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Do I Have To Answer Any Questions At A Traffic Stop?

If you are suspected of driving under the influence (DUI) by law enforcement in the state of Arizona you are not required to answer any questions that the investigating law enforcement officer asks you. You are only required to tell the investigating officer your name, your address, produce your driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. If requested, you should submit to an analysis of your blood, breath or urine.

In Phoenix and other communities in Maricopa County, you should consult experienced Arizona DUI lawyers like those associated with the Law Offices of Craig W. Penrod, P.C.

A checklist of what to do and what not to do is a matter of common sense:

  • Provide identification, such as your driver’s license and vehicle registration. The ease of how you locate these items will likely be noted on the officer’s report.
  • Politely refuse to submit to field sobriety tests (FSTs). FSTs for DUI usually include: walking the line, touching your fingers to your nose, counting on your fingers, reciting your ABCs, holding your leg up while counting and horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN). By submitting to FSTs, you may be providing evidence that could be used against you in court.
  • If a law enforcement officer asks, politely explain that you will not agree to a search of your vehicle. If an officer has probable cause to obtain a search warrant, they will. If not, then why search? Say no, politely, but firmly and don’t elaborate and hope your refusal is noted in the report regarding their investigation.
  • Politely refuse to answer questions about what you’ve had to drink. By asking to speak to an attorney, that will stop any questioning. Should the officer read Miranda rights to you, the answer should be the same.
  • Cooperate, cooperate, cooperate. Cooperation means having a good attitude and being polite. It doesn’t mean answering questions or doing field tests or talking. Your attitude, appearance and words all become part of the investigating officer’s report. Your disposition indicates your level of intoxication.
  • Submit to a breath, blood or urine test if one is requested. After the investigation on the street, you will be transported to the police station or to a testing site. Some jurisdictions offer a blood test, while others will offer a breath test. When your driver’s license was issued, you agreed to submit to such a test if you were being investigated. It’s called implied consent so if you don’t submit to the test, your license will be suspended for a minimum of one year, even if you are not convicted of DUI. If you take the test and the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading is greater than 0.08 percent, your license will be suspended 30-90 days.
  • After completing the test, the officer may provide you with a form that gives you a choice to preserve a sample of your test or waive a sample. Always ask that a sample to be preserved if you are given that choice.
  • As soon as you are released from custody, head to a hospital, a lab or contact your doctor to arrange to have your own blood test done immediately. If that test shows a lower BAC, you may be able to use the results in your case. Should the BAC be the same or higher than the law enforcement test, you are not obligated to provide that information to the prosecutor.
  • If you don’t want to lose your license, ask for a hearing at the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) within 15 days. The officer should provide you with a form when your driver’s license is confiscated.
  • You should hire an attorney that you trust, an attorney you meet in person. Your attorney will personally appear in court on your behalf, interview the investigating officer, gather records, prepare motions and to negotiate with the prosecutor. A good attorney will keep you informed about the progress of your case, but don’t expect information on a daily basis.

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.