DUI and Drug Possession
When the police pull over a driver suspected of being intoxicated, they may discover drugs inside the car. Arizona prosecutors treat drunk driving and drug possession seriously. A person convicted of these crimes may face imprisonment and other grave consequences. If you are charged with DUI and drug possession, contact Phoenix DUI attorney James Novak to protect your legal rights.DUI and Drug Possession
When an officer pulls over a driver for a suspected DUI, the officer may note any signs of inebriation, including slurred speech, weaving, pupil dilation, irregular driving patterns, and poor balance. You may be charged for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs if either: (1) you are impaired to the slightest degree or (2) you have a blood alcohol concentration of at least 0.08. A first offense DUI conviction can result in a sentence of up to 6 months in jail. The minimum sentence is 10 days, but 9 days of that sentence may be suspended.
If the officer observes or finds drugs inside your car when you are pulled over for a DUI, you may also face drug possession charges. Sentencing for drug possession depends on the type of drug found. For instance, if you are caught with 1 gram of heroin, the threshold amount of heroin, you can be convicted of possessing the heroin with intent to sell it even if you actually intended it for personal use. Possession of heroin with intent to sell is charged as a class 2 felony and carries a presumptive sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
The court can impose consecutive or concurrent sentences for DUI and drug possession. Unless the court expressly orders otherwise, the sentences will run consecutively, even if the offenses are not charged in the same information or indictment. There is no presumption in favor of consecutive sentences, however.Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unlawful searches and seizures. This means that the police need to have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing when they pull you over, as well as probable cause to arrest you for a DUI. The police also need probable cause of another crime in order to search your car for drugs while pulling you over.
A traffic violation or DUI is not enough by itself to justify a search of the car. However, if drugs or drug paraphernalia are in plain view in the front or back seat, the police may have probable cause to search the rest of your car. If you or a passenger volunteer information that drugs are located inside the car, the police may have probable cause to conduct a search. Even if you refuse a search, if you are arrested for drunk driving, the police will inventory the contents of your car as a routine procedure. You may be charged with drug possession if they find drugs during the inventory process.Defenses
Defendants should never assume that DUI and drug possession charges will always result in convictions. A criminal defense lawyer may be able to raise reasonable doubt about the elements in one or both of these charges. The defense may also be able challenge whether the police had a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing when they pulled over the vehicle. If they did not, it may be possible to move to suppress all evidence obtained during the stop, such as evidence related to the drunk or drugged driving charge as well as any drugs found in the car during the stop. In the absence of key evidence from the stop, the prosecutor may not be able to establish a case for DUI and drug possession.
If you were arrested without probable cause and the police discovered the drugs while taking an inventory of the vehicle, you may be able to suppress evidence obtained in connection with your arrest, including the drugs found during the inventory process.Consult with a Phoenix Attorney
If you are charged with DUI and drug possession, you should talk to lawyer James E. Novak. He has years of experience representing people charged with drunk driving and drug crimes in Phoenix along with Gilbert, Chandler, Mesa, and Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.