Alcohol and Drug DUI
A huge percentage of drivers across the country are taking prescription drugs. Each person responds differently to medications. Some drivers mix prescription or illegal drugs and alcohol and get into a car. If they are caught, they may be charged with a drug or alcohol DUI. Sometimes law enforcement officers claim that they could see that a driver was impaired from a medication or a drug. However, these claims by the police are not always reliable. If you are charged with an alcohol and drug DUI in Arizona, you should consult Phoenix DUI lawyer James Novak. Mr. Novak is a former prosecutor who now puts his insights to work for people accused of crimes.
There are two Arizona laws that prohibit driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs. Usually, you will receive at least two charges. The first law, A.R.S. §28-1381(A)(1), provides that it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of any drug, liquor, or vapor-releasing substance that includes a toxic substance. This code section could apply, for instance, if you took cocaine and drank a few beers before operating a vehicle. This law also allows you to be prosecuted for a DUI for operating a car while taking medications lawfully prescribed to you either if you have used the drugs beyond what the doctor recommended or if they impaired you.
A.R.S. §28-1381(A)(3) prohibits driving while you have any of the drugs enumerated in section 13-3401 or their metabolites in your body. If you are charged under this code section, it is considered a per se violation. The enumerated drugs include prescription medications without a valid prescription, marijuana, and dangerous drugs and narcotics. This law provides that you can be convicted if certain metabolites are found in your bloodstream, even if there is no evidence of actual impairment. It is important to realize that some drugs leave metabolites in your body for a long time.
If you are caught drinking and taking drugs before or during the operation of a motor vehicle, you can face significant penalties. If you are convicted for a first offense involving alcohol, it is usually a class 1 misdemeanor, and you can face a maximum of six months in jail, substantial fines, and alcohol and drug treatment. A drug DUI conviction can result in harsher penalties in connection with your driver's license revocation. These penalties are also more significant if you have a prior DUI conviction involving alcohol or drugs.
You should not assume that a conviction is assured. There are many potential defenses to an alcohol and drug DUI. We can examine the circumstances surrounding your arrest to determine whether there were constitutional or procedural violations. In some cases, for example, there may not have been a reasonable suspicion to pull the driver over. An officer must have more than a hunch that you are engaged in criminal activity to pull you over. The officer must have reasons that they can articulate for why they thought that you were engaged in criminal activity or drunk driving. In some cases, the tests used to determine whether there was probable cause to arrest a driver for a DUI may have been faulty. For example, a field sobriety test may not have been administered carefully, or the machine used to test for alcohol may not have been calibrated.
Additionally, unlike with an alcohol DUI, a chemical test for drugs cannot tell you whether somebody is impaired. The training manual for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledges that it is challenging to show a relationship between someone's blood or plasma concentration and impairment of performance. When the issue is THC metabolites in urine, the urine test detects that there was prior THC exposure but does not indicate when that exposure was. It could have been long before the driver was behind the wheel.Get Advice from a Knowledgeable DUI Lawyer in Phoenix
You should not take an alcohol and drug DUI charge lightly. If you were arrested for any type of DUI, you should contact an experienced attorney who can mount an aggressive defense. James E. Novak represents defendants throughout the Phoenix area, including in Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and elsewhere in Maricopa County. Contact James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.