Cinco de Mayo is one of the most popular drinking holidays in the Arizona. Many bars and restaurants will have Cinco de Mayo themed parties and people often host backyard parties and barbecues. Undoubtedly, police throughout the greater Phoenix area recognize that people will indulge in alcohol consumption throughout day. Consequently, DUI patrols on the highways and city streets will be increased.
The most important piece of advice for people who may ave consumed alcohol is to avoid driving. Aside from potential tragedies which may occur, Arizona treats individuals charged with DUI harsher than any other state in the country. DUI charges and convictions will involve license suspensions, jail terms, significant fines, mandatory alcohol education classes and ignition interlock devices.
If you have the misfortune of being stopped and investigated for a DUI on Cinco de Mayo or for that matter at any time, there are a number of things to keep in mind:
- You are not required to perform the field sobriety tests - DUI officers in Arizona will usually employ a battery of tests to determine whether someone may impaired to drive a car. These tests include Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (the "eye test"), the Walk and Turn Test and the One Leg Stand Test. The tests are designed to make you perform physical and mental tasks at the same time and there are a number of clues or mistakes an officer will look for in deciding to arrest you. These tests are completely voluntary and you have no legal obligation to participate in them. Most people will make mistakes whether or not they have been drinking due to nervousness, coordination issues, failure to follow instructions, etc. Moreover, it is powerful evidence which can be used by a prosecutor at trial. You should politely refuse to participate in the field tests if you've been drinking and are stopped by police.
- You Should Remain Silent - You are only required to provide the officer with your name along with your drivers license, insurance and registration. Don't answer any questions concerning alcohol consumption, where you have been, explaining your driving behavior, etc. Additionally, officers will ask a standard set of questions to someone who has been arrested for DUI such as rating themselves on a scale of 1 to10, admitting how much they've had to drink, and giving an opinion about whether they feel impaired to drive. You have a constitutional right to remain silent and should absolutely exercise it.
- Request to Speak with an Attorney as soon as Possible - You have a right to consult privately with an attorney as soon as possible after being arrested for DUI as long as it does not unreasonably interfere with the officer's investigation. Consultation with an attorney includes a private room where you are able to speak freely and openly with a lawyer outside of the officer's presence. The assistance of a lawyer while you are in custody is valuable as you can get answers to common questions about taking a blood, breath or urine test, getting an independent test, etc.
- Taking a Breath of Blood Test - Unless you have prior DUI convictions, are being investigated for a felony DUI offense or were involved in an injury accident, you are well advised to agree to the blood test or breathalyzer test requested by police. Should you refuse to provide a blood sample or participate in breath testing, officers will likely apply for a search warrant and then serve you with a one year revocation of your drivers license.
- Request to Arrange for an Independent Blood Test - You have a right to obtain an independent test of your blood as soon as possible after being processed by police for DUI. An independent test can be used to challenge the reliability of the results reported by the state crime laboratory or intoxilyzer. Officers cannot interfere with your ability to obtain an independent test at a local hospital or urgent care once you make that request.
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