DUI Attorneys in Flagstaff
The state of Arizona is widely known for having a tough stance on DUI offenders. Penalties range from fees and license suspensions to prison sentences in some cases. At the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier, we represent hundreds of clients each year in DUI-related offenses; the results we have obtained for our clients speak for themselves and vouch for our commitment to aggressive, affordable, and effective representation in courts across the state of Arizona. Our attorneys have amassed a record of consistently achieving impressive results for our clients with DUI charges; this includes reduced charges (such as numerous reductions to reckless driving, which is a traffic offense), prevention of license suspensions, and multiple outright dismissals — cases against our clients are thrown out of court.
Arizona DUI Basics
EFFECTIVE DUI DEFENSE: KNOWING THE BASICS
The laws surrounding DUI offenses in Arizona are far from simple, which is one reason that speaking to a knowledgeable attorney as soon as possible is of utmost importance if you or someone you know has been arrested for a DUI. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier are well aware of the vast array of procedural requirements necessary for the State to uphold and successfully prosecute someone in Arizona for DUI and have successfully defended clients by calling attention to the State’s failure to meet its burden.
In order for the state to convict someone of DUI, the following elements must be present:
- Driving/actual physical control of the vehicle – The most basic, yet one of the most important factors in a DUI case, is whether the defendant maintained physical control of the vehicle at the time of the offense. This means that the defendant need not be driving the vehicle in order to be convicted of a DUI.
- Impairment – The second element of a DUI offense that the State must prove to convict, means that the person in physical control of the vehicle was impaired at the time of the offense. The level of impairment can also result in varying degrees of DUI offenses (see DUI charges and penalties).
- Mental State – Unlike other criminal offenses, the State need not prove culpable mental state in order to convict.
THE DUI ARREST PROCESS IN ARIZONA
An ‘arrest’ is actually the process of a police officer exhibiting police authority over a suspect. If an officer of the law believes you are responsible for a traffic violation, he or she will pull you over, and if he/she suspects you of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while driving, the DUI investigation will begin on the spot.
You will be asked to participate in a field sobriety test and a chemical test (urine, blood, or a breathalyzer). If this happens to you, please bear in mind that you are under NO obligation to answer any of the officer’s questions or submit to the aforementioned field sobriety or chemical tests. Never answer questions, as these are always slanted in order to gather evidence against you. The police officer can still arrest you if you refuse a test, but once you get to the police station, it is a good idea to get in touch with a specialist DUI attorney in Arizona.
WHEN CAN A POLICE OFFICER ARREST ME?
In the state of Arizona and indeed throughout the United States, police officers are not allowed to randomly arrest whomever they please. There are three ways a police officer is legally permitted to place you under arrest for DUI:
- The police officer must observe you committing a crime. For instance, if you get pulled over for speeding and the police officer spots alcohol containers or smells alcohol from your vehicle, he/she can then ask for a chemical and field sobriety test. If you agree and measure over the state limit of 0.08 percent (0.04 percent for commercial vehicles), you can be arrested for DUI.
- The second reason is ‘probable cause’. This is classified as being a ‘reasonable belief’, based on circumstances and facts, that you have either committed a crime or are connected with criminal activity. For example, if you have a taillight out or are driving erratically on the road, the police officer can pull you over. Upon approaching your vehicle, if the officer notices signs of alcohol consumption, he/she can ask you to take part in the aforementioned tests. You can, of course, refuse, but you can still be arrested on suspicion of DUI.
- The final reason is if the officer has an arrest warrant that is issued by a judge.
WHAT ARE THE PRELIMINARY STAGES OF BEING CHARGED AND CONVICTED OF DUI IN ARIZONA?
If you are placed under arrest, your hands will be handcuffed behind your back for the officer’s safety and to ensure you don’t place anything in your mouth. Placing foreign objects into your mouth prior to any sobriety test will render its results invalid. Be aware that most field sobriety and chemical tests are NOT done roadside, and there is usually a DUI processing center for this purpose.
While most people arrested on suspicion of a basic DUI offense will not go to jail, it can happen, so you need legal representation. The booking process involves the police searching and fingerprinting you before the infamous ‘mug shot’ is taken. In simple first-time cases, the police will have most of the information they need to process your case. They will only file a charge against you once they have enough information. It is estimated that 90 percent of those arrested on suspicion of DUI never go through a trial, and if you hire a proficient legal team, it is even less likely you will have to go through this stress.
DUI CHARGES AND PENALTIES: HOW A DUI CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Though DUIs are by far one of the most common criminal charges (over 29,000 DUI arrests in Arizona in 2012), they should not be taken lightly. As was stated above, jail and even prison sentences can follow a DUI conviction. Additionally, DUI convictions are often times likely to result in negative repercussions in multiple areas of a defendant’s life, causing problems with jobs, professional licenses, student status, and government benefits. Aside from these possible dilemmas, license suspensions and restrictions are likely to be assessed after a DUI. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Gonzales & Poirier approach each case individually, assuring the best results possible for our clients.