DUI Dangers on Phoenix’s 2021 July Fourth Weekend

by Aaron M. Black • June 30, 2021

4th of July Celebration and DUI's in Phoenix, AZTraffic officers operating in Phoenix and its surrounding municipalities will be closely watching driver behaviors during 2021’s Fourth of July weekend celebrating our nation’s 245th birthday. Drinking and driving over this national holiday traditionally causes an increase in DUI arrests, in part do to the consecutive days of celebration, particularly this year because the holiday falls on a weekend.

Roving DUI patrols on the streets and at stationary sobriety checkpoints are the two best tools law enforcement employs to catch drivers and boat operators who are even slightly impaired by alcohol or drugs. And this year, with legal marijuana consumption, estimates by authorities are that there will be more DUI arrests than in previous years.

During the great pandemic lock down of 2020, DUI arrests were significantly lower than the previous year. Officers stopped more than 5,240 motorists in the 2020 holiday compared to 15,174 traffic stops in pre-Covid 2019, KTAR news radio reported.

Law enforcement is serious about catching impaired drivers because they cause serious injury and alcohol-related fatalities. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that on this holiday a fatality happens across the country every 48 minutes.

DUI Patrols and sobriety checkpoints

Law officers patrolling the streets must have a probable cause or a reasonable suspicion that a driver is impaired before making a traffic stop. They cannot act on a hunch that a driver is impaired. They are, however, allowed to stop a vehicle if it has a burned out brake light or some other malfunction.

At sobriety checkpoints law enforcement does not need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain vehicles because they randomly select vehicles to stop or they can stop all vehicles lined up at the checkpoint for valid driver’s licenses. That avoids violating the Fourth Amendment guarding against unlawful searches and seizures.

Drivers who see a sobriety checkpoint ahead and turn around to avoid it are giving law enforcement the probable cause or reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle and question the driver about drunk driving.

DUI on the water ways are called OUI's

With the Fourth of July falling on a Sunday, the lakes and waterways of Arizona will be busy and will be patrolled along with establishing sobriety checkpoints hunting for those operating a watercraft while impaired. This is an OUI offense and it is the principle reason for fatal crashes, injuries, and deaths on our lakes and rivers. It is legal to have open containers on board.

Law enforcement from Arizona Game and Fish, State Park Department along with police, sheriff’s deputies and, at Lake Havasu, the U.S. Coast Guard, are looking for operators acting recklessly, speeding, failing to wear common safety equipment, people riding on the gunwales while the watercraft is going fast enough to create a wake.

Tubes are considered watercraft, so deputies will be at or near the waterways and watching from the parking lots to see if someone impaired gets into a vehicle’s driver’s seat.

DUI Stop - How best to behave

When the officer makes a stop how you behave will make a huge difference in the outcome of the case. The officer will ask you leading questions in an attempt to convict yourself, such as how much have you had to drink? Or what number of drinks have you had? You can legally refuse to take a field sobriety test, but if you refuse to provide a blood sample a your license will automatically be suspended for one year.

Drivers have the protection of the Fifth Amendment prohibiting self-incrimination, which comes from a 1966 Arizona case, Miranda vs. Arizona. The officer at the point of arrest needs to advise that you have the right to remain silent and to have an attorney present during questioning. So, why not invoke those Fifth Amendment protections before the questioning begins. Remember anything you say will be used against you. It is never a good idea to try and talk your way out of a DUI.

You do not need to be driving to be arrested on a DUI charge. All a person needs to be is in “actual physical control” of the vehicle. The person can be in the vehicle with the ignition key in a pocket or purse. The law allows a number of situations to establish actual physical control, even sleeping in the vehicle.

Arizona DUI Laws and zero tolerance policy

Arizona legislators in passing Arizona State Law Revised Statute 28-1381 decreed that anyone who was even “slightly impaired” could be arrested for drunk or drugged driving. The term slightly impaired is somewhat vague because it is the interpretation of the investigating officer and not a specific blood alcohol level. People have different tolerances and process alcohol at various rates. Arizona’s baseline blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08 percent.

Ramifications of a DUI conviction

How much a Phoenix DUI is going to affect your life depends on the category of DUI. A DUI charge can be a misdemeanor charge or a felony determined by the amount of alcohol you have consumed and your BAC level.

For a first DUI offense with a BAC ranging from the baseline to less than 0.15, the criminal penalties range from at least one day and up to six months in county jail and a certified ignition interlock device will need to be installed on your vehicle. Fines and surcharges can total as much as $1,510.50 and suspension of the privilege to drive. The court can order probation for as long as five years. Second time offenders and repeat offenders face serious penalties.

A BAC ranging from 0.15 to less than 0.20 is an extreme DUI and above that is a super extreme over 0.20. The jail time and fines increase significantly.

An aggravated felony DUI conviction is far worse. A first time aggravated first offense DUI requires at least 10 days in jail, fines and surcharges reach $4,675.50, a one-year driver’s license revocation and up to 10 years of probation.

A felony DUI conviction will mean difficulty in keeping or finding a job or renting a place to live, the loss of the right to have a firearm and the right to vote or hold public office. Those who have a professional license will face suspension or revocation and can end a career. You will lose the ability to drive a commercial vehicle and face increased future scrutiny from the criminal justice system as you now have a criminal record. As you can see, DUI penalties in Phoenix Arizona are severe.

DUI defenses

  • The state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt and the defense must establish that doubt in the minds of jurors. Several defenses are available to do that.
  • The defendant was not legally detained.
  • The arresting officer did not properly administer the field sobriety test.
  • The breathalyzer test result was inaccurate because of a malfunction.
  • If blood was taken, was it within the two-hour time limit and improperly stored to cause contamination.
  • The officer failed to “Mirandize” the defendant.

Begin your legal defense

It is crucial to seek legal advice and be represented by an criminal defense trial attorney with years of experience at the earliest possible moment after an arrest to challenge the state’s evidence and procedures and to protect your civil rights and keep your driving privilege.

Aaron M. Black Law has a long and strong record as a defense lawyer and defending good people who are in trouble with the goal of earning a dismissal of all charges or at least reducing a first time DUI to reckless driving.

During your case, you will always to be talking to me. You will not be ushered off to an assistant.

Begin your defense by calling 480-729-1683 at any time on any day and I will respond promptly unless I am in court or at trial. Or use my online contact form.

I defend DUI charges in federal, state, municipal, and justice courts in an adjacent to Maricopa County.

About Aaron M. Black
The National Trial Lawyers Association rates me among the top 100 trial lawyers in the country. The National Association of Distinguished Counsel places me in the top one percent of the finest lawyers in the nation. And for the 8th consecutive year, I am named a 2021 DUI Super Lawyer in Phoenix. You can learn more about me on About page.

In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to inform clients and potential clients I am still available for consultations. I am always available by phone, text and/or email. We can also use Facetime for social distancing. The criminal justice system is not stopping due to COVID-19.

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