Pre-Filing Investigations

Phoenix Lawyer Helping Drivers Charged With DUI

A police officer may initiate a DUI investigation upon pulling over a driver for suspected DUI or another violation. During pre-filing investigations, officers may question the driver or other witnesses, observe the driver, conduct field sobriety tests, request lab testing, and interrogate the driver after arrest. During this stage, retaining an experienced attorney can be critical in protecting your rights and building a strong defense. Because Arizona has some of the harshest DUI laws in the country, you should contact Phoenix DUI lawyer James E. Novak for a consultation. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, we may be able to prevent the filing of criminal charges, request the reduction of charges from felonies to misdemeanors, or seek diversion of allegations into informal resolution.

Pre-Filing Investigations

In some cases, a pre-filing investigation for a DUI begins even before an officer has pulled over a driver. In order to pull you over, an officer will need to have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place or is taking place. An officer may notice you weaving or driving erratically or randomly varying your driving speed, both signs of DUI. The officer may also witness a more innocuous situation, such as a failure to use your turn signal, a cracked windshield, the making of a wide turn, or a burnt-out brake light. An officer may not lawfully pull you a driver without an articulable reason justifying the pull over. A hunch is insufficient.

During a stop, a police officer may ask you questions about whether you’ve drunk alcohol, how much alcohol you’ve drunk or whether you’ve consumed any drugs. The officer may ask where you’re coming from or what your destination is.

During the stop, the officer may look for an open container in plain sight inside the vehicle. As part of the pre-filing investigation, the officer may also observe whether you exhibit signs of DUI, including bloodshot eyes, the smell of alcohol, slurred or incoherent speech, or unsteadiness while getting out of the vehicle.


An officer may ask you to perform various field sobriety tests to investigate whether you’ve been drinking alcohol or consuming drugs. These tests include the walk and turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus test, and the one-legged stand. After that, the officer may administer a portable breath test. If the tests confirm that you were driving under the influence, the officer may place you under arrest.


If you were driving under the influence and were involved in an accident that caused injuries or death, the police may take photographs of the scene for evidence. The police may also interview witnesses and prepare an arrest report.

After police officers transport you to a DUI van or police station, they may administer another chemical test. You may be asked to take a urine test if an officer suspects you were under the influence of drugs. Even if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, the police officer may be able to obtain a warrant to take a blood, breath, or urine test.

After you’re arrested, you’ll be booked. This means you’ll be searched, fingerprinted, and photographed. The prosecutor may file a complaint with the court or pursue a grand jury indictment for felony DUI charges. However, if a prosecutor does not believe that a police report provides sufficient proof to warrant the filing of criminal charges, the prosecution may elect not to file charges. It’s important for us to get started looking at the evidence and charges against you as soon as possible. If we can establish a strong defense before charges are filed or promptly after, we may be to stop charges from being filed or get them reduced.


You should attempt to note everything that happens during the pre-filing investigation. Any irregularities could strengthen your defense. It may be possible to bring a motion to suppress evidence; this may lead to dismissal of charges or a win at trial. In some cases, an officer doesn’t have a reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing when she pulls you over. In other cases, there are problems with how an officer performed a field sobriety test or the warrant obtained for a chemical test. There may be violations of your rights during or after arrest. For example, the police may not have read you your Miranda rights before a custodial interrogation.

Hire a Seasoned Phoenix Attorney

Pre-filing investigations can be the precursor of serious criminal charges. You should urgently discuss your situation with lawyer James E. Novak, who leverages his past work as a prosecutor to develop strategies to aggressively defend clients charged with drunk or drugged driving. He represents those charged with drunk driving in Phoenix, as well as Gilbert, Chandler, Tempe, Scottsdale, Mesa, and throughout Maricopa County. Contact him at (480) 413-1499 or complete our online form.

Client Reviews
I was facing criminal charges with three priors in my history. Mr Novak was very helpful and got me a lighter sentence than I probably deserved. He is a great attorney and I would highly recommend him. A. T.
James worked tirelessly behind the scenes with the prosecution, to decrease my son’s charges to a more reasonable penalty. I could not have asked for a better, more professional attorney. He treated my son with the utmost respect and walked him through every step of a very difficult situation. S. G.
Attorney Novak did an outstanding job defending my son. Due to his extensive professional background within the court system, he was successfully able to defend my son during a very difficult time for my family. I highly recommend Attorney James Novak for your legal needs. T. G.