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January 28, 2016

Protect Yourself Against DUI Checkpoints in Phoenix

shutterstock_256563820DUI checkpoints in Phoenix catch hundreds of people each year, with numbers spiking around holidays, graduations, and weekend celebrations. The best way to avoid a DUI is simply never to drink and drive in the first place, but many people still believe they are fine to drive after only a few drinks.

The Phoenix Police Department is trained to watch for signs of even slight inebriation. Failure to turn on headlights, use turn signals, slight wavering on the road, or even delayed reactions to other drivers can trigger suspicion. As the saying goes, “buzzed driving is drunk driving” and law enforcement will be more than happy to explain this to you during your ride to the station.

Here’s what you need to know before getting pulled over so you can help build your own DUI defense and minimize the legal implications of a conviction.


Fumble Around
When you are pulled over for a DUI, officers will ask for a driver’s license and registration. They will then note how easily you were able to find these items, as confusion can often be a sign of inebriation. This interaction will be noted as evidence in the police report. The best way to help your own case is to have this information easily accessible at all times.

Take Field Sobriety Tests
If DUI is suspected, you will be asked to complete a series of field tests designed to evaluate coordination, balance, and coherence. You are not legally obligated to complete these tests, and so it is advisable to refuse them altogether. The arresting officer may threaten jail time for refusal, but this is a ruse: the officer is obligated to take you to jail anyway if you are suspected of DUI. Your participation (or lack thereof) is not a factor in this decision.

Consent to Search
Do not agree to a search of your vehicle. Consent to search makes it very difficult to have evidence thrown out by the court. Refusing to a search does not guarantee positive results, but at least it will not hurt your case.

Answer Questions
If the arresting officer continues to ask questions, politely refuse to answer without a professional Arizona criminal defense attorney present. You are not required to call legal representation immediately, but are permitted to do so if you would like.

Expect Sympathy
Police officers see accidents caused by drivers under the influence on a regular basis and have little tolerance for those who take risks with other people’s safety. Reckless behavior on the road leads to serious consequences and the parties involved don’t get second chances to correct their behavior or un-crash into another vehicle. Be sensitive to the seriousness of the situation throughout your encounter with law enforcement.


Agree to Chemical Tests
Breath, blood, and urine tests are legally mandated under the Implied Consent Law. Whether you remember or not, you agreed to take these tests the moment you received a license to operate a motor vehicle. Agree to all chemical tests offered, as refusal automatically subjects you to a fine and license suspension for one year. If offered the opportunity to preserve a sample of your test, agree to that as well.

Get Your Own Test
As soon as you are released by the police department, go to a doctor’s office or hospital and have them perform another blood alcohol test. If the results show the same numbers the police department obtained, do not bother keeping it. If the results are different, however, bring the results to your attorney, as this may help your case.

No matter what, it is imperative that you cooperate with the officer. While you are not legally advised to answer questions or submit to testing, it is expected that you remain polite and relatively pleasant throughout the encounter. Avoid getting defensive; it could make all the difference in your case.

Call an Attorney
You are entitled to legal representation as a resident of Arizona. Don’t settle for a public defender – call a criminal lawyer as soon as you have been pulled over. Be polite to law enforcement, but make it known that you will not answer questions without an attorney present.

Expect the Max
Upon being charged, DUI penalties vary based on whether this is your first, second, or third offense. Typical offenses result in the following penalties:

1st offense: 1 – 10 days in jail, minimum $250 fine, and license suspension 90 – 360 days
2nd offense: 30 – 90 days in jail, minimum $500 fine, and license suspension for 1 year
3rd offense: 4 months in jail, minimum $750 fine, and license suspension for 1 year

Arizona has strict laws regarding DUI and is notoriously tough on offenders, which is why it is so important to call legal representation as soon as possible. Your criminal defense attorney will fight to achieve the best results possible throughout your legal battle.

The best advice to avoid DUI citations altogether in Phoenix is to simply not drink and drive in the first place. Buzzed driving is drunk driving and can still result in serious accidents or injuries for which the driver will be held legally responsible. The next time you are torn between your desire to drive home or calling a taxi, ask yourself: is it really worth risking a life?