In Arizona, the legal amount of alcohol a person is allowed to have in their system and still drive in .08% — unless you’re a minor or a commercial driver. While there are guides out stating how many drinks that translates into, it is difficult to tell for sure how much alcohol is “safe.” The words “drunk driver” are loaded and make many people think of someone who has been out binge drinking and is weaving all over the road.
But for some, even a casual happy hour or a simple celebration can lead to having a police officer pull them over on the suspicion of driving under the influence. If you do get pulled over, it is important to cooperate with the officer as much as you are legally required to do, but that doesn’t mean you have to comply with every request that is asked of you.
When To Cooperate
If an officer signals for you to pull over, you must do so. As they approach your vehicle, keep your seatbelt on — you don’t want to inadvertently add a seat belt violation into the mix. Be courteous and let the offer see your license and registration if you are asked for these items, hand them to the officer. Don’t try to joke or be overly friendly to the officer, but don’t be disrespectful either.
If you are asked to take a breathalyzer or blood test, you should comply with this as well. Arizona has an Implied Consent Law, which basically gives advance consent for these tests as part of the conditions for getting your driver’s license. Refusing to take these types of sobriety tests can cause you to lose your license for at least a year — a consequence even worse than most DUI convictions.
When it is Okay to Say No
Some officers may try to make requests that you do not legally have to comply with. The three main requests that are common, but that should be refused are:
Field Sobriety Tests – Tests such as walking on a straight line, or touching your finger to your nose are not an official measure of sobriety. There’s no need to put yourself through this.
Searching the Vehicle Without a Warrant – If an officer has a good enough reason to search your vehicle, they can get a warrant. In the meantime, it’s your vehicle and you’re allowed a certain amount of privacy
Answering any questions– It’s a good idea to speak as little as possible. Admitting to having one or two drinks or being at a celebration might be construed as probable cause. With or without Miranda rights read, you are not required to give out any information. If officers persist, simply state that you need to consult with an attorney before answering questions.
Other Ways to Help Your Case
Knowing which rules you must follow, and when to hold back as you are being approached by police on suspicion of a DUI are both important, but there are other things you can do to help your case if you are brought in. If a BAC test has been done, having the test preserved and retested on your own can possibly produce a more favorable result. You’ll also want to ask for a hearing with the Motor Vehicle Division in order to help you retain your driving privileges. Lastly, you will want a qualified DUI attorney on you side who is prepared to help you get past the incident and move forward with your life.