The primary mistake that individuals make in a DUI case is providing more information than necessary to law enforcement. It is important that individuals realize when they have been pulled over that they are legally required to answer questions about their identity by providing the officer with a driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. But beyond that, they are not required to answer any other questions such as where they have been, where they are going, and whether or not they have been drinking.
Individuals should not provide this kind of information even if they feel the intense pressure from the law enforcement officer. People sometimes mistakenly believe that through their cooperation they are going to be helping their case. I repeatedly hear of people who admit they have only “had a couple of beers” in response to this question. Every police officer who has ever been involved in a DUI investigation will tell you that they have heard that line a thousand times at least. So the less you say about what you have been drinking, the better off you are going to be.
Individuals should be polite but firm when they are dealing with law enforcement; they do not have to be antagonistic, they should be respectful, but if the officer asks that person questions that do not relate to their identity, they should politely say that they are invoking their fifth amendment rights under the United States Constitution and that they are not going to answer any further questions from the police officer without an attorney present.
Another mistake individuals make is agreeing to take field sobriety tests or do preliminary alcohol screening. It is important for people to realize that no one is required to take a field sobriety test and that taking these tests will only provide the State with more evidence. People should never agree to take any tests other than the chemical test that occurs after they have been arrested.
Another common mistake people make is failing to contest their motor vehicle division license suspension. A DUI case actually is two proceedings. The first is the criminal case which most people are familiar with and we have been talking about that here, but there is also the administrative matter that involves one’s driver’s license. It is a common mistake to not fight the license suspension; the motor vehicle division license suspension hearing allows individuals a chance to protect their license and, more importantly, it allows the license holder as well as their attorney to get an early view of the evidence against the driver.
The administrative hearing serves as a mini trial that can make all the difference when it comes to preparing for a case headed to trial. Another common mistake is refusing to take the required chemical test once an individual has been arrested. Although an individual is not required to take any test at the site of the traffic stop, the implied consent law in Arizona means that you are legally required to take a breath or a blood test. In fact in Arizona, you will lose your driver’s license for a year for refusing a breath or blood test, and the police often obtain a telephonic search warrant to force you to take a blood test, anyway.
Once they have a warrant, the police officers may physically restrain an individual who continues to refuse to take a chemical test to the point that they will hold the person down and stick a needle in the person’s arm on the side of the road if that is necessary to get a blood sample. Another mistake is failing to contact an attorney immediately after a DUI arrest. It is necessary to file certain paperwork both with the courts and the motor vehicle division. There is a fifteen day limitation for individuals who are requesting a hearing with respect to the suspension of their driver’s license.
It is very important that the request for a hearing be filed on a timely basis, and include the appropriate information upon which to base any appeal during the administrative hearing process.
What Are The Aggravating Or Enhancing Factors For DUI Charges In Arizona?
There are two different types of enhancements. DUIs are enhanced by the individual’s blood alcohol content. For instance, a standard DUI is classified as driving a vehicle with the blood alcohol content of 0.08% or more (if you are driving a commercial vehicle, it is 0.04% or more, or any percentage if you are younger than twenty-one.) That is the standard DUI. As before, the standard DUI also includes a DUI impaired charge, where the blood alcohol content is 0.08% or less but the individual still shows signs of impairment to the slightest degree. Driving with an excessive BAC is obviously an enhancement, because extreme DUI is classified as driving with a blood alcohol content of 0.15% or higher.
Certain circumstances can also aggravate a DUI into a felony in three situations. First, if the DUI occurs while there is a passenger who is younger than fifteen in the car, the DUI may be charged as a felony. Secondly, a third offense for a DUI within eighty-four months (7 years) is charged as a felony. Lastly, any DUI committed while the driver’s license is suspended, revoked, or cancelled is also charged as a felony DUI.
Again, we are talking about two different things in terms of enhancement of DUI offenses based upon (1) blood alcohol content; and (2) aggravation of DUI charges based upon the three specific situations set forth above.
For more information on Common Mistakes In A DUI Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 794-4480 today.