You’ve just pulled out of the parking lot after enjoying a happy hour cocktail with your co-workers when you see the flash of red and white lights in your rear-view mirror. As your heart sinks, you stop your car on the shoulder, watch as the police officer approaches your window, and hear those few simple words:
“Have you had anything to drink tonight?”
What do you do? If you’re like many other Arizona drivers, you may feel a bit unclear about what your legal rights are in this situation. Should you answer the police officer’s questions? What should you do if the officer asks you to consent to a breathalyzer or field sobriety test?
First Things First
Prior to requesting a field sobriety test or breathalyzer, a police officer will likely ask you if you’ve had anything to drink and may ask about the quantity of alcohol that you might have consumed. At this point, the officer is attempting to gather evidence against you. Answering in the affirmative – regardless of how much you’ve had to drink or how long ago you finished your drink – is immediately incriminating. It is important to remember that you have the right to remain silent. At this point, it’s typically best to ask the officer whether or not you are being detained and to let him or her know that you would like to contact an attorney. In fact, what many drivers don’t realize is that you are entitled to an attorney at absolutely any point while conversing with an officer, even before you are arrested or detained.
The Breathalyzer Test
If the officer suspects that you are under the influence of alcohol, he or she may ask you to submit to a breathalyzer test. Refusal to comply with the breathalyzer test will complicate things for you, so it is always best to ask to have an attorney present so that you can be advised of your legal rights accordingly. The Schill Law Group has a great deal of experience in this area and our job is to protect our clients from unintentionally making a bad situation much worse.
Understanding “Implied Consent”
Arizona’s “Implied Consent” law states that if an individual has been pulled over and arrested for a DUI, then he or she is presumed to have offered their consent (implicitly) for chemical testing, such as a breathalyzer test. Those who refuse to comply with this law will automatically have their driver’s license revoked for a minimum of one year. Yes, you do have 15 days to request a hearing on the suspension, but this is absolutely not something you should rely on. Refusal to consent to a breathalyzer or other chemical test after an arrest is made could result in the officer obtaining a search warrant, allowing him or her to require you to provide a blood sample.
Consulting with an Attorney
You can legally request the presence of an attorney at any time after being pulled over for a suspected DUI. You may seek counsel even before submitting to a breathalyzer test and we would recommend that you exercise this right whenever you feel that it is prudent in the given situation. Consulting with an attorney before incriminating yourself can save you from compounding an already difficult situation, not to mention potential legal costs and severe punishment.