DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses in Arizona, and the consequences can be severe. Educate yourself now, to be better prepared should you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ll need to know this information. If you have additional concerns about evidence in this type of case, consult with your criminal defense lawyer.
Police may want to use two different types of breath tests to determine your blood alcohol content, the preliminary test (using a Portable Breathalyzer, or PBT), and a test at the police station or DUI van. Each of these are important, but it’s more likely that the police station test will be used as evidence against you in court.
What to Do If You’re Pulled Over
If you have been pulled over and police ask you to submit to a sobriety test, you should already know your rights. In summary, you should:
- invoke your rights and secure counsel at the first question posed to you
- NOT participate in any field sobriety testing
- NOT submit to a field (portable) breathalyzer
The roadside breathalyzer tests are prone to error, and they are generally inadmissible in court to prove any specific blood alcohol content. You do not have to answer questions about where you have been, what you were doing, how much you’ve had to eat or drink, if you feel impaired, or where you are going. You do not have to participate in roadside gymnastics, you do not have to allow the police to give you any kind of eye exam, nor test your breath at the side of the road. None of these tests are for your benefit, they are each used so that the police can later testify that they had probable cause to arrest you.
After there is an arrest, police can request that you submit to a blood or breath test at a proper testing location — failure to submit can mean that police will likely obtain a warrant requiring your participation, and there will be penalties against your driving privileges for refusing to provide blood or breath after proper request at the testing location.
Actual Breathalyzer vs. Preliminary Breathalyzer
Even though the initial breathalyzer serves as a foundation to take you to jail depending on the result, it is almost never used against you in court. This is why you will probably be asked to complete another test at the police station. This larger test equipment has more accurate results. Bear in mind that police can still arrest you on suspicion of a DUI even if the portable breath test reports your BAC within the legal limit. Police have discretion over situations where you appear to be too impaired to drive even if your breathalyzer test results are good.
Should I Refuse the Test?
As explained above, you should refuse all tests but the blood or breath test at a testing location, after arrest. In the heat of the moment, you may want to avoid all testing if you are convinced the result will be bad for you. If you refuse all tests, you may face immediate penalties like the suspension of your license. This is because Arizona is an ‘implied consent’ state, operating under the theory that, when you get a driver’s license, you also agree to submit to at least one of the testing location tests if police have probably cause to believe you have been driving under the influence.
What to do if You’re Facing Charges
If you have already been accused of driving under the influence, there are benefits to walking through the scene of your arrest with your criminal defense attorney. If police did not follow the proper protocol, the evidence against you may be inadmissible. Your criminal defense attorney should explore all the potential weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. A Maryland Dui lawyer said that it is always important to make sure you hire a lawyer that specializes in DUI cases. They will know exactly what needs to be done for your case. It is never a good idea to try and represent yourself in a DUI case.
A DUI conviction will have detrimental impact on your future. Do not downplay the potential consequences by attempting to represent yourself or relying on inexperienced counsel. With so much on the line, you need an attorney you can trust. Exercise your right to speak to an attorney as soon as possible, before, during, and after your arrest. Learn about your rights. Have a plan for interacting with police. Try to take detailed notes all of the events surrounding your arrest so that they can be shared with your lawyer.
This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.