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How Can Officer Misconduct Impact a DUI Case in Scottsdale, Arizona?

Posted on September 20, 2023 in DUI,General DUI Topics

In a driving under the influence (DUI) case, law enforcement officers have a responsibility to conduct themselves in accordance with the law and county procedural requirements. If an officer makes a mistake or intentionally violates a suspect’s rights, this police misconduct could be used as a defense against a DUI charge. With assistance from a DUI defense attorney in Scottsdale, police errors and officer misconduct could significantly affect the outcome of your case.

DUI Police Stops Have Certain Procedures

Police officers have legal responsibilities when performing their jobs. If the police stop an individual and suspect drunk driving, the officer should pay attention to the driver’s demeanor and make note of any potential DUI symptoms, such as bloodshot eyes or slurred speech. Then, the officer should ask the driver to participate in one or more sobriety tests.

In Arizona, drivers give their implied consent to cooperate with blood alcohol concentration (BAC) tests. Refusal to do so will result in automatic suspension of the driver’s license for one year. The officer can conduct breath, chemical or blood BAC tests, as well as field sobriety tests. However, a driver does not legally have to comply with field sobriety tests. 

If the officer’s investigation finds enough evidence of DUI, he or she must also follow the correct procedures to make an arrest. This includes reading the driver his or her Miranda rights, such as the right to remain silent, the right to have an attorney present and the right to have an attorney appointed to you if you cannot afford one.

How to Use Officer Misconduct in Your DUI Defense

Proof of police officer misconduct can be used in your DUI defense strategy. Your lawyer can use it to challenge DUI evidence that the prosecution has against you, such as BAC test results. A motion to suppress evidence could lead to test results, body camera footage, officer testimony and other evidence for the prosecutor being ruled inadmissible in your case due to police misconduct. 

In some situations, proof of police misconduct can be enough to have a DUI case dismissed. If not, showing evidence of police misconduct during a DUI trial could result in an acquittal (being found not guilty by a jury). The suppressed evidence may mean that the prosecution does not have enough proof to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is the burden of proof that must be met to convict someone of DUI.

What Are Examples of Officer Misconduct?

Officer misconduct describes any action or omission that falls short of the officer’s job duties. Any careless, reckless or intentional error made by a law enforcement officer during the commission of a DUI traffic stop or arrest could violate the suspect’s legal rights. Examples include:

  • Pulling a driver over with no traffic law violation or reasonable cause.
  • Making an arrest without probable cause (reasonable suspicion that a DUI was committed).
  • Unlawfully searching the driver’s vehicle or seizing contraband.
  • Conducting an illegal DUI checkpoint that does not meet state or federal guidelines.
  • Improperly conducting a field sobriety test, breathalyzer or chemical BAC test.
  • Failing to place the suspect under observation for 15 minutes before a breath test.
  • Failing to obtain a warrant prior to conducting a forced blood draw.
  • Chain of custody errors, such as failing to properly preserve BAC test results.
  • Failing to read a suspect his or her Miranda rights at the time of arrest.
  • Failing to give a detainee an opportunity to contact a lawyer.
  • Using oppressive methods to secure a confession or evidence of guilt.
  • Police brutality, such as beatings, shootings and excessive use of force.

You have many rights during a DUI police stop in Arizona. The best way to protect yourself is to know and understand these rights. A DUI lawyer can explain your rights to you in detail if you get charged with driving under the influence in Scottsdale.

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