There is confusion with respect to the difference between a DUI and a DWI as both terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Some states refer to the offense of drinking and driving as a DUI and others call it DWI. Arizona uses the term DUI. There are two types of DUI. The first is driving with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) over a certain limit; this is known as DUI per se. The second is driving while impaired to the slightest degree regardless of alcohol content; this is known as impaired DUI.

What Determines Whether Someone Is Impaired By Alcohol And Drugs Or Not?

Several factors are taken into account whether someone is impaired by alcohol and or drugs. As an initial matter, if law enforcement observes an individual’s driving, there are a number of clues to impairment that a police officer can use to determine whether or not reasonable suspicion exists to pull a person over for additional investigation; these clues include weaving in lane or across lane lines, driving at an excessive rate of speed, driving well under the speed limit, driving on the curb, taking wide turns, and other traffic offenses.

In addition, reasonable suspicion for further investigation can be found where the driver sits at a red light, the red light turns green and the driver doesn’t move or where a driver is stopped at a stop sign and remains stopped for no apparent reason. A not uncommon scene is a drunk driver who falls asleep at the drive-thru window of a fast food establishment. There are a number of situations where a police officer can establish reasonable suspicion to begin an investigation. Once the investigation begins, the police officer may make a number of other observations about potential clues to impairment such as bloodshot watery eyes, an odor of alcohol, slurred speech, and an inability to exit one’s vehicle.

A police officer evaluates a person’s response time in determining whether or not that person is impaired. For instance, if a police officer requests a driver to provide the individual’s license and registration, the police officer will observe that person as they are looking for these items. If a driver fumbles around, cannot recall where these items are located or loses focus of what they were looking for, a police officer can use that as a clue to possible impairment. Additional clues to impairment are gathered where a police officer demands the person take part in any field sobriety testing.

We are all familiar with what field sobriety testing looks like in terms of a walk and turn or holding one’s arms out and touching one’s nose. There is a strong correlation between performance on these tests and driving ability. If you fail one or more of these tests, the police will have probable cause that you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs and impaired to the slightest degree. You will then be placed under arrest and the officer will demand that you perform certain testing which can include either or both of the breathalyzer or blood draw tests.

How Public Is The Knowledge Of A DUI Arrest Or Charges In Arizona?

A DUI arrest is public record but it also depends on individual circumstance. We have represented a number of people who are local celebrities and the charges have often become public either through publishing or social media. This, of course, makes the circumstances more difficult for our clients to handle, not only in terms of the publicity, but in terms of the personal stigma the publicity can cause, especially in smaller local communities.

If a professional license holder is charged with a DUI, then there may be obligations upon that person to disclose to their licensing agency the fact that they have a pending DUI; it does not necessarily have to be a DUI conviction — an arrest can trigger the reporting obligation. For example, if an individual is a licensed real estate agent, and they are charged — again, they do not have to be convicted, merely charged with the DUI — it is mandatory through their agency’s licensing rules and regulations that they disclose the DUI arrest to the real estate board. There are other impacts that may come into play with regard to DUI charges. In some circumstances, where an individual drives for a living, either commercially or through a taxi service, that person may have to disclose the fact that they have been charged with a DUI to their employer; this obviously holds serious consequences to their employability. For example, a lot attendant at a car dealership has job duties that include driving cars around the lot or driving them back and forth to be fueled. The employer dealership may expect the lot attendant to disclose a DUI arrest.

In fact, the dealerships and their insurance companies perform a periodic check of the license status of each of the individuals who are lot attendants. If someone has a pending DUI charge, they may not be employable at all. So your question is a very good one with regards to who is going to find out, who is going to know and the answer really lies in the status of that individual and the type of job that they are holding, professional or not.

For more information on DUI Charges in Arizona, a complimentary strategy session. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 794-4480 today.