Filing a Complaint for an Unlawful DUI Arrest in Arizona

by Aaron Black • October 17, 2019

Arrest for a DUIIt happens, more than you might think, that police make unlawful DUI arrests. When that occurs it’s crucial to file a complaint with the particular police department.

Case in point. A recent ABC15 news report told of a woman who complained that she was unlawfully arrested for DUI in Phoenix, AZ.

For those who missed the broadcast reported by ABC15’s Melissa Blasius these are the facts of the traffic stop and subsequent DUI arrest of 29-year-old motorist Ariel Berry.

The Police Incident Report

Motorcycle officer Steve Reeves, documenting this information in his incident report, said he saw Berry at eighteen minutes after midnight on July 22 fail to stop for a red light at 7th Avenue and Camelback.

She turned right venturing eight to 10 inches over the lane line for five seconds, then made a wide left turn and corrected to avoid hitting the sidewalk and light pole. Reeves displayed his red lights and over a speaker ordered her to pull over. Berry stopped in the traffic lane and didn’t immediately pull over. She then turned into an adjacent business parking lot.

Reeves cited her for violating a red light, an unsafe lane change and an improper turn.

Berry said she was frightened, exhausted from lack of sleep over three days, and filled with anxiety of men and police and was on the verge of a panic attack. Reeves noted her anxiety nine times in his report.

The Field Sobriety Test

Reeves asked Berry if she had anything to drink. Four hours before she had a sake, she said. Reeves noticed her eyes were watery and slightly bloodshot. He wrote that he smelled a slight odor of alcohol coming from the vehicle and her person.

The officer had difficulty getting her to complete the field sobriety test and a breathalyzer test showed a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.02 percent, well below Arizona’s 0.08 percent illegal limit. Police in some cases may make an arrest if the BAC is 0.05 percent.

The Drug Interrogation & Arrest

Reeves, a trained drug recognition expert, repeatedly asked Berry if she used drugs and she responded that she has never used drugs and he said “I don’t believe you.”

Reeves, told her that he’s really good at his job and has a 98 percent accuracy rating. “I know what I’m doing,” she said he told her. “You’re wrong,” she responded.

She alleged in her complaint the officer mistook her physical and mental conditions for intoxication.

Berry was charged with Arizona Revised Statute §28-1381(A)(1) driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and any drug or vapor containing a toxic substance. This charge is a class 1 misdemeanor, the most serious of the misdemeanor class.

Until that day’s arrest Berry had never been in trouble with the law.

The Blood Draw

Police took a blood sample. Arizona law requires that a blood test to reveal the BAC must be drawn within two hours of the traffic stop. Berry’s test showed there wasn’t any drugs in her system and the BAC was a mere 0.01 percent.

Impacts of a Misdemeanor DUI Conviction

A conviction for a class 1 misdemeanor not only brings the possibility of time in jail, fines, surcharges, probation, community service, social stigma, and can also endanger keeping a job.

In Berry’s case, she feared a conviction would have put her job as a school behavioral specialist in jeopardy. But even an arrest can go on a person’s driving record that can raise auto insurance rates.

Case Dismissed, but…

Almost two months after Berry’s arrest a Phoenix Municipal Court judge dismissed the DUI charge. But meanwhile she still had to take time off from work to challenge her arrest, pay the traffic citations and complete traffic school to keep her license.

Frequency of False DUI Charges in Phoenix, AZ

ABC15 contacted The City of Phoenix Prosecutor’s Office to see how often false DUI charges happen.

The station reported that during the last three fiscal years Phoenix prosecutors received 8,482 DUI cases of which 1,150 involved drugs. The city didn’t return charges in 112 of those cases and dismissed another 402 for insufficient evidence. Those statistics show that 6 percent of DUI charges never reach court.

Civil action for damages may also be possible.

How do I File a Complaint against the Police?

The first thing to do is take detailed notes about what happened as soon as possible, even small details might take on greater significance later. Be specific about the place where the arrest occurred, the time the event began and ended. Using quotes is fine but be sure they are accurate to avoid having your complaint tainted. Get the names and contact information of any witnesses and the badge number and car number of the arresting officer.

Consult with an experienced DUI defense attorney as soon as possible after the arrest to develop the complaint to achieve the best possible outcome.

Those who want to file a complaint against police can raise the situation with the particular police department and a supervisor summoned to the scene or by calling the non-emergency line and a supervisor will be notified.

In Your Defense

Police are trying to build a case and they may overlook things, such as a tired, anxious and afraid woman mistaken for being on drugs.

A defense attorney will conduct a thorough probe into the police incident report to find errors and misrepresentations. A defense attorney’s goal is to win a dismissal in these unlawful arrests.

Free, Confidential Legal Consultation

If you or a loved one has been falsely arrested, take advantage of my free, no obligation telephonic case review to gauge the strength and weaknesses of the state’s case.

During our conversation I’ll listen to your side of the situation, ask and answer questions and explain the law and your options.

Contact Phoenix DUI Defense Attorney, Aaron Black or call 480-729-1683 at any time, any day and I’ll respond promptly unless I’m in court.

I defend DUI and unlawful arrest cases in Arizona’s city, state and federal courts.