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Know Your DUI Rights

I described in last week’s article that the DUI task force in Arizona is expanding because of the holidays. More DUI arrests are made in the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years’ than any other time of year, and Arizona is heightening its DUI detection power in anticipation of this increase. If you or anyone you know is pulled over during this time of year especially, it is critical that you understand what your rights are, and when to exercise them. Visit our FAQ page for more details.

  • If you or a friend are pulled over and asked if you have been drinking, remember that you have the constitutional right not to answer any questions that may incriminate you. The best thing to do would be to ask, politely, if you can speak to an attorney before answering any of these kinds of questions.
  • It is critical to also remember that in Arizona, you are not legally required to take the HGN (eye) test, portable breath test, or any of the other Field Sobriety Tests. These tests are usually done outside of your car after the initial stop. These physical tests are very subjective, and results can be influenced by any number of things unrelated to evidence of drinking. If you’ve ever been stressed out before a test, you can see how. See my November 9 article for some of these influences.
  • If possible, always consult with an attorney about your rights after your arrest and before being given a blood, breath, or urine test. The police may allow you to speak to a lawyer in most cases, usually through a phone call. If this is available, then use it, in a private setting. In addition to getting advice, speaking to a lawyer can also calm your nerves during the whole event, which can be very scary and stressful.
  • In the state of Arizona, it is important to know that refusing to consent to a blood, breath, or urine test could result in a suspension of your driver’s license for one year. Further, if you refuse, the police could still obtain a warrant telephonically and obtain a sample of your blood, breath, or urine.

Remember these very important points. Being pulled over can be very scary, but don’t forget that you have rights. DUI punishments in Arizona are pretty strict, and each case can be different. Starting on January 1, there are going to be some changes made to how first-offense DUIs are prosecuted and punished, such as the required length of time interlock devices will need to be used in your car. Stay tuned for next week’s article, where I will explain how these important changes could affect you or somebody you know that has been charged with a DUI.

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