A DUI arrest occurs after a driver is pulled over on suspicion of operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Usually the officer pulls the driver over and asks for their license, registration, and proof of insurance. Throughout the stop, the officer is likely to be observing you to figure out whether you are sober. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, an experienced Phoenix DUI attorney can help you protect your rights. James Novak is a former prosecutor turned defense lawyer who can help you identify an appropriate strategy for your case.DUI Arrest
An officer who pulls you over on suspicion of a DUI will examine you for intoxication. Signs of intoxication include the smell of alcohol on the breath, slurred speech, and watery or red eyes. When these signs are perceived, an officer is likely to inquire as to whether you have been drinking. Irrespective of your answer, an officer who believes you are drunk will ask you to step out of the car.
The officer will continue to observe you as you get out of the car. She may ask you to take field sobriety tests. You might also be asked to go through a preliminary breathalyzer test to determine your blood alcohol content. This is for purposes of securing probable cause to arrest you for a DUI.
If you are arrested, you may have your hands handcuffed behind your back, partially to make sure you don’t do anything to interfere with the arrest, such as trying to vomit to change test results before taking the chemical test.Challenging a DUI Arrest
Certain constitutional standards must be met for a DUI arrest to be valid. The Fourth Amendment provides that Americans have the right to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. The police aren’t allowed to arbitrarily stop you or arrest you. Generally, the police need to have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing to pull you over while you’re driving. A reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing has to be something the police officer is able to articulate. A mere hunch of criminal wrongdoing is insufficient. Moreover, the police have to have probable cause to arrest you.
To have probable cause, police need to have enough information to make a reasonable person believe a driver was driving while intoxicated. Simply suspecting a person was driving under the influence is not enough to meet this legal standard. Rather, the police officer needs to be able to articulate specific facts that would make a reasonable person believe the driver was driving while intoxicated. Facts that could give the police probable cause include the driver’s own admissions of drinking, field sobriety test results, the smell of alcohol, slurring, flushed face, thick speech, difficulty providing the documents requested, difficulty getting out of the vehicle, difficulty walking or standing, traffic violations, conduct while driving prior to arrest, and HGN results.
When the police don’t have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing but stop you anyway, the evidence seized during their stop may be subject to a motion to suppress. If you can get the evidence suppressed, it may be possible to get the charges against you dismissed too. Like other crimes, drunk driving needs to be established beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a tough standard to meet if the evidence secured during the stop or arrest have been suppressed due to a constitutional challenge. If the arrest itself was not based on probable cause, it may be possible to get evidence obtained after the arrest suppressed. For example, you may be able to get the chemical test results suppressed if your Fourth Amendment rights were violated during the arrest.Skillful DUI Defense Attorney Serving the Phoenix Area
A DUI arrest in Phoenix can result in serious consequences. However, you should not assume a conviction is assured. You can consult a seasoned criminal defense lawyer about the charges, and determine what your legal options may be. Mr. Novak represents defendants charged with DUIs throughout the Phoenix area, including in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Call us at (480) 413-1499 or contact us via our online form.