ARIZONA DUI FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is blood alcohol content (BAC)?
The blood alcohol content is a measure of the amount of blood in your system based on your blood, breath or urine. The BAC calculates the ratio of ethanol to blood within your body. If your BAC is below a .08, that does not mean that you are necessarily capable of operating a motor vehicle. Every person’s ability to tolerate alcohol is different and you may still be charged with DUI if your BAC is less than .08 or if you have exhibited other signs that you were unable to safely operate a motor vehicle.
What is the legal blood alcohol concentration limit in the state of Arizona?
If you have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or more within two hours of driving a motor vehicle, you will be charged with DUI. If you are younger than 21 and driving a motor vehicle with any amount of alcohol in your body, you may also be charged under Arizona”s zero tolerance statutes.
Are there different types of DUI charges in Arizona?
Yes. DUI charges can stem from being impaired to the slightest degree while operating a motor vehicle, having a BAC of a .08 or higher within two hours of operating a motor vehicle and having a BAC of a .15 or higher within two hours of operating a motor vehicle.
What is an arraignment?
An arraignment is the court appearance when you are notified of the charges being brought against you. It is often your first court appearance. Depending on the jurisdiction and the charges, it is also the time when your attorney enters a plea on your behalf. Sometimes bail conditions are also addressed at the arraignment.
What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?
Felony charges are more serious than misdemeanor charges. In Arizona, a misdemeanor can carry a maximum sentence of up to six months in a local jail. A felony can carry a much longer sentence in a state penitentiary.
Can you choose what type of chemical test you will consent to?
No. In Arizona, you do not have a choice between a breath, blood or urine test. An officer can require a urine test if either breath or blood testing is unavailable or if he or she has reason to suspect you are under the influence of a controlled substance.
Can you be arrested for a DUI in Arizona if you do not consent to a breath, blood or urine test?
Yes. Under the implied consent statutes in Arizona, a driver suspected of a DUI who refuses to submit to a breath, blood or urine test can have their driving privileges suspended for twelve months.
What should you do if an officer asks you to submit to field sobriety tests?
You should politely refuse the field sobriety tests. Most of the time the officer has already made up his or her mind and is using these tests to help collect additional evidence against you.
Can you be charged with a DUI for driving after taking drugs?
Yes. Driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated does not just refer to being under the influence of alcohol, but also under the influence of drugs like marijuana, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy or any other illegal substances. You could also be charged if you are on prescription drug medicines or over-the-counter medications that warn of impaired abilities while operating motor vehicles.
Can you obtain a temporary permit to drive while your license is suspended?
When you are arrested for DUI in Arizona, you may be permitted to drive for the first 15 days. If your chemical test result was .08 or higher, once the suspension begins you will not be permitted to drive for any purposes for 30 days. You may be eligible for a work-restricted permit for the remaining 60 days of the suspension. A hearing may be requested to stay the pending suspension of your driving privileges.
What do police officers look for when searching for drunk drivers in Arizona?
The following is a list of symptoms in descending order of probability that the person observed driving is driving while intoxicated. The list is based upon research conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
- Turning with a wide radius
- Straddling center of lane marker
- “Appearing to be drunk”
- Almost striking an object or vehicle
- Driving on other than designated highway
- Speed more than 10 mph below limit
- Stopping without cause in traffic lane
- Following too closely
- Tires on center or lane marker
- Braking erratically
- Driving into opposing or crossing traffic
- Signaling inconsistent with driving actions
- Slow response to traffic signals
- Stopping inappropriately (other than in lane)
- Turning abruptly or illegally
- Accelerating or decelerating rapidly
- Headlights off
If you are stopped by a police officer and he or she asks you if you have been drinking, what should you say?
You are not required to answer any potentially incriminating questions.
What is the officer looking for during the initial detention at the scene?
The traditional symptoms of intoxication are:
- Flushed face
- Red, watery, glassy and/or bloodshot eyes
- Odor of alcohol on breath
- Slurred speech
- Fumbling to comprehend the officer’s questions
- Staggering when exiting vehicle
- Swaying/instability on feet
- Leaning on car for support
- Combative, argumentative, jovial or other “inappropriate” attitude
- Soiled, rumpled, disorderly clothing
- Stumbling while walking
- Disorientation as to time and place
- Inability to follow directions
You just blew into the machine and it showed your BAC was over .08, should you just plead guilty?
No. It is very unlikely you are going to gain any benefit by pleading guilty in your case. You have a constitutional right to require the State of Arizona to prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There is nothing wrong with exercising your rights and making the State prove its case.
The officer never gave you a ``Miranda`` warning. Can you get your case dismissed?
No. The officer is supposed to give a 5th Amendment warning after he or she arrests you. Often, however, they do not. The only consequence is that the prosecution cannot use any of your answers toquestions asked by the police after the arrest.