Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney Blog

Articles Posted in Arrests

“DUI arrests for “probable cause” doesn’t mandate that the police officer show a driver was actually under the influence, only that it is probable that he was”.

1066864_police_cruiser.jpg A police officer need only have a reasonable suspicion that you have violated a traffic law (like the speed limit) or engaged in criminal activity to stop you. “Reasonable suspicion” means that there is a “particularized and objective basis” for believing somebody had violated the law. Once you are stopped, there must be probable cause to arrest you.

In a recent case, the Arizona Court of Appeals considered whether there was probable cause where the defendant was convicted of four counts of aggravated driving under the influence (aggravated DUI). The defendant had been stopped in his vehicle after a police officer visually estimated he was going fifteen miles over the speed limit. According to the police offer, he’d been trained to accurately estimate vehicle speed within five miles per hour.

Once the officer stopped the defendant, he saw the defendant had watery bloodshot eyes, spoke with slurred speech, and smelled like alcohol. The defendant couldn’t find his driver’s license and gave the officer his social security number. It turned out that he provided his wife’s social security number. When the officer learned this, he asked the defendant for his wife’s social security number. This time, the defendant gave him his own number. The officer administered a test for alcohol impairment. When the defendant refused a breathalyzer test, he was arrested.

Continue reading

DUI one of four main causes of fatal and serious auto accidents on Arizona roadways.

298987_bbq_1.jpgEnforcement of Arizona’s tough DUI laws tend to ramp up in May, especially over Memorial Day weekend and around graduation festivities. Last year, police arrested 3,129 people for DUIs between May 1 and May 31st, 556 of those arrests were made over Memorial Day weekend.

Police agencies statewide have joined together over the past month to patrol for people who are drinking and driving. These efforts are funded by grants from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, which also funds training for field sobriety tests, blood draws, drug recognition and equipment.

Tempe Police is at least one law enforcement agency that announced heightening enforcement from May 24th through May 27th. They have committed increased patrols and mobile units throughout the city and will be saturated in downtown Tempe AZ. Minor Consumption violations and prevention are a main focus.

Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) reported that last year at this time 5 fatalities resulted from 4 separate collisions, and 85 people were injured. Arizona DPS indicated that impaired driving due to alcohol or drugs was one of 4 main causes of fatalities and serious injuries. Other causes included speeding, seat belt violations, and fatigue or drowsy driving. And while it was not mentioned in the AZ DPS press release, some recent studies and reports show that “texting while driving” is also one of the main causes of motor vehicle fatalities and serious injuries.

It announced late last week that it will be “especially vigilant” on the state’s highways for this weekend to reduce the number of fatalities, injuries, traffic, and impaired driving violations. The AZ DPS is reminding everyone to be patient on the roadway while driving, get enough rest before trips, and obey traffic and seat belt laws, and refrain from drinking and driving; and “texting and driving”.

Tips from the police for the weekend include using public transportation or a completely sober designated driver. All drivers should be aware that in Arizona, adults can be arrested for drunk driving even if their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is below .08, if they are impaired to the slightest degree by the amount they drank.

Over Memorial Day weekend, particularly at family outings, some parents may let their older teenagers drink. While some states allow those under 21 to have a BAC of .01 or .02, Arizona has a zero tolerance policy for drunk drivers under the age of 21. Those under 21 may not even have even a BAC of .01%. A relatively recent case looked at the issue of blood tests for BAC for juvenile drivers, and the facts of the case are worth considering if you are a teenager or a parent.

In that case, a monitor at a seventeen-year-old defendant’s school smelled marijuana on his clothing in 2012. The monitor searched the vehicle the defendant and his friends had driven to school and found drug paraphernalia. School officials reported this to the police and the sheriff arrived and advised the defendant of his Miranda rights. Nonetheless the defendant admitted that he and his friends had smoked marijuana away from campus and driven back.

The defendant was arrested and charged with drunk driving. The sheriff read him admonitions related to the implied consent law for blood tests and the defendant agreed to submit to testing. His parents were called and came to the school. Meanwhile, the defendant’s blood was tested without his parent’s consent. His parents were told he was caught smoking marijuana and arrested, but weren’t asked for permission to test the blood that had been drawn.

Before a delinquency hearing, the defendant moved to suppress the blood test results. He argued that, as a minor, he lacked the legal ability to consent to testing. The juvenile court granted his motion, reasoning that the Arizona Parents’ Bill of Rights includes the right to consent before a minor’s blood is tested, notwithstanding Arizona’s implied consent law. It also found that the defendant’s consent hadn’t been voluntary.

The State appealed the juvenile court’s decision. The State argued that the Parents’ Bill of Rights was inapplicable because the parental right to consent did not prevent law enforcement officers from acting in their official capacities within the scope of their authority.

The appellate court reasoned that anybody who operates a motor vehicle in Arizona, including minors, gives consent to alcohol testing of blood, breath and urine in the context of a DUI allegation. Although someone cannot be blood tested in a DUI stop without a warrant, drivers are already assumed to have given consent. They can withdraw the consent that has been given, but they face penalties for doing so.

Continue reading

Arizona Court of Appeals rules non-impairing Marijuana ingredients qualify for DUI prosecution.

A recent Marijuana DUI dismissal was overturned in favor of the state and moved for continued prosecution in the Arizona Court of Appeals.

The main legal issue was whether or not a motorist could be prosecuted for Marijuana DUI when the only evidence revealed on a blood test was an inactive chemical compound in Marijuana. In this case, the drug compound was one that does not cause impairment, “Carboxy-THC”. This is a residual compound known to stay in a person’s blood stream for 3 to 4 weeks after Marijuana use.
The inactive or non-impairing compound was examined in contrast to the known active ingredient THC or Tetrahydrocannabinol. THC has been successfully argued in courts as one that causes driving impairment.

The lower court dismissed the case before appeal, on the basis that the motorist was not driving impaired. But the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that both the active compound and the inactive compound fall within Arizona DUI Law A.R.S. 28-1381, so the motorist could still be subject to prosecution.

The impact of this ruling is that the prosecution does not need to prove that the driver was impaired. In order to prosecute the motorist for DUI with Marijuana, as long as at least one of the two compounds can be identified in the DUI blood test evidence. Another adverse impact is that a person may have used the Marijuana legally in another state, days or weeks prior to driving in Arizona, and still be arrested for Marijuana DUI.

The Arizona Court of Appeals indicated that this ruling shall not be used to set precedent. However, this presents challenges in consistency for the courts since other cases similar to this are pending prosecution.


Arizona Drug DUI Law

Currently under Arizona law A.R.S. 28-1381 a person may be guilty of DUI under the following circumstances:
(1) While under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs while they are impaired to the slightest degree; or
(2) If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more, within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol was consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle; or
(3) While there is any drug defined in section A.R.S.13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.

A person driving under the influence of Marijuana could be arrested under items (1) or (3) depending on the circumstances of the Marijuana DUI. It is not a defense if the person is a qualified Medical Marijuana user.

Criminal Defense Attorney for Drug DUI charges Mesa, AZ

If you face any type of drug DUI charges in Arizona, you should always consult a qualified criminal attorney to discuss your case. Arizona has some of the most strict laws, and severe penalties for DUI conviction in the state. Sentencing for drug DUI charges are the same or similar to those of drunk driving. They include jail terms, suspension of driver’s license, probation, substance abuse screening and counseling; fines, fees, and assessments. Other penalties may apply. If retained an experienced criminal lawyer will protect your rights, and defend your charges. There may be defenses that you are not aware of that could lead to a dismissal of charges, or otherwise favorable outcome in your case.


Additional Resources:

Arizona Drug DUI Laws

Arizona Court of Appeals Division 1

Arizona Drugs Defined Under Criminal Code

Mesa AZ Municipal Court

Mesa AZ Police Department

Continue reading

If you plan to move or travel to Arizona; you should become familiar with Arizona’s strict prescription drug DUI laws.

A person may be arrested in Arizona for a DUI, if they are not driving drunk, and even if they have had no alcohol at all. Last year Drug impairments accounted for 15% of all DUI arrests in Arizona. Police attribute many of these to Prescription DUI violations. If a motorist is driving impaired due to Prescription-only medications solely or in combination with alcohol, they may be exposed to a DUI Arrest. Convictions for drug related driving impairments are generally as severe as those for alcohol related impaired driving charges.


Arizona Prescription Drug DUI Laws

A.R.S. 28-1381 – In Arizona it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, if the person is “impaired to the slightest degree” while:

• Under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree;
• If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle;
• Due to any drug defined under A.R.S. 13-3401 or its metabolite in a person’s bodily systems.


Prescription Drug DUI Penalties

A person found guilty of driving impaired due to prescription drugs will be convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties first offense Drug DUI convictions include 10 days in jail; substance abuse education and screening; fines, fees, costs of $1250.00; 90 day driver’s license suspension; and probation; and Ignition Interlock Device (IID) one year.
A second violation, within 7 years is a Class 1Misdemeanor. Penalties include 90 days jail; $3,000.00 fines, fees, costs; license revocation for one year; probation; Ignition Interlock Device (IID); and probation.
A third DUI violation of any kind within 7 years, with two prior DUI convictions elevates a DUI to a Class 4 Felony, or Aggravated DUI to a Class 4 Felony. Penalties call for 4 months in prison for the third DUI; and 8 months for subsequent impaired driving convictions; fines, fees, costs of at least $4,000.00; driver’s license revocation for 3 years; ignition interlock device (IID) 2 years; probation or community service; and a felon criminal record.

These penalties may vary slightly, and additional penalties may apply.

Prescription Drugs Defined

A.R.S. 13-3401 (28) includes the definition of “Prescription only drug” and means;
• Any toxic or potentially harmful drug as recognized in the general medical community; and
• Is considered safe to use only under the supervision of a licensed and qualified medical practitioner;
• Limited or approved for use as new drug under Federal Rules and medical supervision; of a medical practitioner.
• Potentially harmful drugs with labeling that includes proper directions for use;
• Drugs required by the Federal Rules to include labeling with the test “Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription” or “Rx only”.


Criminal Attorney for Prescription Drug DUI defense Gilbert AZ

Arizona has some of the toughest laws and penalties for conviction in the county. If you are arrested for any type of impaired driving in Arizona due to alcohol or drugs, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. But you have the right to defend their charges, and by law are innocent until proven guilty. You should consult a criminal defense attorney, regarding your matter before deciding to plead “guilty”. If retained, a qualified legal advocate will protect your rights and defend your charges. There may be defenses you are not aware of that could lead to a case dismissal, reduction of charges, or mitigation in sentencing.


Additional Resources:

Arizona Prescription Drug Definition

Arizona DUI Laws

• Gilbert AZ Police DUI Enforcement Units

• Criminal Court Gilbert AZ

• Arizona MADD.org

Continue reading

“We are going big” says AZ DPS in preparation for intense week of DUI enforcement

A DUI may result in an arrest, jail time, but you can also wind up costing a person their job. That’s just a few consequences of a DUI conviction. Arizona calls for tough criminal penalties; civil penalties such as loss of driver’s license; and other consequences.
The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AGOHS) announced it has organized 12 task forces for what it considers to be an intense week of DUI through January 1, 2013.

The DUI task forces 40 – 100 strong include 70 law enforcement agencies valley-wide, and working with Arizona Department of Public Safety.

The goals this year include focusing on both drivers impaired due to alcohol or drugs, especially extreme DUI arrests. The AGOHS reported that Extreme DUI arrests increased statewide 12% from 2011 to 2012. Total DUI arrests have increased over 14% overall from November during this from this time last year to December 27, 2012.

AZ DPS, Director Alberto Gutier, reported to local media sources that instead of employing DUI task forces, that officers would be out tar employs the DUI checkpoint method, in geo-targeted patrols throughout the valley. He indicated that they want to send the message that they are everywhere verses one particular checkpoint.

Arizona DUI Laws

In Arizona it is unlawful to drive “impaired to the slightest degree” due to alcohol or drugs under the legal limit of 0.08% due to alcohol or intoxicating drugs.

A person may also be arrested for DUI if they are driving over the legal limit with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08% person.

Driver’s with BAC limits of 0.15% or more will be charged with Extreme DUI; and BAC limits that exceed 0.20% or more will be charged with Super Extreme DUI under Arizona Law. Higher the BAC limits call for harsh sentencing including longer jail terms.
.
The legal drinking age in Arizona is 21, and a motorist under the age of 21 found to have any alcohol in their system, will be arrested, whether or not that driver is impaired.
DUI charges generally brought as Misdemeanors unless Aggravated Factors exist. If Aggravated Factors are present, the charges will be prosecuted as Felonies. These factors include a third DUI with two prior DUI convictions with 84 months; driving impaired due to alcohol or drugs with a child passenger under the age of 15 years old; driving impaired with an invalid driver’s license; or one that involves a serious or fatal auto accident.

DUI Defense Attorney, Chandler AZ

If you face drunk or impaired driving charges, your future and freedom are in jeopardy. You should consult a criminal defense attorney regarding your matter, before your first court appearance. If retained, they will protect your rights; and defend your charges. There may be defenses you are not aware of that could lead to case dismissal, or otherwise favorable outcome in your case.


Additional Resources:

Arizona Statewide DUI Enforcement Statistics 2012

Arizona Department of Public Safety

Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety

State Legislature – Extreme DUI Laws

Chandler Police Department

Continue reading

Combined Resources Creates Larger Valley-wide DUI Task Force December 2012

This year Phoenix AZ, East Valley, and West Valley are combining DUI Task Force Efforts to create one large task force, for better efficiency and safety.

The Special DUI Task Force will be in place for the rest of month of December 2012. A central Command Post will be set up at Devonshire Community Center. It is located at the intersections of E. Devonshire Ave and 28th Street, in Phoenix AZ. Police will also set up DUI Field Vans, with Preliminary Breath Test Units, throughout the valley.

DUI Charges

DUI charges represented the largest number of crimes in Arizona in 2011. A total of 35,505 arrests were made or 14% of all crimes committed in Arizona last year. In an effort to decrease incidents of drunk driving or Drug DUI, Maricopa County police have actively sought out DUI motorists with DUI Sobriety Checkpoints set throughout 2012. This year, they increased their presence and safety checkpoints around holidays, events, and times where high volumes of traffic were expected.

DUI Laws

Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws and penalties in the country. A first-time DUI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Under A.R.S. 28-2831 it is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while:

• Driving “impaired to the slightest degree” due to any alcohol or drugs;
• If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or greater within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle.

In Arizona the legal limit for alcohol or Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08%. However, a person may be guilty of DUI even if their BAC was below 0.08%, if due to alcohol or drugs they were driving “impaired to the slightest degree”.

Before making an arrest, the police will conduct an investigation to determine if they have probable cause for a DUI arrest. This may include Field testing, breath testing, and or blood testing.

DUI Penalties

First-time non-extreme DUI conviction will result in the following penalties:

• 10 jail sentence;
• Suspension of driver’s license for 90 days;
• Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on vehicle following reinstatement of driving privileges;
• Fines, fees, costs and assessments of at least $1,200.00;
• Probation;
• Alcohol/drug abuse education and counseling which will reduce jail time to 24 hours if successfully completed;
The higher the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level found in a person’s system, the higher the penalties.

Laws and sentencing are more severe for repeat offenses. If a person is found guilty of a third DUI within 7 years, even if the prior DUI charges occurred in another state, they will be convicted of an Aggravated DUI which is a Class 4 Felony. Penalties for Felony DUI call for:

• 4 months in prison;
• Fines, fees, and assessments of S4,000.00;
• Driving privileges revoked for 3 years;
• 24 months of IID after reinstatement of license;
• Parole;
• Drug and Alcohol counseling and treatment;
• Community Service
• Felony criminal record

Criminal Defense Attorney for DUI Charges in Phoenix AZ

If you face DUI charges of any kind you should always consult a DUI Attorney before pleading guilty or appearing in court. Even though you were arrested, you have the right to retain an attorney and defend your charges. Your legal advocate will protect your rights; provide a defense; and work to resolve your matter as favorably as possible.

Additional Resources:

Arizona DUI Laws

Arizona Department of Public Services (DPS) – 2011 Crime Statistics

Phoenix Police Department

• City of Phoenix – Municipal Court

Continue reading

Super Extreme and Drug DUI laws and penalties apply to all motorists driving in Arizona
A criminal superior court judge in Northern Arizona was arrested on Super Extreme DUI charges, Sunday morning, December 9, 2012. He was stopped by police after swerving into oncoming traffic.

It was reported in the media that his Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level exceeded the Super Extreme limit which is 0.20%. The suspect allegedly admitted to being under the influence of prescription drugs. The Judge was not at his bench on Monday, and the court reported that was allegedly assigned to non-judicial duties due to a personal matter.

In Arizona it is illegal to drive “Impaired to the Slightest Degree” due to alcohol or drugs. Prescription drugs, especially for pain, often have adverse impacts on driving. When drugs and alcohol are combined, they can prove to be particularly impairing on a motorist’s ability to drive.

A mistake in judgment can easily result in a criminal offense. A DUI conviction can result in harsh criminal penalties including jail, driver’s license suspension, and other civil penalties, as well as other consequences. If you will be driving in Arizona, you should understand the side effects of any drugs you take; and be familiar with Arizona DUI laws and consequences of a conviction.

Arizona Drug DUI Laws

A.R.S. 28-1381. (A). Under Arizona law it is illegal to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle, “impaired to the slightest degree”, while under the influence of:

• Alcohol;
• Drug, or toxic substance (including over-the-counter, prescription, other legal or illegal drugs; or
• Any combination of liquor, and drugs
First offense drug DUI charges are treated are very similar to those of an alcohol DUI with a BAC of 0.08%, and categorized as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Penalties for conviction include:

• 10 days jail;
• Fines, fees, costs of $1,200.00
• Installation of Court ordered Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle for at least 6 months;
• Drug/Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment which if completed, will reduce jail term;
• Suspension of Driver’s License for 90 days;
• Probation and/or
• Community Service

Super Extreme DUI laws in Arizona

A.R.S. 28-1381. (A)(2)(B). A motorist driving with an Alcohol BAC of 0.20 or more will be found guilty of Super Extreme DUI. A super Extreme DUI is a Class 1 Misdemeanor;
If a person is found to be driving with a BAC of 0.20 they will also be cited with “Impaired to the Slightest Degree”; 0.08% BAC DUI; 015% or more Extreme DUI and 0.20% Super Extreme DUI for up to 4 citations in one stop.

Penalties for a first offense Super Extreme DUI include
• 45 days in jail;
• Fines, fees, costs of $2,500.00
• Drug/Substance abuse screening, counseling or treatment which if completed, will reduce jail term;
• Installation of Court ordered Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle for at least 18 months;
• Suspension of Driver’s License for at least 90 days;
• Probation and/or
• Community Service

Criminal Defense Attorney for Super Extreme DUI charges Gilbert AZ

Penalties for DUI if convicted will usually result in other life altering consequences such as termination or suspension of job. It is important to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney before going to court to discuss your matter, and options for defense. The penalties for any DUI in Arizona are some of the toughest in the country. You should never plead “Guilty” without being represented by an effective criminal defense lawyer. There may be defenses you are not aware of, that can lead to a dismissal, reduction or charges, or a reduction of harsh penalties. They will guide you through all phases of the criminal justice process; protect your rights; defend your charges; and work to get the most favorable resolution to your case.

Additional Resources:

Drug DUI and Super Extreme DUI laws

Gilbert AZ Police Department

Alcohol/Substance Abuse Counseling and Treatment Providers

Arizona Department of Health Services – Behavior Health Resource Links

Continue reading