Motions to Suppress in Arizona DUI Cases

In any Arizona DUI case, the defendant can file a motion to suppress certain evidence. When a motion to suppress is filed, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove that the evidence it is intending on using at trial was lawfully obtained. Often, Arizona motions to suppress focus on statements that were made prior to an arrest, a police officer’s observations of a motorist, or physical evidence that was obtained as a result of a traffic stop. An Arizona motion to suppress can also keep chemical test results or formal, recorded statements out of evidence.

An Arizona drunk driving charge must be established by the prosecution beyond a reasonable doubt. To meet this burden, the prosecution must present evidence proving each element of every crime that is charged against a defendant. In the case of an Arizona DUI case, this typically requires the prosecution prove:

  1. The defendant was driving a motor vehicle;
  2. While under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Each of these elements may be proven by either direct or circumstantial evidence. For example, an Arizona DUI offense can be proven either by an officer testifying that a motorist was observed to be under the influence based on the motorist’s actions, or through the introduction of chemical test results.

In this example, an officer’s testimony may be circumstantial evidence of a motorist’s intoxication because the officer would not likely know for certain whether the motorist was intoxicated and would be basing that belief off of the surrounding circumstances. On the other hand, the results of a chemical test would be considered direct evidence of intoxication.

Depending on the situation, both direct and circumstantial evidence can be suppressed. The suppression of direct evidence is often more straightforward because it involves the question of whether the police officer obtained the evidence lawfully. In other words, were the defendant’s rights violated in any way when the officer obtained the evidence? If so, the motion should be granted and the evidence excluded.

Suppression of circumstantial evidence can be more complicated, although it is still possible. Using the example above, a court may suppress an officer’s observations of a motorist if the officer was only able to make those observations through unlawful means. For example, assume a police officer pulls over a motorist without probable cause or reasonable suspicion, and then automatically asks the driver out of the car to perform a field sobriety test. Even if the driver fails the test, there may not have been any justifiable reason to stop the car or ask the driver to perform a field sobriety test. Thus, the officer’s observations may be suppressed. Additionally, any chemical tests, if they were performed, would also be suppressible under this scenario.

Have You Been Arrested for an Arizona DUI?

If you have recently been arrested for drunk driving in Arizona, contact Attorney James E. Novak. Attorney Novak is a veteran Temper DUI defense attorney with extensive experience handling all types of Arizona DUI offenses. To learn more about how Attorney Novak can help you defend against the serious charges you are facing, call 480-413-1499 to schedule a free consultation today.

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