After having practiced criminal law for around 13 years I have seen several changes in the DUI laws here in Arizona. I am often asked for advice not only from clients, but from friends, friends of friends, employees of friends etc. Here are some rules of thumb to know and be aware of. Caveat – these are just rules of thumb and jurisdictions within Arizona vary to some degree.
- First of all, DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE. This goes without saying but seriously people, think before you start drinking. It’s not difficult to set up an account with a car company so all you have to do is call, and they are often reasonably priced. Taxi’s are not hard to find and are a lot cheaper than the cost of the DUI and representation. Getting a lawyer in the Valley can cost anywhere from $2500.00 to $4500.00 for a misdemeanor and upwards of $5000.00 for a felony (that is not including the fines and fees).
- BE POLITE. If you are pulled over remain calm and polite. Being a pain to the officers will get you no where, well, maybe taken down to the station for a couple of hours.
- DON’T SAY TOO MUCH. I recommend you only answer the most basic questions such as your name, address, etc. DO NOT answer any questions about drinking, where you are coming from, etc. Officers are trained to ask you right away how much you have had to drink. You simply say “I am refusing to answer that question.” Telling them “the truth” will not get you ahead. If they think you are DUI they will arrest you whether you tell them the truth or not so it is better to admit to nothing. If you are arrested just remain silent and ask to speak to an attorney.
- DON’T TAKE ANY FIELD SOBRIETY TESTS. Officers will likely ask you to take the “walk and turn test” or the “one leg stand” or ask you to count or say the alphabet. You can refuse all of these FSTs without any legal penalty. No matter what, you WILL FAIL these tests; there is no winning here.
- TAKE THE BREATH/BLOOD TEST. Arizona’s Implied Consent Law says that when you obtain your license to drive in Arizona you “impliedly consent” to a test of your blood/breath/urine by law enforcement. If you refuse this test your license WILL BE suspended for a year and the cop will get a warrant for your blood anyway. If you take the test and you get a DUI your license will typically only be suspended for 90 days. You can see which one is better. Do not take the “hand held” breath test, these are not calibrated and often give a inaccurate result.
Those are your basic rules of thumb. Bottom line, if the cop thinks you are DUI he/she will arrest you. So do not give any more evidence against you.