July 2012 Archives

July 16, 2012

Guy Drinking Bar - shutterstock_40585228_edited-1.jpgDUI Field Sobriety Tests

Field Sobriety Tests are a battery of preliminary roadside test that police administer to detect DUI drivers. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed to these roadside tests to be used in early detection of DUI impaired, and DWI drivers. Police officers are formally trained and accredited to administer the tests. They are conducted on the roadside at a DUI stop. The police must have a motorist's consent of the driver in order to administer them, because they are not mandatory in Arizona.

Standard Field Sobriety Tests

Police officers have been known to conduct other DUI sobriety tests. However, NHTSA has only approved three official FSTs, known as Standard Field Sobriety Tests (SFST):

1. The Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus (HGN);
2. The Walk-and-Turn;
3. The One-Leg Stand.

If any other FSTs were conducted, outside of the SFSTs, your criminal defense attorney can move to have the results suppressed, so the results cannot be admitted as evidence against a suspect.


Consequences of Refusing Field Sobriety Testing in Scottsdale AZ

A driver stopped for DUI investigation, has the right to refuse the FSTs since they are not mandatory in Arizona. However, persons should be aware, that there are consequences of refusal. If you refuse the FST and the police feel they have other "probable cause" to make a DUI arrest, the may proceed with arresting someone on "suspicion of DUI".

Why You Should Refuse to Take FSTs

Most attorneys will advise you to politely refuse to participate in any Field Sobriety Testing. You have a constitutional right to avoid self-incrimination. In most cases these roadside tests will not serve to help a suspect's defense, whether they are driving impaired due to alcohol or drugs or unimpaired. There are many reasons for this:

• Historically, and statistically, even the Standard FSTs have proven inaccurate;

• The FSTs are administered, judged, and graded unilaterally by police officer who is trying to arrest you, often resulting in bias or non-objectivity of results;

• Many people unimpaired by alcohol or drugs cannot pass the roadside tests. If the suspect fails, it can be used as evidence against them, even if they were not under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
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• NHTSA rules have strict guidelines regarding instructions and administration of the test; environmental factors; lighting; clothing; landscaping; traffic conditions; candidacy of persons taking it that relate to age, weight, medical conditions and more. If strict guidelines are not followed, the tests results may be invalid;

• They are generally used as evidence against a person and rarely if ever help their defense;

If you have taken or refused a field sobriety test and been arrested for DUI, you should always consult an experienced criminal defense attorney regarding your charges and defense options.

Continue reading "DUI Field Sobriety Tests (FST): Consequences of a Refusal " »

July 13, 2012

DUI Arrest Based on Blood Test Results Mesa AZ

The police have discretion of whether or not to conduct a blood test or a breath test following a DUI stop in Arizona. Here are 5 reasons why an officer may decide to conduct a blood test over a breath test:

• Breath Test Refusal by the suspect:
• Suspect is not a good candidate;
• Breathalyzer machine non calibrated or in need of repair;
• Police Suspect a motorist is under the influence of chemical or drugs;
• Initial Portable Breathalyzer Test (PBT) was negative for alcohol.

Breath Test Refusal

In Arizona, a motorist has the option of refusing a breathalyzer test. However if they refuse and police believe they have probable cause to believe a person is under the influence of drug or alcohol, they will get a warrant to conduct a blood test. Also, if a suspect refuses the breath test, their driving privileges will be suspended for one year.


Not a Good Breathalyzer Test Candidate

In order for the breathalyzer test to be accurate or valid, optimal conditions must exist. Police must be sure to avoid substance interference. Medical Conditions such as heartburn or gastric reflux disease may skew the results of a BAC reading. Trial results have proven that stomach fluids may find their way into a suspect's breath such as chewing tobacco; cough drops; belching or vomiting, or even alcohol may cause interference, causing test results to be inaccurate.


Breathalyzer in Need of Calibration or Repair

The official DUI Breathalyzer Intoxilyzer 8000 must be regularly maintained, and records to support its maintenance needs to be kept. Some machines, especially those that have been in use for a while, may have a history or needed repairs, or be in current need of repairs.


Police Suspect Drug DUI

Circumstances may cause the police to suspect a driver is under the influence of drugs instead of alcohol. Some reasons may include a person admits to being under the influence of drugs; the police witnessed a person using drugs; the police saw an illegal drug in plain sight when they approached a vehicle.

Initial Portable Breathalyzer Test (PBT) was negative for alcohol.

Generally, the police will first conduct a Portable Breath Test (PBT). Arizona does not allow the results of the PBT to be used as the sole source of evidence to obtain a conviction. This is because they are not maintained, calibrated, or subject to strict maintenance reporting guidelines like the official Breathalyzer Intoxilyzer 8000 machine. Its main purpose to either show positive or negative for alcohol use. If the results of the PBT are positive the police will proceed with formal breath test. If the results are negative, but police have probable cause to believe a person is under the influence of drugs, they will proceed with a blood or chemical test.

If you wish to defend your DUI charges, blood test, or breath test evidence you should always retain an experienced DUI attorney to represent you.

Continue reading " DUI evidence: Why Police Did Blood Test v. Breath Test " »

July 7, 2012

Dring & Keys.JPG •The Laws in Arizona for DUI are strict, harsh, and frequently changing. If you are unrepresented, you are held to the same standard as an experienced criminal defense attorney. This means you will be held responsible for meeting time lines, filing appropriate motions, challenging your charges with the authority of proper legal citation; representing yourself at hearings; following rules of criminal procedures. Winning cases and losing cases, is often the result of a successful argument or challenge of any of these aspects and the different facets of a DUI.

• You may be completely not-guilty of the charges for which you were arrested or on trial, but the prosecution will not "tell your story" or produce any evidence that will help prove your innocence. That is not their job. The prosecutor generally will not point out weaknesses in the State's case against you. Only your criminal defense attorney will look for defenses, mitigating factors or evidence that may lead to a dismissal or reduction in sentencing;

• Any information or answers to questions regarding your charges can result in unintended self-incrimination. You have a constitutional right to remain silent and retain legal counsel to defend your charges, and be present during any questioning or testimony. Representing one's self increases a person's chance of unintentional self-incrimination.

• The Presiding judge can only intervene on motions; plea agreements; granting or prohibiting evidence from being admitted; and sentencing. The Judge can't dismiss the charges without formal or proper legal arguments or challenge is made on the evidence; to the law; or other matters surrounding your case; or there is a "Not-Guilty" verdict returned by the jury.

Arizona DUI laws are strict and penalties harsh. A first time Misdemeanor DUI calls for mandatory jail sentencing Ignition Interlock Device on vehicle; suspension of driver's license; probation, costly fines, fees and assessments. DUI charges result in both criminal charges which are held in criminal court, and civil charges relating to the negative actions on a person's driver's license. A qualified criminal defense firm will protect your rights; defend your charges; make every effort to help avoid jail terms and other harsh sentencing.

Continue reading "DUI Charges: 5 Reasons Why You Need Legal Representation " »