DUI Stop - Know Your Rights and Obligations
It’s a common scenario, and intimidating in any circumstance. A police officer pulls you over, shines a flashlight into the car and inquires, “Any alcoholic beverages to drink today?”
It is important to know your rights and to understand the investigating officer’s protocol and procedure. He or she is on the hunt for probable cause to make an arrest, and your goal is to provide as little as possible.
Arizona has some of the nation’s strictest laws against driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and a conviction comes with stiff penalties. If you are arrested in Arizona under suspicion of DUI, the first thing to do is call an experienced DUI attorney. If you are the target of a DUI stop, contact our Phoenix practice as soon as possible.
What is Probable Cause?
An officer who questions you about alcohol or drugs is looking for legal grounds - or, probable cause - to bring you in for a blood or breathalyzer test. Anything you say or do is potential evidence against you, and you should keep in mind that you are not obligated to incriminate yourself. In Arizona, you can be convicted of a DUI even if your blood alcohol count (BAC) is under 0.08%, if the evidence shows you were “impaired to the slightest degree.” This evidence comes from the officer’s observations of your appearance and behavior, the words you say, and the results of a field sobriety test.
Know Your Rights
If arrested under suspicion of DUI, the Implied Consent law mandates that you submit to a blood, urine or breath test at the police station or a hospital. Refusal results in automatic suspension of your driver’s license for a year. Prior to arrest, however, you are not legally obligated to submit to testing to help the officer’s quest for probable cause to bring you in.
Many law enforcement officers will request that you submit to a roadside field sobriety test, which involves performing physical tasks meant to assess potential impairment. Suspects are asked to stand on one leg while counting, walk a straight line, and other tests. This is a test you do not legally have to take, and it is better that you do not. The results are subjective and questionable – a completely sober individual might not perform the tasks competently in a stressful situation.
An officer may also request (or even insist) that you take a roadside preliminary breath test, which yields a BAC reading. This test is strictly voluntary, so you can legally decline to submit to it. Remember, it is always your right to request to speak to an attorney prior to taking any type of drug or alcohol test.
DUI Defense: Contact Us
If you are arrested after a DUI stop, obtaining expert legal representation can make all the difference in your case and eventual outcome. James E. Novak will fight to clear you of the charges, whether misdemeanor basic, “extreme,” or “aggravated,” so you can avoid the life-altering penalties. Attorney Novak has helped many people successfully challenge probable cause, the results of field sobriety tests, and BAC tests. Contact the law offices of James Novak today for a consultation and evaluation of your case.