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How Is A DUI Charge Defined In Arizona?


A DUI is defined as the act of operating a motor vehicle within the jurisdiction of the state while impaired by alcohol or any drug to the point that the person’s ability to operate that motor vehicle is impaired. It’s illegal for a person to be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle within two hours of having been under the influence of any intoxicating liquor or drug. If a person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or in being actual physical control of a vehicle, then they may be charged with DUI. It’s important to note that a person doesn’t actually have to be actively driving in order to receive a DUI; they just have to be in actual physical control of the vehicle.

How Do You Advise Clients That Want To Plead Guilty To A DUI Charge In Arizona?

I always discourage clients from pleading guilty to a DUI charge, because you never know if the police department followed all of their procedures. There could have been problems with the blood and breath testing instruments or with the analysis. There may have been no probable cause for an arrest, or there may have been no reasonable suspicion for the person to be pulled over in the first place. Because of this, an investigation needs to be pursued by the attorney in order to determine if pleading guilty is actually in a person’s best interest.

There are many things that go into analyzing any arrest. It is important to make sure that a person was not denied the right to counsel and that the officer gave them an opportunity to make a phone call. There are just so many things to consider before simply pleading guilty.

What Happens When Someone Is Pulled Over On Suspicion Of DUI In Arizona?

It is unlawful for any person who is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or any drugs to drive or be in actual physical control of any vehicle.

When you apply for and accept the privilege to drive a vehicle in Arizona, you give consent to test for blood alcohol concentration or drug content (BADC). If you are arrested for driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs (DUI), this is known as the Implied Consent Law.

When a law enforcement officer has reason to believe you have been driving while under the influence, the officer will request that you submit to a BADC test of your blood, breath, urine or other bodily substance to measure the amount of alcohol or drugs present in your bloodstream.

You can get pulled over for suspicion of DUI for a variety of reasons. A common reason for the stop is a suspected traffic offense.

Most DUI police reports with the Officer’s observations of signs of alcohol ingestion, such as odor of alcohol and bloodshot, watery eyes. Notwithstanding the fact that these are signs only indicative of ingestion, not necessarily impairment, the Officer will use this as a basis for conducting a further investigation or even arrest.

“Further Investigation” in this context means asking you to step out of your car and perform field sobriety tests. The Officer pays close attention to how you exit the car, the manner in which you provide him with your driver’s license, registration and insurance and the manner of your speech. Then the Officer will ask you to perform Field Sobriety Tests.

There are usually three field sobriety tests that officers conduct, each of which has been sanctioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those tests are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, the One Leg Stand, and the Walk and Turn test.

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Each is designed to measure specific reflexes that some researchers believe are compromised if a person has been drinking. There are typical tasks called divided attention tests, which are made to stimulate what a person is doing when they’re driving a vehicle. For example, the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test measures the involuntary jerking of an individual’s eye, which can be more pronounced if a person is intoxicated. The Walk and Turn test and the One Leg Stand test measure both coordination and the person’s ability to follow direction.

Please note, you are NOT required to perform ANY Field Sobriety Tests. Be courteous and decline. Next, ask to speak to an attorney. You have a right to contact an attorney and speak to him or her privately. The Officer may not allow you to call immediately, however, as soon as it is practicable, your request should be honored.

Depending on a number of factors, including whether it is a felony or misdemeanor DUI, the Officer may issue a citation, take fingerprints and allow you to call someone to pick you up. If it is a felony DUI or the person has an out-of-state driver’s license, then the Officer may book you into jail.

What Are The Consequences One Might Face For Refusing A Breath Or A Blood Test?

In Arizona, if an officer asks you to submit to a breathalyzer or a blood test and you refuse, then the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your driver’s license for one year. They may suspend your license for even longer if you had previous convictions or refusals to submit to the blood or breath tests.

Additional Information About DUI Charges In Arizona

DUI Penalties

If you are stopped for driving under the influence and a test shows that you have an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more (0.04 in a commercial vehicle requiring a commercial driver license), or if a blood alcohol or drug test result is not available, you could lose your privilege to drive. In addition, you will be required to complete alcohol or drug screening before you can obtain a restricted permit or reinstate your driving privilege.

You may be found guilty of driving while intoxicated or while under the influence of any drug or its metabolite even though the blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.08 percent. If you are under 21, your license may be suspended if there is any alcohol concentration.

If you refuse to submit to or do not successfully complete any tests when you are arrested for driving under the influence, you will automatically lose your driving privilege for 12 months or 24 months for a second refusal within 84 months. In addition, you will be required to complete alcohol or drug screening before you can obtain a restricted driving permit and/or reinstate your driving privilege.

For a first offense, if your reading is below .15, then the minimum amount of jail is 24 hours. If your reading is between .15 and .20, then the minimum is 30 days in jail. If your reading is above .20, then the minimum jail time is 45 days.

If you are convicted of a second DUI offense, then the penalties grow exponentially. The jail time is increased. For example, a second offense DUI, with a reading of less than .15, the statute provides for 30 days in jail. A second DUI offense with a reading of between .15 and .20, the statute provides for 120 days in jail. If convicted of a second DUI offense with a reading of over .20, the statute provides for 180 days in jail.

You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device on any vehicle that you operate for 12 months. If eligible, that can be reduced to 6 months. Your driver’s license could be revoked for one year if you have a prior DUI conviction, or if your DUI involved drugs instead of alcohol.

In any event, if you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI, remember, you are not required to submit to any field sobriety tests, nor are you obligated to answer any questions about if, when or where you had been drinking. If you are arrested for DUI, do submit to the breath or blood test. Be courteous and ask to speak to an attorney.

For more information on DUI Charges In Arizona, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (623) 428-8203 today.

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