In Arizona, you face conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) if there is evidence that the driver has a 0.08 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) or higher. The proof of your BAC comes from a breathalyzer or blood test.
You might think that, by refusing the test, you can beat a DUI conviction. However, Arizona implied consent law makes such a strategy ineffective. Under this law, refusing a blood or breath test can complicate your ability to drive.
When you drive on Arizona’s streets and roads, you give permission to be tested if you’re stopped or arrested and believed to be driving under the influence. The consent is “implied” because it does not depend upon a “yes” or “no” answer if the officer asks you for blood, urine, or a breath sample. You said “yes” when you got behind the wheel.
If you decline to be tested, you face a one-year suspension of your driving privileges. A second or subsequent refusal within seven years equates to a two-year suspension. The Motor Vehicle Department treats an outright refusal or failure to expressly consent as sufficient for the suspension. You “refuse” within the meaning of the implied consent law when you do not finish the test or withhold a complete breath.
A test result of 0.08 (or 0.04 if you’re operating a commercial vehicle) means, for you, a minimum ninety (90) day suspension of your license. If this happens to you, Robert A. Dodell, an experienced DUI attorney, can help you get a work permit and subsequently get your license reinstated. To get the work permit after the first 30 days, if you do not have a prior DUI in seven years, you must submit to drug or alcohol screening.
You may challenge the suspension itself on the grounds that you, in fact, did not refuse or the officer cannot prove your refusal. Even if you refused, a DUI lawyer may argue that you were not advised properly by the officer of the consequences of refusal. The officer must disclose to you upon your arrest that refusal may cause your license to be suspended for one year or two years if you have previously refused within seven years of the current arrest.
The implied consent statute does not require you to submit to a test unless the officer had reasonable grounds to arrest you for a DUI. To demonstrate reasonable grounds, the officer must point to erratic or unsafe driving, such as weaving, speeding, driving outside of your lane of travel for several seconds, or suddenly breaking and accelerating. An odor of alcohol or the presence of open alcohol containers also provides a reason for the officer to request a chemical test.
You have 15 days from your arrest to request a hearing on the suspension of your license. For that reason, it is vital that you don’t delay contacting a DUI attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. We will examine the circumstances of your arrest, many of which are revealed by the notes of the arresting officer.
From the records of the arrest, you may have arguments that the officer lacked a reasonable basis that you were driving under the influence or that the officer did not advise you that your license could be suspended if you refused the BAC test. Should you quickly request a hearing, you may be able to keep your license until the hearing decides if your suspension should be upheld.
If the hearing does not reverse the suspension, your next step is a lawsuit in Superior Court to review that decision. You must start such a proceeding no later than 30 days after the hearing officer’s decision to uphold the suspension.
Robert A. Dodell brings experience exceeding 30 years and thousands of cases involving DUI’s and other criminal charges. He is also a former prosecutor. Let his experience, skill, and passion for defense help you defend DUI charges and protect your ability to drive even in the face of them.