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An Arizona DUI timeline

If you have been stopped by law enforcement officers for investigation of driving under the influence (DUI), the first thing that will happen is that the law enforcement officer will ask you for your driver’s license, your vehicle registration and your proof of liability insurance.

In Tempe, Phoenix or other communities in Maricopa County, it is important that you consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

Law enforcement officers are trained to take note as to how you provide those items for inspection. Some impaired drivers flip through their wallet and pass over their driver’s license several times before recognizing it and producing it. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for the odor of alcohol. Law enforcement officers will also look for bloodshot, watery eyes and listen for slurred speech.

If a law enforcement officer detects those clues, then you will likely be asked if you have been drinking. Regardless of the answer, law enforcement officers will most likely request that you get out of your vehicle. The officer will observe how you exit the vehicle since impaired drivers often experience difficulty exiting their vehicle.

Despite the fact is there is no requirement in Arizona law that you have to submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs) law enforcement officers will proceed to conducting FSTs, which are believed to be effective in detecting drivers who may be impaired due to alcohol or drugs. With the exception of the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, an eye test where law enforcement officers look for involuntary jerking of a subject’s eyes, FSTs are nothing more than coordination tests.

As a result of the FSTs investigation, the driver is often placed under arrest and with hands handcuffed behind their backs for officer safety and to ensure that the subject does not place anything in their mouth. The well-trained law enforcement officer will seek to ensure that nothing is in the subject’s mouth and that the subject does not vomit prior to the breath test as the breath test will be rendered unreliable.

After your are transported to a DUI processing site, law enforcement officers will ask questions unless the right to remain silent or the right to speak to an attorney is invoked, then all questioning must cease. If no such right is invoked, then law enforcement officers generally use a list of prepared questions. Your answers are then written down or typed verbatim where possible.

In Maricopa County, several law enforcement agencies have the power to arrest you. Each city has its own police force, while the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) is responsible for law enforcement duties across the county and the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) handles primarily vehicular enforcement on the highways. Each law enforcement agency has its own procedures for arrest depending upon the situation and depending upon the crime. Unless conditions of release set by a judge or magistrate can be met, transfer to one of the various county jail facilities may take place while a defendant is awaiting trial.

If you been arrested law enforcement officers will place you in restraints and read your Miranda Rights, which stem from a U.S. Supreme Court case involving a Phoenix man. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present before any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning. Do you understand these rights?”

Regardless of guilt or innocence, should a suspect make a statement, which in the suspect’s mind, is a defense of his innocence, it might actually incriminate him from the perspective of the officer, and subsequently, a prosecutor. Investigating a crime, any crime, can be a very complicated process for law enforcement and a suspect’s statements are like a road map for the crime that is being investigated. Once you are placed under arrest, law enforcement officers have conducted an investigation which leads the officer to believe that probable cause shows that you have committed a crime. The state will use your own words to hang you as all of these statements will later be highlighted to a judge or jury as evidence of your guilt. The right to remain silent and the right to an attorney are not just meaningless words. If questioning continues, without allowing you to speak privately to an attorney, that cannot be used against you at trial.

A very important thing to remember is that there is no need to be abusive, belligerent, argumentative or otherwise difficult with law enforcement officers. The result may be additional criminal charges for resisting arrest if your actions go too far. Plus, a characterization of your actions can be presented as evidence in support of a guilty verdict. Judges and juries typically take a dim view of a person who fights with the police and if you are convicted, the prosecutor may use your conduct with the police in support for a stiffer sentence.

As mentioned earlier, a breath or blood test will be administered during the arrest process. Refusing to submit to either test is not recommended. Unlike the FSTs, which are administered prior to the time a subject is placed under arrest, there is a requirement in the state of Arizona that everybody who gets behind the wheel of a car must submit to a blood, breath or urine test to determine their level of alcohol and/or drug impairment.

A refusal to submit to the tests will result in an automatic 12-month Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) suspension of your driver’s license and prosecutors are allowed to argue to a jury that your refusal is strong evidence that you had something to hide. Also, law enforcement officers routinely will obtain a telephonic search warrant from a judge which will allow them forcibly take your blood for testing.

After you submit to the test and your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is greater than a 0.08 percent, then your driver’s license will be suspended for 90-days, 30 days of which no driving will be allowed under any circumstances. In most cases, the next 60 days of the license suspension will be a restricted license where you can go to and from work, school, and counseling.

If the BAC reading is below 0.08 percent, then there will not be a license suspension prior to a conviction on DUI charges. Should you receive either a 12-month refusal suspension or a 90-day suspension for BAC of 0.08 percent, that suspension will not take effect until 15 days from the date when the suspension notice is served. Within that 15-day period, the suspect should request a MVD hearing or their private attorney will make a request for this hearing. The suspect’s license will not be suspended while the hearing process is pending.

If you are licensed to drive in another state there is no material difference with regards to the DUI process or the license suspension process. Basically, as long as you drive in the state of Arizona you are subject to the Arizona law and you will have to go to court in Arizona. With regard to the license suspension, your privilege to drive in the state of Arizona will be suspended for 15 days after the notice of suspension is served. Pursuant to the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, DUI suspension info will be shared between states and it is up to the state in which you are licensed as to what consequences may be imposed.

DUI is an extremely complicated, fact specific type of criminal case. It simply depends on the facts. A DUI defendant is doing himself a great disservice if he does not, at least, consult with a DUI lawyer. It is important that your DUI legal situation should be handled by expert professionals with the experience possessed by the attorneys at the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C. Our office offers free consultations for all DUI and criminal matters. Our Arizona DUI attorneys and Arizona criminal lawyers can provide you with the experience and knowledge needed for qualified representation. An experienced Arizona DUI lawyer is vital in DUI cases and our DUI attorneys set that standard. If you’re in need of a criminal defense, our Arizona criminal attorneys are ready to assist you.