DUI Cases in Arizona – Warrants and OSC Hearings

Warrants In DUI Cases

A warrant is a court order signed off by a judge that authorizes the police to take a certain course of action. In DUI cases, warrants may need to be obtained by the police before they can search a vehicle or the driver.

Types of Warrants in DUI Cases

Several types of warrants may be requested and obtained based on the circumstances of the DUI case at hand – search warrants, arrest warrants, or bench warrants being the most common.

Search Warrants

In order for the police to search your vehicle or person and not violate your Fourth Amendment right from unreasonable searches and seizures, the officers will likely need to obtain a search warrant. In obtaining the search warrant, the officers will need to present probable cause to the judge. With the approval of this warrant for a blood draw, an officer with phlebotomy training may draw your blood for testing.

However, there are exceptions to this requirement. Such exceptions include when the officers have probable cause to believe a vehicle has illegal objects during a DUI stop. The officers also do not need a search warrant for when they conduct an inventory search of a vehicle when an individual is arrested for DUI.

Arrest Warrants

In general, officers do not need to request an arrest warrant to arrest someone for a DUI so long as he/she can establish probable cause to believe that the driver was under the influence while driving. The officers can establish probable cause when there is sufficient evidence that would lead a reasonable and prudent person to arrive at the conclusion that the individual did conduct an illegal act. So, when the police are investigating suspected DUI cases, they would collect evidence to see whether they can establish a probable cause to arrest the individual.

Examples of probable cause that would justify a DUI arrest include signs and symptoms of impairment like bloodshot watery eyes, speech issues, an odor of alcohol, speech issues; a driver failing field sobriety tests (we recommend that you always refuse to perform them); or a portable breath test with results close to or above a .08 blood alcohol content.

Bench Warrants

Depending on your situation, you may be required to make appearances for your DUI case or have obligations to fulfill other court orders. In instances like these, the court may issue a bench warrant if you don’t show up at your scheduled appearances or don’t fulfill your court orders. This may result in a failure to appear offense on top of your original DUI charge. The seriousness of the failure to appear offense depends on your original DUI charge. For misdemeanor cases, a failure to appear is a class 1 misdemeanor. However, if your DUI charge is a felony (Aggravated) DUI, a failure to appear may become a class 5 felony.

What is an Order To Show Cause “OSC” Hearing?

“I was unable to complete all of the terms of my plea agreement for my DUI case – what do I do now if my case is set for an order to show cause “OSC” hearing?”

Another DUI process that you should be aware of is the Order to Show Cause “OSC” hearing. This is a court hearing that addresses a defendant’s failure to complete duties or obligations required by court order or sentence, court rule, or statute. For the hearing, the Court must set a specific date, time, and place per Arizona Rule of Civil Procedure Rule 7.3.

According to Rule 7.3:

(a) Generally. A court, on application supported by affidavit showing sufficient cause, may issue an order requiring a person to show cause why the party applying for the order should not have the relief it requests in its application. The court must designate a date by which the person must respond and may set a hearing on the application.

(b) Service. An order to show cause must be served in the same manner that a summons and pleading are served under Rule 4, 4.1, or 4.2, as applicable, or, if the person to whom the order is directed has entered an appearance in the action, in accordance with Rule 5. Service must be affected within such time as the court orders.

In the wake of the COVID-19 shutdowns many of our DUI clients have not been able to complete all of the terms of their plea agreements including: paying all their fines on time, completing their jail term and/or serving their home detention term, completing their counseling, completing their community service hours, or installing the ignition interlock on their car resulting in Court setting an OSC Hearing or even worse, issuing a warrant for the person’s arrest.  The Courts take the completion of these terms very seriously and if you are not in compliance with all of them your driver’s license can be suspended. You can also be forced to serve up to six full months in jail instead of the reduced sentence you received from your plea agreement.

What Happens if an OSC Hearing Was Set, and You Missed it?

If you have an OSC Hearing set and you missed it and a warrant has been issued for your arrest, the attorneys at the Rosenstein Law Group can help. If a bench warrant has been issued, you have three options:

  1. Consult and hire a private Tempe DUI defense attorney in Arizona, who can file a Motion to Quash your warrant and effectively defend your interests.
  2. You can go to the Court and turn yourself in before asking a judge to quash the warrant. This is not a great option as you will probably be arrested and taken into custody.
  3. Just ignore the warrant. This is not a recommended course of action, as your driver’s license will continue to stay suspended. Additionally, if you have any police contact in Arizona you will likely be arrested.

Our Office has been representing DUI clients for over 15 years and have helped hundreds of people whose cases are set for OSC Hearings or have warrants. If you find yourself in either situation, please contact us at (480) 248-7666.


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