You have a few drinks at dinner with friends, but you think you feel fine. You start the drive home, and you still think you feel fine. But a few minutes down the road, you see the flashing lights in your rearview mirror. The next thing you know, you’re being asked to get out of your car and walk a straight line to show that you aren’t intoxicated.
Everything you do or say when the officer comes to your window can come back to haunt you later. One wrong move and you could undermine your DUI defense later and end up facing jail time and other serious consequences.
Here are a few things you can do to get through a DUI checkpoint in Arizona without jeopardizing your defense later:
From the moment the cop spots you on the road, everything you do can be used against you. If you waver on the road, look around nervously, or act erratic in any way, it could be used as evidence of your intoxication. If you are rude or belligerent, that can also be seen as a sign of your intoxication.
Always be polite, and cooperate with the officers. Don’t agree to do anything that you don’t have to do, but be communicative and polite at all times.
The first thing the officer will do is ask for your ID. Do not refuse, and do not become combative. Provide the ID, and don’t fumble for it. If you appear confused or uncoordinated while you are looking for your ID, the officer will make note of it in the report, which could be used as evidence that you are inebriated.
The officer might start asking you questions like, “How much have you had to drink tonight?” or “Were you out drinking with friends?” You should not answer any of these questions. Just politely reply that you will only answer questions under the advice of a DUI lawyer. Anything you say to the officer can be used to make a case against you.
If an officer has just cause to search your car, a search warrant can be issued. However, if the officer just says something along the lines of, “Do you mind if I take a look inside the car?” you can refuse. You should not be rude in your reply, but you should be firm and clear about your refusal. The officer may try to seem casual about the request, which can encourage you to comply, but you should not allow a search to take place without a warrant.
You have the right to refuse to take field tests. These are the stereotypical tests that you see depicted in movies, such as being asked to walk in a straight line, holding up one leg while counting, or following a light with your eyes. You do not have to take these tests, even if it seems like you do because the officer threatens to arrest you.
These tests are not always offered, but if they are, you should take them. These tests will prove conclusively whether you have alcohol in your body and, if so, how much. Even if these tests show that you have exceeded the legal blood-alcohol content, your DUI lawyer can work on a defense that invalidates these test results, such as by showing the results of a different test.
After you take one of these tests, you will be asked to sign a paper to waive your right to have a sample of the test preserved. You should not waive this right. In fact, you should always sign saying that you do want to have a test sample preserved. If your case goes to court, your DUI lawyer can have this sample re-tested to validate your blood-alcohol level.
Immediately upon your release from questioning or from a jail cell, you should have your own blood-alcohol test conducted at a hospital or physician’s office. Your lawyer can use the results of this test to defend your case. Even if the test shows that you did have the blood-alcohol content that the officer’s test showed, it is important for you to have your own, independent results. The best Arizona DUI lawyer can help you decide what to do with the results.
Being charged with a DUI can result in the suspension of your license. If you don’t want that to happen — and none of us do — you need to schedule a hearing with the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division within 15 days of being charged. Your attorney can advise you on how to handle this hearing so that you can preserve your driving privileges. This hearing is separate from the hearing you might have to defend your DUI charges.
As soon as you are released from custody and business hours begin, you should start looking for a Phoenix DUI lawyer. The sooner you find the right lawyer, the sooner you can start putting together your DUI defense, which may include re-testing or re-evaluating other evidence. Without the right legal help, you could end up losing your license, serving jail time, and facing other serious repercussions.
My AZ Lawyers is ready to help you if you’ve been charged with a DUI. Our experienced lawyers have been helping clients throughout Arizona for years, and they can help you understand the laws and your rights within them. If you’ve violated some of these DUI checkpoint “rules,” your attorney can help you understand how to mount the best Phoenix DUI defense to overcome these challenges. By working with an attorney, you may be able to get the charges dismissed, or you may be able to avoid some of the more serious penalties. Call us today to find out how we can help you.
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