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Arizona ride-sharing and cab services are a popular way for residents to enjoy holiday festivities without the risk of impaired driving. However, as COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the state, people are understandably concerned about the various health and safety issues associated with ride-sharing services. In turn, individuals may be more likely to drive under the influence of alcohol, especially around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve. As a result, Arizona law enforcement increases their DUI patrols during the holiday season.

Driving under the influence can have a serious impact on a motorist and anyone in their path. In addition to causing severe bodily injury and death, driving under the influence (DUI) in Arizona can result in hefty penalties, criminal charges, and incarceration. In addition to alcohol, driving under the influence includes any substance that may impair a person’s ability to operate a vehicle safely, such as both illegal and prescription medication. According to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT), there are nearly 5,000 alcohol-related collisions, resulting in over 250 deaths every year.

Prevention is the most important step that an Arizona motorist can take to avoid causing serious injuries or death to themselves and another. However, the inherent nature of alcohol consumption is that it impairs a person to make wise judgments. Individuals attending holiday events should plan ahead to make sure that they have safe transportation. Further, Arizonians should avoid drinking while driving, which may be an issue during this time of “drive-by” celebrations and holiday gatherings.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a case involving an Arizona high-speed chase that ended with the driver being arrested and charged with several serious offenses, including aggravated assault, criminal damage, unlawful flight, and aggravated driving under the influence. At trial, the defendant wanted to introduce evidence that an officer involved in the case had been sanctioned for violating a police policy prohibiting an officer from engaging in a chase after witnessing only a traffic offense. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence may have been relevant to the case, but the lower court’s failure to admit the evidence was a harmless error.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer pulled over the defendant for a traffic violation. The defendant initially pulled over, but then drove off. The officer hopped back in his car and followed. The officer called in back-up as he chased the defendant.

The defendant continued to drive above the speed limit, and eventually drove into a residential neighborhood. The officer who initiated the traffic stop parked his car at the subdivision’s exit, to prevent the defendant from leaving. The defendant crashed into the officer’s car, got out of the car, and ran. He was later apprehended.

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One of the biggest fears for most motorists is seeing the red-and-blue lights of a police officer’s patrol car flick on in their rear-view mirror. While the process of getting pulled over is stressful for anyone, this is especially the case for those who have had a drink or two. For many motorists, the thought of refusing a breath test crosses their mind. However, there is a lot of misinformation when it comes to Arizona breath test refusals. In this post, we discuss what a refusal is, and its legal significance.

Arizona has what is called an “implied consent” law. Under this law, motorists agree to submit to a breath test when they are pulled over by a police officer, and the officer has reasonable grounds to believe that they are intoxicated. Of course, a police officer cannot physically force someone to take a breath test. So, motorists always have the ability (not necessarily the right) to refuse a test.

When someone refuses an Arizona breath test, that starts a series of events in motion that cannot be undone. As soon as someone refuses a breath test, the officer will take their driver’s license, and their driving privileges will be suspended. The length of the suspension will depend on how many times the driver has refused in the past:

Recently, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case, affirming the prosecution’s motion to preclude any evidence that led to the defendant’s stop. Ultimately, the court concluded that the lower court was proper to grant the prosecution’s motion, and affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer responded to a call for possible vehicle arson. Upon arrival, the officer noticed that a silver car was driving by very slowly. People nearby told the officers that the occupants of the car were involved in the arson. However, because the officer was alone, he could not leave the scene to follow the silver car, and called in for backup. However, before backup could arrive, the owners of the burning vehicle chased the silver car. Eventually, backup officers stopped both cars.

The defendant was driving the silver car. As officers approached, they noticed that his eyes were red and watery, and his speech was slurred. They also noticed a smell of alcohol, and that the defendant seemed to be unsteady on his feet. There was an open can of beer, as well as several “Molotov cocktails.” The passenger of the car had a loaded gun.

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Earlier this year, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case discussing the defendant’s claim that the court improperly prevented him from presenting his medical marijuana card to the jury. Because the prosecution withdrew the charge of driving under the influence of drugs, and proceeded only with the DUI-alcohol charge, the court determined that defendant’s medical marijuana card was irrelevant. As a result of the court’s opinion, the defendant’s DUI conviction was upheld.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant was allegedly driving erratically when he slammed into the rear of another vehicle. After the accident, the defendant pulled over to the side of the road and slumped over the wheel. Responding officers believed the defendant to be under the influence of alcohol, a finding that was confirmed after the defendant’s blood indicated the presence of alcohol and marijuana.

Initially, the defendant was charged with various crimes, including two counts of DUI. The first count was based on driving while under the influence of alcohol, and the second for driving under the influence of marijuana. Before trial, the prosecution withdrew the charge pertaining to the defendant’s marijuana use and asked the court to preclude the defendant from presenting his Arizona Medical Marijuana Act card (AMMA card).

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Drunk driving is taken seriously by police and prosecutors across the country. That said, out of all fifty states, Arizona DUI laws are among the strictest. However, the punishments for DUI crimes are not always easy to understand. At the same time, it is only when someone truly understands what they could be facing that they can make a fully-informed decision on how to handle their case.

In Arizona, not all DUI offenses are created equal.

  • DUI – A DUI offense is the most basic version of an Arizona drunk driving crime. Someone can be found guilty of a DUI if they are driving a car with a blood-alcohol content between .08 and .14.
  • Extreme DUI – Someone can be found guilty of an Extreme DUI If they operating a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .15 or more.
  • Aggravated DUI – An aggravated DUI results when someone is driving under the influence (with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more) under one of the following circumstances:
    1. Driving on a suspended or revoked license;
    2. Having committed two prior DUIs in the past seven years;
    3. Driving with a passenger under the age of 15 years old; or
    4. Refusing to submit to a breath sample (for those ordered to have an ignition interlock on their vehicle).

So, even a driver who is arrested for a DUI for the first time may face any of these charges. Like most other states, Arizona law provides for escalating punishments for those who are convicted of repeat DUI offenses.

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One of the elements that the prosecution must prove in an Arizona DUI charge is that the driver was in actual physical control of a vehicle. If the prosecution cannot establish this fact, then the defendant must be found not guilty. However, courts define “actual physical control” quite broadly, as illustrated in a recent appellate decision.

According to the court’s opinion, the defendant’s parents called police after they noticed that their new truck was missing. They told the police that their son, the defendant, had been drunk earlier in the day, and that they believed he stole their truck and drove it while under the influence. Because the defendant had a prior DUI, he was required to have an ignition interlock installed on any vehicle he drove.

Not long after speaking with the defendant’s parents, police officers located the truck with the defendant asleep inside. The truck’s lights were on, but the engine was off, and the keys were not in the ignition. Police woke the defendant up, who told them that the keys were “where they were supposed to be.” However, the defendant did not elaborate, and the officers never found the keys.

Earlier this month, a state appellate court issued an opinion in an Arizona DUI case affirming the defendant’s conviction. The case involved the defendant’s challenge to the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the prosecution and used by the jury to convict him. Ultimately, the court concluded that the evidence was sufficient, and the court affirmed the defendant’s conviction.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, a police officer noticed that the defendant’s car had a burnt-out headlight and a crooked license plate. The officer pulled the defendant over and, upon approaching the car, noticed that the defendant had bloodshot, watery eyes, groggy speech, and seemed lethargic. When asked for his driver’s license, the defendant provided the officer with an Arizona ID card. At this point, the officer noticed that the defendant had a medical marijuana card.

The officer asked the defendant if there was marijuana in the car, and the defendant indicated there was. According to the officer, the defendant admitted to smoking marijuana earlier that day. The defendant agreed to perform field sobriety tests, but expressed concern that the bullet in his hip could impact his ability to perform the tests. After the trooper determined that the defendant exhibited signs of impairment while performing the tests, the officer arrested the defendant for driving under the influence of marijuana.

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For those facing Arizona DUI charges, it is crucial to understand what they are up against before deciding how to proceed. An Arizona DUI conviction can carry severe penalties, including jail time. These penalties can increase significantly based on the existence of certain aggravating factors. The following article provides an overview of the potential short-term and long-term legal consequences of a DUI conviction.

First DUI Offense

As with every other state, it is unlawful for an individual under the influence of a controlled substance (i.e., alcohol or drugs) to operate a vehicle in Arizona. To determine whether someone suspected of a DUI is actually under the influence, law enforcement will test his or her blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Generally, if a driver’s BAC is measured at 0.08 or greater, they are considered to be guilty of driving under the influence. However, if the driver is under the age of 21, they may be found guilty of a DUI if there is any alcohol in their system.

If convicted, a first time DUI offender faces a penalty of at least ten days in jail, and a fine of no less than $1,250. In addition, the driver will have their driving privileges suspended for 90-days. To have driving privileges reinstated, the driver may have to undergo alcohol screening, education and treatment plans, and have their vehicle equipped with a certified ignition interlock device. On top of that, a person may also be required to perform community service. This may sound severe, but keep in mind that this is only for a first-time offense with no aggravating circumstances.

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Law enforcement typically steps up their enforcement of Arizona DUI arrests over long holiday weekends. However, according to a recent news report, there was a decrease in the total number of drunk driving arrests in Arizona over the July 4th weekend. Evidently, between July 3 and 5, Arizona law enforcement officers stopped over 5,200 motorists and arrested 193 people on suspicion of drunk driving. Of those arrests, 51 were for extreme DUI, meaning the driver’s blood-alcohol content was over .15. The legal limit in Arizona is .08. In addition, officers arrested 65 people on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.

In previous years, the number of Arizona DUI arrests was significantly higher. For example, in 2019, law enforcement officers stopped over 15,00 motorists, arresting over 5,200 for DUI-related offenses. The consensus is that fewer people ventured out this year due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. However, opinions differ as to the extent to which the rate of drunk driving increases over holiday weekends. Some claim that most of the increase in DUI arrests is due to law enforcement’s aggressive enforcement measures.

Things to Keep in Mind When Getting Pulled Over

Seeing the dreaded blue-and-red lights in the rear-view mirror is a fear almost all motorists have. However, these fears are heightened when someone is pulled over at night, over a holiday weekend, or after having one or two drinks.

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