As an average driver in Arizona, you might know the basics of the state’s driving under the influence (DUI) laws. Drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level of 0.08% or higher and get pulled over for DUI is the rule. There is much more to DUI laws than just BAC, however – including many rights that most drivers don’t realize they have a potential DUI arrest and charge. Here are four secrets police don’t want drivers to know.
You Don’t Have to Say a Word
Police officers will often use tactics to get drivers to say something incriminating during the initial conversation. Remember, police cannot stop a driver just for suspect DUI. They have to have probable cause, such as a missed stop sign or a broken taillight. It is during the conversation with the driver that police officers are checking for signs of intoxication. The less you say during a traffic stop, the better. Use your Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, politely declining to answer questions until you have an attorney present. The police officer can use anything you say in his or her presence against you in court.
You Can Refuse to Take a DUI Test
Implied consent laws state that by getting your driver’s license and stepping behind the wheel, you automatically agree to consent to BAC tests. This does not, however, take away your right to refuse the tests. The police cannot force you to take a breath test without a warrant to do so. Refusing a test will mean the officer has no hard evidence, such as the results of a BAC test, against you for a DUI conviction. You will have to surrender your driver’s license to the officer, but this doesn’t necessarily mean automatic license suspension. With help from an attorney, you could negotiate your driver’s license hearing in your favor.
Evidence on a BAC Test Is Not Everything
You might assume that if you take a BAC test and it comes back over the legal limit, the case is closed – you’re getting a DUI. This is not always the case. There have been many DUI arrests that do not end in conviction, even with BAC test evidence. Possible defenses exist that can negate BAC evidence or get the courts to throw it out. For example, the arresting officer did not read the driver’s implied consent rights or did not have probable cause to conduct the stop. These can be reasons for the courts not to consider the results of BAC or field sobriety tests. Again, a good lawyer can greatly improve your odds of escaping a DUI conviction, regardless of what BAC tests say.
Field Sobriety Tests Are Unreliable
Field sobriety tests are notoriously impossible to pass, even if a driver is stone sober. Field tests can be completely subjective, and swayed by something entirely unrelated to alcohol intoxication, such as an old injury or vertigo. There is no science behind the field sobriety test process. Refuse to take this type of test, which is typically voluntary. If you do take and fail the field sobriety test, a lawyer can often override this type of “evidence” by showing its inaccuracy, or by arguing that the officer had no reason to order one. The very best thing you can do for yourself after a DUI arrest retains an aggressive defense attorney.