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Can You Be Charged With a DUI Without Evidence?

Posted on February 16, 2022 in DUI,DUI Arrest,DUI Case,DUI Charges,General DUI Topics

The presumption of evidence is a legal doctrine that means a defendant in a criminal trial is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty. The prosecutor has the task of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is done using evidence. You cannot be charged with any crime – including driving under the influence (DUI) – without evidence. However, it is important to realize that evidence in a DUI case refers to much more than just a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test.

Grounds for DUI Arrests in Arizona 

The crime of DUI in Arizona refers to being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of any intoxicating substance. This can refer to alcohol or drugs. To arrest a driver for an alleged DUI, a police officer must have probable cause to conduct the traffic stop to begin with. There must be a reason for the officer to stop the driver that has nothing to do with a DUI, such as a broken traffic law or reckless driving. Only then, if the officer sees signs of DUI during the stop, can he or she make an arrest.

During a DUI arrest in Scottsdale, it is customary for a police officer to command a driver to take a breathalyzer test. A breathalyzer measures the driver’s BAC level. Under the Implied Consent Law, all drivers in Arizona must submit to BAC tests, or else automatically have their driver’s license suspended. However, it is not a legal requirement to submit to a field sobriety test; drivers have the right to refuse these tests without penalty.

If a driver blows a BAC of 0.08 percent or higher, he or she is deemed legally intoxicated and will be taken into custody. A police officer can also make an arrest for an alleged DUI with a lower BAC or a different type of evidence than this, such as his or her personal observations of the driver. It takes compelling evidence, however, to make a DUI charge stick and turn into a conviction during the criminal trial process.

What Does the Prosecution Have to Prove for a DUI Conviction?

To charge someone with the crime of driving under the influence in Arizona, the police must have sufficient evidence to demonstrate to a District Attorney that the DUI charge will most likely stick if the state chooses to expend the resources to pursue the charge. This means that a driver will not be charged with a DUI without evidence. Many drivers make the mistake of assuming, however, that the only evidence – or the strongest evidence – available to prove a DUI is the results of a BAC test. This is not the case. 

The list of evidence that could be used against a driver to prove driving under the influence is long, and may include:

  • Blood or chemical tests
  • An arrest report
  • The arresting officer’s observations
  • Police dashcam or bodycam footage of the arrest
  • Field sobriety test results
  • Eyewitness statements
  • Surveillance footage of the driver leaving a bar
  • Empty bottles in the vehicle
  • The driver’s own confession

The prosecutor needs enough evidence to prove the elements of a DUI crime beyond a reasonable doubt. While this is the highest burden of proof in the justice system, it can be accomplished even without using BAC test results as evidence. It can even be accomplished without proof that the driver was actually impaired or intoxicated by the substance, as long as the prosecutor can prove that the driver was in control of a vehicle with drugs or alcohol in his or her system (a “per se DUI”).

When to Call a DUI Defense Attorney for Help

While you cannot be charged with a DUI without evidence in Arizona, it may surprise you what can serve as evidence against you if you get arrested for driving under the influence. Do not underestimate the prosecution. Protect yourself by hiring a Scottsdale DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible – even before criminal charges are entered against you. A defense lawyer can determine every possible source of evidence against you and prepare the strongest available defense. Speak to a DUI defense lawyer today at Rosenstein Law Group for more information at (480) 248-7666.

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