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Where were you arrested? A DUI is a state offense, but each jurisdiction handles them slightly differently.

Arizona Supreme Court decision means big changes for DUI stops

When officers in Arizona stop a motorist that they suspect is under the influence of alcohol, they perform an investigation to uncover as much evidence as possible to support an arrest. Once arrested, the officer will want to conduct a test that helps establish the individual's blood-alcohol content (BAC).

Arizona's implied consent laws require motorists to submit to these tests when requested by law enforcement officers. If the motorist refuses, he or she will automatically lose driving privileges. A recent Arizona Supreme Court case challenged the administration of these tests, and this could have an impact upon many DUI cases in the state. 

Language of admin form held unconstitutional

In the case, a man was observed sleeping in a running vehicle. When the officer went to investigate, he discovered an open container of alcohol in the vehicle, as well as other signs of impairment. The motorist was arrested and taken to the nearest police station, the man was provided a form. The form stated that Arizona law required the man to submit to a BAC test when requested by law enforcement. It repeated this information three times on the form.

The man submitted to the test, and the results showed a BAC of over 0.20, resulting in several different DUI charges. The motorist challenged these tests, claiming that the language on the form was not constitutional. He believed that the form used required him to take these tests, and that he did not actually consent to taking them.

This case made its way through the court system. When it was heard by the Arizona Supreme Court, the justices agreed with the motorist. They said motorists in the state do have the right to refuse to consent to these tests, and that if the motorist refuses, the officer must obtain a warrant to check the individual's BAC. By telling the motorist in a form that he had to submit to these tests, the officers performed an illegal search and seizure.

The court further stated that officers may inform the motorist that a refusal results in severe penalties, but could not simply force a motorist to comply with their requests. Forms across the state will need to change, or the evidence being collected could be potentially excluded in these cases.

If arrested for DUI, you need to contact an attorney as soon as possible

You need to reach out to a criminal defense lawyer experienced with DUI cases immediately after you have been arrested. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be to preserve some of the options that are available to you.

Police and prosecutors have many tricks that they will use to try to get you to make your situation worse. Anything that you say or do is going to be twisted to show that you were impaired at the time you were stopped. You need an attorney to make sure that your rights are protected throughout the process.

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