The Top 5 Things to do When You Get a DUI

You’ve made a mistake and have been charged with a DUI, or perhaps wrongfully charged with a DUI in Arizona. After the time-consuming investigation, tests, and release you now find yourself with some strange multi-colored paperwork. Papers of all colors with boxes, strange symbols, statutes, dates and instructions.

Step 1. Save and Read the Paperwork

First, make sure you hold onto all of these papers as they all need to be reviewed by your lawyer. The best plan will be for you to find a qualified and experienced Arizona DUI attorney and schedule a consult to understand what all these papers mean for you, your Arizona driver license, and your DUI case.
You will receive a citation or complaint that will have charges for DUI. It’s common for the police to cite multiple DUI charges, if they believe that there is probable cause that the driver committed those offenses. Don’t worry, the driver can’t be punished for each DUI offense. The police do this as a tactic to strengthen the case for the prosecutor. The citation paper should give you the date, time and Court where you should appear to answer all of the charges. Another paper advises you of where the vehicle you were driving was towed and impounded, and how you or the owner can contact the agency to get the car back. Every jurisdiction handles impounds differently and you should call the tow yard and police department to find out exactly how they will permit you or the owner to retrieve the vehicle. You will receive an Admin Per Se Affidavit /Implied Consent affidavit. That document states the driver’s license will be suspended and the driver will need to request a hearing or summary review if they wish to consent the suspension. Additionally, the police usually provide paperwork indicating the driver is entitled to an independent blood or breath test. Last, there is usually a piece of paper ordering you to get fingerprinted. If any Arizona police officer took your belongings or you were held in jail for any amount of time you also could also receive a property sheet listing property that was seized. Any driver who has received any of these types of documents should promptly consult with a DUI lawyer.

Step 2. Try to Understand the Citation

But what does all this mean!?

CITATION or COMPLAINT

The citation or complaint should list everything you are being charged with, there are several DUI charges that might appear on one complaint such as:
A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(1) Regular or Impaired to the Slightest Degree DUI (drugs or alcohol)
A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(2) Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over .08
A.R.S. § 28-1382(A)(1) Extreme DUI, BAC 0.15 or more but less than 0.20
A.R.S. §28-1382(A)(2) Super Extreme, BAC .20 or more
A.R.S. §28-1383   Aggravated or Felony DUI which can be based on many things including:

  • Two or more convictions for DUI within seven years of the current DUI charge (excluding time in prison or jail)
  • A child under the age of 15 years (while violating a DUI statute)
  • DUI while Driving on a suspended, revoked, or restricted license or privilege (and that the driver should have known the ability to drive was limited)
  • Violating the interlock laws while DUI
  • DUI while driving the wrong way on a public road

There may be other charges as well, especially if there was an accident or someone was injured or killed.
The Complaint or Citation will also give a date, place and time for your first Court appearance. This is the Arraignment, where you must either plead guilty or not guilty to the charges. It is very important that you know all of your options before going into the arraignment. Again, you need to consult with a lawyer.

Step 3. Get Your Vehicle Back – VEHICLE TOW AND IMPOUND

These papers will tell you what company towed your vehicle and where they towed it. Every tow or impound lot and law enforcement agency in Arizona has a different procedure for removing a vehicle from impound. If the vehicle is yours, you may have to wait several weeks before you can remove it. If it is registered to someone else, or you are married, you may be able to remove it under certain circumstances. If a vehicle has been impounded, you must contact the police agency and impound yard for that jurisdictions procedure to retrieve the car.

Step 4. Determine Whether an ADOT hearing should be requested – ADMIN PER SE AFFIDAVIT

This paperwork is generated by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and Motor Vehicle Division. If you’ve ever had to stand in line or deal with MVD you already know this is going to be confusing and frustrating.

The Admin Per Se form has two separate suspension notifications. It’s important that you notice which box is checked so you make the right decision.
A.R.S. §28-1385 explains that if you are arrested for DUI and either took a blood test or breathalyzer and the police believe you are over a .08 or had drugs in your body, you will be subject to a ninety (90) day suspension of your Arizona driving privilege. However, you it also states that within 15 days you can request a hearing to “stay” or put a hold on any suspension or summary review. Your driving privilege should not be immediately suspended. It’s important to know whether a request for hearing or a summary review should be filed with ADOT because it could make a big difference in whether or how long your driving privilege could be suspended. Additionally, you may be able to avoid SR22 (a proof of financial responsibility / insurance product) under certain circumstances related to this decision. It gets complicated and you should talk to a DUI lawyer before the 15 day window expires.

If you refused to take a blood, breathalyzer or urine test after you were arrested, the officer will check the refusal box. The document will indicate that under the statute (ARS §28-1321) your Arizona driving license can be suspended for a year. Again, you have 15 days to request a hearing or summary review.
It is important to know which of the suspensions the Arizona officer is using, and how, when and whether to request a hearing or a summary review. An Arizona DUI attorney with a lot of experience working with ADOT and MVD is extremely important.

Many people upon receiving the vast number of documents and instructions ask the arresting officers for clarification or direction. This is often a useless endeavor. The police officers usually are not sufficiently knowledgeable to assist you, and often are not interested in assisting you. Not knowing how to act on each of the huge stack of papers can lead to devastating consequences.

Step 5. Find the right DUI lawyer now

You need someone who is and always has been on your side. You need an experienced Arizona DUI lawyer who knows how to sort through the paperwork, explain what needs to be done, when to do it, and exactly how to do it. You need an Arizona DUI lawyer who has taken the time and given attention to the details regarding Admin Per Se suspension, dealing with ADOT and MVD and the Courts in the Phoenix area and throughout Arizona. Last, and perhaps most importantly, you need a lawyer who knows how and will try your case to a jury, in the unlikely event your case goes to trial. If the prosecutor feels your lawyer doesn’t have the skill set or desire to try the case, the prosecutor may not be as likely to give you the most lenient plea deal possible.

I offer a free, one-hour consultation for all DUI cases where I will explain the paperwork, DUI laws, possible consequences and, most important, possible defenses in the Court and ADOT/MVD. Every year I try DUI jury trials throughout rural and metropolitan Arizona. Please review my most recent case results in this website. I’ve handled thousands of DUI cases throughout Arizona. I also regularly provide seminars and continuing education for other lawyers on DUI related topics. If you, a family member, or friend have been charged with a DUI in Arizona, please call me directly at 602-402-8708 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and your options.

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