flagstaff criminal defense

When someone is pulled over under suspicion of a DUI in Arizona, choices must be made. Big choices with big consequences. In this article, we’re going to discuss the practical application of “Admin Per Se” and “Implied Consent” in the Arizona DUI laws.

You may be innocent of a DUI (in criminal court), but you can still have your driver's license suspended by the Arizona Motor Vehicle Department (MVD).

The first set of choices involve field sobriety tests (FSTs), answering questions, horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN), and other voluntary decisions that a driver can make—or refuse to make—when a police officer investigates a driver for DUI. Police officers don’t tend to inform drivers that the decisions are voluntary, but we’ll write another article on that issue later.

The second set of choices can greatly affect a person’s driving privilege. Let’s start with a question:

Can a sober driver get their license suspended for a year during an Arizona DUI investigation, even though the driver is completely sober?

Answer: You bet. Here’s why. If a police officer is mistaken about your sobriety and thinks that you have been drinking, you will be arrested for DUI. All that the police need to investigate you for a DUI is reasonable suspicion—a low standard of proof. Once you are brought to the police station, you will be advised of your Admin Per Se / Implied Consent rights. In a Flagstaff DUI case, the arrested person will be brought to the Coconino County Detention Facility, where they have two Intoxilyzer8000 machines. This is a critical juncture in every DUI case. Do you agree to provide a breath or blood sample? (Yes, the officer can decide to ask you for a blood sample instead of a breath sample.) Are you deathly afraid of needles? Too bad, says the law.

Option #1: You agree to provide a sample of breath or blood. You can’t get your license suspended as long as you cooperate, right? Wrong! If your breath sample is 0.079%, your license cannot get suspended. But if you provide a sample of 0.080% or more, your driver's license must be suspended. If the officer believes you are impaired by alcohol, and they take a blood sample, and that blood result is not available, the officer can still suspend your driving privileges.

Option #2: You do not agree to provide a sample. This is called a refusal. If you refuse to provide a blood, breath, or urine sample, your driver's license will be suspended for 12 months! You cannot get a restricted license. And this law applies, even if you are sober, as long as the police officer can identify the grounds upon which he or she believed you to be impaired by alcohol or an illegal drug. Of course, the best advice is: do not drink and drive. If you had any alcohol, avoid driving. You can be charged and convicted of a DUI – Slightest Degree even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is under 0.08% in Arizona. Don’t take the risk. But if you are investigated for DUI, you do have choices. Do you want to comply with FSTs and potentially give the officer more evidence to use against you? (Even a sober person would not perform FSTs perfectly.) Do you want to agree to submit to HGN? Do you want to agree to a breath or blood sample? Do you want to refuse? The silver lining here is that if you do get your license suspended pursuant to an Admin Per Se / Implied Consent law, we can help you challenge it.

Get Help to Challenge a License Suspension

Time is of the essence. Once you let 15 days pass, you waive your right to have a criminal defense lawyer challenge your suspension, whether it’s for a BAC of 0.08% or more or a refusal. Get help now.

Contact us immediately using the free contact form or call us at the number at the top of the screen.

Ryan J. Stevens, Esq.
Ryan Stevens is an award-winning Arizona trial attorney with success in major felony and civil jury trials.
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