Being stopped for DUI in Flagstaff or northern Arizona can be a scary experience. You will face harsh punishments and long-term consequences in your life if you are convicted of drunk driving in our state. Here are essential steps you should take if you are pulled over for DUI to stay safe and protect your rights. You should also immediately retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer to fight the charges you face.
DUI Offenses and Penalties in Arizona
DUI is a serious misdemeanor in our state. You can be charged with this crime for the following:
- Intoxication in the slightest degree. You can be charged with DUI if you are operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor, a drug, or a vape containing a toxic substance or a combination of liquor, a drug, and a vape if you are impaired to the slightest degree.
- BAC of over .08 percent. If your blood alcohol content (BAC) is over .08 percent, there is a rebuttable presumption that you were impaired while driving. This is a standard DUI charge. You could be charged with Extreme DUI if your BAC is over .15 percent and Super Extreme DUI if your BAC is over .20 percent.
The penalties you would face if convicted would depend on the level of DUI you were charged with. DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. Here are the minimum penalties for a slightest degree and standard DUI:
- Slightest degree. You would be sentenced to a minimum of 10 days in jail, a $1,600 fine, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, and installation of an ignition interlock device in some cases for 12 months. Nine days of the jail sentence may be waived after completion of the alcohol abuse counseling.
- Standard DUI. The minimum punishments include a minimum 10-day jail sentence, a fine of at least $1,200, alcohol and drug abuse counseling, 90-day driver’s license suspension, installation of an ignition interlock device for a year, traffic survival course, and possible community service. As with the slightest degree DUI charge, you may be able to get nine days of the jail sentence waived.
Steps to Take if You Are Pulled Over for DUI
What you do and say when you are stopped for DUI can directly impact the strength of your defenses to the charges you face and the outcome of your criminal case. Here are the steps you need to take to protect yourself and your legal rights:
- Pull over safely. If the police officer stops you for DUI, they will observe you as you pull over and note their observations in the police report. You should pull over as soon as you can in a safe location. If you drive erratically, stop too quickly, or pull over in an unsafe place, this will be included in the police report and weaken your defenses.
- Be polite. You must be polite and cooperative when interacting with the police officer. You are much more likely to face more severe charges or could jeopardize your safety if you are uncooperative or argumentative.
- Don’t make sudden movements. Your situation can quickly become dangerous if you make sudden or suspicious movements. It is safest to remain seated in your vehicle with your hands at 10 and 2 o’clock on your steering wheel.
- Remain silent. You will need to advise the officer of your name and provide them with basic information, like your vehicle registration. However, once you provide this information, exercise your Miranda rights, and remain silent. Your statements would be used against you in court.
- Refuse to take field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. You are not required to take a field sobriety or roadside breathalyzer test. If you consent to take them, law enforcement officials can use the results to arrest and convict you of DUI.
- Take the chemical test at the station. If you are arrested for DUI, you should take the blood alcohol test or breathalyzer test at the police station. You could face additional serious charges if you do not consent to one of these chemical tests.
- Take notes. Write everything down about your DUI stop and arrest after you are released from jail while the details are fresh in your mind.
- Retain a lawyer. You should hire a skilled criminal defense attorney right away. If you take this step, you are much more likely to achieve the best outcome in your criminal case.