Why is DUI science so important?
If you have been charged with a DUI in Scottsdale, you need a Scottsdale DUI attorney—someone who is routinely in this jurisdiction, stays up-to-date on problems and developments, takes cases to trial, and knows the strategies that have proven to be successful. The jury typically trusts the “scientific” breath or blood results, so it is imperative to be represented by a lawyer who understands the science and can present and explain scientific deficiencies to a jury.
Mark examines all of his clients’ cases in detail to investigate both the legal issues surrounding the events and the less obvious scientific problems. He has spent hundreds of hours presenting this material to Scottsdale juries as well as the hundreds of hours in the multi-day hearing before the Maricopa County Superior Court. He is constantly working to improve and expand his knowledge and ability to relate these problematic areas to juries so that he can better defend his clients.
What if my DUI isn't in Scottsdale?
Although the problems in Scottsdale have been in the spotlight, this does not mean that other jurisdictions are problem-free. Mark regularly attends DUI and forensic science seminars to stay current on trends in legal defense and has also had the honor to speak at conferences to help educate fellow criminal defense attorneys in these areas. Mark has successfully taken this knowledge, transferred it, and applied it to forensic laboratories in various jurisdictions in the Phoenix area to investigate whether they are accredited, following internationally-mandated standards, and properly reporting errors.
Why do scientific standards matter?
ISO, the International Organization for Standardization, is an organization with members from more than 150 countries that develops standards within various disciplines, including 17025, which governs scientific labs that conduct testing. The general requirements of ISO 17025 involve documentation, nonconforming testing work, corrective actions for the nonconforming work, control of records, equipment calibration, and measurement traceability. These are standards that the international scientific community has declared to be acceptable, and in seeking and receiving accreditation, a forensic crime lab indicates that it will comply with these accepted standards. ASCLD/LAB, an accrediting agency, requires that the labs it accredits comply with ISO 17025 standards.
What is the importance of lab accreditation?
ASCLD/LAB is the most prominent “inspecting” and “accrediting” agency for testing laboratories. Under their International program, ASCLD examines the hiring practices and written procedures that a lab uses, then practically assesses the lab by reviewing five of the lab’s tests; however, the lab being examined handpicks the cases that ASCLD will be reviewing. Following accreditation, a lab is then deemed to be producing scientifically reliable results and must only be reassessed once every five years. Once a lab has been accredited, it rarely, if ever, is put on probation or stripped of its accreditation.
The Scottsdale Crime Lab decision came about during a time when many other forensic testing laboratories around the nation were receiving increased scrutiny. A nationwide concern has developed because there are no requirements that a forensic testing lab be accredited or meet any particular standards. The Department of Justice and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are now collaborating in order to create the National Commission on Forensic Science, a group of 37 scientists, lawyers, forensics practitioners and law-enforcement officials with the goal of providing advice on government policies such as training and standards for laboratory certification. According to the Department of Justice, “the commission also will work to develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Attorney General, including uniform codes for professional responsibility” within the forensic sciences.
Do I need a DUI Attorney?
If you are facing a DUI charge in Phoenix, Scottsdale, or any other jurisdiction in Arizona, you should have a lawyer who regularly defends DUI cases. Your attorney will be able to review your case for legal problems, prohibit certain evidence from being admitted at trial, expose scientific shortcomings, and consult with and obtain expert witnesses to testify at trial.
For more information about representation, click here.
What are the police looking for?
Driving is a divided attention task, meaning that you are having to do multiple things at the same time, including maintaining alertness while on the road, staying cognizant of traffic laws, monitoring your speed in response to the limit, and correctly steering the vehicle. When impaired, people will have difficulty dividing their attention and will be less capable of properly managing all of these things. Common cues of impaired driving are:
- Making a “wide turn,” or turning into an improper lane
- “Weaving,” or repeated drifting to the left and right of the lane
- Speed more than 10mph below the limit
- Stopping or braking erratically or for no apparent reason
- Following too closely
- Responding slowly to traffic signals or accelerating or decelerating rapidly
- Driving with headlights off
Speeding is not considered to be a cue of DUI. Because faster judgment and reflexes are required when speeding, it may indicate sobriety. While at the police academy, officers are “trained” to note these cues of impaired driving. However, people who have not had anything to drink often make similar driving “mistakes.” A skilled DUI attorney can help you understand these issues and how they relate to your case.
If I am stopped by a police officer and he asks me if have been drinking, what should I say?
You are not required to answer potentially incriminating questions like this one. A polite response such as “I would like to speak with a DUI attorney before I answer any questions” is appropriate.
Remember: you have a constitutional right to remain silent, even if you have not been arrested!
Should I take the eye test and other field sobriety tests?
Politely decline to take the field sobriety tests. Do not agree to take the eye test (Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus) or other balancing and agility tests. There are no consequences for refusing to take the tests.
What are the field sobriety tests?
The Field Sobriety Test (FSTs) are three tests certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that police administer at the scene to determine if a driver is intoxicated. There are other tests that can be performed, but they have not been certified for use in DUI investigation.
The three tests are: Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN, the eye test), Walk and Turn test, and One Leg Stand test. HGN examines the eyes to check for signs of impairment. The Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand test examine a driver’s ability to divide his or her attention and complete a balancing task.
For in-depth information about these tests, click here.
Should I take a blood, breath, or urine test?
Do not agree to take a blood, breath, or urine test without first consulting with a DUI attorney. If you are unable to contact an attorney, it may be a good idea to consent to the test. Because Arizona law requires you to consent to a post-arrest breath or blood test, if you do not, your driver’s license can be revoked for one year.
What is a breath test?
The breath test is a testing option used by law enforcement to determine if there is alcohol in your system and to measure your Breath Alcohol Concentration. These machines measure the alcohol concentration in the air that is exhaled from a person’s lungs.
A breath test can come up in two different contexts. The first occurs prior to arrest, and the police will request a preliminary breath test using a hand-held device in order to obtain more evidence to determine whether you are impaired. If you refuse this preliminary breath test, there are no consequences for refusal.
The second time the breath test can occur is after an arrest, and under Arizona law, there are consequences for refusing this test, such as a year-long suspension of your driver’s license. If required to do a post-arrest breath test, you will be asked by a police officer to blow into a calibrated breathalyzer or intoxilyzer at a police station, which will then provide the operator with an allegedly correct reading.
For a closer look at the breath test, click here.
What is a blood test?
Blood testing is a method of measuring the amount of alcohol in your blood at a given time by conducting a chemical analysis of the blood sample. Although this is often considered to be the most accurate and reliable method of testing, errors can occur. A DUI attorney will collect and review this scientific evidence in preparation of a thorough defense.
For more information about blood testing, click here.
Why was I charged with more than one DUI?
Arizona has the harshest DUI laws in the country, and the Arizona State legislature wanted to make it easier for the prosecutor to prove a DUI case. Because of this, the State can separately charge you with:
- Driving while Under the Influence—here, the State has to prove that your ability to drive was impaired “to the slightest degree.”
- Driving Under the Influence, BAC .08 or greater—here, the State has to prove that your blood alcohol concentration was .08 or greater within two hours of driving.
- Driving Under the Influence, BAC .15 or greater—this is considered an “Extreme DUI,” and the State has to prove that your blood alcohol concentration was .15 or greater within two hours of driving. This charge carries much harsher penalties than a regular DUI.
- Driving Under the Influence, BAC .20 or great—this is considered a “Super Extreme DUI,” and the State has to prove that your blood alcohol concentration was .20 or greater within two hours of driving. This charge carries stricter penalties than the Extreme or regular DUI.
What is an Extreme DUI or a Super Extreme DUI?
The Extreme DUI and Super Extreme DUI charges are based off of your alleged blood alcohol concentration. In allowing for these distinct DUI charges, the Arizona State legislature created enhanced mandatory, minimum sentencing penalties. If convicted for an Extreme DUI (BAC .15 or greater), there is a mandatory, minimum 30-day jail sentence along with increased fines and fees. If convicted of a Super Extreme DUI (BAC .20 or greater), there is a mandatory, minimum 45-day jail sentence and even higher fines and fees.
What if I have a prior DUI on my record?
Arizona law increases penalties for an individual convicted of a second DUI offense (within the United States) in the past 7 years. Penalties for a second DUI can range from a minimum, mandatory 30-day jail sentence up to a 180-day jail sentence. The time difference depends on the blood alcohol concentration result from the current or previous DUI. Additionally, a second DUI conviction within 7 years could lead to a 12-18 month driver’s license suspension. It is a good idea to request to speak with a DUI attorney if you have a previous DUI conviction and have been arrested a second time, especially before consenting to a post-arrest breath or blood test.
What is an Aggravated DUI?
The Arizona legislature created a felony DUI charge, the Aggravated DUI, to punish repeat DUI offenders; DUI offenders with Motor Vehicle Department restrictions such as a suspended/revoked driver’s license or a required ignition interlock device; and driving under the influence with a passenger under 15 of age in the vehicle. A repeat DUI offender is someone who receives a 3rd DUI conviction in the past 7 years.
The possible punishment for an Aggravated DUI ranges anywhere from supervised probation with a minimum, mandatory 4-month prison sentence to 3.75 years in the Department of Corrections. If a person has multiple, prior felony convictions, the State can seek to punish them with up to 15 years in prison. Additionally, the individual faces a mandatory license revocation.
What if I am under 21 and charged with DUI?
Arizona law also has increased penalties for those under 21 driving with alcohol in their system. It is illegal for minors to have alcohol in their system and drive. If convicted, the MVD will revoke the underage drinker’s license for a lengthy period.
What is an administrative hearing?
Because a driver’s license is more than just a privilege, it cannot be suspended or revoked without Due Process. When faced with the suspension of your driver’s license because of DUI charges, Due Process consists of an administrative hearing conducted by MVD. The purpose of the administrative hearing is to confirm whether grounds for a suspension exist. These hearings differ greatly from court proceedings, and it is important to have an attorney that understands the difference.
What penalties could I face with the Motor Vehicle Department?
If your blood alcohol concentration results are above .08, MVD may suspend your driver’s license for 90 days. If eligible, once you have completed the first 30 days of suspension, MVD can issue a restricted license for work purposes. This license suspension may occur regardless of whether or not you have been convicted of DUI.
If you refused to take the blood, breath, or urine test that the police officer requested, your driver’s license may be revoked for one year. This can also happen regardless of whether or not you have been convicted of DUI.
Remember that you are entitled to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge at MVD in order to challenge a proposed suspension.
If you are convicted of DUI in Arizona, you will be required to install and use an ignition interlock device in your vehicle in order to keep your driver’s license. In general, the ignition interlock device must be installed for one year, but if eligible, you may be able to have it removed earlier.
What will happen to my driver's license?
If your blood-alcohol reading is above .08, Motor Vehicle may suspend your license for 90 days. If eligible, after the first 30 days of suspension, a restricted license for work purposes may be issued. The license suspension may occur regardless of whether or not you have been convicted of a D.U.I.
If you refuse to comply with a police officer's request to take a blood, breath, or urine test, your driver's license may be revoked for one year. This may also happen regardless of whether or not you have been convicted of D.U.I.
You are entitled to a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge at the MVD. Mark Dubiel, Phoenix DUI Attorney, can represent you at this hearing.