Gilbert DUI Attorney
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is one of the most common crimes in Arizona. The consequences of DUI are not limited to the potential criminal penalties of a conviction. A DUI may impact your reputation, employment, insurance coverage, ability to drive, personal relationships, and even future career opportunities.
If you have been charged with a first-time DUI, you need to take decisive action to protect yourself and your future. Speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
As a former Deputy County Attorney for Maricopa, Ryan McPhie knows how prosecutors build their cases against DUI offenders. He has represented more than a thousand clients, and has the knowledge and experience necessary to make the strongest defense possible for every case.
If you need a DUI defense lawyer in the Gilbert area, contact McPhie Law today at (480) 400-5555 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to serve you.
What Is DUI in Arizona?
Most people assume DUI refers to driving under the influence of alcohol, and drinking and driving is in fact the most common reason for DUI charges. However, other controlled substances can cause DUI charges. Under Arizona law, the legal definition of DUI makes it illegal for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle in any of the following circumstances:
- Being slightly impaired because of the influence of alcohol, drugs, a vapor releasing substance, or any mixture of the three;
- Consuming alcohol before driving or while driving that causes a blood or breath alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of being in actual physical control of a vehicle;
- Being under the influence of cannabis, cocaine, dangerous drugs, or their derivatives; and
- Driving a commercial vehicle while under the influence of drugs or with an alcohol content greater than .04 if the driver holds a commercial driver license (CDL).
Standard DUI Penalties
The most common type of DUI in Arizona is known as Standard DUI: when a driver has an alcohol level greater than 0.08, but less than 0.15. Despite the term applied to the offense, it should not be misunderstood as non-serious. Even when a DUI is Standard, it may have severe consequences for an offender’s life and future.
The minimum penalties for a first-time Standard DUI conviction include:
- 10 days in jail, with an option for reduction to one day after a defendant’s completion of court-ordered alcohol or drug screening, education, or treatment program;
- Minimum $250 fine and $1,000 in assessment fees;
- Mandatory attendance at an approved traffic survival school course;
- License suspension for 90 days; and
- Mandatory installation of an ignition interlock device (IID) and associated costs.
DUI penalties may be more severe depending on the specific factors of the case. Defendants with blood alcohol content (BAC) of more than 0.15 or more than 0.20, may be charged with Extreme or Super Extreme DUI. These heightened charges come with additional jail time and at least an extra $1,000 in fines and fees.
Few states penalize DUI convictions to the degree of Arizona. Judges must follow state law and rarely make allowances, even for first-time offenders. Repeat offenses bring even harsher penalties, particularly when they occur within seven years of the first offense. Drivers on a third DUI will automatically have their charge elevated to Aggravated DUI, a felony criminal offense.
Defending Standard DUI in Maricopa County
Every DUI case is unique, and the applicable defenses vary based on individual circumstances. However, some common defense strategies a DUI attorney might use include:
- Law enforcement made the stop without a legally valid reason. It is illegal for police to pull someone over unless there is “probable cause” (such as the driver committed a traffic violation) or reasonable suspicion the driver is under the influence. If a stop was made without a valid reason, an attorney may challenge the subsequent DUI charge on that basis.
- Law enforcement approached a vehicle while the defendant was sleeping. Under Arizona law, it is permissible to sleep in your vehicle. A DUI charge made by an officer who first attempted to detain a person sleeping in a driver’s seat, open their door and wake them, or otherwise restrain their movement, may be challenged depending on all of the factors of the case.
- Defendant was coerced into taking roadside sobriety tests. Under Arizona law, a driver is not required to cooperate with roadside sobriety tests, even if the officer suspects they are driving under the influence. If the officer who pulled the defendant over coerced them into taking these tests, the results may be inadmissible evidence in the case against the defendant.
- Law enforcement detained the defendant at the roadside for too long. Even when an officer has reasonable suspicion to stop a driver, they cannot hold that person roadside for an extended period of time. Longer than permissible stops often occur when an officer is waiting for another officer to do the DUI investigation.
- Arrest without probable cause. If an officer stops a driver on the basis of reasonable suspicion, investigates a potential DUI, but then makes the arrest without obtaining sufficient evidence the charge may be challenged. For example, a car odor of alcohol or cannabis may be insufficient grounds for arrest absent additional chemical testing of the driver, such as a breath test or blood test.
- Miranda rights violations. The landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona was decided in 1966, and Arizona law enforcement should all be particularly aware and carefully trained on the importance of every defendant’s Miranda Rights. Even so, mistakes happen. Officers must read Miranda Rights when they make an arrest, and they cannot take statements about a defendant’s drinking or sobriety without reading them their rights first. Additionally, the defendant must understand what the officer is explaining and asking regarding field sobriety tests, breath tests, and blood tests.
- Problems with the Breathalyzer or the person administering the breath test. If the breathalyzer device has not been properly maintained, or the person administering the test has not been properly trained and certified, an attorney may challenge the results of the breath test and argue to have them thrown out.
- Law enforcement took a blood test without the defendant’s permission. The Arizona Supreme Court has prohibited DUI blood tests without a warrant, unless the defendant gives permission. If the officer did not get a warrant and had no permission, the results may be inadmissible in court, and the prosecutor’s case potentially destroyed.
- Law enforcement lost the police car video. Officers are required to preserve all potentially exculpatory evidence that could be critical to the defense. Failure to do so violates due process, and an attorney may be able to have a case dismissed if law enforcement has not preserved the arrest video.
- The defendant was driving while fatigued. Drowsy drivers exhibit some of the same driving behaviors and physical symptoms as drivers under the influence. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, a person who has been awake for 24 hours acts similarly to a person with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .10. While risky, it is not illegal to drive fatigued. Therefore, if the evidence shows the defendant was tired rather than under the influence, the case may be dismissed.
- Involuntary intoxication. If a defendant was given drugs or alcohol without their knowledge, and can prove they did not intend to ingest the intoxicating substance, the court may find them not guilty of DUI.
Use a Gilbert DUI Defense Attorney to Be Your Advocate
The majority of first-time DUI offenders are not and will not become career criminals; they are simply people who have made an unfortunate mistake. Regardless of that fact, Arizona’s aggressive enforcement and prosecution of DUI laws make it absolutely critical to entrust your defense to no one other than an experienced DUI defense attorney.
If you are charged with DUI, do not speak to law enforcement or agree to any testing without talking to a lawyer first. Arizona is notorious for its harsh DUI penalties; the sooner you consult with an experienced DUI attorney, the better your case may be resolved.
The lawyers at McPhie Law understand that being charged with DUI is stressful, and may feel isolating. However, you do not have to face the case ahead alone. Your defense lawyer will be your advocate, and will work to ensure your protected rights are upheld.
Our legal team provides individualized and focused representation for every client. We know every case is unique, and every defense should be too. Our goal is to ensure that every client gets the possible outcome.
Whether you are in jail, have been released, or you are looking for an experienced DUI attorney for a friend or family member, contact McPhie Law today at (480) 400-5555 or online to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to serve you.