Last year, there were a total of 4,887 alcohol-related crashes in Arizona last year, according to the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT). Of that figure, 238 were fatal crashes. If convicted of DUI in Arizona, you face multiple consequences – such as up to $1500 in fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and substance abuse education/treatment for first offenses.
10 DUI Checkpoint Mistakes
Imagine you are driving home after having a couple of beers with your coworkers. You see traffic ahead and realize it is a checkpoint. What do you do? Or rather, what shouldn’t you do to incriminate yourself in front of the officer? Unfortunately, many make DUI checkpoint mistakes that can haunt someone for the rest of their life. To prevent this, here are 10 things you should avoid doing at a DUI checkpoint.
1. Driving erratically near a checkpoint
Police in Phoenix and throughout Arizona only need reasonable suspicion to pull you over for a regular DUI stop, and driving extremely slowly or stopping because you see a checkpoint may prove to be “reasonable” enough for an officer to pull you over. Additionally, avoid making any illegal U-turns in an effort to avoid the checkpoint.
Remain calm. It is integral at this point to be polite to the officer and comply when asked for your license and registration.
3. Asking questions or complaining about the checkpoint
Keep your composure and simplify your responses to any questions with a “yes” or “no.”
4. Admitting fault
While handing over your license and registration is necessary, you do not have to answer any other questions in Phoenix. The officer may ask if you have been drinking or question your whereabouts, but you are under no obligation to answer. If you feel you are being probed, you can simply inform the officer you are exercising your right to remain silent. Be advised that the answers you give could be used against you later.
5. Displaying aggressive behavior
Do not talk back to the officer or try to make jokes. Any sudden movements or behavior could make your situation worse and could potentially lead to other criminal charges.
6. Agreeing to perform field sobriety tests
This is one of the biggest DUI checkpoint mistakes in Arizona. Most people are unaware that these tests (such as “walk and turn” and “finger to nose“) are voluntary and you are within your rights to politely refuse to take a field sobriety test if you are over the age of 21 and not on parole. Field sobriety test defense lawyers say these tests rely on the testimony of police officers and do not benefit you as a driver stopped on DUI suspicion.
7. Consenting to take a portable/handheld breathalyzer test before you have been arrested
You can refuse a breathalyzer test any time before you are arrested because this test is mandatory. The portable breathalyzer can be used as evidence to make an arrest for DUI. However, if you are arrested for a DUI, Arizona law requires you to take a blood, breath or urine test within two hours of the arrest. In this case, it is best to wait and perform these tests at the station.
8. Permitting a voluntary search of your vehicle
The police do not have the authority to search your vehicle without probable cause that you have, or are committing a crime. The police may ask for your permission for a search, which means they do not have legal grounds to force a search. DUI checkpoint mistakes, such as this, can really cost you. Simply state you are exercising your right to privacy and do not consent to a search of your vehicle.
9. Refusing a chemical test at the police station
This DUI checkpoint mistake can result in immediate suspension of your license for 12 months in Arizona if it is your first time refusing a test. As mentioned earlier, Arizona law requires you to take a blood, breath or urine test if you are indeed arrested.
If the police officer asks you how many drinks you’ve had, do not say any if you’ve had one or two. Lying damages your credibility and it will hurt your case. The officer will determine you have lied once you take a Breathalyzer, and this will look bad to the judge and/or jury. The best thing to do in this situation is to remain silent and respectful.
Simple DUI checkpoint mistakes can be disastrous for your future, especially in Arizona, so it is important to know your rights. Craig Orent, a Phoenix criminal defense lawyer understands the confusion most feel after a DUI arrest and can help you through the entire legal process. Call Orent Law Offices today for quality representation for DUI cases or other criminal charges.