Many people go to their first court appearance and, because they assume that they are hopelessly guilty of driving under the influence (DUI), they quickly plead guilty right then and there. But, once they get home and process what they have just done, they learn — too late — that they seriously underestimated just how impactful the penalties for a DUI actually are. Don’t make a hasty decision – your future and your freedom are worth fighting for. With the help of an experienced, skilled attorney standing by your side, you really can make the best of a tough situation.
Arizona is tough on drunk and drugged driving. Even for a first offense, a conviction could result in a minimum of 14 days in jail, and a minimum of $500.00 in fines. There are also a number of fees and assessments that can vastly outweigh the initial base fine, not to mention that insurance rates are likely to skyrocket. There is also the certainty of expensive and time-consuming classes, counseling, a mandatory ignition interlock device, and even possibly community service. And, a driver’s license suspension, or even revocation, is almost a certainty with a DUI.
Penalties increase dramatically for repeat offenders. And, there are also heavier charges like extreme DUI and aggravated (felony) DUI that come with substantially enhanced penalties, possibly even prison time. Since DUIs are classified at different tiers depending on your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC), having a BAC above a 0.08% can complicate your situation even further.
DUI IN ARIZONA
Driving under the influence is dangerous, and Arizona has drawn a bold line in the sand when it comes to DUI charges. Arizona has a blood alcohol content limit of 0.08%. And, Arizona strictly enforces drunk driving penalties–it is the strictest DUI law state in the U.S.. Outside of exorbitant fines upon conviction, your life once you have a DUI conviction will change in many ways.
For one, Arizona can and will suspend or revoke your license for a prolonged period of time. In some cases, loss of driving privileges can last for several years. They can only be regained after jumping through many MVD-mandated hoops. If you are fortunate, you may first get a restricted driving permit after 30 days. This permits you to drive to and from work, and also to necessary medical appointments. You’ll be required to wait a designated period of time, pay off all fines, and comply with any court orders for classes or counseling before you’re able to regain your unrestricted driving privileges again.
After any DUI conviction, whether or not the person has even had so much as a traffic ticket in the past, the State requires the use of an ignition interlock device on ALL vehicles used by the person who was convicted, whether for work or personal use. Even if you have no criminal past and a respectable reputation, you’ll still be forced to use the device.
This device, which needs to be installed by a court-approved installer, is expensive to install and maintain, and works with the ignition of your car. The car requires a breath sample, and if it detects the presence of alcohol, the car will not start. Since habitual offenders have been known to work around their ignition interlock devices by having a sober person start the car on their behalf, newer models have incorporated high-tech features that make the device harder to evade.
Some ignition interlock devices require periodic samples after the initial sample. You could be required to complete additional breath tests to verify that you are, in fact, sober while you’re driving. Of course you should always drive sober, but these devices become a massive inconvenience. They’re also embarrassing to have in your car, because your passengers will likely have a lot of questions about why you needed to have the thing installed in the first place.
Sometimes, good people make mistakes. But it’s not worth having your reputation tarnished and your life complicated because you didn’t exercise your best judgement on a lone occasion. That’s why it’s so important to work with an experienced, skilled DUI attorney, to avoid a guilty plea or conviction if you can help it. You may still have some work to do, but things will get back to normal much sooner if your DUI case is placed in the capable hands of an expert who knows the law and is willing to fight for you.
HOW TO BEHAVE DURING A DUI STOP
When you are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence, there are a few things you need to do and a few things you don’t. You always have to provide the officer with your license, registration, and proof of insurance. You do NOT have to directly answer questions about how much you’ve had to drink. Since you have a right to legal representation, you can politely decline to answer any questions that may cause you to incriminate yourself, and request an attorney if police tell you that you are not free to leave and go about your business.
Lying to an officer is problematic, but calmly and politely refusing to offer up information is absolutely fine. Providing everything you’re mandated to provide is fine, but you do not need to admit to anything above or beyond that bare minimum. It may be in your best interests to hold out with information, and it will make the case easier for your defense attorney to later help you out.
You do need to be polite and courteous with the officer. Adopting a belligerent attitude won’t reflect well in the officer’s report of the situation. You do NOT have to consent to a preliminary breathalyzer test or to a field sobriety test of any kind. Only once you are under arrest, however, can police suspend your license for a year for refusal to submit to the blood, breath, and/or urine test(s). Police have no such weapon to use against you for simply not submitting to fields sobriety tests.
If you’re taken into custody under arrest, then you do have to submit breath, blood, or urine samples for analysis. If you refuse to do so at that point, police can obtain a warrant, and can then take blood from you involuntarily. That means that they can strap you down if need be. The screenings look at blood alcohol concentration, and potentially for any drugs that may be in your system. You no longer have the option to refuse once you’ve been arrested. Keep in mind that, regardless of the outcome, if you are arrested you will be subjected to a breath or blood or urine test. Whether that test comes sooner or later is up to you and the decisions you make in the moment. In that moment you have a Constitutional right to consult with an experienced attorney before deciding whether to submit to any tests.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO PLEAD GUILTY TO DUI CHARGES
Thankfully, DUI charges can be fought. With an experienced criminal defense and DUI lawyer like Doug Taylor on your side, you may be able to minimize penalties, or even avoid them altogether. It’s not always possible to entirely beat a DUI, but the right defense attorney can at least reduce the severity of the penalties you may face. At The Law Office of Douglas W. Taylor in Tucson, we have more than 17 years of experience standing up for people accused of drunk and drugged driving. We will work very HARD to get you through this.
Perhaps you blew a .08 or greater, or a blood test revealed drugs in your system. You may think that the evidence is insurmountable. That is simply not true. The reality is that evidence that appears strong may actually be flawed, and we will take a close look to find any flaws in the evidence against you.
First of all, was the traffic stop conducted correctly? We can review the information to determine whether or not there were substantial errors on the part of the officer that may have compromised the legitimacy of the traffic stop. As long as you complied with the stop, you can’t be at fault for any errors the officer might have made.
Were the field sobriety tests and blood or breath tests performed according to legal protocol? Was all of the equipment properly maintained, calibrated, and in proper working order? Breathalyzers are not foolproof pieces of equipment. They are fallible machines. Though they’re handy and they present the simplest solution to field alcohol testing, they’re prone to error like any other portable piece of equipment. The officers need to be able to prove that the equipment was checked, serviced, and able to deliver an accurate result in the field. And the conditions in which you may have completed field sobriety tests will also be scrutinized thoroughly by an attorney. Even blood tests can be subject to issues.
Even if the evidence is strong, there may be options available to minimize the damage that a DUI charge does to your life. This is especially important, because DUI charges in Tucson, Arizona, come with relentless ramifications that can impact you for months, or in some cases, years. Pleading guilty at the first court hearing won’t make the situation go away – it may actually make things worse. Do not plead guilty without first exploring all of your options. We can help you do just that.
FREE DUI DEFENSE CONSULTATION
If you have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you have the right to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. We’ve handled a wide variety of DUI situations, and we’re able to provide personalized advice for your situation. Call or send an email IMMEDIATELY to schedule your first consultation, which is free. Our law office is conveniently located downtown near all the courts. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to FIGHT FOR YOU.