DUI checkpoints in Arizona are becoming more prevalent, as they are in all but 11 other states in the country. The Arizona DUI Enforcement Unit reports that more than 7,000 people are arrested for DUI in the state every year, and many of them are caught at these DUI checkpoints. Below is an overview of your rights when you encounter this situation.
The Precedent in Arizona
The national precedent regarding DUI checkpoints was set in 2005 in the Supreme Court case of Ingersoll vs. Palmer, whereby the court ruled that these checkpoints were legal under the Constitution, but the court also issued factors on how each checkpoint would be analyzed:
- The degree of discretion left to the individual officer
- The location chosen for the roadblock
- The time and duration of the roadblock
- The standards set by superior officers
- Whether advance notice was given to the general public
- Whether advance warning was given to approaching motorists
- Whether police displayed adherence to recognized safety conditions
- The length of time each motorist is stopped and detained
These are not tangible guidelines, but rather points that leave open the question of fact for the judge and/or jury to answer after a DUI arrest.
How to Handle an Arizona DUI Checkpoint
With those factors in place, you should consider the following suggestions if you are stopped and questioned at a DUI checkpoint in Arizona.
If the officer who is questioning you asks you for your driver’s license, you need to comply and show it to him or her. Refusing to comply with this request will only give rise to probable cause that you are hiding something.
If the officer begins to question you, politely and calmly refuse to answer any questions per your Constitutional rights. While this could give rise to suspicion, it will not seem as suspicious as if you answer some questions but refuse to answer others.
If the officer requests a search of your car, tell him or her that you do not consent to such a search. If the officer removes you from the vehicle and searches it anyway, do not refuse to cooperate.
If the officer asks you to perform a field sobriety test, which usually consists of answering basic questions and performing basic balance tests, politely refuse to do so and tell him or her that you’d like to speak to an attorney. You will likely be arrested at this point or at least detained, but you will be limiting the evidence against you, as these tests are subjective in nature, meaning that the officer can decide that you fail even if you’re sober.
When you get to the police station, repeat your request to speak with an attorney before you answer any questions. At this point, you may be asked to undergo a BAC test. If you refuse this test, the law states that your license will be revoked or suspended.
When your attorney arrives, speak frankly with him or her and make sure that you exercise your right to have your attorney present during questioning.
At this point, you’ll either be arrested if you haven’t been already or you won’t, but you’ll be in a better position if your attorney is a witness to what is happening. If you need help with understanding your rights in this situation, contact the Arizona DUI attorneys at Montaño Arentz & Associates, PLLC to schedule an initial consultation.