00;
• Driving privileges revoked for 3 years;
• 24 months of IID after reinstatement of license;
• Parole;
• Drug and Alcohol counseling and treatment;
• Community Service
• Felony criminal record


Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI Charges in Phoenix AZ

If you face DUI charges of any kind you should always consult a DUI Attorney before pleading guilty or appearing in court. Even though you were arrested, you have the right to retain an attorney and defend your charges. Your legal advocate will protect your rights; provide a defense; and work to resolve your matter as favorably as possible.

Additional Resources:

Arizona DUI Laws

Arizona Department of Public Services (DPS) - 2011 Crime Statistics

Phoenix Police Department

City of Phoenix - Municipal Court

Continue reading "Super DUI Task Force Created: East & West Valley Join Phoenix for Greater DUI Enforcement" »

December 11, 2012

Super Extreme and Drug DUI laws and penalties apply to all motorists driving in Arizona

A criminal superior court judge in Northern Arizona was arrested on Super Extreme DUI charges, Sunday morning, December 9, 2012. He was stopped by police after swerving into oncoming traffic.

It was reported in the media that his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level exceeded the Super Extreme limit which is 0.20%. The suspect allegedly admitted to being under the influence of prescription drugs. The Judge was not at his bench on Monday, and the court reported that was allegedly assigned to non-judicial duties due to a personal matter.

In Arizona it is illegal to drive "Impaired to the Slightest Degree" due to alcohol or drugs. Prescription drugs, especially for pain, often have adverse impacts on driving. When drugs and alcohol are combined, they can prove to be particularly impairing on a motorist's ability to drive.

A mistake in judgment can easily result in a criminal offense. A DUI conviction can result in harsh criminal penalties including jail, driver's license suspension, and other civil penalties, as well as other consequences. If you will be driving in Arizona, you should understand the side effects of any drugs you take; and be familiar with Arizona DUI laws and consequences of a conviction.

Arizona Drug DUI Laws

A.R.S. 28-1381. (A). Under Arizona law it is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, "impaired to the slightest degree", while under the influence of:

• Alcohol;
• Drug, or toxic substance (including over-the-counter, prescription, other legal or illegal drugs; or
• Any combination of liquor, and drugs

First offense drug DUI charges are treated are very similar to those of an alcohol DUI with a BAC of 0.08%, and categorized as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties for conviction include:

• 10 days jail;
• Fines, fees, costs of $1,200.00
• Installation of Court ordered Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle for at least 6 months;
• Drug/Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment which if completed, will reduce jail term;
• Suspension of Driver's License for 90 days;
• Probation and/or
• Community Service



Super Extreme DUI laws in Arizona


A.R.S. 28-1381. (A)(2)(B). A motorist driving with an Alcohol BAC of 0.20 or more will be found guilty of Super Extreme DUI. A super Extreme DUI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor;

If a person is found to be driving with a BAC of 0.20 they will also be cited with "Impaired to the Slightest Degree"; 0.08% BAC DUI; 015% or more Extreme DUI and 0.20% Super Extreme DUI for up to 4 citations in one stop.

Penalties for a first offense Super Extreme DUI include

• 45 days in jail;
• Fines, fees, costs of $2,500.00
• Drug/Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment which if completed, will reduce jail term;
• Installation of Court ordered Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle for at least 18 months;
• Suspension of Driver's License for at least 90 days;
• Probation and/or
• Community Service



Criminal Defense Attorney for Super Extreme DUI charges Gilbert AZ

Penalties for DUI if convicted will usually result in other life altering consequences such as termination or suspension of job. It is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney before going to court to discuss your matter, and options for defense. The penalties for any DUI in Arizona are some of the toughest in the country. You should never plead "Guilty" without being represented by an effective criminal defense lawyer. There may be defenses you are not aware of, that can lead to a dismissal, reduction or charges, or a reduction of harsh penalties. They will guide you through all phases of the criminal justice process; protect your rights; defend your charges; and work to get the most favorable resolution to your case.


Additional Resources:

Drug DUI and Super Extreme DUI laws

Gilbert AZ Police Department

Alcohol/Substance Abuse Counseling and Treatment Providers

Arizona Department of Health Services - Behavior Health Resource Links


Continue reading "Felony DUI Judge arrested for Super Extreme DUI " »

November 22, 2012

Criminal Arrest Phoenix AZ.jpgThe National CDC predicts 1,200 people will be killed; 25,000 injured due to impaired drivers this holiday season 2012.


The AZ Department of Public Safety issued a press release on November 21, 2012 announcing they will be focused on preventing auto accidents from Thanksgiving 2012 to New Year 2013. They are especially concerned with preventing auto accidents that result from impaired driving due to drugs or alcohol. The State of Arizona is asking the public to step up to help the cause.


Arizona Department of Public Service Tips

• Don't drive impaired due to alcohol or drugs;

• If you suspect someone is drunk driving or driving impaired due to drugs, call #911;

• Do an operation check on your vehicle before leaving for your destination. In particular, check inflation and tread on tires;

• Do not allow yourself to be distracted while driving. Remain focused on the road and other traffic;

• Never Read text, write text, or E-mail while driving. Always pull over or stop the vehicle in a safe place to text or E-mail;

• Wear your seat belt. Make sure all passengers have fastened theirs before you begin;

• Do not allow yourself to become impatient with other motorist. Risking a reckless driving charge, or auto collision is not worth it; before reacting to someone else's road rage, think about the consequences;

• Do not drive aggressive, or reckless. Steer away from drivers who are. Don't allow yourself to be their victim of their road rage or reckless driving.


DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney Mesa AZ

If you have been arrested with any DUI impaired driving with accident or other vehicular crime you should consult a criminal defense attorney to discuss your matters. These charges are all brought as criminal offenses. The offender will be exposed to harsh penalties including jail time, suspension of driver's license suspension or revocation, drug/alcohol counseling, fines, fees, and assessments, use of interlock devices on vehicles, and other harsh penalties. You should always retain a criminal defense attorney in the jurisdiction where you received the charges. They will protect your rights, defend your charges, and make every effort to secure a favorable resolution to your case.


Additional Resources:


AZ Department of Public Safety Press Release

National Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Arizona DUI Laws - State Legislature

Vehicular Crimes - Arizona State Legislature

Continue reading "Arizona DPS 2012 holiday safety tips for travelers " »

November 5, 2012

Tips for keeping your holidays safe and free from DUI arrests and hazards

Last week, the Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety (AGOHS) announced it will be holding a Holiday 2012 DUI Enforcement "Kick-off" Conference at the Arizona State Capitol, Tuesday November 27, 2012. They will be discussing details for safety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and increased presence throughout the state to enforce DUI laws.

The AGOHS works with local city, and county officials to organize DUI Safety Checks that generally beginning around Thanksgiving and run through the New Year. During this time frame last year, DUI roadblocks resulted in over 4,170 Arizona DUI arrests for Drug DUI and Alcohol related DUI offenses.


7 Basic DUI Safety Tips

Here are some tips for planning Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holiday celebrations, to help avoid hazards and arrests resulting from impaired driving:

• Refrain from driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
• Appoint a trustworthy designated driver;
• Make arrangements in advance for a safe ride home including taxi, public transportation, or trustworthy family or friend;
• Know the Arizona DUI laws related to drug and alcohol DUI;
• Avoid binge drinking, and know your impairment threshold for drinking;
• Don't allow yourself to be a passenger in a vehicle driven by a person under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
• Talk to your teens about the dangers of drinking and driving and encourage them to follow these tips


Arizona DUI Laws and Facts

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration works with Arizona to provide support for their Holiday DUI Enforcement "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaigns. Here are some Arizona laws, and NHTSA facts to keep in mind:

• Of the 32,885 people who lost their lives in 2010 to motor vehicle accidents, 31% or 10,228 fatalities resulted from alcohol impaired driving;
• The age group subject to the greatest risk of impaired driving and fatal crashes were 21 to 34 years old, who were under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
• Nighttime driving 6:00 pm to 6:00 am was the most deadly time frame for fatal crashes, and 78% of fatal crashes within the study in December 2010 alone;
• Of those, 45% had a Blood Alcohol Content of .15 BAC or higher;
• Police have zero tolerance for DUI charges, and do not provide warnings. DUI arrests will be made;
• All DUI convictions call for jail time and suspension of driver's license;
• In Arizona Refusal to take alcohol breath tests will result in a suspension of a motorists driver's license, whether the motorist was found to be driving impaired or not;
• In Arizona the legal limit for alcohol is 0.08% BAC;
• A person may be arrested for DUI, if their BAC is below the 0.08% if they are driving "impaired to the slightest degree" under the influence of alcohol or drugs;
• The legal drinking age in Arizona is 21 years old. Zero tolerance applies to any one driving or found to have any amount of alcohol in their system.


Criminal Defense for DUI Charges Tempe AZ

If you were arrested for DUI charges in Arizona, you should always consult an experienced DUI defense lawyer regarding your charges. Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the country, and prosecutors egregiously pursue convictions for all types of DUI - DWI charges. If retained, your attorney will make sure your rights are protected; that you are treated fairly; defend your charges; and attempt to get the most favorable resolution possible for your charges.


Additional Resources:


Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety - News Announcement


National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration

Arizona State Legislature - DUI laws

Arizona Mothers Against Drunk Driving - (MADD)


Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles


Continue reading "AGOHS Announces Holiday DUI Task Force Conference" »

October 8, 2012

DUI lawyer Chandler AZ.jpg5 reasons police conduct Preliminary Breath Tests

Arizona is one of a majority of states with Preliminary Breath Test (PBT) Laws.

The PBT is a small mobile device used to establish the presence of alcohol in a person's system. The PBT is intended to be used as an early detection or screening tool by police. Arizona does not allow a PBT to be admitted as evidence in court against a person accused of DUI, because the machines historically are not considered accurate in measuring exact Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) Levels. In addition, PBT units are not calibrated or routinely maintained like the official Breath Tests Machines.

Arizona Portable Breath Test (PBT) Law

Under A.R.S. 28 § 1322 Preliminary Breath Test law a police officer who has reasonable suspicion to believe a person is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol has authority to request that a person submit to a preliminary breath test.

Under this law, the officer may also require the person to submit to further testing
pursuant to the Implied Consent Law A.R.S. 28 § 1321. This includes DUI blood, breath, urine testing.

5 reasons PBTs are commonly used in Arizona

The National Highway Safety Administration recognizes that although the PBT is useful, it is not admissible as sole evidence to determine BAC; but is generally reliable in determining if any alcohol at all is present in a person's system. Arizona courts do consider PBT evidence to be admissible in court as evidence against a defendant facing DUI charges. Below the police may likely choose a PBT in a DUI field investigation:

• To determine or rule out DUI influence of alcohol v. drugs;
• Drivers who may have a high alcohol tolerance level, and can perform field sobriety tests or other tasks to a greater degree than those with lower tolerance levels;
• To detect if an underage 21 person is under the influence of any alcohol in violation of the state's Zero Tolerance law;
• As a preliminary DUI screening test only; and if positive, will be followed up with an Official Breath Test Machine.
• At the scene of a DUI collision where the driver is suspected of DUI, but has been injured and is unable to perform Standard Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs).

Criminal Defense for DUI Chandler AZ

Arizona laws and penalties are some of the toughest in the country. If you have been arrested for any type of DUI you should always consult a qualified criminal attorney to discuss your charges. You should do this before you appear in court or plead guilty to the charges. You have the constitutional right to defend your charges, and this is done by pleading not guilty and retaining proper legal representation. There may be defenses that you are not aware of that if used, may lead to a dismissal of charges, sentencing, or other favorable outcome in your case.


Additional Resources:


Arizona State Legislature - Portable Breath Test Laws A.R.S. 28 § 1322

Arizona State Legislature - Implied Consent Laws A.R.S. 28 § 1321

Arizona Department of State - Public Safety - Determining Alcohol Concentration

Arizona Governor's Office of Highway Safety - DUI laws

Continue reading " Portable Breath Test (PBT) Laws " »

September 18, 2012

In Carillo v. Houser Maricopa County, the Arizona Supreme Court held that the Implied Consent Law, A.R.S. § 28-1321 did not authorize police to conduct DUI blood testing without a warrant. The exception is if the suspect expressly gives their consent for officers to administer the chemical test.

It is not enough for a suspect to object to the blood or urine test. They must expressly refuse, or consent to it. Failure of a person to expressly agree, or to consent to completing the chemical test is considered a refusal.

If a driver refuses a DUI breath test the police may obtain a warrant to collect a blood or urine sample. In order to obtain a warrant the police must have "probable cause" to believe that a motorist was driving impaired under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

If a driver refuses to participate in the chemical testing, there are civil and criminal consequences. A refusal of a DUI chemical testing with a valid warrant will result in a 12 month suspension of the motorist's driver's license. The police may proceed with a DUI arrest with probable cause for DUI charges.


Arizona Implied Consent Law

Under the Implied Consent Law A.R.S. § 28-1321 a motorist driving in Arizona inherently gives their consent to DUI breath, blood or urine test if requested by police to determine if they are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The Police Officer who makes the DUI stop decides what type of test should be administered. The officer must have cause to believe that the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle either alcohol or drugs.


Implied Consent Law - Underage 21 Drinking

Arizona is a "Zero Tolerance" state with regard to underage 21 drinking. This means an underage drinker may be arrested for being under the influence of any alcohol in their blood stream. The Implied Consent Law A.R.S. § 28-1321 also gives authority to police in Arizona to administer chemical testing to a person under the age of 21 years of age. They police may administer the test to determine if the person under age 21 has in their body, whether or not they were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle.


DUI Lawyer Tempe AZ - Defense

If you were arrested for DUI based on breath or blood testing, there may defenses you are not aware of that can lead to suppression of evidence or even a dismissal of charges. An arrest is not a conviction. Anyone arrested has a constitutional right to defend their charges. In order to make sure your rights are protected, and to defend your charges, you should always retain the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney.


Additional Resources:

Arizona Legislature Implied Consent Law

Arizona Legislature DUI law

Arizona Supreme Court JOSE CARRILLO v. HON. ROBERT HOUSER Ref: CV-09-0285-PR

Arizona Department of Transportation

Continue reading "DUI Blood Test Laws: DUI chemical tests taken without consent not admissible in Court" »