The DUI Case Process – What You Need To Know
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a very serious offense. Because it is extremely dangerous, there are severe consequences including mandatory prison or jail time, license revocation or suspension, increased insurance costs, probation and stiff fines. These are just a few of the consequences you may suffer after being convicted of DUI.
The best advice to stay out of trouble is to not drink and drive. Have a sober friend drive you home, call for a taxi or call Uber.
However, if you find yourself charged with DUI and believe the charges are unfair, there is something you can do. Robert A. Dodell, Attorney at Law, is conveniently located in Scottsdale, and can help you with your DUI case defense in Tempe, Arizona. Robert has the knowledge, expertise, and experience needed to help you fight the DUI charges and win. He’s ready to help protect your rights.
What is a DUI?
There are five types of Driving Under the Influence, or DUI
- It is unlawful, to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle if you are under the influence of any alcoholic beverage, chemical substance or controlled substance to the point that you have impaired mental faculties. ARS 28-1381A1.
- It is unlawful, to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle if, within two hours of driving, you have a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more. ARS 28-1381A2.
- It is unlawful to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle if, within two hours of driving, you have a blood alcohol concentration of .15 percent or more. This is the “Extreme DUI”. ARS 28-1382
- It is unlawful to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle, if, within two hours of driving, your have a blood alcohol concentration of .20 percent or more. This is “Super Extreme DUI”. ARS 28-1382.
- It is unlawful to drive or be in physical control of a motor vehicle with drugs or it’s metabolite in your body. ARS 28-1381A3.
A person can be charged with multiple DUI offenses. The severity of these offenses is increased if you have prior DUI convictions in Arizona or any other state, or if you are driving on a restricted, canceled, revoked or suspended driver’s license.
Should I Perform the Field Sobriety Tests?
It’s important to understand that there is a difference between a field sobriety test and a chemical test of your urine, blood, or breath. You can refuse to perform field sobriety tests without penalty. These tests include physical tests like finger count, finger to nose, one-leg stand, and walk and turn. It may also include verbal tests like reciting numbers and letters.
Horizontal gaze nystagmus is a test where the person is asked to follow the top of a moving pen. The pen is moved in from of the person’s eyes. These are not objective tests. Rather they test the driver’s dexterity and balance. The officer judges the results. Do not take these tests.
You Have the Right to Remain Silent – USE IT!
The United States Constitution and the Arizona Constitution both give you the right to remain silent. If you are pulled over and suspected of DUI, don’t try to talk your way out of it. It doesn’t work.
The officer will ask you many questions, as a way to gather evidence. The officer’s goal is to get you to make a statement that will help the State’s case against you. That’s why it’s always best to not to tell the officer anything.
At every critical stage of this process, you have to right to have counsel present. It doesn’t matter what time of day, you can request to speak to a lawyer. The officer must allow you the opportunity to talk to a lawyer, as long as it doesn’t unnecessarily hinder their investigation.
A lawyer can offer you advice on issues such as your right to an independent blood test to determine your blood alcohol concentration. You should ask to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
While being questioned by the officer, you should remain polite. However, you don’t have to answer their questions and you don’t have to admit anything.
Do I Have to Take a Urine, Breath, or Blood Test if the Police Ask?
You do not have to take these test, however, it may be in your best interest to do so. In Arizona, your license will automatically be suspended for one full year if you refuse to take a chemical test. In some cases, you may be eligible to receive a restricted license after 90 days if you have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.
Many police agencies will get a search warrant to get a sample of your blood if you refuse to take the test. Also, if your case goes to trial, the prosecutor will use the fact that you refused the test as proof that you were in fact impaired by drugs or alcohol. This could lead jury members to conclude that you were guilty of DUI.
If you take a chemical test and your blood alcohol concentration is 0.08% or higher, then your driving privileges will automatically be suspended for 90 days. If you need to travel to and from work, counseling sessions, or medical appointments, you may be eligible for a restricted license.
Before you take any test, you should ask to speak to a lawyer.
Can I Challenge a Motor Vehicle Department Suspension?
Yes, you can. You can request a review of the driver’s license suspension by the State Motor Vehicle Department. The request must be made within a specified number of days after you receive your suspension notice. You will receive the suspension notice immediately if you take a breath test. If you take a urine or blood test, it will be mailed to you.
After you make a hearing request, your license suspension will be stayed and your license will be considered valid until the Administrative Law Judge renders their decision in your case.
The Administrative Law Judge will put the witnesses under oath, examine witnesses and take testimony. If you request an informal review, the written material submitted by the arresting officer along with any material you wish to submit will be examined by the Department of Motor Vehicles. You are generally not able to attend an informal hearing.
How Long Will I Lose My License?
The amount of time you will lose our license varies in Arizona. An unlawful blood alcohol level can get your license suspended for 90 days. You may be able to get a restricted license after the first 30 days. If you refused the chemical test, the first refusal will get your license suspended for one year. In this case, you may be eligible for a restricted license after 90 days if you have an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle.
Reinstatement of Driving Privileges
After a license suspension, driving privileges are not automatically reinstated. You’ll need to complete paperwork and tender a fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to have your license reinstated. If you do not complete this process your license will be considered suspended. Many drivers overlook this fact and face stiff penalties if they are caught driving while their license is still considered suspended by the Motor Vehicle Department.
Possible DUI Defenses
In order to defend against a DUI charge, you must recognize that many cases are defensible and manageable. In Arizona, there are many possible defenses to these charges. The following is a list of some possible defenses:
- No reasonable suspicion to stop
- No probable cause for arrest
- Denial of right to counsel
- Lack of impairment
- No actual physical control
- Inaccuracy of the breath testing device
Insurance and Further Punishment
Before you receive a DUI conviction, your insurance company should not cancel your coverage. However, if you are convicted of DUI and your insurance company discovers the conviction your rates will most likely increase significantly for the next 3 years.
Driving Privileges Suspended as a Result of a Criminal Conviction
Motor Vehicle Department hearings would occur before any type of criminal trial. If the state is not able to meet the burden of proof at the hearing, then the driver’s license will not be suspended. However, this does not mean that the license will be immune from suspension at a later date.
A criminal conviction of DUI will result in the driver’s license being suspended. The major difference is that a criminal conviction means the driver is required to get SR-22 insurance in order to have their driving privileges reinstated. If the license is suspended prior to the trial, this type of insurance is not required.
Revocation of Driving Privileges
In addition to having a license suspension, some drivers may face subsequent revocation of the license as well. If a person is convicted of a second DUI within 72 months of the first, their license will be revoked for a period of not more than 1 year.
If a person is convicted of a felony DUI, they will receive a 3-year revocation of their license. Reinstatement following a revocation is more difficult than that of a suspension. A person would need to have their character, driving abilities and habits investigated and get a written evaluation from a certified substance abuse counselor, psychologist, or physician.
If a person is convicted of felony DUI, in addition to the other sanctions mentioned they court may order that the motor vehicles that person owned and operated while committing that offense be forfeited.
Should I Get a Lawyer
Yes. Obviously, getting a lawyer is the best way to defend yourself against a DUI charge. Your attorney needs to understand medical and scientific concepts. They must be able to question police officers, scientists, and other tough witnesses. Defending a DUI charge is tricky business. The law is complicated. It’s made more complicated by the fact that there can be civil sanctions from the Department of Motor Vehicles, as well as criminal sanctions by the courts.
A person can face the threat of loss of their driver’s license, counseling, fines, and extensive jail time. Your legal rights and the requirements of the police are constantly changing. If you are facing a DUI charge, speak with an experienced DUI attorney.
Some Final Realities
Every year thousands of DUI charges are filed. These charges are serious. Robert can give you the help you need to get through this crisis. Robert will personally answer his phone and he will be the person handling your case. For a free initial consultation contact Robert A Dodell, Attorney at Law, by email or by calling 480-860-4321.