Articles Tagged with impaired to the slightest degree

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

Enforcement 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.

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How National Agency’s Recommendations Will Impact Arizona Drivers

Arizona has tough DUI laws. They may get tougher, but not by much. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), an independent federal agency, recently recommended, among other things, that the blood alcohol threshold be dropped from .08 BAC to .05 in all 50 states. Those drivers whose blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08 are presumed under Arizona and other state laws to be impaired.

The NTSB is an investigative agency. It doesn’t have the authority to institute the changes. It is up to the Department of Transportation whether it wants to endorse this recommendation or not. States will each have to decide whether to accept the recommendation from NTSB. If the NTSB gets support from the Department of Transportation and other states, they will be closer to Arizona’s current policies against drunk driving.

The American Beverage Institute (ABI) and the National Restaurant Association (NRA) took offense to this recommendation. They believe that a lower BAC targets moderate drinkers in addition to drivers who are actually drunk. A representative of ABI said, “Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior.”

ABI points to research indicating that less than 1% of over 32,000 traffic fatalities in 2011 were caused by drivers with a BAC between .05 and .08. Moreover, those with twice the current BAC (a BAC of .15 or higher) cause more than 70% of the drunk driving deaths.

NTSB argues that the research shows you start to be impaired in cognitive and visual abilities around .05, not. 08. This increases the likelihood of a serious crash. Most countries seem to agree, since they have BAC limits at .05 or lower.
But NTSB, an independent federal agency, said research shows most drivers suffer impairment of cognitive and visual functions like depth perception at a BAC level of 0.05, increasing the risks of a serious crash. According to the agency, the risk of having an accident increased substantially at .08.

More than 100 countries have BAC limits set at 0.05 or lower, according to the agency. According to another source, the U.S., Canada, and Iraq are among the small group with a BAC threshold of .08. Most European countries, most South American countries and Australia have set their BAC levels for purposes of assessing drunk driving to .05.

A representative of the AZ Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has stated that this new federal law won’t affect Arizona, claiming Arizona has “Not only the toughest laws in the country, but the toughest enforcement in the country.” He believes this extends to Arizona’s policy on driving while using drugs, too.

Arizona has passed a number of laws that are harsher than the DUI laws in other states. Among them is a law that says even if motorists have a blood alcohol level below .08 they can be cited if they are impaired.

A recently passed law requires first time DUI offenders to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in their car or other vehicle for six months. An IID requires a driver to pass a breathalyzer test before being permitted to start the vehicle. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the number of drunk driving fatalities has dropped 46% since 2007.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES
NTSB Safety Report on Eliminating Impaired Driving
Arizona DUI Laws
Arizona MADD.org

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How BAC impacts DUI impairments and penalties in Arizona

According to the National Center for Disease Control (CDC) recent studies three categories of people are the most at risk of getting an alcohol or drug related DUI. Those categories include young people; motor cyclists; and repeat DUI offenders:

1) More than one of every three fatal crashes involved a driver’s with BACs of 0.08% or greater were between the age of 21 to 24 (34%); The next largest percentage of age groups were the 25 to 44 years of age (28% average);
2) Of all motorcyclist involved in a fatality 28% of them had a BAC of 0.08% or greater. Of those impaired riders killed 44% were between the ages of 40 to 44 years of age;
3) Motorist with BACs of 0.08% or greater involved in fatal accidents were four times likely to have a prior DUI – DWI conviction.

Arizona DUI Legal Limit BAC Laws and Penalties

Arizona has some of the most strict laws and harsh punishments in the country. The higher the BAC level, if the impairment is due to alcohol, the more impaired they become. The more impaired the driver. Arizona recognizes this, and consequently has laws in place that increase the severity of charges and penalties for higher BAC limits.
Under A.R.S. 28 – 1381 the legal limit for Blood Alcohol Content in a person’s system is 0.08% or greater. However, under the law, a person may be guilty of DUI even if their BAC is below the legal limit of 0.08%, or even if they had no alcohol in their system. This is called being “impaired to the slightest degree. A person convicted of these charges will be exposed to 10s jail along with other harsh penalties.

Under A.R.S. 28 – 1382 a motorist with a BAC of 0.15% or more, and less than 0.20 is considered to be under the Extreme Influence of alcohol. A person found guilty of these charges will be subject to 30 days in jail, in addition to other harsh penalties.
And under A.R.S. 28 – 1382 and a driver with a BAC of 0.20% or greater is will be guilty of Arizona Super Extreme DUI charges. Penalties for this offense will be subject to 45 days in jail in addition to the other harsh penalties.

Second DUI offenses expose a driver to heavier sentencing of 90 to 180 days in jail in addition to other harsh penalties.

Third offense within 7 years will result in Aggravated DUI (Felony), which will expose a person to prison sentencing that ranges from 4 to 8 months in imprisonment.
Convictions in all of these cases will result in adverse Driver’s License actions including suspensions, denials, or revocations; court ordered installation and use of Ignition Interlocking device on vehicle; alcohol or substance abuse screening and counseling; fines, fees, costs; probation; community service; or restitution.


DUI Lawyer Chandler AZ

If you were arrested for any type of impaired driving charges due to drugs or alcohol you should consult an experienced criminal defense attorney who defends DUI charges. They will discuss your matter and options for defense. If retained they will evaluate your case to determine if any defenses are available to challenge the charges; defend your charges; make sure your rights are protected; and work to get the best possible resolution to your case.

Additional Resources:

Arizona State Legislature – DUI laws and Impaired to the Slightest Degree

Arizona State Legislature – DUI laws – Extreme and Super Extreme DUI Laws

National Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Arizona Department of Public Safety – Driver Impairment

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Establishing driver impairment is the most challenging element of a DUI
Elements of a DUI

There are three elements of a DUI charge in Arizona. Establishing impairment is the third, and most difficult to confirm. First, the facts need to establish that the motorist must be driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle. Second, the police must determine if a motorist is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Third, the police must establish that a person’s ability to drive was “Impaired to the slightest degree” or more as a result of drugs, alcohol or any combination of drugs and alcohol.

Driving “Impairment” Defined

The Arizona Department of Public Safety defines a “driver impairment” resulting from being under the influence of drugs or alcohol as:

“A reduction in the performance of critical driving tasks”
To determine if the motorist is experiencing a reduction of performance, the police are required to follow certain procedures and protocol. The officer will need to have “probable cause” to believe the driver is impaired due to drugs or alcohol.

Determining Driver Impairment

Determining an impairment of a driver is less fact oriented and less objective than determining their Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level. BAC levels can be obtained through use of a breathalyzer test or a chemical test such as DUI blood test.

Here are some tools the police will use to determine if a driver is impaired:

1. The motorist driving behaviors prior to the stop;
2. Police observations of the motorist at the time of, and following the stop;
3. Mannerisms and responses of the motorist to questions asked by the officer;
4. Ability of the motorist to follow instructions;
5. Statements or admittance made by motorist to police;
6. Passenger or objective witness statements;
7. DUI Roadside Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFSTs) developed by NHTSA:
a. Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) Eye Test
b. On-Leg Stand Test;
c. Walk-and-Turn Test
These factors, particularly the DUI Roadside Testing FSTs are often challenged; considered biased and police opinionated, by the defense. This is because the police explain the test; provide instructions; administer the tests, and then grade the tests.

Arizona DUI Laws

Under Arizona law A.R.S. §28.1381, a motorist may be arrested for DUI, if they are driving below the legal limit of 0.08% Blood Alcohol Content (BAC); or if they are under the influence of drugs, and are “impaired to the slightest degree”. Criminal Charges will be brought as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.

Criminal Defense Firm for DUI charges Tempe AZ

You should always consult a criminal defense attorney if you were arrested for any type of DUI charges. The penalties are harsh for convictions, even for firs time Drug DUI and DUI “Impaired to the slightest degree”. Sentencing is the same as those for DUI in excess of the legal limit of 0.08% BAC, but before 0.15%. Penalties include jail term of 10 days; driver’s license suspension for 90 days; use of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) on their vehicles; alcohol or drug screening and education; probation; fines, fees, and assessment costs. You will need a qualified and experienced legal advocate to defend your charges, make sure your rights are protected, and work to resolve the charges with a favorable outcome.

Additional Resources:

Arizona Department of Public Safety

Arizona State Legislature – Revised Statutes

Maricopa County Superior Court – Criminal Case Information

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According to a 2012 report by Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Binge drinking was responsible for 80,000 annual deaths. CDC reported that 1 in 6 adults in the USA engaged in it. Other studies reported that 1 in 4 of those were Underage 21 drinkers. Binge drinking is also the number one cause of DUI -DWI. But drunk driving is not the only adverse consequence of it. Binge drinking can result in serious medical consequences and result in death.

Binge Drinking Defined:

The Medical community defines “Binge drinking” as consuming 4 to 5 alcoholic beverages in a very short period of time. It is usually the result of a person drinking “shots” in a row of alcohol. This includes 12 ounce bottle or can of beer; 3 to 5 ounces of wine; 1 to 1.5 oz. of 80-86 proof distilled liquor. It results when any or any combination of these are consumed within a short time span, such as within an hour or even a few hours.
Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is the result of the body’s inability to metabolize a large quantity of liquor. Alcohol is processed by the body’s liver. It takes about one hour for the body to process it, and in some cases, two hours. So the body is still trying to metabolize liquor well after a person has their last drink. Other factors that contribute to metabolic speed include food consumed; a person’s height and weight; age; tolerance level; medical conditions, and drugs. It may cause seizures, hypothermia; vomiting; unconsciousness; dizziness and confusion; and even death. It can happen to someone drinking for the first time; occasionally; or frequently. Long term binge drinking may cause liver damage, kidney failure, harm memory, and cause other chronic and severe illnesses.
DUI – DWI Laws and Binge Drinking: Quick Facts
Binge drinking is highly prevalent among under Underage 21 drinkers. However, adults often engage in it as well, particularly around holidays, weekends, and other celebrations where liquor is served. If you plan to drive after drinking, in the least you should be aware of the following:

1) It is against the law to drive if you are “impaired to the slightest degree” due to drugs or alcohol (A.R.S. § 28-1381 A. (1);

2) It is against the law to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08% or greater(A.R.S. § 28-1381 A. (2);
3) Alcohol levels continue to rise as well after a person has their last drink and may peak when you get behind the wheel of a car, or while driving;
4) Drinking 4 to 5 shots in a row could result in life threatening alcohol poisoning as well as DUI
.
5) Drinking one alcoholic beverage per hour, will reduce your chance of getting alcohol poisoning. However, it may not avoid your chances of being arrested for DUI.
DUI lawyer Tempe AZ

If you are arrested for DUI you should contact a DUI attorney to discuss your matter and defense options. Arizona penalties for DUI convictions are harsh. There may be defenses you are not aware of to help you get a favorable outcome in your case.

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