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Should I perform field sobriety tests?

Do NOT agree to take any field sobriety tests (FSTs). There are several types of FSTs, for example: walk and turn, one-leg stand and the “eye test” (otherwise referred to as HGN or Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus). You have every right to refuse these tests without consequence to you. Also, remember that officers often use a portable breath test at the scene of the traffic stop; you have every right to refuse this PBT too. Further, always remember, you have a constitutional right to remain silent. Make sure not to answer any questions, even questions that seem innocuous or “chit-chatty,” without first having your attorney with you or at the very least having had the opportunity to speak with one. Exercising your right to remain silent CANNOT ever be used against you but EVERYTHING you say can be.

Should I submit to a breath, blood or urine test?

Under Arizona law, you must agree to take a breath, blood or urine test once you have been arrested. It would be a good idea to contact an attorney prior to submitting to the tests, if possible. Failure to submit to the tests upon request may result in your driver’s license being revoked for one year. Further, if you refuse to take the required chemical test, the officer may well get a warrant to take your blood. If that happens, you will not only have lost your license for one year, but the state will also have your blood anyway. Finally, DO NOT confuse the small portable breath test device (which you are not obligated to submit to) with the actual Intoxilyzer machine. It is about the size of a typewriter with a long tube, and you are required to submit to this test or face the same consequences as refusing a chemical test after arrest.

How many DUIs can I be charged with?

Generally, the state may bring three different charges against you, depending on the amount of alcohol in your system at the time of driving:

  • Driving while under the influence while being impaired to the “slightest degree.” This charge does not require the state to prove that your blood alcohol concentration be at a certain amount but only that you are impaired to the slightest degree.
  • Driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration above .08 within two hours of driving.
  • Driving under the influence with a blood alcohol concentration above .15 within two hours of driving. This is referred to as an “extreme DUI.” If convicted, penalties increase significantly and include a longer jail sentence and higher fine. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle if convicted.

When does A DUI become a felony?

There are several ways that your DUI may be charged as an aggravated (felony) DUI.

  • Under Arizona law, if you have been convicted of two DUIs within the past seven years, another arrest means you will be charged with a felony DUI.
  • Should you be arrested for DUI while driving on a suspended license, you may be charged with an aggravated DUI.
  • If you are driving with any children under age 15 in your car and are arrested for DUI, you will be charged with an aggravated DUI, even if you have no prior convictions.

Keep in mind that the state has the burden of proving that you knew or should have known that your license was suspended at the time of driving. The punishment for an aggravated DUI will include a mandatory minimum of four months in prison plus mandatory felony probation to follow.

Will my driver’s license be suspended?

Probably. Part of any DUI attorney’s job is to make the timing of this suspension, if it must happen, as convenient as possible for you. You are entitled to a hearing before an administrative law judge at the Motor Vehicle Department. If your blood alcohol reading is above .08, your license may well be suspended for 90 days, but in most cases the MVD will issue a restricted license after thirty days for work purposes. This license suspension may occur even if you have not been convicted of a DUI in a criminal court proceeding.

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