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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.
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What to do if Stopped for Drunk Driving in Arizona
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.
Timothy Hintze is a well-respected and aggressive trial lawyer having represented clients in courts throughout the state of Arizona. He has litigated hundreds of criminal matters ranging from complex felony cases to misdemeanor offenses, as well as a dedicated advocate for family law clients. Tim was also awarded the distinction of being named a Super Lawyers Rising Star and selected by the National Trial Lawyers Association as a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney.
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“Because of Darin I got my daughter back”
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!
Chris - AVVO Review
“I would give them more stars, but the option is not there”
Best divorce lawyers in Arizona, hands down. Timothy Hintz handled my divorce, and as a father, I have my son and our house. I would give them more stars, but the option is not there. His paralegal Jennifer Bone is extremely competent, and the whole team is very friendly. Took a big weight off, having them behind me.
Joseph A. - Google Review
“Nothing but good things to say about my experience.”
I have nothing but good things to say about my experience working with David Maletta. I was in a very high-stress situation facing a pending DUI charge. He doesn’t know this, but I actually interviewed 5 potential lawyers, and he was the most optimistic of all of them. He took over and handled everything, and now I don’t have to live with a DUI. Thank you so much for everything! Highly recommend them to anyone looking for legal help.
Lauren Koontz - Google Review
“Tim was absolutely amazing and worked diligently”
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 of things that really helped me through this process was that Tim did an amazing job at 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.
Dylan - AVVO Review
“I still have a clean record to this day.”
One piece of advice for people who are charged with anything in Arizona is to hire a great lawyer because the state does not care if you’re innocent or not. The Arizona legal system will try to ruin your life. A couple of years ago I was the victim of an antisemitic hate crime when a guy named Billy, who had a history of drug and alcohol issues and was thrown out of the Navy for being violent, decided to attack me after drinking all day in Old Town (Sunday funday) over a pointless argument over whether it’s better to buy homes immediately post-recession or during the 10th year of a bull market run which was his argument. The disagreement led to Billy making several anti-semitic comments and assaulting me, which led to me beating up billy. Billy and his friends then went to the police and lied to try to get me thrown in jail for months for assault while getting 10s of thousands of dollars in restitution in the process. I hired David Maletta. We went to court and destroyed Billy and his best friend/roommate Taylor who were trying to extort me and ruin my life. In Arizona there is a 3.5% chance you’ll get all charges dropped because of how hard the state is on crime but we pulled it off and I still have a clean record to this day.
MJ Walsh - Google Review
“He fights for his clients like no one I have ever seen”
David Maletta is the absolute best trial attorney in the state of Arizona. He is a kind, emphatic, and extremely patient person. As an attorney, he is prepared, aggressive, and extremely skilled. He is not afraid to go to trial and fight for his clients, like other attorneys that just plead their clients to the original charges. When he is in trial, he flips a switch and goes from a nice guy to a killing machine. He fights for his clients like no one I have ever seen. Watching him do a cross-examination is exhilarating because he is so good it’s scary.
Patricia Bevins - Google Review
“The calm in the middle of my storm…”
I recently consulted with Darin after my wife filed for divorce. He was referred to me by a friend whom I very much trust. Darin was the antithesis of the first two attorneys I consulted (who were matter-of-fact and had very little empathy about the fact that I was struggling emotionally with what was transpiring). From the first few minutes of speaking with Darin, it was obvious that he was very knowledgeable and skilled with divorce and family matters. While that was most important to me, the thing that made the difference was his calming, logical, and empathetic approach. He took the time to listen and empathize with me. He took the time to understand what I wanted to achieve through this process and laid out my options. After the consultation, I knew he would be my attorney if I had to pull the trigger. I, ultimately, didn’t have to engage Darin’s services due to a reconciliation with my wife. I hope I never have to go through that process again. However, if I do, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt who I will be hiring to represent me…Darin R. Colburn. Darin, thank you for caring and being more than an attorney.
Frank - AVVO Review
“There is NOBODY I would rather have defending me than David”
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.
Jacob - AVVO Review
“David was relentless in his pursuit of my son’s innocence”
We retained David Maletta to represent our son after being cited for what can only be described as a momentary lapse of reason. David was extremely knowledgeable, was able to clearly communicate very complicated concepts, and was relentless in his pursuit of my son’s innocence. He had strong relationships with the prosecuting attorney and respect of the judge, which ultimately resulted in my son learning a really hard lesson with limited consequences (traffic school and writing an essay to the judge on the physics of driving 130MPH and what happens if that goes badly). I have already sent all of my friends with teenage and 20 year old kids his contact information for when they inevitably get that call. David completely exceeded all of our expectations and we could not recommend him any stronger. Thank you for everything.
Shawn H. - Google Review
“I was found NOT GUILTY. Dave won the trial for me.”
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.
Gregory - AVVO Review
“This was the best possible outcome, great price, and fast.”
Darin helped me with a complex family law issue involving ownership of multiple businesses and other assets. He was able to structure a win-win that wasn’t only better than I thought was possible but that protected the business I had built. Above and beyond that, he did it with great customer service and character – which really matters to me. This was the best possible outcome, great price, and fast.
David R. - Google Review
“Responsive, sympathetic, professional, patient, and kind.”
On one of the worst and most surreal nights of my life (do not EVER get a DUI people!) I was lucky enough to find my way to Tim Hintze. Being in Phoenix for the Thanksgiving holiday from out of town, and after spending the evening with family, I ended up spending the night in jail.
Tim turned one of the worst experiences in my life into “it could have been so much worse!” Working with him from a different state, he covered the bases & paperwork, showed up for me in court, gave me numerous connections to muck my way through the system, and held my hand the whole way.
I cannot imagine how much worse this experience could have been, and thanks to Tim, I didn’t need to. He was responsive, sympathetic, professional, patient, and kind throughout the long process, drawn out by many months due to Covid.
Keep Tim’s number handy and in your contacts in the event you are ever in the sorry position to need a DUI lawyer!