Arizona Court Rejects Defendant’s Argument to Suppress Evidence in Recent DUI Case

In March of this year, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in an Arizona DUI case involving the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence that was recovered during the traffic stop that led to his arrest. Specifically, the defendant claimed that the police illegally seized him after they found out that he did not have any warrants for his arrest. However, the court rejected the defendant’s argument, allowing the admission of the evidence.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer observed the defendant driving a vehicle ten miles per hour under the speed limit on a rural road in Pima County. The officer also noticed the defendant swerve out of his lane once, and then pull off to the side of the road. The officer pulled behind the defendant and approached the vehicle to conduct a welfare check.

The officer noticed an open case of beer in the defendant’s car. When the officer asked how the defendant was feeling, the defendant responded that he was okay, and that he pulled over because he needed to urinate. At this point, the officer noticed a smell of alcohol emanating from the defendant. The defendant provided his identification, and the officer requested over the radio for a fellow officer to run a check for warrants.

As the officer was waiting for a response, he engaged in casual conversation with the defendant, noticing that the defendant’s speech was slurred. The defendant also admitted to drinking two beers. The officer heard back that the defendant did not have any warrants, but then called for a sheriff’s deputy based on his observations that the defendant may be intoxicated. The defendant was arrested and charged with DUI.

In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant argued that any evidence seized by the sheriff’s deputy should be suppressed because he was illegally detained once the initial police officer determined he did not have any outstanding warrants.

The Court’s Opinion

The court disagreed with the defendant, denying his motion to suppress. The court noted that, while an officer must have reasonable suspicion to hold a motorist while another officer responds to the scene, the officer had reasonable suspicion that the defendant was intoxicated. The court explained that, based on the totality of the circumstances, the officer reasonably concluded that the defendant might be drunk. The court pointed to the open container of beer, the smell of alcohol coming from the defendant, and the defendant’s slurred speech. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that an officer needs to have specific training or experience to give import to these observations.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested and charged with an Arizona misdemeanor DUI, contact Attorney James E. Novak for immediate assistance. Attorney Novak is a knowledgeable and aggressive Tempe criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of Arizona DUI cases, including those involving questionable searches and seizures. To learn more, and to schedule a free consultation to speak with Attorney Novak today, call 480-413-1499.

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