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DUI and Drugs PDF Print E-mail

Glass of whiskey and car keys

Tyler Francis accepts DUI cases

Driving Under the Influence or “DUI” and Driving While Impaired or “DWI” happen when the police pull you over and decide that you have something in your system which impairs your ability to drive a car.  While many things can cause impairment, you can be arrested if you have alcohol or drugs, either legal or illegal in combination with some type of impairment. 
What's a pretext stop?

The police may pull you over based on behavior that would be ignored most of the time.  This is called a “pretext” stop, where they really want to look at you and check out the inside of your car, but they need a reason to do it.  Suddenly normal driving becomes suspect.  The police will pull you over for a “wide right turn,” (you are required to turn into the lane closest to the lane you turn out of, not the lane you eventually want to be in), “unsafe lane usage,” (driving on the line dividing the lane or failing to signal a lane change), “failure to use turn signal,”  “speeding” or going to slow, and finally, to check the welfare of the driver if nothing else fits.  During the day, you will see these behaviors frequently and repeatedly.  At night, they become the reason for the traffic stop.

Police must have a reason to stop you

In order to stop your car, the police must have a reason, either a traffic offense such as those above, or because the car does not meet standards.  For example, the bulb that lights up the license plate is out, your vanity license plate holder hides some of the lettering on your license plate, a tail or headlight is out, or the windshield is cracked.  The easiest way to avoid being stopped is to not give the police a reason to stop you.
What you should know

Sometimes though, you will be stopped.  If that happens, be courteous and remember your Knows:

1)  Know your car:

  • Does the license plate bulb work?
  • Is your license plate completely visible?
  • Are all your lights in proper working order?

Sometimes the police make mistakes and claim something is not working when it is.  Double check to see if what they say is accurate, and have a witness photograph or check it out themselves. 

2)  Know your documents:

  • Do you know exactly where your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance are? 
  • Are your documents current?

Or will you have to paw through a stack of old paperwork jammed in your glove box while the police officer stands there tapping his light, before telling the officer that you meant to put the new insurance card in, but it is still sitting on your kitchen table?

3)  Know your rights:

  • Did the officer tell you why he pulled you over?
  • Have you provided your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance?
  • Then why are you still talking?

Your right to remain silent

You have a right to remain silent and not answer any questions.  The officer can still ask you to step out of the car and do physical agility tests at the side of the road, but he cannot make you do them unless you agree to do them. 

Your right to request an attorney

You have the right to request a consultation with an attorney prior to doing field sobriety tests and giving a sample of your breath, blood or urine.  This must be a reasonable request generally you can ask for a phone book, or call someone if you know their number.   The officer must give you time and a means to contact an attorney provided it does not interfere with his investigation of you.  Usually this means about twenty minutes, but it varies from officer to officer.  If you have not had enough time, make sure the officer knows you need more time, and tell him (or her) why.

Blood, Breath and Urine Samples

If you have been arrested, you will be asked to give a breath, blood or urine sample.  The officer gets to choose, and a lot of officers are trained to draw blood right at the scene.  Imagine your surprise when the rubber gloves and needle come out and the officer starts asking you medical questions.  Otherwise, the officer will ask you to blow into a breath-testing machine and you will get the results right at the scene.

You may also refuse testing.  This is almost always a mistake and you should consult with an attorney, if you can, before refusing a blood, breath or urine test.  If you refuse to take a blood or breath test, you will lose your driver’s license or your privilege to drive in the State of Arizona for 1 year, period

You should know: After your refuse to provide a sample, the police will get a search warrant and take your blood anyway. 

4)  Know the police:

  •    The police are investigating you for the offense of Driving Under the Influence.
  •    They are collecting evidence to use against you in court.
  •    Their questions are designed to be used against you (how much have you had to drink?) or to prevent you from challenging their assumptions (Do you have any injuries?)
  •    The police officer who investigates you may be a great person, but he or she will arrest you and use all the evidence they gather against you in court.


  • Don’t fight with the police, don’t admit anything, and don’t ask them for special treatment (“Give me a break, please,  officer?” or “Do you know who I am?”).  Ask them to record any statements you make or video tape the encounter.
  • Have someone take a picture of you as soon as you are released, so you can show that your eyes were not “red, watery, and bloodshot.”  
  • If you have blood taken, photograph the needle stick(s?), and if you have any bruising or injury, photograph it as well.
  • If you are unable to call an attorney for any reason after the stop, contact an attorney immediately – if you wait until one is appointed, evidence that might help you is gone, unless you know what to preserve and preserve it.  

Admin per se/Implied Consent Suspension

When you are arrested for a DUI or DWI, if the police believe that you are impaired by drugs or over the .08 BAC limit, they will give you an “Admin per se/ Implied consent,” suspension.  You will be allowed to drive for 15 days after the date of the arrest, and then your driving privileges will be suspended.  Generally this suspension is for 30 days of no driving and 60 days of restricted driving (to and from work, school, and legal or medical appointments).  If you are driving on an out-of-state license, your license will be suspended for 90 days of no driving in the State of Arizona.  Many states will also initiate their own suspensions when Arizona tells them about the DUI/DWI.  To end the suspension, you will need to have an alcohol evaluation done, and provide proof to the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles.

You are entitled to a hearing on your license suspension, but you need to request it.  An attorney can explain the pros and cons of this administrative hearing, and can represent you at the hearing.

Author: Tyler Francis


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