As the holidays approach and plan are made to attend family gatherings or company parties, many people think about driving home after consuming alcohol. Some people believe if they limit themselves to one drink over the course of an evening, they will protect themselves from being stopped and investigated or charged with DUI.
DUI Laws in Arizona:
When most people think about DUI charges in Arizona, the first thing which comes to mind is the legal alcohol concentration limit of .08. This means that it is illegal for a person to drive with an alcohol concentration at or above .08 within two hours of driving. A person's alcohol concentration is usually measured by a Breathalyzer instrument or by blood test.
People should be aware that they may be subject to arrest and prosecution for DUI regardless of their alcohol concentration. A.R.S. 28-1382A1 provides:
It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances:
1. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
Essentially what this means is that if your driving ability is lessened to any degree because of an alcohol beverage, you can be cited for DUI.
Evidence in "Slightest Degree DUI Cases"
If you are arrested and prosecuted for DUI in Arizona and the prosecutor alleges you were "impaired to the slightest degree," there are a number of factors the state will point to while trying to obtain a conviction. These include:
1. Driving Behavior: Police and prosecutors will often allege that you were driving erratically. This can include speeding, failing to stop for a stop sign, weaving outside of your own lane of traffic, etc.
2. Physical Signs and Symptoms: Many people arrested for DUI exhibit signs and symptoms associated with alcohol consumption. This can include blood shot or watery eyes, a flushed face, the odor of an intoxicating beverage, slurred speech or poor balance.
3. Performance of Field Sobriety Tests: Police employ a variety of tests designed to divide a persons attention between physical and mental tasks during DUI investigations. These can include the Walk and Turn Test, One Leg Stand Test, Finger to Nose Test, etc. The prosecutor will point to errors on the various tests as evidence you were impaired.
4. Post Arrest Interview: Following an arrest for DUI, police will often advise you of your Miranda Rights and as you a series of questions designed to illustrate that you are impaired to drive a car. These questions range from knowing the correct day of the week and time to rating your alcohol impairment on a scale of "1 to 10."
As you can see, an arrest, prosecution and conviction for DUI can occur regardless of your alcohol concentration. Consequently, even if you've consumed only one or two drinks over the course of an evening, you are well advised to refrain from driving.