In Arizona, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher within two hours of driving a motor vehicle, you can be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).
Being convicted of a DUI comes with serious consequences, even for first time offenders. You could spend time in jail, pay fines beginning at $1,250.00, and lose your driver’s license or other professional licenses. A DUI will also be on your permanent criminal record, meaning that future employers can discover it during background checks.
Depending on the severity of a DUI conviction, you may be able to have the charges reduced, or dropped completely. In order to do this, you should work with an experienced DUI attorney to challenge the evidence against you. The state must prove its case – if the evidence is weak or inadmissible, the prosecutor may not be able to move forward with the charges.
Challenging the Evidence
If you are charged with a DUI, there are a number of ways a seasoned criminal defense attorney can challenge the evidence obtained against you. Your attorney may call into question the legality of the traffic stop, as well as the results of tests conducted to determine your sobriety level or BAC.
Related Article: 4 Ways to Fight a DUI in Arizona
Challenging the Traffic Stop
If law enforcement decides to pull you over, they must be able to clearly articulate a legal basis for doing so. If the officers did not have a reasonable suspicion to stop you, evidence obtained as a result of the stop may be inadmissible in court.
Your attorney should also examine the standardized field sobriety tests conducted during the traffic stop. These tests include an evaluation of your ability to balance on one leg, walk heel-to-toe in a straight line, as well as shining a light into your eye to test for a bouncing or quivering of your eyeball.
The administration and results of these tests can and should be challenged. For example, the officer may not be properly trained on how to give or evaluate the exam. Moreover, medical conditions or medication may make it difficult to balance, but have no effect on your driving.
Questioning the DUI Breath, Blood, or Chemical Test
Your attorney should also carefully review the results of the breath, chemical and blood tests taken to determine your BAC levels.
There are a number of factors unrelated to alcohol that can skew the results of these tests. Mouthwash or recent dental work can cause a breathalyzer exam to report alcohol in your system.
The qualifications and experience of the person analyzing these tests should also be questioned. Human error can lead to improper test results. Attacking the reliability of the exams may significantly weaken the evidence against you.
Reducing the Charges
Realistically, even with the most experienced criminal defense attorney, it can be difficult to have DUI charges dropped completely. If this is the case, your attorney can work to have the charges reduced.
This type of reduction is sometimes known as a “wet reckless,” because it refers to a charge of driving recklessly while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
To reduce your charge to reckless driving, you may have to accept a plea bargain. Pleading guilty to this charge comes with a number of advantages, including:
- Reduction in maximum jail time
- Lower fines
- No automatic license suspension, and maximum potential suspension of 90 days
- Shorter probation period
- Potential savings in attorney fees
If you plead guilty to a “wet reckless” DUI, you will likely have to pay higher premiums for your car insurance in the future.
This plea is not available in every DUI case. It is typically only offered if the driver’s BAC is close to the legal limit. Because every case is different, you should discuss the likelihood of reducing your charges, as well as the pros and cons of taking a plea deal.
Remember, the best way to avoid receiving a DUI is to avoid getting behind the wheel after you have been drinking. Call an Uber, get a cab, or have a designated driver take you home. It is simply not worth the risk to you or others on the road.
This article is for informational purposes only. It does not provide legal advice, nor does it form an attorney-client relationship. If you are charged with a DUI in Arizona, contact our experienced DUI lawyers today to discuss the possibility of dropping or reducing the charges against you.