Defenses to DUI
A drunk driving conviction may haunt you far into the future. It may affect your insurance premiums, as well as your ability to get a job, secure housing, obtain a professional license, or go to college or graduate school. You should not assume that a conviction is inevitable because a blood or breath test was given. The prosecution needs to prove each element of its case beyond a reasonable doubt, as it does with any other criminal charge. Tempe DUI defense lawyer James E. Novak is familiar with all of the possible defenses to DUI under Arizona laws. Mr. Novak is a former prosecutor who can use his strategic insights gained while working on the other side to help ensure that you have a strong defense.Defenses to DUI in Arizona
Often, there are many potential defenses to DUI charges. These may include attacking the basis for stopping you, the reason for arresting you, the way that field sobriety tests were administered, the way that Miranda warnings were provided, and the accuracy of the blood or breath tests.
In Arizona, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were driving or had actual physical control of the vehicle. If there are no witnesses available to testify about who was driving the car, the State may not be able to prove that you were driving or were actually in control of the vehicle.
Police officers must abide by constitutional protections provided by the Fourth and Fifth Amendments. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures of your person, car, personal effects, and home. How this general rule is applied is complex and varies depending on the circumstances.
In order to conduct an investigative stop of your car, the police must have a reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur. If a police officer cannot articulate why they had a reasonable suspicion that a crime was underway, the evidence of intoxication obtained from the investigative stop may be suppressed. You are deemed to have been seized from the moment that you stop your car when you are pulled over by the police.
Under the Fourth Amendment, a police officer must have probable cause to arrest you. Probable cause refers to objective facts and circumstances within the knowledge of the police that would lead a reasonable person to decide that criminal activity had been or is being committed when the arrest occurs. A hunch is insufficient. If an officer does not have probable cause, the case may be dismissed. Courts determine probable cause on a case-by-case basis. James Novak can help Tempe residents and others determine whether a police officer may not have had probable cause to stop them.
Sometimes an arrest happens because of the outcome of field sobriety tests, which are administered when alcohol impairment is suspected. Field sobriety tests must be administered according to the guidelines of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These tests include the walk and turn, the horizontal gaze nystagmus, reciting the alphabet backward and forward, and the one-leg stand.
However, the tests are not supposed to be administered when a suspect is 50 pounds or more overweight, is over the age of 65, has certain injuries that could affect the test, has a disability that affects balance, or is wearing heels that are two or more inches high. Often, police officers score and report the performance without considering the circumstances, unfavorable environmental conditions, or nervousness.
Breath and blood tests are only valid if appropriate testing procedures have been followed. For example, a breath-testing device must be calibrated and held to the Standard Quality Assurance Procedure. Certain tests, such as the portable breath test and the Intoxilyzer, are known to have accuracy problems, and the results may be challenged. Similarly, if there are any deficiencies in blood alcohol testing or how the lab handled the blood, this evidence may be suppressed. You have a due process right to an independent test of your BAC, and the State is not supposed to unreasonably interfere with your ability to obtain this exculpatory evidence.
Before you are questioned while in custody, you are supposed to receive what are known as Miranda warnings. These warnings provide that you may stay silent, that statements that you make may be used as evidence in the case against you, that you have the right to an attorney's presence, and that if you cannot afford an attorney, an attorney may be appointed prior to your being questioned. If you ask for an attorney, you are supposed to be provided with the opportunity to speak to an attorney by telephone as soon as possible. A failure to provide you with warnings or an attorney upon request may result in the suppression of any incriminating statements that you made.Consult a Knowledgeable DUI Defense Attorney in Tempe or Beyond
The penalties associated with DUI convictions in Arizona may be harsh. People charged with drunk driving should consult Tempe DUI defense lawyer James E. Novak. He is familiar with the nuances of these cases and can use his experience to pursue a favorable outcome in your case. He represents people who need a drunk driving lawyer throughout the Phoenix area, including in Mesa, Chandler, Gilbert, Scottsdale, and elsewhere in Maricopa County. Call James Novak at (480) 413-1499 or use our online form to set up a free appointment.