A DUI, or driving under the influence, crime is a serious offense. Arizona has some of the strictest DUI laws and penalties in the nation, including mandatory jail time. If you get pulled over or arrested for an alleged DUI, remember that this is not the same as a conviction. There are things that you should do – and shouldn’t do – to give yourself the best odds of having the charges dropped. Start by avoiding these five top mistakes.
Admit That You’ve Been Drinking
Never admit that you have been drinking or that you’ve taken any drugs or substances before driving. While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to unintentionally say something that could be self-incriminating, especially if you’re nervous or you believe that honesty will keep you out of trouble. If you only had a couple of drinks and don’t feel intoxicated, for example, it may seem harmless to say so. Admitting to any type of alcohol or substance use will almost guarantee your arrest for a DUI, however – even if you don’t think you’re impaired.
Take a Field Sobriety Test
You legally do not have to comply with a request for a field sobriety test during a DUI traffic stop. A field sobriety test is a physical exam where an officer uses methods such as the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests to check for inebriation. These tests have been proven to be subjective and unfair. If asked to perform one, politely decline.
Note that this applies to field sobriety tests only, not breathalyzer, blood or urine tests. Under Arizona Revised Statute 28-1321, the Implied Consent Law, all licensed drivers in the state give their implied consent to breathalyzer and chemical drug and alcohol tests during traffic stops. If you refuse this type of test, it will automatically result in the suspension of your driver’s license for one year.
Speak to the Police Without an Attorney Present
It’s important to use your right to remain silent if you get arrested for a DUI. This is your Fifth Amendment right, and its purpose is to prevent self-incrimination. The only answer that you legally have to give when asked by a police officer is your name. Remain polite and cooperative, but don’t answer any questions about where you’ve been, what you’ve been doing, etc., until you have an attorney present.
You should always use your right to an attorney after a DUI arrest. Once you’re brought to the police station and booked – meaning your mugshots and fingerprints have been taken – you can make one phone call. Use it to contact a DUI defense lawyer in Scottsdale immediately from The Law Offices of John Phebus. The police cannot listen in on a phone call between you and your lawyer.
Not Regain Your Driving Privileges
Being arrested for a DUI automatically suspends your driver’s license in Arizona. This is an administrative suspension – a different type than what is included in a sentence upon a DUI conviction. It is a mistake not to attempt to regain your driving privileges during this initial suspension. You can request an administrative hearing to explain that you need to commute to your job or school. This can give you back your driving privileges while a DUI trial is pending.
Fail to Take a DUI Charge Seriously
Finally, don’t make the mistake of treating a DUI charge lightly. Even if this is your first criminal offense, you can face major consequences – such as thousands of dollars in fines and surcharges, days or weeks spent in jail, the loss of your driving privileges, a mandatory ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle (at your own expense), and much higher car insurance premiums.
A DUI allegation, arrest or charge is always serious. Contact an attorney to defend you right away, appear in court at the designated time and date, and have your plea prepared to enhance your chances of escaping the most severe potential penalties for driving under the influence in Arizona.