Refusing a Breath Test on the Road: What Are My Rights in Arizona?

In our practice, we often meet with clients who are not familiar with their rights when pulled over by a police officer. Because officers will be more attentive and aggressive during the upcoming holiday season, it is especially important to learn the relevant laws so that you can know exactly what to say and do if you are pulled over for suspected drinking and driving.

In Arizona, all drivers are operating under the Implied Consent Law, A.R.S. 28-1321. This statute says that all drivers are subject to breath and chemical testing if they have been arrested for driving under the influence. Thus, if a police officer pulls you over with no reason to think you have been drinking (except under the specific circumstance of a DUI checkpoint), that officer cannot legally force you to take a test. However, if an officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs while operating a motor vehicle, that officer can require you to take a breath or chemical test.

However, police officers still need a warrant to conduct breath or chemical tests, unless the driver explicitly consents to the test. Refusing to expressly consent to a breath test can be risky because officers can still impose consequences for a failure to submit to the test. Importantly, these consequences include a one-year driver’s license suspension. If you refuse to submit to a test a second time, you can face two years with a suspended license.

After your time runs out, you can then complete an alcohol screening and apply for reinstatement of your license. This process is lengthy and burdensome. Thus, while you technically have the right to refuse a breath test on Arizona roads if an officer does not have the necessary warrant, the consequences can be harsh.

In Arizona, a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher is against the law while operating a vehicle. Fighting DUI charges can also be a burdensome process, and the State might bring in evidence related to your refusal to submit to a breath test if your case moves forward.

Ultimately, our biggest advice for Arizona drivers is to make sure you are not operating a motor vehicle with alcohol or drugs in your system. Make a plan: call a friend, find a taxi, or order an Uber. With so much on the line, it’s important to be extra cautious and aware.

Are You Facing Charges Related to Driving Under the Influence in Arizona?

At the law office of James E. Novak, we understand that talking to a police officer can be an incredibly intimidating experience. The constitution provides individuals with fundamental rights, but unfortunately, it is difficult to keep track of how those rights apply when you are in direct contact with an officer. If you think your rights have been violated or if you are facing DUI charges in Arizona, give our office a call. We will work tirelessly to make sure your freedoms are protected, and we will not stop until you are satisfied with your outcome. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 480-413-1499.

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