Here is a scenario we have seen plenty of times by people stopped for DUI. You’re driving home from happy hour, you look into your review mirror, and you see the red and blue flashing lights of a Phoenix police officer. What do you do now?
Here’s your step-by-step guide if you’re stopped for DUI to making it through that traffic stop, limiting the information the State can use against you, and protecting your rights.
1. Quickly and Safely Stop Your Vehicle
When you have become aware that law enforcement is attempting to conduct a traffic stop, it is important for you to signal your cooperation and do the following:
Come to a stop as quickly and safely as possible.
Immediately turn on your turn signal and find a safe place to pull over.
Turn off the ignition in your vehicle and turn on your hazard lights.
Turn off the radio.
Turn on the overhead light if it is dark.
For your safety, keep your hands where the officer can see them, and don’t make any sudden moves.
Remembering to try and follow these steps can make a big difference in the police officer’s initial approach.
2. What to Say and When to Keep Silent
You are legally required to identify yourself to the officer and to provide them with the required documents. Provide the officer with your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance when requested. If you do not have a driver’s license, provide your full name and date of birth.
Once you have identified yourself, you have the right to refuse to answer any further questions.
It is almost always in your best interest to keep silent and not answer any questions. It is important that you remain calm and civil with the officer. You should politely inform the officer that you are exercising your right to remain silent and that you won’t answer any questions.
3. What about the Field Sobriety Tests
If the officer suspects that you may have been drinking, they will want to administer standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) as part of their DUI investigation. These SFSTs were developed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as a tool for officers to detect impaired drivers. The three SFSTs used by police officers in Arizona are the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN) test, the Walk and Turn test, and the One-Leg Stand test.
HGN is often known as the “eye test.” It consists of the officer moving a stimulus, most often a pen or their finger, back and forth across your face as they watch how your eyes track the stimulus. The Walk and Turn and One Leg Stand tests are intended to test both your balance and your ability to divide your attention between tasks.
Many times, people will think they “passed” the sobriety tests, when in fact the officer noted several “clues” that the State will argue are indications of impairment. That is because these are not “pass” or “fail” tests. Instead, they are intended to provide the officer with the opportunity to gather evidence to use against you as proof of impairment.
It is important to know that you do not have to submit to the Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
You can and should decline to take any of these tests. The officer may tell you that he wants to make sure you can drive safely, or that if you take the tests you may not be arrested, or he may not ask or say anything at all and simply start administering the tests. It is never in your best interest to take these tests. You will never help yourself by taking these tests. You should politely tell the officer that you will not take any of the standardized field sobriety tests.
Sometimes, at the scene, the officer will ask you to blow into a portable breath test instrument. Portable breath tests, or breathalyzers, are not admissible in court, and you do not have to submit to this test. Again, the officer is simply trying to gather information to justify their arrest.
4. Breath and Blood Tests
If the officer determines that they have probable cause to believe that you are impaired after being stopped for DUI, you will likely be arrested for driving under the influence. It is important to remain calm and cooperative.
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The officer will read you the Admin Per Se Implied Consent form and ask you if you will consent to a breath or blood test for the purpose of determining alcohol concentration or the presence of some other drug. This form is developed by the Arizona Department of Transportation, and it reminds you that by accepting an Arizona Driver’s License you have agreed to submit to substance testing if you are suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
If you refuse to consent to the breath or blood test, your privilege to drive will be automatically suspended for one year.
It is important to note that this breath or DUI blood test is different than a portable breath test that is done at the scene and there are different considerations when deciding whether to consent to this test.
If you refuse the breath or blood tests, the officer will petition the court for a search warrant to obtain the blood sample without your consent. Since the officer has already determined that they had probable cause to arrest you, it is likely that the court will also find probable cause and grant the search warrant.
Because of the additional administrative penalty of a one-year suspension on your driver’s license and the likelihood of the officer securing a search warrant to obtain a blood sample, it is in your best interest to consent to the breath and/or blood test.
It is vital, however, to request to speak to an attorney as soon as possible, prior to submitting to the breath or blood test.
The officer is then required to provide you with a phone and phone book if you request one. The attorney will then advise you to take the blood or breath test, to remain silent, and to ask to be released for an independent blood test. If they do not allow you to speak to an attorney, the remedy will be a suppression of the blood or breath test results if you are released. However, if you are booked into jail overnight, the remedy for denial of the right to counsel is a dismissal of the case. But you must affirmatively and clearly request to speak to an attorney.
If you are released, you should go to the nearest hospital to obtain an independent test of your blood.
5. Your Miranda Rights and Police Interview
After you have been stopped for DUI and have been detained, the officer should inform you of your Miranda Rights. They will also want to conduct a standardized interview and ask you questions about whether and when you were drinking and whether you feel as if the alcohol is affecting you at all.
Remember that you have the right to keep silent and to refuse to answer any questions.
You should invoke your constitutional rights by telling the officer that you will not answer any questions without the presence of a lawyer. When you say that, the officer should immediately stop asking you questions. If they do not, simply repeat the invocation of your right to remain silent.
Here is an easy sentence to memorize in order to safeguard your constitutional rights: “I am invoking my right to silence and will not answer any questions without the presence of my lawyer.” Then call us!
6. What’s Next? Now We Fight For You!
Depending on the circumstances, the officer may book you into jail or they may give you a citation and release you. Either way, it is important for you to hire an experienced DUI attorney to fight for you.
While every case is unique and past performance is not a guarantee of future success, the attorneys at Colburn Hintze Maletta, PLLC, have combined decades of experience in fighting and beating DUI charges.
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I hired David Maletta and it was the best decision of my life. His knowledge, genuine interest, overall attitude, and ability to connect with people is incomparable. I could talk about all of this at length. I COULD do all of that, but that wouldn’t do David justice. He first and foremost demonstrates his interest and genuine care for his client. Being in uncharted territory with a criminal charge and nowhere to turn, David’s presence and personality put all nerves at ease. I went through a jury trial with David beside me. The trial ran for 3 days and I spent a significant amount of time with David one-on-one. During this stressful time, he wanted to hear my input and thoughts on everything. David was incredible from the first day I met him. Not only is he a great attorney, but he is also a great person who cares about people and finding justice for his clients. He connects to the human side of people. I can’t put into words how much David cares about the individual in a case. When it comes to the courtroom, there is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David.
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Before I hired Darin I went through a total of 3 different attorneys in two different states fighting a jurisdiction battle, when my daughter was taken to a different state. It was a very difficult decision to switch attorneys at one of the most difficult, time sensitive and important times in my case, but I’m very glad I did. Upon receiving my file from previous attorneys Darin came very familiar with my case quickly. Like other people have explained he took the time to lay everything out and explain how the process was going to proceed and what to expect and continued to do this as new issues arrived. He is also very quick at responding to emails and phone calls. My case was getting close to trial as told by my previous attorneys, I did not want to go to trial as I know this is very costly (most attorneys will convince you that you need to.) Darin knew my situation, fought for what was right and got the results I wanted while avoiding a costly trial. He is extremely knowledgeable in the Child Support Guidelines as well. Because of Darin I got my daughter back. I would highly recommend him and would hire again for any future issues. Thanks Darin!
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Dave stayed with me while he pushed back and forth with Covid-19 and the delays with court. Once cited, the state basically decides that you’re guilty through the automatic suspension of your drivers license. Dave immediately took care of that problem and I never lost the privilege of driving. Dave took notes like crazy and was upfront about our uphill battle. I was also well aware that the plea deal that was given to us, was unacceptable and through Dave’s knowledge and experience I had put my trust in him to guide me to make the right decision on how to proceed. With Dave’s guidance I had decided that we needed to fight for something better than what the prosecutor was offering and Dave was 100 percent behind me on that decision. We knew the risks, be we also knew we had very little to lose based on the prosecutions stance. We decided to go to trial… Watching the prosecution and then watching Dave was night and day!! It was clear to the jury that the prosecution didn’t have their facts straight and were not addressing the facts that they could not address…There was a lot at stake for my personal life and my work life. I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.
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I had an incident and was Given the catch-all charge. There wasn’t really anything I could do by myself to get out of it. Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently to ensure that I would have the best possible outcome from my case. Which he successfully achieved! As of right now I am on the path to having my case fully dismissed. A couple things that really helped me through this process was that Tim did an amazing job at was answering my questions. He was available almost anytime and would respond promptly when he got my emails. He was also very approachable and comforting to be around while we had in person meetings and especially when I was at the court house. I would trust him and the company he works for with any other cases in the future and as of right now they will be my first choice if I need a lawyer in the future.
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I honestly just want to let it be known to any and everyone looking for an attorney on a case. Whether it be DUI, possession, or your every day to day traffic violations where you need representation attorney Tim Hintze is your man. You have to respect a man that listens to every request that you make on a case and he gets in there and gets it done. Tim has my respect as an attorney and being a well-rounded representer. From him being honest on the possibility and options for your case to him being easy to work and communicate with via over the phone or face to face Mr. Hintze is working it out.
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