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Protecting the Driving Privileges and Futures of Those Accused of DUI – Arizona DUI Lawyer

Ensuring One Mistake Does Not Shape Your Future

Many people never have any contact with the police until they are driving at night out with friends or family and see flashing red lights in their rearview mirror.  If you have been drinking, the fear at that moment can be overwhelming.  An arrest and conviction for DUI in Arizona can result in severe penalties, including suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, jail time, installation of an ignition interlock device, substantial fines, probation, mandatory completion of a drunken driving class and other penalties.  Arizona DUI defense attorney Dianne Sullivan has helped many people in Arizona and throughout Maricopa County obtain a dismissal or acquittal of DUI charges or negotiate a plea agreement for lesser charges that do not carry the long-term adverse consequences of a DUI/DWI conviction.

If you are stopped by a police officer, it will typically be because the officer observed you commit in a traffic violation or otherwise drive erratically.  When you pull over and are approached by the officer, you are required to provide identification and registration. However, it is essential that you limit your conversation with the officer to the degree possible. It is not realistic that you will talk your way out of a DUI though it is possible well talk yourself into one.  If the officer has pulled you over for speeding, for example, this does not alone constitute a sufficient basis to initiate a DUI/DWI investigation.

The officer may not have sufficient legal cause to ask you to perform field sobriety test (FSTs), which are physical tasks of agility, balance and coordination.  If during the course of your conversation with the officer, he makes certain observations, such as noticing that you have red watery eyes, alcohol on your breath, slurred speech and/or exhibit a lack of coordination, this may provide the legal basis for the officer to ask you to perform FSTs.  It is important to recognize that FSTs performed under the best of circumstances have a high rate of producing a false positive result for DUI/DWI.  Generally, you are not required to consent to FST's. If you have in fact been drinking, it is typically not in your best interest to consent as the tests are done only to create a legal basis to ask you to submit to a breath or blood test.  While the officer may still arrest you, the prosecutor will not have FST results to use at a DUI/DWI trial. On the other hand, if you have not been drinking, submitting to FST's may be the only way that you avoid arrest.

If you submit to FST's, you will likely not fail as they are designed to provide evidence of intoxication and provide a sufficient legal basis for the officer to conduct a DUI investigation. You will then likely be asked to submit to a BAC test of your breath, blood or urine.  Under Arizona’s implied consent law, anyone who exercises the privilege to drive in Arizona agrees to submit to BAC testing if an officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a driver is intoxicated.  A refusal under the implied consent law will result in a twelve month administrative suspension of your driver’s license regardless of the outcome of your criminal case. 

If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) exceeds .08%, you are considered to be DUI/DWI.  The officer will then likely arrest you for being over the legal limit. There are two separate ways that the prosecutor may establish that you were driving while under the influence of alcohol.  One involves proving that you actually drove in a way that revealed that you were impaired by alcohol. However, this is not necessarily required because even if there is no evidence that your driving was impaired, you may still be convicted of DUI based on the "per se" offense. This per se offense allows you to be convicted of DUI, merely because your BAC exceeded .08% regardless of whether your driving abilities were actually impaired.

There are many people in Phoenix, Tempe and throughout Arizona that are convicted of DUI that easily could have avoided the negative consequence of a DUI conviction. The first thing to keep in mind if you are stopped by police office is to never volunteer that you have been drinking or that you are under the influence of alcohol.  As obvious as this may seem, many police officers obtain the legal basis to conduct a DUI investigation in large part based on the admission of the driver that he or she has been drinking. Even if the officer has a “hunch” that you have been drinking, this alone is not sufficient for the officer to initiate a DUI investigation. This means that if you simply did not make incriminating statements and minimize your interaction with the officer so as not to provide evidence to create a basis for initiating a DUI investigation you may well be allowed to go on your way.

Even if you are arrested for DUI/DWI, you should never simply plead guilty without speaking to an experienced Arizona DUI defense lawyer. Many people presume that FST's and breathalyzer results are based on science, and that they are highly reliable. This is simply not the case.  Arizona DUI attorney Diane Sullivan has successfully defended many clients accused of DUI based on a wide variety of successful defense strategies, including but not limited to the following:

Attacking FST's: These unnatural and awkward physical tasks of agility, balance and coordination are difficult to perform sober and under the best of circumstances.  If you are overweight, have a physical disability, have diabetes or wide range of other physical limitations, the results of your FST's may be as much a reflection of these physical limitations as evidence of intoxication.  Further, FST's are supposed to be conducted by carefully trained officers in accordance with very clear guidelines. The officer is also supposed to explain and demonstrate the test precisely as you will be asked to perform it.  Many times the failure of someone to successfully complete FST's is closely linked to the police officers failure to adequately explain or demonstrate these unnatural physical tasks.  Finally, even in the absolute best of circumstances. FSTs have been demonstrated to be inaccurate and identify someone who is sober as being under the influence between 25-35% of the time depending on the specific test.

Insufficient Legal Basis for Stop/DUI Investigation: An officer may not pull you over for a mere hunch that you were driving under the influence of alcohol or otherwise doing something illegal. Even if the officer has observed you violating a traffic law, such as speeding, this alone is not a sufficient basis for the police officer to initiate a DUI investigation. This is why the officer may engage you in a conversation.   The officer is looking for physical signs that you are intoxicated.  Without evidence of intoxication based on the officer's observations, Ms. Sullivan may be able to exclude all evidence that flowed from the stop and DUI investigation, including police officer observations, FST and breathalyzer results.
Attacking Breathalyzer Results: Many people arrested for DUI presume that results from a breathalyzer device provide a high degree of scientifically reliability. In reality, there are many factors that may make your breathalyzer results inaccurate, including failure to calibrate the machine, mouth alcohol from using mouthwash, diabetes, low carb diets, running a fever because you're sick and the list goes on and on. The bottom line is that breathalyzer results are by no stretch of imagination unimpeachable. Arizona DUI attorney Diane Sullivan has successfully attacked breathalyzer results in many DUI cases.

Police Officer Reliability: The police officer's observations play a critical role in creating a legally sufficient cause to pull you over and then to justify conducting a DUI investigation.  Many times we were able to show that the officer has embellished or completely fabricated the facts. There is a growing practice that has been identified in a number of jurisdictions were police officers instead of writing their actual observations of the driver in their report use templated findings already preprinted in a report. Ms. Sullivan will frequently request other prior DUI reports conducted by the same officer or other officers in the department so that she can identify evidence of DUI reports that may be suspect.

A DUI conviction can adversely impact many different aspects of your life, including your job, marriage, future career aspirations, educational opportunities, immigration status and personal and professional reputation.  There are far too many people that simply plead guilty with a public defender to an Arizona DUI/DWI offense in Arizona merely because they believe they have no realistic chance to win at trial. What most people do not realize is that nationally, 50 percent of DUI/DWI cases that go to trial end in an acquittal.  Given the enormous adverse consequences of a DUI conviction, you should never discuss your case with the police or plead guilty without consulting Arizona DUI attorney Diane Sullivan.

At Sullivan Law Offices, PLLC, Sullivan we recognize what's at stake if you are charged with DUI/DWI. We are prepared to conduct a careful investigation, retain forensics experts and develop sound and persuasive litigation strategies combined with persuasive advocacy to attack prosecutor’s case. We offer a free absolutely confidential initial consultation so call us today at 480-284-8740. 

The Sullivan Law Offices provides diligent and persuasive DUI defense to those accused of felonies, misdemeanors and DUI/DWI in Arizona and throughout Maricopa County.

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Sullivan Law Office PLLC
2233 West Baseline Road, Suite C-101
Tempe, AZ 85283
Phone: 480-284-8740
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