When drivers are pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, it can be a confusing and scary experience. Drunk driving penalties are severe in every state, and Arizona has some of the strictest laws in the nation driving under the influence of alcohol or any drugs.
Many people believe that when they are initially stopped by law enforcement, they should avoid any tests in order to prevent the police officer from gathering evidence to be used for a DUI conviction.
While there are some tests in Arizona that the individual can refuse without penalty, implied consent laws will require compliance with the arresting officer’s procedures, and any refusal to comply will compound the charges and driver restrictions that they will face.
Tests before arrest
Although an officer may initially pull a driver over for a traffic violation or erratic driving, he may suspect that the driver is DUI based on unusual behavior, slurred speech or bloodshot eyes. Everything that happens from that point on is so that the officer can obtain enough evidence to be able to support charges of DUI or OUI.
In Arizona, the driver will not face penalties for refusing to take standard field sobriety tests or the portable breath test (PBT). This hand-held device is used to measure the blood alcohol content (BAC) of the suspect. The PBT is not required to have periodic maintenance, and it is not an approved method of determining BAC levels in Arizona courts. There is no penalty for refusal, but the results of this test can be used to establish probable cause.
After arrest, however, the police officer will give an Admin Per Se warning of the consequences of refusing the Intoxilyzer 8000 chemical test, which includes immediate suspension of the individual driver’s license. This test must be periodically maintained, and the officer must possess a valid permit in order to operate it. The results of this test are admissible in court.
Implied consent laws
Under implied consent laws in most states, a driver’s license is a permit that allows an individual to drive on a public road. In exchange for this permission, the driver implicitly consents to abide by the laws administered by law enforcement, which include taking a chemical test if the officer suspects that they are DUI.
Mounting a defense against suspension for refusal on top of charges of drunk driving can be challenging. The arresting procedure and even the evidence gathered from the chemical test can be challenged, but it is wise to get experienced legal counsel to help with fighting these and other charges.