Court Issues Opinion Discussing Arizona’s Implied Consent Statute

A few posts ago, we discussed Arizona’s implied consent statute, which provides that anyone who operates a vehicle on a public road implicitly consents to chemical testing if police suspect they are under the influence. In the post, we also discussed that while motorists have no legal basis for refusing a test, they cannot be physically forced to undergo chemical testing.

Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case discussing whether a defendant’s consent to allow chemical testing of his blood was coerced, and thus invalid under the Fourth Amendment. Ultimately, the court concluded that the officer did not coerce the defendant’s consent by explaining to the defendant that his license would be suspended for 12 months if he refused testing.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was pulled over for suspicion of driving under the influence. After the defendant was arrested, the arresting officer requested the defendant consent to a blood draw. During that request, the officer explained that “Arizona law states that a person who operates a motor vehicle … gives consent to a test … for the purpose of determining alcohol concentration or drug content.” The officer also explained that “If you refuse, do not expressly agree to submit to, or do not successfully complete the tests, your Arizona driving privilege will be suspended.”

The defendant consented to the blood draw, and the test results showed that his blood-alcohol content was .142. The defendant was then charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.

In a pre-trial motion to suppress, the defendant claimed that the test results should be excluded from evidence because they were obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment rights. Specifically, the defendant argued that his consent was not voluntarily given and was coerced by the officer explaining that his license would be suspended if he refused testing.

The Court’s Opinion

The court held that by advising a motorist of the penalties of refusing a chemical test does not amount to coercion. In so holding, the court acknowledged that prior cases have held that an officer does coerce consent when he tells a motorist that he has no choice but to consent to chemical testing.

However, here, the court noted that the officer merely explained the defendant’s options to him, which happened to include the consequences of a refusal. The court explained that, ideally, an officer would first ask if the motorist consented to testing before explaining the consequences of refusal, but an officer’s failure to do so does not amount to coercion.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested for an Arizona DUI offense, Attorney James E. Novak can help. Attorney Novak is a dedicated criminal defense attorney with extensive experience handling Arizona DUI cases. Attorney Novak is intimately familiar with the complex laws surrounding Arizona drunk-driving cases, and puts that knowledge to use for each of his clients. To learn more about how Attorney Novak can help you defend against the charges you are facing, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

Additional Resources:

Other Articles of Interest from The Law Office of James Novak’s Phoenix DUI Blog:

Breath Tests, Implied Consent and the Exclusionary Rule in Arizona DUI Cases, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, February 25, 2019

Are Arizona DUI Checkpoints Legal?, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, February 12, 2019

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