Arizona DUI FAQs

Driving while intoxicated (DWI), operating a vehicle under the influence (OVI), or driving under the influence (DUI) are all ways to describe the same thing: intoxicated driving. Intoxication may be the result of alcohol or another chemical substance (e.g., drugs) or both. To be a criminal offense in Arizona, your blood alcohol content must be at or above the legal limit of .08, have an illegal chemical substance in your system, or your driving abilities were impaired to the slightest degree.

In Arizona, there are many arrests made daily for DUI. Those arrested are often people like you and me: law-abiding citizens. At Allied Defense, we work hard to help you beat a DUI charge or to, at a minimum, get the best possible outcome in your unique situation. Contact us at 602-341-5709 to learn more about how we will help you. In the meantime, here are some of the most commonly asked questions we get from our clients when we first meet them about their DUI charge.

What is “blood alcohol content” level?

Blood alcohol content (BAC) is a measurement of the amount of alcohol found in the blood expressed as a percentage. It is calculated in grams per 210 liters of breath, and a BAC of 0.08 means there is 0.08% alcohol by volume. Measuring BAC is a way for law enforcement to calculate the amount of alcohol someone has had and their ability to drive a motor vehicle. 

What are my rights during DUI traffic stops?

If you are pulled over due to suspicion of drunk driving or pulled over for a traffic stop and then the police officer suspects intoxicated driving, you should remember you have certain rights, including:

  1. The driver and any passengers have the right to remain silent (except you must show the police your driver's license, registration, and proof of insurance upon request); and
  2. If you are a passenger, you are free to leave.

If you are arrested or detained, you have additional rights, including Miranda warnings. You should say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately.

If you believe your rights were violated in any way, try to write down everything you remember, including the police officer's agency (state police, county police, etc.), badge number, and patrol car number.

Can I refuse a potable breathalyzer test in Arizona?

You can refuse a breathalyzer test. These are portable instruments police have with them on the scene to test your breath for alcohol. The results of these tests are typically not admissible if you are, in fact, arrested and charged with an intoxicated driving offense.

You should not consent to a portable breathalyzer while on the scene of a traffic stop. 

It is important to keep in mind that there are typically two types of breathalyzer tests: (1) the portable one officers will try to use on the scene; and (2) the stationary machine they will try to use after you have been arrested. The consequences of refusing these two tests are different. If you refuse the portable breathalyzer test the officers may ask you to perform field sobriety tests or just arrest you. Refusing the portable breathalyzer test is important because it gives the police one less thing to point to as probable cause for your arrest. This may even be useful in your defense to show they lacked significant probable cause to arrest you in the first place.

What are standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs)?

Standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) are tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are allegedly designed to help police determine whether a driver is intoxicated or not.

However, these tests are subjective and have high failure rates, even for sober drivers. Additionally, these tests were designed to detect alcohol impairment and have not been proven effective in determining other types of impairment, such as marijuana impairment. 

There are three standardized FSTs:

  1. the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test (HGN test)
  2. the One-Leg Stand Test (OLS test)
  3. the Walk-and-Turn Test

The results of these tests may be used as evidence against you in an intoxicated driving case.

Non-standardized tests, on the other hand, are not validated by NHTSA.

Non-standardized FSTs include:

  • finger to nose test
  • Modified Rhomberg test
  • the finger count test
  • the hand pat test
  • the alphabet test
  • the reverse counting test
  • the coin pickup test

Can I refuse field sobriety tests in Arizona? 

Yes. You can and should refuse all field sobriety tests. Although prosecutors and courts are allowed to use this against you if the case were to proceed to trial, refusing these tests is vital to ensuring the police gather as little evidence of DUI as possible.  

Similar to refusing the portable breathalyzer tests discussed above, refusing the FSTs is important because it gives the police one less thing to point to as probable cause for your arrest. This may even be useful in your defense to show they lacked significant probable cause to arrest you in the first place.

Can I refuse a stationary breathalyzer and/or blood test in Arizona?

Once you are arrested for suspicion of DUI, the police will take you either a police station or a DUI van to conduct further testing. It is at this point that police will read you what is called the Admin Per Se Affidavit asking if you will consent to a test of your blood, breath, or urine. Although you can refuse these tests, refusal carries with it significant consequences. In Arizona, if you refuse to consent to these tests after you have been arrested, your license may be suspended for at least 12 months. Also, if you refuse, the police officer will request a warrant to forcibly take a blood or breath sample. 

After a DUI arrest in Arizona, will my driver's license be suspended or revoked?

There are three different types of suspensions.

The first two are administrative suspensions. If you refuse the blood or breath test(s) after you have been arrested, your license will likely be suspended for at least 12 months. If you consent to these tests and your BAC is above .08 or you have any illegal drugs in your system, your license will likely be suspended for 90 days. However, you have a right to a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Department's Executive Hearing Office. You have 30 days to request a hearing after your arrest. If you fail to request the hearing within this timeframe, the suspension will automatically go into place. 

Allied Defense is extremely experienced and knowledgeable about these issues and has handled hundreds of these types of hearings. If you have been arrested and are concerned about a license suspension, call us immediately so we can help.

The third type of suspension occurs when you are convicted of a DUI offense. Whether your driver's license will be suspended or revoked depends on your driving history, your BAC level, and whether this is your first offense. If you serve an administrative suspension before being convicted of a DUI offense, there typically will not be a subsequent suspension for the conviction. 

What happens after a drunk driving arrest in Arizona?

If you are arrested for drunk driving, what happens next depends on the facts and circumstances. It's important to know that DUI arrests result in two processes after an arrest: (1) the administrative hearing for the license suspension; and (2) the criminal process, which can result in a conviction in the absence of a strong DUI defense. A conviction can lead to fines, driver's license suspension/revocation, imprisonment, ignition interlock device (IID) installation, and other penalties.

Can I beat a drunk driving charge in Arizona?

It is possible to beat a drunk driving charge, although it is not typically an easy process. It will require a thorough understanding of the law and a thorough understanding of the technical nature of field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests, and urine tests. Understanding the latter tests is critical to identifying errors (technical or human-made) to highlight the unreliability of the results.

Aside from errors or unreliable test results, an alleged DUI offender may have had their constitutional rights violated. This happens more often than you might imagine. A violation can lead to the inadmissibility of some or all evidence. Without sufficient evidence, the case will be dismissed, or a jury may return with an acquittal (finding of not guilty).

You will need a DUI defense attorney to help you beat an drunk driving charge. These cases can be highly technical, as much as legally complex.

Can I just plead guilty to drunk driving?

You can plead guilty, but the real question is whether you should or not. It would be a mistake to plead guilty without the counsel of a DUI lawyer in Arizona, and there are multiple reasons for this.

  1. If you plead guilty immediately, you lose any opportunity to fight the DUI charge.
  2. If you plead guilty immediately, you also lose any opportunity for a plea deal, if that is what would be best in your unique circumstances. Admittedly, a plea deal means you would plead guilty, but the process can render a better outcome than an immediate plea of guilty. In some jurisdictions, you may be able to plead down to a lesser offense.

If it's your first drunk driving charge, it can be tempting to plead guilty right away so that you can get the case over faster and get on with your life. But if you do not fight to get the charge dismissed or get the lowest possible charge, it will be your first drunk driving charge. With the latter on your record, you want to keep in mind that subsequent DUI convictions will assuredly lead to harsher penalties.

Do I need a drunk driving lawyer in Arizona to win my DUI case?

If you plan to fight your drunk driving charges, it is in your best interest to have an attorney represent you. The law can be complex. The evidence can be highly technical and scientific. Police and state expert testimony can be damaging. All these things can lead to a conviction, unless you have the necessary skills and knowledge to successfully counter them. Most alleged DUI offenders do not have that kind of knowledge and skills.

Contact a DUI Defense Attorney in Arizona Today

At Allied Defense, we know the law and the technical, scientific make-up of field sobriety tests, blood tests, breath tests, and urine tests. We also know how to identify and proactively address any constitutional rights violations to benefit your case. We handle DUI cases in Maricopa County, including Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Gilbert, Chandler, and nearby areas. Contact our DUI defense lawyer in Arizona today at 602-341-5709 to schedule a FREE 30-minute consultation and get honest advice on your best legal options.

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