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DUIs & DUI Checkpoints During the Holidays

Arizona law enforcement officers take DUIs seriously, especially during holidays when alcohol consumption is at its highest. Almost every major holiday where drinking and driving is a concern is paired with DUI patrols and checkpoints throughout Arizona. Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July, Labor Day weekend and through the winter holidays, you can expect to have increased patrols around Phoenix and throughout the state to crack down on driving impaired.

Ending the Summer with a DUI
Labor Day weekend is a final party for the end of summer—a three-day weekend to spend by the pool with friends or to take in a concert or other event. It is also when Arizona police step up their game for DUI checkpoints and patrols. Last year in 2017, 87 different agencies across the state joined together to create a DUI task force, with extra DUI patrols and checkpoints throughout the state. Between September 1st and 4th, 490 DUI arrests were made last year, proving the effectiveness of DUI patrols.

Every year Labor Day weekend has big numbers for DUI arrests. Back in 2014, there were over 600 DUIs over Labor Day weekend in Arizona. The checkpoints are one of the reasons so many people end their summer with a DUI. Mesa, Tempe and many other areas have checkpoints that pull over thousands of cars and remove anyone suspected of driving impaired. Many checkpoints are staffed with up to 60 law enforcement personnel, with a DUI van or bus that is set up to perform DUI testing. It is a well-oiled DUI machine, and hundreds of people end up in a jail cell during these holiday DUI initiatives.

Know Your Rights at AZ DUI Checkpoints
Arizona DUI checkpoints can be set up almost anywhere but are generally near areas where there are known drinking events or establishments. Law enforcement can stop every car on these roads, or may do random pullovers, depending on the checkpoint and volume. Anyone they deem suspicious can be asked to take a field sobriety test or a breath or blood test. However, as a driver, you do have rights.

When you are stopped at a checkpoint, an officer will likely ask for your license and registration. The difference in these checkpoints and a normal pullover for a DUI is that the officer does not need probable cause. The checkpoints are well-marked and there is sufficient communication to alert the public they will occur on specific days. Everyone who comes through the checkpoint can be asked to comply—and while the officer looks at your driver’s license and registration, they will also be looking for signs of impairment.

Police officers at checkpoints will often ask questions to get the driver to talk—but you are not required to answer their questions without a lawyer present. They do this to listen for speech that can indicate impairment by drugs or alcohol or nervous behavior. However, refusing to talk can make the officer suspicious. Odor is another key factor. If the officer smells alcohol or other substances like marijuana, it is enough to ask the driver to undergo further evaluation. This usually begins with a request to take an FST or field sobriety test.

If you refuse to take the field sobriety test, it is well within your rights. However, it is possible that this also can make the officers more suspicious if they have reason to believe you are impaired. They may automatically move to ask you to take a breath, urine or blood test. If you refuse, you will automatically lose your driver’s license for 12 months under Arizona law. Plus, if they are convinced you are impaired, they can get a warrant over the phone from an on-call judge to perform testing without your consent.

What to Do If You Get Arrested for a DUI
If you get behind the wheel and are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you should know you put yourself at risk of a DUI. Arizona is one of the toughest DUI states in the U.S., using aggressive options like DUI checkpoints to obtain arrests and severe consequences for those convicted of the crime. However, just because you are arrested for a DUI, does not mean that you do not have options.

It is important to have a lawyer that can help you receive the best resolution if you are arrested for a DUI. You could be facing jail time, extensive fines, license suspension, drug/alcohol treatment, an interlock device on your car and community service. It is important to look at all the legal angles; in some cases, you can get the charges reduced or dropped completely with a good legal defense team.

Our lawyers at Matthew Lopez Law specialize in Arizona DUIs. Contact us as soon as possible if you are arrested for a DUI at a checkpoint or under other circumstances. We can assist you in finding the best options to reduce the impact of a DUI arrest on your life.