Drunk Driving and Your Arizona Driver's License

If you are charged with drunk driving, contact a Phoenix Arizona lawyer to discuss your case at no cost to you. They may be able to help you keep your drivers license or get it back if it was taken from you as a result of the drunk driving charge.

There are many ways to lose your driver's license or Arizona driving privileges if you are stopped and cited for drunk driving in Phoenix or anywhere in Arizona. Failing the sobriety tests and/or a breath or blood test can cause you to lose your drivers license or Arizona driving privileges. Refusing to submit to the blood or breath test can result in a loss of your drivers license or Arizona driving privileges. An adverse ruling at a Motor Vehicle Division (M.V.D.) Hearing can also result in the loss of your drivers license or Arizona driving privileges.

Please keep reading to learn more. If you have questions or wish to discuss your specific case, contact a Phoenix drunk driving lawyer with Montano Arentz & Associates, PLLC

An Arizona Drunk Driving Stop

If you are stopped for drunk driving in Arizona and the officer believes he/she has reasonable grounds to suspect you were driving or operating a motor vehicle under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs, the officer may place you under arrest for DUI, Extreme DUI or Aggravated DUI.

After your arrest, the officer will then likely take you to the police station or a mobile DUI van and read you the Implied Consent Law. Officers often read this law from a pre-printed form word-for-word and they will not answer any questions or provide legal advice on whether or not to take the breathalyzer test. The bottom line is the officer will ask you whether or not you will be willing to submit voluntarily to a breath or blood test and you must answer yes or no. Your answer may have a detrimental effect on your right to drive in Arizona; therefore, we recommend that before you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, you speak to a Phoenix drunk driving attorney to determine which choice would be best for you.

A Phoenix drunk driving attorneys generally recommend that you submit to the blood or breath test if it's your first arrest for DUI. If you have prior DUI convictions you should consult with your attorney for individual advice prior to your second or subsequent arrest. If this is not your first DUI offense, a Phoenix drunk driving attorney's advice on whether or not to submit to the breath or blood test would depend on the circumstances, but if you do not currently have a valid driver's license, the suspension for refusal might be no penalty at all in your case.

Arizona Driving Privileges Revoked?

If you possess a valid driver's license from another state, but you do not have an Arizona driver's license, you usually have "Arizona Driving Privileges". While the State of Arizona does not have the authority to alter your out-of-state license if you are arrested for drunk driving, Arizona can restrict your right to drive while you are in Arizona. (Whether or not your home state will also suspend your license depends on the state rules in your home state).

Thus, if you have an out-of-state license but you receive a suspension of your Arizona Driving Privileges for drunk driving, your license might be valid everywhere except in Arizona.

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Drunk Driving and the Implied Consent Law

Arizona has an Implied Consent Law. This means that if you elect to drive a vehicle in this state, you consent to give your blood or breath sample to law enforcement authorities if they have reasonable cause to believe you might be driving while under the influence of alcohol.

If you are stopped, and the officer requests that you take a breath, blood or urine test, or some combination of the three tests, you must cooperate or you will lose your Arizona driver's license (or Arizona driving privileges if your drivers license is from another state) for a period of twelve months for a first refusal. If you have, within the past five years, previously refused to take a breath, blood or urine test, then your Arizona driver's license or privilege to drive will be suspended for two years.

This suspension occurs whether or not you are charged with drunk driving and you cannot challenge this suspension unless you request a hearing with M.V.D. within 15 days of the service of the affidavit. A Phoenix drunk driving lawyer can help you request a hearing even if you decide not to retain them.

There are two types of Implied Consent Suspensions. One is related to Arizona Revised Statute 1385(I) and occurs when the results of a breath or blood test exceed the statutory limit of 0.10% before August 31, 2001 or 0.08% after August 31, 2001. The other Implied Consent Suspension is related to Arizona Revised Statute 1321(K) and occurs if the police officer accuses you of refusing to submit to a blood and/or breath test when requested by the officer. Under the Implied Consent Law, you do not have the right to refuse blood and/or breath tests even if youre asked to submit to the tests several times. You also do not have the right to select which test you take.

If you do choose to blow into the breathalyzer and/or give blood (which Phoenix drunk driving lawyers usually advise you do for a first offense) and your alcohol concentration is over the statutory limit (0.10% before August 31, 2001, 0.08% thereafter), the officer can take away your physical copy of your driver's license while the matter is pending.

If you refuse to complete all tests or if you submit to the tests and are found to be over the legal limit, the officer will give you pink and yellow papers. These papers explain that the officer is taking your driver's license and that you have a right to a hearing. The yellow document is actually your new temporary driver's license and the pink document is a form to request an M.V.D. hearing. If you receive these papers in a drunk driving incident, your lawyers will need to see them.

You have a right to request the M.V.D. hearing but only within fifteen days after you receive the pink paper. Once the fifteen days pass, you lose your right to the hearing and your license will be suspended. If you request a M.V.D. hearing, your driver's license or privileges will remain valid until after a final decision is made at a hearing on the merits of your case. A Phoenix drunk driving lawyer can help you with your M.V.D. request, but you must contact them within the fifteen days.

These pink and yellow documents are very important, and you should bring them with you on your first visit with a Phoenix drunk driving lawyer.

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Arizona Motor Vehicle Division Hearings

An M.V.D. Hearing is a civil case, which differs from a criminal DUI case in three important ways:

(1) An M.V.D. Hearing is decided by an Administrative Law Judge and not a jury, and you have no right to ask for a jury.

(2) In the M.V.D. Hearing, the State's burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), whereas in a criminal case it is the much higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt.

(3) In an A.R.S. 1321(K) MVD Hearing, to prove its case the State must show each of following elements:

  • That the officer had reasonable grounds to believe the person was driving while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs,
  • That the person was placed under arrest,
  • That the person refused to submit to a test or tests to determine the alcohol concentration or the presence of drugs as requested by the police officer(s), and
  • That the person was informed of the consequences of refusal by the police officer(s).

If you are in a M.V.D. Hearing situation, employing experienced attorneys can be very advantageous to your situation. The Administrative Law Judge will not uphold the suspension unless the correct officer or officers appear at the hearing in person and testify and/or have documents and the ability to prove all of the above elements. If one of the above elements are not proven to the satisfaction of the Administrative Law Judge or one of the required police officers fails to appear at the hearing, the suspension will be voided (will not go into effect).

Even if all officers appear, testify and prove their case, your license will not be suspended immediately after the hearing. If, at the M.V.D. Hearing, the Administrative Law Judge orders that your license be suspended, the judge must still put that decision in writing and mail it to you and your drunk driving lawyers. The suspension will take effect twenty (20) days after the decision is mailed.

Even if your license is suspended, you may be able to drive for certain reasons. A Phoenix drunk driving lawyer can explain how the facts of your case will affect your ability to get limited driving privileges. A restricted license permitting you to drive to and from work or on the job is not available if a 28-1321(K) suspension is upheld.

Providing that you have no prior DUI-related suspensions within the past 60 months, that no one suffered a serious physical injury in your drunk driving case, and the Administrative Law Judge orders that your license be suspended, it shall be suspended for a period of 90 days. The first 30 days of the suspension you will not be able to drive at all, and for the next 60 days you will be able to drive on a restricted basis to and from work, on the job, and to and from necessary medical appointments. At the end of the final 60 days you will be able to get the suspension lifted by going to any drivers license facility and paying a $55.00 reinstatement fee.

If you have either a prior DUI-related suspension within the last 60 months or the Administrative Law Judge finds that you caused serious physical injury to someone in this incident, your license will be suspended for the full 90 days and you will not be eligible for a restricted license.

In some instances, it may be to your advantage to stipulate to the suspension. This may allow you to avoid a SR-22 insurance requirement. Please contact the Montano Arentz & Associates, PLLC to schedule a free consultation with a Phoenix drunk driving lawyer so that they can discuss this with you prior to your hearing.

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DISCLAIMER: Montano Arentz & Associates, PLLC and Phillips Law Group, P.C. are separate, independent law firms from other firms listed on this website. Phillips Law Group, P.C. handles only contingency fee cases. This includes automobile and vehicle accidents and all personal injury cases. We also handle medical malpractice, product liability, employment, wage and hour cases, Social Security disability, and workers' compensation cases. Montano Arentz & Associates, PLLC handles criminal and DUI cases, as well as consumer bankruptcy and debt relief cases.

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