Over the next several weeks, police in the greater Phoenix area will saturate patrols aimed at detecting, investigating and arresting drivers who are suspected to be impaired by alcohol or drugs. Although the best practice is to avoid drinking and driving, people who are charged with DUI often have many questions about issues related to their case.
Driving While Impaired (DWI), operating a vehicle under the influence, or driving under the influence (DUI) are all ways to describe the same thing: impaired driving. Impairment may be the result of alcohol or another chemical substance such as marijuana or an illegal drug. To be charged with DUI, police must show that your ability to operate a vehicle was impaired to the slightest degree, your blood alcohol content must be at or above the legal limit or you have an illegal chemical substance in your system.
In Arizona, police aggressively enforce the state's DUI laws. People who are otherwise law abiding find themselves facing significant penalties following a DUI charge. Attorney, Ray Kimble works hard to help you beat a DUI charge or, at a minimum, to get the best possible outcome in your unique situation. Contact us at (480) 833-8613 to learn more about how we can help you. In the meantime, here are some of the most commonly asked questions people ask after being arrested for DUI:
What is "Blood Alcohol Concentration?"
Blood Alcohol Concentration, or "BAC" refers to the amount of alcohol present in a volume of blood. For example, .08 BAC means that there is 8/10 part of alcohol for every 1000 parts of blood. In Arizona, a person's alcohol concentration may be measured by a blood or breathalyzer test. However, you may be charged with DUI even if your alcohol concentration is below the legal limit of .08%.
What Are My Rights After Being Stopped For DUI?
If you are stopped and suspected of DUI, your only obligation is to provide a drivers license, registration and proof of insurance. You can remain silent and advise the officer that you are unwilling to answer any questions. You are not required to participate in any field tests and if arrested, should ask to speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. You can also arrange for an independent blood test at a medical facility of your own choosing after being released from custody.
Can I Refuse a Breath or Blood Test After Being Arrested for DUI?
Although you can refuse to take a breath or blood test after being arrested for DUI, you should seek the advice of a lawyer before making that decision. Arizona law states that people who drive impliedly consent to a test of their breath, blood or urine to determine their alcohol concentration if suspected of, and arrested for DUI. Consequently, refusing to take a test after being arrested for DUI can result in a one year license suspension. As a result, there are very limited circumstances in which attorneys will advise people to refuse a chemical test. Moreover, police routinely obtain search warrants to secure a person's blood sample when someone refuses a breath or blood test.
What Are Standardized Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs)?
Standardized field sobriety tests (FSTs) are tests approved by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests are allegedly designed to help police determine whether a driver may be impaired by alcohol to operate a motor vehicle. The field tests are designed to make people perform mental and physical tasks simultaneously which is similar to operating an automobile.
There are three standardized Field Sobriety Tests including:
- Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (the "eye" test)
- One-Leg Stand
The results of these tests may be used as evidence against you in an impaired driving or DUI prosecution.
Can I Refuse Field Sobriety Tests in Arizona?
In Arizona, individuals suspected of DUI may refuse to participate in field sobriety tests when requested to perform them by police. Declining to complete field sobriety tests does not carry the same potential drivers license repercussions as refusing to provide a breath or blood sample after being arrested.
Will My License be Suspended or Revoked Following a DUI Arrest in Arizona?
DUI charges may involve two different types of suspensions. The first is an administrative suspension controlled by the Division of Motor Vehicles. An administrative suspension may occur if you refuse to take a breath or blood test or alternatively, if your alcohol concentration is above the legal limit. This means you can lose your driving privileges before being convicted of DUI. You have a limited time to request a Hearing before the Motor Vehicle Division to protect your driving privileges.
The other type of suspension occurs when you are convicted of DUI offense. A suspension resulting from conviction for DUI can range from ninety days to one year depending upon whether you are convicted of a first or second offense.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest in Maricopa County?
If you are arrested for DUI, what happens next depends on the specific facts and circumstances of your case. It's important to know that DUI charges can result in two separate proceedings. These include:
(1) the administrative hearing, which results in civil penalties, such as a driver's license suspension; and
(2) the criminal process, which can result in a conviction in the absence of a strong DUI defense. A conviction can lead to fines, driver's license suspension/revocation, imprisonment, ignition interlock device (IID) installation, and other penalties.
Can I Get Insurance in Phoenix After a DUI Conviction?
Your ability to obtain or maintain auto insurance after a DUI conviction depends on whether it was your first conviction. You will likely find insurance after a first conviction, although your rates will increase significantly.
Note, however, that even if you have been convicted of only one drunk driving offense, you may still be required to obtain SR-22 insurance. SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility required by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division This form is not insurance, but rather proof that your auto insurance policy meets the minimum liability coverage required by state law. A fee, which can be very expensive, is most often charged to file this form.
Can DUI Charges in Arizona Be Defended?
Although it is difficult and requires attention to detail, an experienced attorney can be helpful in obtaining the best result possible against a DUI charge. Defending a DUI requires a thorough understanding of the law, the technical nature of field sobriety tests, breath tests, blood tests, and urine tests. Understanding the latter tests is critical to identifying errors (technical or human-made errors) to highlight the unreliability of the results.
Aside from errors or unreliable test results, a person may have had their constitutional rights violated. This happens more often than you might imagine. A violation can lead to the inadmissibility of some or all evidence or the dismissal of the charges.
Undoubtedly, you will need an experienced DUI defense attorney to help you beat these charges. These cases can be highly technical and legally complex.
Can I Just Plead Guilty at My First Court Appearance?
The arraignment is your first court appearance and a hearing where you can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. You can plead guilty, but the real question is whether you should or not. It would be a mistake to plead guilty at this time, especially without the advice of a DUI lawyer in Phoenix or Maricopa County. There are multiple reasons why you shouldn't just go to court and plead guilty.
- If you plead guilty immediately, you lose any opportunity to fight the DUI charge.
- If you plead guilty immediately, you also lose any opportunity for a plea deal, if that is what would be best in your unique circumstances. Admittedly, a plea deal means you would plead guilty, but the process can render a better outcome than an immediate plea of guilty. In many cases, you may be able to plead down to a lesser offense.
- The sentencing is often harsher when given in response to a plea of guilty during the arraignment, as opposed to what a plea deal would entail or a sentencing after a conviction would impose. The reason is simple: you have time to mitigate and negotiate.
Certainly, it can be tempting to plead guilty right away so that you can get the case over faster and get on with your life. However, by pleading guilty before consulting with an attorney, any opportunity to lessen the penalties or get your case dismissed will be lost forever.
Do I Need an Attorney?
It is always in your bests interests to consult with and retain the services of an experienced DUI lawyer. DUI laws and the facts of a DUI case can be complex. The evidence is usually very technical and scientific. Police and expert testimony can be damaging. All these things can lead to a conviction and harsh consequences. A skilled DUI lawyer can thoroughly investigate your case, research any relevant legal issues, negotiate the best possible outcome for you or alternatively, defend your rights at trial.
What is the Cost to Hire a DUI Attorney?
The cost to hire a DUI attorney can vary and is based on a number of different factors. Some of the factors which will affect the cost for legal representation include:
- The experience of the lawyer
- Whether you take a plea deal
- Whether you go to trial
- The costs of experts if you go to trial
- Your criminal history
- The specific facts of your case
Most DUI attorneys in the greater Phoenix area charge a flat rate for representation. There is usually an additional fee if the case goes to trial. Despite the expense, an attorney can be a great benefit to you in terms of obtaining the best possible outcome.
Call DUI Lawyer Ray Kimble for Immediate Help
Undoubtedly, a DUI conviction will result in very severe penalties. If you are charged with DUI in any city within the greater Phoenix area, you should immediately consult with an experienced DUI lawyer for assistance. Attorney Raymond Kimble is a former police officer, DUI and felony prosecutor and has represented thousands of people charged with DUI in Tempe, Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, Phoenix and other cities throughout Maricopa and Pinal Counties over the last twenty years. Ray Kimble will have a clear understanding of all the circumstances in your case, along with the knowledge, skill and experience to protect your drivers license and achieve the best possible outcome for you.