How Can Someone Fight an Arizona DUI Charge?

Arizona police and lawmakers take the issue of driving under the influence (DUI) very seriously. Indeed, according to a recent news source, Arizona Police claim that there were nearly 27,000 Arizona DUI arrests in 2018. That figure has remained relatively constant over the past several years, ever since police stepped up enforcement of DUIs, especially over the holidays.

In Arizona, a DUI conviction carries serious consequences including the punishments doled out by the state, but also in terms of the collateral consequences that come along with a conviction. Thus, it is important to clear up the common misconception that an Arizona DUI case cannot be fought. In fact, there are several ways that an experienced Arizona DUI defense attorney can help a client beat their DUI case.

Motions to Suppress

If evidence that the state plans to use against a defendant was obtained in an unlawful manner, the defendant can file a motion to suppress that evidence. If the motion is granted, then the prosecution will be precluded from using the evidence. In many Arizona DUI cases, this leaves the prosecution with little evidence that a motorist was under the influence and may result in the withdrawal of a case.

There are many reasons a defendant may file a motion to suppress, including:

  • Disputing the validity or duration of a traffic stop;
  • Arguing that there was a lack of probable cause to arrest the defendant on suspicion of DUI; and
  • Challenging the reliability or methodology of the chemical test results.

Challenges to the Sufficiency of the Evidence

If there is no viable motion to suppress, or the court denies a defendant’s motion, an Arizona DUI may still be fought at trial. To prove someone guilty of an Arizona DUI, the prosecution must establish both the operation and intoxication elements. More precisely, the prosecution must establish that the defendant was in “actual physical control” of the vehicle and was “under the influence” of a substance.

Under Arizona case law, a driver can be in actual physical control of a vehicle when the vehicle is not moving. However, courts consider many factors when assessing this element including the driver’s location in the vehicle, the location of the keys and whether the car is running. In some Arizona DUI cases involving an accident, police arrive on the scene after the defendant has exited the car. This can create difficulty for the prosecution in establishing who was driving at the time of the accident.

When it comes to establishing the intoxication element, most alcohol DUIs rely on a chemical testing that shows the driver’s blood-alcohol level was over the legal limit. In some cases, Arizona law allows for a driver to be convicted of a DUI even when their blood-alcohol content is less than the legal limit. This is called “slightest impairment” DUI. However, when the prosecution moves under a slightest-impairment analysis, mere proof of alcohol in a driver’s blood will not be sufficient to sustain a conviction; the state must also show that the driver was actually impaired by the alcohol.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested for an Arizona DUI, you may have more options than you think. Many Arizona DUI cases can be fought. At the Law Office of James Novak, we take pride in our extensive history defending the rights of those charged with DUI offenses. Attorney Novak is a veteran Arizona criminal defense attorney with decades of experience handling all types of Arizona DUI crimes, and fights vigorously on behalf of each of his clients. To learn more, 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:

Court Discusses Spousal Privilege in Recent Arizona DUI Case, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, December 11, 2018

Arizona’s Underage DUI Laws, Phoenix DUI Law Blog, January 10, 2019

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