Some people look at a driving under the influence charge as a minor one, but what they don’t realize is that a DUI conviction has life-altering consequences. Fortunately for Phoenix area residents, there are Phoenix DUI lawyers who fully understand how serious a DUI can get, and are prepared to fight to protect their rights.
For the members of the Arizona DUI Team, the only things that matter are the results of your DUI case, and we do our very best to get results that are favorable to you, whether it’s avoiding DMV suspensions, a dismissal of your DUI case, or a Not Guilty jury verdict. Your right to move on with your life and protect your livelihood is of paramount concern to us, and that’s why we make your defense our top priority.
At Arizona DUI Team, we approach every case as completely winnable. There is no such thing as a half-hearted defense as far as our clients are concerned. By listening and working with our clients, we get a complete picture of their concerns and goals, giving us the motivation to fight tooth and nail until we win the case, or at the very least, successfully minimize any possible damage from a DUI case.
This resolve and the results we have reaped over the years are what set the Arizona DUI Team apart from other firms.
DUI Consequences in Criminal Court
As previously mentioned, a DUI conviction can alter your life in many ways. For one, there’s always the possibility of jail time even for a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense. For another, a DUI convict may be made to pay hefty fines, attend AA sessions and alcohol education classes, and have an ignition interlock device installed in his or her car.
There’s also the fact that a DUI convict will have a permanent criminal record, whose impact in one’s life will be felt for years to come. A criminal record borne out of a DUI conviction can make obtaining professional licenses extremely difficult. The same goes for getting a job or getting into a good college or university.
Most DUI cases are only considered misdemeanors, but some are charged as felonies, which carry far worse consequences than a misdemeanor DUI conviction. A Felony DUI conviction usually comes with huge fines, longer drivers’ license suspensions, and long state prison terms.
A DUI can be categorized as a felony when it involves hit and run accidents, and accidents that involve great bodily harm to victims. In Arizona, an Aggravated DUI charge is prosecuted as a class 4 felony, and is slapped on drivers caught drunk driving while:
- having two prior DUI convictions within the past 84 months, regardless of whether or not the priors were committed in Arizona;
- using a suspended driver’s license for a previous DUI arrest, conviction, or refusing to take a chemical test;
- having been ordered by a court to drive only with an ignition interlock device (IID).
A Class 6 Felony charge awaits those who are caught driving under the influence while someone younger than 15 years old is in the car.
DUI Consequences With The MVD
As far as state law is concerned, driving is a privilege, not a right. Once you get arrested for a DUI in Arizona, your license will automatically be suspended for 90 days. However, you have 15 days to request a hearing with the MVD, which is tasked with handling driving privileges separately from the criminal charge. The hearing allows you to challenge your license’s suspension.
If you fail to request an MVD hearing within 15 days of your DUI arrest, the affidavit of suspension issued by the police officer who arrested you will automatically go into effect, and you will no longer have any further recourse when it comes to your driver’s license.
You should also keep in mind that once that 15-day rule expires and your license automatically gets suspended, the suspension will stick even when the DUI charges against you are eventually dismissed. That is why it is absolutely important for you to request an MVD hearing within 15 days of your DUI arrest if you want to keep your license to drive.
The three stages of a typical DUI case in Phoenix
A typical DUI case always starts when a police officer asks you to pull over on reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence. The officer will typically ask you questions, administer FSTs or field sobriety tests, or ask you to take a breath test, a blood test, or both. If the officer is convinced that there is probable cause based on the evidence he gathers or his own observations, you may be arrested for DUI. It will then be within the officer’s discretion to book you into jail, turn you over to a detox facility, or allow a friend or a relative to pick you up.
Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Hearings with the MVD
Upon your DUI arrest, the officer will issue you an Admin Per Se/Implied Consent Affidavit, on the back of which is stated that unless you request a hearing with the MVD within fifteen (15) days, your license will be automatically suspended for 90 days.
Should you put in a timely request, the MVD hearing will then serve as an opportunity for you to challenge the suspension of your license. An Administrative Law Judge will preside over the hearing, which is typically less formal than criminal proceedings in court.
The Criminal Court Process
The moment you are arrested for DUI, you will be issued a citation that contains information as to the date, time, and location of your arraignment, which is your first appearance in court. The judge will read the charges against you during your arraignment and will ask you whether you plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to those charges.
A DUI case typically sees several pre-trial conferences between you or your lawyer and the prosecutor. These meetings are meant to thresh out any legal or factual arguments about the case as well as negotiate a plea deal.
Filing of Motions
As with any other criminal case, a DUI case usually has the attorneys on opposing sides of a DUI trial introducing written motions designed to further their case. Oral arguments follow the written motions, and the presiding judge then pens a ruling that the defense and prosecution must abide by for the duration of the trial.
Should you refuse any plea agreement that the prosecution offers, your case will finally be tried in court. The state has to prove beyond reasonable doubt the charges against you, while your DUI attorney is tasked with instilling doubt into the minds of the jurors or judge about your guilt.
A typical DUI trial goes through various stages such as jury selection, opening statements by both sides, the prosecution, then the defense presenting their respective cases, closing arguments, deliberation by the jury, and the reading of the verdict.
If the jury convicts you of a DUI, the judge will then determine your sentence by taking into account the state’s recommendations as well as the mitigating factors that your attorney presented in the course of your trial. In Arizona, your sentence for a DUI conviction will typically include jail/prison time, probation, huge fines, alcohol treatment, installation of an ignition interlock device, and suspension or revocation of your driver’s license, among other things.
Consult with a Phoenix DUI Lawyer
If you find yourself being arrested for a DUI, the first thing that you have to do is contact a good Phoenix DUI attorney. Only a skilled and experienced DUI lawyer in Phoenix can answer your questions and review the facts of your case in order to draw up the best possible defense for you.
With his or her skills and experience, you can expect your DUI defense lawyer to be familiar with defenses that actually work in DUI cases. One such defense is arguing lack of probable cause for the initial stop. Another is challenging the field sobriety tests you were made to perform, citing the lack of science and the subjectivity of the tests themselves. Your lawyer can also raise issues about the calibration of the blood or breath-testing equipment.
A good DUI defense attorney, like the ones we have on the Arizona DUI Team, also knows how to attack the conduct of the arrest itself, especially if the arresting officer conducted an illegal or warrantless search on you, or if the officer had shortcomings when it comes to the admonitions or advisements they are supposed to give to drivers they stop. With the right approach, your DUI lawyer can beat the charges against you with these issues.
You don’t have to feel helpless if you get arrested for DUI in Phoenix. Aside from getting the services of a good DUI attorney in Phoenix, you can also do your own research and learn more about your case.
When you have a lawyer from the Arizona DUI Team representing you, you also won’t have to miss work or school to show up in court or at the MVD for your Admin Per Se/Implied Consent hearings. Your Phoenix DUI attorney should be able to handle everything about your case, and work towards getting a result that’s favorable to you and would allow you to get on with your life.