The DUI Case Process – What You Need To Know
Driving Under the Influence is extremely dangerous and, therefore, a very serious offense with severe consequences. Mandatory jail or prison time, stiff fines, license suspension or revocation, probation and increased insurance costs are just some of the consequences of being convicted of DUI.
The best advice is don’t drink to excess and drive. Have a friend drive you home or call for a cab.
However, if you are charged with the crime of DUI and believe the charges are unfair, Robert A. Dodell Attorney At Law, in Scottsdale, can help. Robert has the expertise, the knowledge and the experience to help you fight these charges and win. He is ready to fight to protect your rights. You also should already know if your offense is being charged as a misdemeanor DUI or felony DUI.
What is a DUI?
DUI is shorthand for “Driving Under the Influence.” The are basically five types in Arizona.
- It is unlawful if one drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and is under the influence of alcoholic beverages or any chemical or controlled substance to the extent that his or her mental faculties are impaired. ARS 28-1381A1.
- It is unlawful if one drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more within two hours of driving. ARS 28-1381A2.
- It is unlawful if one drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more within two hours of driving. ARS 28-1382 (The “Extreme DUI”)
- It is unlawful if one drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .20 percent or more within two hours of driving. ARS 28-1382 (The “Super Extreme DUI”).
- It is unlawful if one drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with drugs or its metabolite in the person’s body. ARS 28-1381A3.
One can be charged with multiple offenses. Additionally, the severity these offenses increase if one has prior convictions for a DUI in Arizona or other state or is driving on a suspended, revoked, cancelled or restricted license.
Should I Perform Field Sobriety Tests?
It is extremely important to understand the difference between field sobriety tests and a chemical test of your breath, blood or urine. There is no penalty for refusing to perform field sobriety tests like the walk and turn, one leg stand, finger to nose, finger count, any verbal tests that requires reciting the alphabet or numbers, or horizontal gaze nystagmus. Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a test in which the person will be asked to follow the top of a pen being moved in front of the eyes. These tests are not objective. They are tests of a driver’s balance and dexterity, judged solely by the officer. Do not do these tests.
The right to remain silent – USE IT!
The United States and Arizona Constitutions give you the right to remain silent. Don’t try to talk your way out. It does not work. An officer will ask you questions in order to gather evidence against you. The officer wants you to make statements that help the State’s case. It is best not to tell the officer anything.
You have a right to have counsel present at every critical stage of the proceedings. No matter what time of the day it is, you should still request to speak with a lawyer. The officer has the obligation to give you a chance to speak to an attorney so long as it would not unnecessarily hinder the investigation. Your lawyer can give you advice on other issues including your right to an independent test of your blood to determine alcohol concentration. Ask to speak to a lawyer.
Be polite, but do not answer questions and do not admit anything.
Do I have to take a blood, breath or urine test if the police ask?
No, but it may be in your best interests to take the test. Arizona will automatically suspend your license for at least one full year if you refuse to take the chemical test, although you may be eligible for a restricted license after 90 days with the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle. Most police agencies will get a search warrant for your blood, even if you do refuse to take the test. Additionally, if your case goes to trial, the prosecutor can tell the jury that you wouldn’t take the test, which may lead the jury members to conclude that you refused because you were, in fact, impaired by alcohol or drugs.
If you do take the test, and your blood alcohol content is 0.08% or greater, your driving privileges will be suspended for ninety days. You may be eligible for a restricted driver’s license that allows you to travel to and from work, for work, medical appointments, and counseling sessions.
Always ask to speak to a lawyer prior to taking any test.
Can I challenge a Motor Vehicle Department suspension?
In short, Yes.
You may request a review of the driver’s license suspension by the Motor Vehicle Department within a specified number of days following receipt of your notice arrest. (You will receive your notice immediately with a breath test; a notice could be mailed to you when you take a blood or urine test).
Once a hearing request is made, the suspension of your driving privileges is stayed and the driver is considered to have a valid license, at least, until a decision is rendered by an Administrative Law Judge.
At a review hearing, the Administrative Law Judge is authorized to administer oaths, examine witnesses and take testimony. If you request an informal review hearing, it shall consist solely of an examination by the Department of Motor Vehicles of the written materials submitted by the arresting officer, as well as anything you wish to submit. You generally cannot attend an informal review hearing.
How long will I lose my license?
That varies in Arizona. If you have an unlawful blood alcohol level, your driving privileges will be suspended for ninety days. If you are eligible, you may get a restricted driver’s license after the first thirty days. If you have refused to submit to a chemical test, your license will be suspended for one year with a first refusal. You may, however, be eligible for a restricted license after 90 days with the installation of an ignition interlock device on your vehicle.
Reinstatement of driving privileges
Driving privileges are not automatically reinstated following a period of suspension. The driver must complete some paperwork and tender a fee to have the privileges reinstated, otherwise the privileges to drive are still considered to be suspended. This fact is sometimes overlooked by drivers and there are stiff penalties should the driver even drive while the license is still considered suspended.
Possible DUI defenses
Successfully defending against a DUI charge depends on first recognizing that many cases are manageable and defensible. In Arizona, there are many potential defenses to these serious charges. Below is a partial list of possible defenses:
- Lack of impairment.
- No reasonable suspicion to stop.
- No actual physical control.
- No probable cause for arrest.
- Denial of right to counsel.
- Inaccuracy of the breath testing device.
Insurance – Further punishment
Before a DUI conviction, an insurance company should not cancel the insurance coverage. If convicted of a DUI, however, and if the insurance discovers the conviction, the insurance rates will likely increase dramatically for the next 3 years.
Driving privileges suspended as a result of criminal conviction
Motor Vehicle Department hearings usually occur before any criminal trial. If the State fails to meet its burden of proof at the MVD hearing, the driver’s privileges will not be suspended. However, this does not mean one’s driving privileges are immune from suspension. A criminal conviction on the DUI charge will result in a suspension of one’s privilege. The major difference is that a suspension that results from a criminal conviction is that the driver be required to obtain SR-22 insurance in order to have the driving privilege reinstated, while a suspension before a criminal conviction will not create this situation.
Revocation of driving privileges
In addition to a suspension of driving privileges, some drivers suffer a subsequent revocation as well. A person convicted of a second DUI charge within 72 months of the first one will have their driving privileges revoked for a period of not more than 1 year. A person convicted of a felony DUI will suffer a 3 year revocation period. Reinstatement of privileges following a revocation is much more difficult than following a suspension. It involves an investigation of the driver’s character, habits, and driving abilities as well as a written evaluation from a physician, psychologist or certified substance abuse counselor.
If a person is convicted of an aggravated drinking and driving offense, in addition to all of the aforementioned sanctions, the court may order the motor vehicle owned and operated by the person at the time of the offense forfeited.
Should I get a lawyer?
The answer to this question is, obviously, yes. Defending against a DUI charge is tricky business. Attorneys need to understand scientific and medical concepts, and must be able to question tough witnesses, including scientists and police officers. The law is very complicated and has become more complicated because we have a blend of the civil sanctions by the Department of Motor Vehicles, in addition to the criminal sanctions imposed by the courts. There is also the threat of extensive jail, fines, counseling, and loss of the driver’s license. Your rights and requirements of the police are changing constantly. Speak with an experienced DUI attorney immediately.
Some final realities
DUI charges are filed thousands of times in Arizona every year against people from all walks of life. These charges are very serious. Robert can help you through the crisis. Robert personally answers his own telephone and he will personally handle your case. Contact Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, directly by email or by calling 480-860-4321 now for a free initial consultation.