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John Phebus Discusses DUI on the Radio


  • Radio Host (RH)
  • Attorney John Phebus (JP)

RADIO HOST (RH): Alright, welcome back, you guys. I am gonna tell you, all of you, have a very safe holiday. And the reason why I’m saying that, it’s Labor Day, it’s big time, and you started early, I’m sure.

I want to introduce my next guest who has also been with me before. I have John Phebus, and he is a criminal defense attorney. That kind of encompasses a lot of different things. Welcome back to the show.

JOHN PHEBUS (JP): Glad to be back, Carol. Happy Friday. Thanks for having me.

RH: Happy Friday, and it’s a great time to come on because a lot of people out there are thinking about where they want to have a drink.

JP: Yes, absolutely.

RH: What should they do that, you know, let’s say, it’s them, it can happen to anyone, or it’s their son or daughter that gets in trouble, ok? What do people do today if that happens to them?

JP: Well, you know, and of course let’s say right off the bat, you know, Uber, taxis, don’t put yourself in that situation. But if you do get pulled over, here’s kinda the basic rules of the road. Number one, you know, unless you truly have only had two beers don’t tell the officer you’ve had just two beers and take tests. In Arizona here’s what you have to do. If you’re pulled over you need to provide the officer with your name, your insurance information and your registration documentation, and that’s it, you know, at the initial phase. You do not have to take any field sobriety tests, you do not have to blow into a portable breath tester here in Maricopa County. So if you’re pulled over and you have been drinking, what you should do is give the officer your paperwork and then immediately ask to call an attorney and tell the officer that, you know, you don’t have anything to say, you invoke your right to remain silent and you’d like to call a lawyer.Now of course that’s gonna irritate the officer, and he’s probably gonna arrest you and take you to jail. But guess what? If you’ve been drinking you’re gonna get arrested and taken to jail anyway. So the question you face is either are you gonna give the officer a bunch of evidence that he can use to try to convict you or are you going to give your lawyer the tools he or she needs to try to defend you and get you through this with a minimal amount of pain.Once you’re under arrest, if you’re taken to the police station, the officer may ask you to take a breath or a blood test back at the station. Now that’s the one that you are required to take, and if you do not take that one, then they can get a search warrant to draw your blood against your permission. So, you know, generally if you call me, first of all of course you need to call me or another attorney who does Criminal DUI work and talk to that person. But normally if you call me I’m gonna tell you need to submit to the blood alcohol or breath alcohol test. Don’t make them get a warrant, cuz they really will do it. And, you know, that’s kinda the lay of the land.

RH: Ok. Here’s the first thing that I think everybody should do. Take your phones and put his phone number in there because that’s really important. It could happen to anyone. His phone number is 623-847-7117. So that’s 623-847-7117. You can check out his website. It is He’s got lots of information there. But that’s the first thing I want everybody to do is put it in there because it’s good to have it there. And that could be for any time, because again, it could happen to anyone and I know that you said that if you’d had two drinks. First of all, if I had two drinks I’m out the, I’m, I’m two sheets, I’m sorry, that’s just the way I am. I’m not capable. Everybody’s different.But I understand, though, here in Arizona it’s a zero tolerance. So what does zero tolerance really mean?

JP: Great question, Carol. It’s legal to drink and drive, as long as you’re over 21. But you cannot be impaired by it. When they say zero tolerance they’re saying it is illegal in Arizona if you are impaired by alcohol at least to the slightest degree in terms of your ability to operate a car the law says you’ve committed a DUI. It’s not drunk driving that’s illegal, it is impaired driving, you know, and if you ever are charged with a DUI, God forbid, there will be two charges. One charge is being impaired. The other charge is gonna be if you’re over a .08 on your alcohol test, which most people, you know, that’s what they think of. To give you an idea, and people say what is that, what does that mean, a .08? One standard drink, which is a 12 ounce can of regular beer, you know, an ounce of 100 proof liquor or four ounces of regular wine, will get, depending on your body weight and, you know, how much food you’ve got in your stomach and other variables, will contribute anywhere from a, pardon me, about a .025 to a .040. So if you’re a 110 pound female and you’re drinking on an empty stomach, two light beers can get you to the legal limit. You know, if you’re a 300 pound lineman for the Cardinals and you’re eating a bunch of chicken wings, you can probably drink a heck of a lot before you get to the .08.But, you know, the safe rule when people ask me and they say well can I, is it ok to drink and drive? You can have a drink. You can have probably two drinks. But then you really do need to stop it at that point. And I think that’s why people often say, I’ll tell you 90 percent time when I get these police reports, everybody says they’ve had two beers, dos cerveza, every single person. Because people know in their heart, in their sense, look, two beers, that’s about what you can drink and drive. And the other thing to know is the average person will burn off about two thirds of a drink per hour. It’s a common misconception. People think I’ll burn off a whole drink every hour. But your liver does not burn off a whole drink per hour. You’ll burn off about a .015. I don’t want to get too technical and geeky here, but – –

RH: It’s interesting.

JP: Yeah. So, you know, if you drink two beers it’s gonna take you at least three hours to burn those two beers off. So just keep that in mind. If you’re drinking one beer every hour you’re gonna keep getting more and more buzzed because your liver can’t burn it off that fast.

RH: And some people definitely drink – –

JP: Right.

RH: – – more than one beer an hour.

JP: Oh, absolutely. And of course if you’re, you know, I love to have a drink once in a while – –

RH: Sure.

JP: – – I shouldn’t say that on the radio, probably.

RH: No, you can. As long as you don’t use some bad language, it’s ok.

JP: But, you know, the real thing that will get you in trouble is if you’re drinking hard liquor and you’re drinking martinis or manhattans. You know, one manhattan or one martini, if they’re made at a place like, say AZ88, may have three or four ounces of liquor in it. Well, you have, you know, two of those and you’ve had a six pack. And if you’re eating little appetizers and you have two martinis you’ve just had six standard drinks, you know, you’re gonna be a .120, give or take, and guess what? Now you’re in the crosshairs for a DUI.

RH: Right. And again, I want to make it very clear that DUIs can happen to anybody at any time. You can go out for lunch with the ladies and have a little glass of wine, and if you accidentally, you know, maybe made a wide turn or what have you, and you got pulled over, if that cop wants to, they’ll, they’ll pop you.

JP: Well, that’s their job. Absolutely. Their job is not to – –

RH: Their job – –

JP: – – cut you any favors.

RH: – – is to make money for this state.

JP: They don’t get it right in their pocket, but they, their job is to take people off the road that they perceive to be a threat.

RH: Well, here’s what we’ve got, too. We’re gonna open up the lines, too, if anyone wants to call in and just tell a story or whatever it is that you want. If you need some help, we want to get you in, in, you know, in touch with him. Again, I want to stress this. This is something that could happen to anyone, especially your son or daughter out there, this is a crazy weekend – –

JP: Right.

RH: – – put the number in your phone. And how long have you been doing this, John, now?

JP: I have been practicing law for 22 years.

RH: So 22 years. You need an experienced attorney. That’s what it’s all about.

JP: Right.

RH: Knowing somebody who’s gonna make sure that he could take those, whatever you get charged with, and make it a little bit better for you – –

JP: Yeah.

RH: – – or get you off, right?

JP: Right. You’ve gotta have realistic expectations. You know, what I tell my clients is look, nine times out of ten you’re not just gonna completely walk away from it. About ten percent of the time you’re gonna beat it, which means maybe you get a reckless driving or you get the DUI thrown out. In almost every case I can improve it, you know, make it, you know, better than what it was walking into it and minimize the pain and the stress and the impact on your life. But, you know, the majority of the time you’re not just gonna walk away from it.

RH: Now, his number is, put it in your phone, 623-847-7117. If you don’t have it, write it down, go ahead and put it down somewhere and make sure you keep it. The website is We’re gonna go to a break and when we come back we’re gonna come, we’re gonna talk further a little bit about this. He is here live right now to talk to you. And if you want to call in, if you’ve got a story, if you, it doesn’t matter, anything. And criminal can be traffic too.

JP: Oh, yeah. I – –

RH: Traffic ticket.

JP: – – I do all criminal defense. So, you know, you could have anything from a fight with your husband or wife, you know, all traffic offenses, felonies, the whole shebang.

RH: Also, I want to make it clear we’re gonna come back and talk a little bit about water and DUI, because a lot of people are gonna be out on their boats this weekend. I know it goes by fast, but we’re gonna do that.

JP: Great.

RH: Now, our number here is 602-277-5369. Toll free it’s 1-866-536-1100. You can call if you’d like. Again, 602-277-5369 or give him a call, his number is 623-847-7117.

RH: So we’re back, and we’re talking with John Phebus. He is a criminal defense attorney. We’re talking a lot about DUI because a lot of people are gonna be drinking. We’re gonna talk real quickly about water cuz a lot of people are gonna be on their boats this weekend too. So quickly, how, they can get a DUI on the water too, right?

JP: Oh, absolutely. You can get a DUI in the air if you’re operating an airplane, and of course you can get one on a boat or watercraft. So you need to be careful about that. There is, especially on a big weekend like this, saturation enforcement. If you’re down at the Salt River there is a large enforcement contingent down there. They are watching that area like a hawk. So if you’re driving to or from the Salt River do not do it if you’ve been drinking. You know, if you’re operating a boat out on Lake Pleasant or any of the other water spaces around us, you know, be sensible. Have one or two beers or have a designated operator for your boat.

RH: Now, you do free consultations with people?

JP: Absolutely.

RH: Ok. And I want to give out your phone number again. We want you to put it in your phone if you can. 623-847-7117. He’s got a ton of information on his website, which is And I do have my lines open here. He is live here. If you want to call in and tell us a story or talk to us about something, get a little advice right here on the show, you can call in at 602-277-5369.

JP: Oh my God, Carol, I was gonna say, too, people can email me right on the website, and I have a little chat function on the website. They don’t talk to me on the chat, but I get the transcript and I’ll call them right back.

RH: Ok. So you’ve got all that information. I also want to talk to you a little bit about prescription drugs, because there’s a lot of people now that are smoking marijuana. They think that they can, you know, it’s ok to drive. And also they don’t realize that they can be taking prescription drugs and also get pulled over. Go ahead.

JP: Oh gosh. Great, great questions, Carol. Marijuana, look, we’re probably headed towards legalization in 2016, it’s gonna be on the ballot. But right now when they test your blood one of two things will show up. There can be active marijuana, which is THC, in your blood. And there can be a secondary metabolite in your blood. If you have any active THC in your blood the Arizona Supreme Court has said that’s it, you’re guilty of a DUI. They don’t have to prove how much of it is in your blood, they don’t have to prove that you were impaired by it. If you have one nanogram per milliliter, which is very small, a nanogram is very small, Carol.

RH: I’ve never even heard of a nanogram. Go ahead.

JP: The law says you can be found guilty of a DUI. So you’ve gotta be super careful. Active THC will normally show up in your blood for three to seven hours after consumption. And certainly if you’re eating brownies it’ll be in there for days potentially. Prescription drugs, that is a very hot area in law enforcement. Officers go to specialized training, especially here in the city of Phoenix. The motorcycles go to special training called Drug Recognition School where they’re trained to try to detect people who are impaired by prescription drugs. So if you’re in a car accident, you know, the airbag’s gone off in your face and you’re all discombobulated, and the officer finds a tube of Valium, you know, a prescription for Valium in your car, guess what? He’s gonna say well were you taking prescription drugs? And then all of a sudden this accident, which may have had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that you’ve taken Valium, as prescribed for the last ten years, but the officer is gonna say hey, you’re taking Valium, I think you’re impaired. And you can get a DUI. If you’re impaired by prescription medication the law says that you can be found guilty of a DUI. And that shocks people. They don’t realize that.

RH: You know, I was telling you before you came on that I know somebody who literally had surgery, one of those outpatient, outpatient situations. They gave him something and he thought he could drive home. They had told him don’t do that, but he thought he could drive home. Got in a big accident, got a DUI.

JP: Right.

RH: Well, they, they called it, I don’t know if it was called a DUI or whatever, but he got, and now look what happened to him. I mean wow. I mean and it cost thousands of dollars.

JP: Well, you know, in terms of cost, you know, a DUI, the court costs are very high. Your minimum fine if you get convicted of a DUI, of course the goal is always to try to avoid that, but if you get convicted, you know, your minimum fine is $1,500. If you’re below an .08 that’s the court costs. If you’re above a .15 it’s $2,800 and if you’re above a .20 it’s $3,200. Your legal fees, you know, for your lawyer are typically gonna run you about $5,000. So, you know, if you, you see these billboards that say, you know, you get a DUI, it’s $10,000, that’s about right. Between what it’s gonna cost you for your lawyer and what the DUI will cost you, you’re looking at about $10,000. Now, you know, again, hopefully you get one of those cases where you get out of the actual DUI conviction. And, you know, maybe you get it thrown out or you get a reckless driving. But there’s a lot of consequences, and you need somebody who knows what they’re doing. They’re very complicated cases, and that’s why you want to make sure when you hire somebody you talk to them. How many of these have you done? Do you know the judges? Do you know the prosecutors? Will you be handling my case or is there some associate that I’ve never seen who’s gonna be handling my case? When you hire me, I handle your case and you get my cell phone number and you can call me. Although, if you call me every night at 2:00 a.m. we’re gonna have a problem.

RH: And if you call him right now he’s on the air. But, so the number to call again, it’s 623-847-7117. And I say this all the time. It can happen to anyone, but really, honestly, we know that our sons and daughters all out there that are, once my daughter turned 21 I, my heart stopped – –

JP: Yeah.

RH: – – you know? But she doesn’t, luckily for me that’s not her thing – –

JP: Great.

RH: – – but you know what? There’s a lot of people out there that have had that. Usually that’s the case, and the parents are listening now, and you know, it’s good to have this information. It’s informational, that’s what it is. Go ahead.

JP: I was gonna say, knowledge is power, and again, nobody is pro DUI. It’s being sensible. You can drink and drive, but you need to be prudent about it and, especially if you’re living in central Phoenix, Uber is, look, if I have to find another thing to do for a living, that’s fine. Use Uber, use these other resources. But, you know, if you are in a bad situation call me, call somebody who does this.

RH: He does free consultation. Again, that number is 623-847-7117. You know, going through and talking about this, and yes, it always comes back to the DUI we’ve been talking about, but all of these things, especially if you’re drinking or smoking or taking prescription drugs, if it affects you in any way now other things start happening. It’s a snowball effect, and why I’m bringing that up is because now domestic violence comes in because a lot of times after when people are drinking they start fighting. You don’t have to hit somebody necessarily for it to, to have somebody calling the cops. It could be your neighbors are hearing, whatever.If somebody is called, I believe somebody goes to jail. Am I correct on that?

JP: Domestic violence is a lot worse if, you know, I had a family member and they could be charged with a DUI or domestic violence, I’d take a DUI any day. Domestic violence, if you’re convicted of it, you lose your right to bear arms. Some countries like Canada will not let you in. You lose your right to get a fingerprint clearance card, which you need if you’re gonna work with little kids or older folks in a nursing home. It can have catastrophic consequences. If you are here legally, but you’re a, you know, foreign national, say, you know, you’re from south of the border, you’ve got your green card, you get convicted of domestic violence that’s it, you’re done, you’re gonna be deported and you’ll never be able to become a citizen. It’s catastrophic. So, yeah, great, terrible thing.

RH: Right. And this is the thing is that all of these things happen to very good people. Bad things happen to good people. I have a friend of mine who got in an argument with her spouse and she ended up in jail.

JP: If the cops get called in a domestic violence situation the policy is somebody’s gonna be taken to jail. And they’re booked into the County Jail downtown, which if you’re booked into downtown here in Maricopa County, Sheriff Joe is gonna release your picture on the internet. So for all time, they’re gonna be able to type in your name and your mug shot will appear on the internet. Bad news.

RH: You know it’s really bad is because it goes through, all of that goes through these Facebook, if one person sees it – –

JP: Oh, are you – –

RH: – – and it, then it goes, it flies, it goes viral.

JP: In the internet age you are never, nothing disappears. It’s, there’s a, memory goes on forever.

RH: So, ok. Let’s talk a little tiny bit more, ok, I want to ask you this. How do you feel, then, about, and I wrote this down, so we have some time and I want to find out how you feel about it, how you feel about people taking videos, then, you know, now that we all have them in our phones, how do you feel about if we have a friend that we can take, video tape me while we’re doing this or whatever, because, you know, whatever – –

JP: I think it’s absolutely great. I think every department should have officer worn body cams rolled out uniformly. It’s a great safety net for everybody. You know, it, when I have cases with video it solves the case nine times out of ten. And you have a right to record. So if a friend, if you’re being busted for a DUI your friend can sit there and record it, as long as they’re not being disruptive to the officer. Now if the officers says listen, stop recording, put that away, stop recording, put it away. You don’t get in an argument with the officer there in the field. It’s just not a good idea. But you have a right to do it.

RH: Here’s the thing, guys. It is a very big weekend, it’s a very long weekend. We’ve, we all know that you’ve been starting, and now everybody’s thinking about where they want to have a drink. Be safe. That’s the first thing, be safe. But if, for God sakes, if something happens, write the number down, 623-847-7117. It’s TAPE)