5 things to do when you are stopped for a DUI
DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses in Arizona. Knowing your rights could make the difference of whether you end up with a conviction or a valuable lesson to remind you not to drink and drive. The below list explains what to do if caught in such predicament:
- Be polite.
- When asked if you have been drinking, your response should be "no".
- When asked for your license and registration, provide them to the officer. Both items should be easily accessible, as how you obtain the items is evaluated by the officer and will be used against you if an arrest occurs.
- Do not agree to perform any field sobriety tests. This includes the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN), which is the test where the officer will request that you look at his light or the tip of his/her pen. This test is watching your eyes for nystagmus and is one of the most reliable DUI tests the police have. However, you have a constitutional right not to provide evidence against yourself. Therefore, do not agree or cooperate by performing this test.
- As soon as you are asked to step out of the vehicle, request an attorney. If they inform you that you are not under arrest, then nicely state you will not participate in questioning or field sobriety tests without an attorney present.
In the event you are arrested, you must submit to providing your blood or breath sample depending on the agency's request. Refusing to provide a sample will result in your license being suspended for 1 year by the MVD and the police will obtain a warrant and take your blood anyway. There is an important distinction when you are at the scene on the side of the road, the officer may pull out a PBT (a little handheld device) and request that you blow into the machine. You are not obligated to cooperate and you should refuse and confirm that you will cooperate with a breath or blood test if arrested. The PBT is used to make a determination of whether or not there is alcohol in your system and gives the officer a general idea of your blood alcohol concentration level. The presence of alcohol along with poor driving is sufficient to arrest.
Many people ask how to avoid getting a DUI. The answer is always the same: Do not drink and drive, use a designated driver or call a cab.
About the author: Jason B. Castle is a Partner at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg & Wilk PC. He is the President of the Arizona Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts, member of the State Bar of Arizona, and a member of the Maricopa County Bar Association, where he chaired the Family Law Section and Legislative Committee. He has expertise in child custody and Decision Making Authority. More recently he was named a Southwest Super Lawyer Rising Star.