Every year between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, police officers around Phoenix and the greater East Valley target drivers who might be impaired by drugs or alcohol. Known as the Holiday DUI Task Force, these police officers focus their attention around nightclubs, bars and restaurants, contact drivers for even the slightest infraction and initiate a possible DUI investigation. During these investigations, police will questions drivers about whether they've consumed any alcohol or illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine , etc, and look for signs and symptoms related to alcohol consumption such as slurred speech, an odor of alcohol, bloodshot and watery eyes or a flushed face. If occurs suspect a person to be impaired, they will ask them to step from their car and participate in field sobriety tests including horizontal gaze nystagmus (the eye test), the walk and turn test and the one leg stand. If officers determine a driver has failed the field sobriety tests, they will be arrested, their car towed and then advised of Arizona law which requires them to provide a sample of their blood, breath or urine. After being processed for a DUI, people will often be issued a citation and given a date to appear in court. In certain cases, a person can be booked into jail and held to see a judge.
After Receiving a DUI Citation
If you are unfortunate enough to be cited for DUI, Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI or a felony Aggravated DUI, there are certain steps you must take to protect your drivers license, guard against a warrant being issued for your arrest and obtaining the best possible resolution in your case. This is were an experienced DUI lawyer can offer valuable assistance
Admin Per Se/Implied Consent
In most cases, officers will confiscate a person's drivers license and issue a Notice of Suspension during a DUI investigation. Arizona law requires a person to provide a sample of breath, blood or urine after they have been arrested for DUI. If a person consents to testing and the results indicate an alcohol concentration above .08 or the presence of illegal drugs, they will receive an Admin Per Se suspension notice. This means that their driving license can be suspended for ninety days and they must participate in alcohol screening prior to reinstating their driving privileges. In cases where a person is arrested for DUI and refuses to consent to chemical testing, officers will obtain a search warrant and issue a one year suspension of their driving privileges.
In either scenario, drivers can request a hearing to avoid a suspension of their drivers license. However, the hearing must be requested within fifteen days of being arrested. Once that fifteen day period passes, the suspension will automatically go into effect and a number of steps such as alcohol screening, payment of a reinstatement fee and possibly even installation of an interlock device may be required before a person can drive again.
The Court Process
People cited for DUI must also make sure they appear for scheduled court dates. The first court appearance, known as an "Arraignment" will be included on the citation. In this appearance, a Not Guilty plea will be entered and a pre-trial conference scheduled. At the Pre-Trial conference, a DUI defendant or their attorney will have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor about the DUI charge, attempt to negotiate a resolution and decide whether a a case might proceed to trial or resolve by a plea agreement. Attorneys will often participate in several pre-trial conferences with the prosecution while defending a DUI charge in order to review police reports, interview police officers and civilian witnesses, consult with experts, identify and research legal issues and negotiate a plea offer.
Investigating a DUI Case
Experienced and capable DUI lawyers will conduct a full investigation before deciding how a DUI case should be resolved. Whether recommending a plea agreement or trial, attorneys will review police and laboratory reports, breath test results, police body camera video, performance on field sobriety tests, and witness statements. Other important aspects about defending a DUI case include evaluating a persons driving behavior, interviewing investigating officers, consulting with scientific experts and researching potential legal issues.
Undoubtedly, Arizona has earned a reputation for imposing some of the the harshest penalties in the country upon people who have been charged with and convicted of DUI. This includes jail terms, huge fines, license suspensions, alcohol classes, etc. Consequently, if you have been charged with DUI, an experienced DUI attorney can be of invaluable assistance in protecting your driving privileges, navigating you through the system and obtaining the best results possible.