Anyone charged with DUI should take some time to learn about their constitutional rights. If you rights were violated, a DUI lawyer may be able to file a motion with the judge to have either evidence or perhaps the entire case thrown out.
As DUI attorneys, we always look for these violations so we can win cases. You would be surprised how often this occurs. We know what to look for and what it takes to get a judge to dismiss a DUI case. Keep in mind that at any time you can call us to answer any additional questions you have about your DUI case.
Let’s discuss how a person’s rights can be violated during a DUI arrest.
The traffic stop
When a police officer pulls you over during a DUI investigation, everything that you say and do will be written down and then used against you in court. If you tell a police officer that you had “a couple of drinks,” that statement will make its way into a police report which will be given to a prosecutor. If you case goes to trial, the police officer will be given the ability to take the witness stand and tell a jury that you admitted to having, “a couple of drinks” prior to driving.
While there have been some agencies that have adopted body cameras, police stops aren’t always videotaped in Arizona. When the police encounter is not taped, everything that you say or do is subject to the police officer’s subjective perception. That is a fancy way of saying that the cops write down what they want to about your statements and actions. It is safe to say that sometimes what they write down is not 100% accurate. What if an officer writes that you admitted to drinking 5 drinks but you actually said “a few.”
When the officer is not telling the truth
It’s always difficult to prove that the officer is not telling the truth. As a result, the best bet is to exercise your right to remain silent and ask to speak with a DUI lawyer. When the officer approaches your vehicle, you can immediately, yet respectfully, explain that you are refusing to answer any questions. You need to identify yourself and provide insurance and registration. But, if the officer insists that you provide information about your alcohol consumption, it is usually best to respectfully and firmly state your desire to remain silent.
Keep in mind that when officers ask information, other than biographical information (name, date of birth, etc…), they are also looking for evidence of a crime. They will be assessing your speech, behavior and demeanor. If you struggle to produce your license or registration, the officer will undoubtedly write that down in their police report.
Also know that an admission to drinking any alcohol may give the officer the legal basis to arrest you, even if two drinks isn’t enough to get you over the legal limit. However, if you did admit to drinking alcohol, this does not mean that your case can’t be won by a good DUI attorney, but, it is evidence that can strengthen the case against you.
Your right to counsel
You have the always have the right to a DUI attorney during a DUI investigation. Whether an officer reads you your rights or not, you can always tell the officer that you want to speak with a DUI attorney.
Here’s why asking for a DUI lawyer is such a good idea. First, it prevents the police officer from asking any questions. Second, the officer can’t ask you to complete field sobriety tests. Third, the police officer actually has to give you an opportunity to call a DUI attorney.
An officer may not interfere with your ability to call an attorney and have a private consultation regarding your rights. As long as talking with a lawyer on the phone doesn’t interfere with their investigation, they have to give you a phone, a phone book and a confidential place to make a call. You have the right to receive a telephone call from an attorney even if you are being detained in a police station.
For the most part, officers know and respect the notion that all individuals have the right to remain silent and consult with an attorney. Therefore, the majority of police officers will immediately cease all questioning as soon as an attorney is requested.
If the officer ignores these important rights, you can simply restate your desire to have an attorney and say nothing more.
Your right to refuse field sobriety tests
Just as you have the right to refuse to answer questions, you have the right to refuse to submit to sobriety tests. Examples of these tests are the hand-held portable breath test, the eye test, the walk-and-turn test, or any other test where an officer is trying to determine the level of your sobriety.
These tests are fundamentally subjective. A police officer must rely on their opinion of what they see. Many times police officers simply get it wrong.
When you submit to field sobriety tests, you are being judged by an officer who will view your performance through their own eyes. The testing many times is not videotaped. What the officer writes down in their report is up to them.
Refusing blood tests and your license
WARNING: Arizona’s Implied Consent Law requires submission to an officer’s request for a blood, breath or urine test in exchange for the privilege to drive in this state.
While an individual has the power to refuse blood or breath testing, that refusal can come with consequences with the Motor Vehicle Department. This means that a motorist’s refusal to submit to a blood, breath, or urine test will result in a license suspension. What’s worse is that the officer has the ability to obtain a search warrant to obtain a blood, breath or urine sample regardless of your consent.
Most of the time it is relatively easy for a police officer to get a warrant to pull your blood. If you physically resist submitting to the needle, they can legally hold you down and extract your blood. An implied consent refusal suspension is typically one year.
Your right to an independent blood test
You have the right to speak with DUI attorneys before submitting to a blood or breath test. But you also have the right to ask for an independent sample of your blood. During the DUI investigation, the police are likely to obtain a sample of the driver’s blood, breath, or urine. If the officer obtains a sample of blood or urine, that person has the statutory right to obtain an independent scientific test. More importantly, the police can not unreasonably interfere with an accused’s right to obtain this independent sample.
Therefore, after asserting your right to remain silent, your right to an attorney, and your right to refuse sobriety tests, politely indicate that you wish to obtain an independent sample of your blood or urine. If you are arrested and booked into jail, you still have the right to have the police transport you to a hospital to obtain an independent sample of your blood. WARNING: Arizona law has provided that a DUI suspect does not have the right to have the police preserve a breath sample for independent testing. Therefore, if the officer performed a breath test, indicate that you wish to obtain an independent sample of your blood.
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