Right to Counsel in DUI Cases

Legal Representation for Intoxicated Drivers in Phoenix

In a DUI case, it’s important to exercise your right to counsel as soon as you can. A qualified criminal defense lawyer can protect your rights by counseling against making harmful statements to your defense or advising against a plea bargain that does not represent your best interests. While the police should abide by your constitutional rights, particularly your right to counsel in DUI cases, they do not always do so. As a former prosecutor, Phoenix DUI attorney James Novak understands the criminal justice system inside and out. He leverages insights gleaned in his former position to provide an aggressive tough defense to those accused of drunk driving and other crimes.

Right to Counsel in DUI Cases

Any alcohol you drink dissipates as time passes. Therefore, after pulling you over for suspected drunk driving, the police will be eager to build their case as quickly as possible. However, your right to counsel doesn’t arise immediately upon being pulled over. In order to pull you over, the police need to possess a reasonable suspicion that you were driving drunk or committing another crime. Your right to counsel doesn’t attach while the police are asking you questions and investigating whether there’s probable cause to arrest you for drunk driving or another crime.

However, in Arizona, you have the right to counsel earlier than you do under federal law and it’s wise to invoke this right as soon as possible. Under Rule 6.1 of the Arizona Rules of Criminal Procedure, you have the right to be represented by counsel including the right to consult privately with an attorney at reasonable times after you’ve been taken into custody. The government cannot, without justification, stop access between you and your lawyer either by telephone or in person, if that access will not unduly delay a DUI investigation or arrest.

You also have the right to counsel of your choice under the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution. However, the federal right attaches when criminal proceedings are started against you through a formal charge, preliminary hearing, information, indictment, or arraignment. Once criminal proceedings have been initiated under federal law, the right to counsel applies to interrogations. You need to affirmatively invoke the right to counsel by requesting an attorney.

Implied Consent

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) section 28-1321(A) provides that drivers implicitly agree to a test of their urine, breath or blood, for purposes of determining alcohol concentration or drug content, or if they are arrested for a crime arising out of acts perpetrated in violation of the drunk driving laws. If you refuse to submit to testing, you can face a 12-month suspension of your driver’s license. You have no right to counsel during testing, nor the right to consult an attorney about whether to submit to chemical testing.

Why You Should Not Represent Yourself

If you are suspected or charged with driving under the influence, you may be tempted to represent yourself. However, a DUI is a criminal charge that carries serious consequences that can affect the course of your life. Because Arizona imposes harsher penalties for subsequent DUIs, you should treat even a first offense with care. Representing yourself or proceeding “pro se” is extremely unwise. The system is not on your side, however friendly the police or prosecutor may appear. In order to represent yourself, rather than ask for counsel, you would need to voluntarily and knowingly waive the right to counsel and make a timely and unequivocal request to move forward without counsel.

Consult a Seasoned DUI Lawyer in Phoenix

Persons concerned about their right to counsel in DUI cases should discuss their situation with a seasoned criminal defense attorney. Mr. Novak defends clients in DUI cases in Phoenix, Tempe, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Mesa, as well as throughout Maricopa County. He provides a free initial consultation. Call him at (480) 413-1499 or contact him through 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.