Budoff & Ross focuses a great deal of its client work on representing individuals charged with DUI and other vehicular crimes in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Tempe and throughout Arizona.
DUI & Vehicular Offenses
Arizona law (Arizona Revised Statutes §28-1381) defines DUI as driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance, or any combination of liquor, drugs, or vapor releasing substances, if the person is impaired to the slightest degree. The statute also makes it unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .08 or higher within two hours of driving. Lastly, the statute makes it unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while there is any drug (as defined in A.R.S. §13-3401) or its metabolite (residual chemical product) in the person's body.
Arizona law (A.R.S. §28-1382) makes it unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a motor vehicle with an alcohol concentration of .15 or higher within two hours of driving (Extreme DUI) or .20 or higher within two hours of driving (Super Extreme DUI).
I choose Jeff to handle my case because within the first two minutes of meeting him I knew he was very capable and would get me the best outcome possible. My case was very involved and had many moving parts. Jeff had a great knowledge off the law and knew the traps around each corner. He made sure to warn me of things that we're coming and was always there with a reassuring word that things would get better. I believe Jeff Ross got me the best possible outcome in my case and he truly made an unbearable situation bearable. - Super Extreme DUI Client, Phoenix
DUI convictions carry specified mandatory minimum sentencing provisions including jail, fines and financial assessments, installation of an ignition interlock device, and/or an Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) consequences discussed below. See the DUI Sentencing Chart outlining the mandatory penalties that result from a DUI conviction.
In addition to a criminal prosecution in the courts, a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher authorizes the Arizona Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to initiate suspension proceedings against a person's driving license or driving privileges (in the case of an out-of-state license). Suspension proceedings are conducted through an administrative hearing or as a result of a conviction of the DUI charge. The suspension period is 90 days. For persons who were not involved in an accident involving death or serious physical injury, or who do not have a prior DUI conviction or suspension within the previous seven years, the 90-day suspension period can be broken down into two phases: an initial 30 days during which no driving is permitted; and a second 60-day phase where restricted driving to and from work and/or school is permitted. This occurs provided the person has completed an alcohol screening process before or during the initial 30-day phase.
If a person refuses to voluntarily provide a blood, breath or urine sample as requested by the police after arrest, MVD will initiate an administrative hearing process where the suspension period is one year. In addition, it is very likely that the police will apply for (and probably obtain) a search warrant to allow them to draw the blood or urine even if a person refuses to provide it voluntarily.
If a person receives a second conviction for any combination of DUI, Reckless Driving, or Drag Racing within seven years of a prior conviction, the MVD will automatically revoke the person's driver's license for a minimum period of one year.
The law and regulations relating to MVD and the sanctions it can impose on your driver's license are extensive and often harsh. The loss of one's driver's license can have far reaching consequences beyond mere inconvenience. There are many nuances to effective representation in connection with issues before MVD, and it is critical to have an experienced attorney to advise you on these issues.
First, you need to know that Arizona has a very strict and harsh set of laws in place for DUI charges and their felony counterparts. It is vital to have an experienced attorney to represent you in connection with these proceedings and to help you navigate through these complex laws and processes. This decision is likely your most critical.
Second, in any DUI prosecution, there are many issues which must be fully investigated by a defense lawyer. Through years of experience, we have learned that the outcome of a DUI prosecution is likely to turn on issues that have little to do with whether the individual was driving, was in physical control of the vehicle, had consumed alcohol, or had ingested drugs. Some of the common issues that must be examined include the following:
- The constitutionality of the initial stop by the officer. Was there "reasonable suspicion" to justify the stop?
- Is there proof that Defendant was driving or in actual physical control of the vehicle?
- Was there questioning by the officer at the scene or elsewhere? Did Defendant assert his right to remain silent under the 5th Amendment or right to counsel under the 6th Amendment? Did the questioning amount to custodial interrogation?
- Were Miranda warnings read by the officer, and were they understood and knowingly waived by Defendant?
- Were Field Sobriety Tests (FSTs) administered? What were the conditions under which the tests were administered? Was there compliance with the protocol for the administration of those tests? Have those tests been validated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)? What if any physical/mental disabilities may have contributed to Defendant's performance on the FSTs? Was the officer certified to administer the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus eye test (HGN)? Did the officer maintain a proper HGN log? Was there an audio or videotape of any part of the investigation, including the FSTs?
- Was Defendant advised of the implied consent law regarding blood, breath, or urine testing? Did Defendant agree to the testing process? Was the testing process properly administered? If blood was drawn, was it drawn by a qualified phlebotomist who followed established legal and medical procedures? If a breath test was administered, was it done so by a qualified operator who followed established legal and medical procedures? If a urine test was administered, was it done so by a qualified person who followed established legal and medical procedures? What did the quality assurance records reveal as to the reliability and validity of any test results or as to any repair or maintenance on the machine? Was there a proper chain of custody and proper preservation and storage protocols for the blood and/or urine sample?
- What were the procedures in the crime lab for testing of the blood and/or urine sample, and were they followed? Do they comply with national standards for Crime Laboratories? What credentials are held by the criminalist who tested the sample? Was the machine used to test the blood and/urine (usually a gas chromatograph) in proper working order? Were there any problems with regard to the particular run in which Defendant's sample was tested?
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is an important piece of evidence which can be used by the prosecution to show a person's impairment or to support a charge based upon a person's BAC alone. The prosecution will rely on either breath testing, usually conducted on an Intoxilyzer, or the results of a blood draw, usually tested on a gas chromatograph. It is essential that the legal counsel have a firm grasp of the science of blood alcohol testing, and conduct a thorough review of the records and documents relating to the client's specific blood or breath testing procedures. A successful attack on the reliability and validity of the blood alcohol testing can have a dramatic impact on the disposition of the case.
Each client's situation and circumstances are unique, but all of these issues and more need to be closely examined. Any problems for the prosecution with regard to any one of these issues may significantly impact the ultimate disposition of the case.
Felony Vehicular Offenses
The felony charge of Aggravated DUI (A.R.S. §28-1383) is not uncommon. It generally arises out of one or more of the following fact situations:
- A person commits DUI while that person's driver license or privilege to drive is suspended, cancelled, revoked or refused or while a restriction is placed on the person's driver license or privilege to drive [28-1383 (A)(1)]; or
- A person commits DUI within seven years of having been convicted of two prior DUIs [28-1383 (A)(2)]; or
- A person commits DUI while a person under 15 years of age is in the vehicle [28-1383 (A)(3)]; or
- A person commits DUI while a person's vehicle has been equipped with an ignition interlock device. [28-1383 (A)(4)].
A person who has been convicted under either sections 28-1383(A)(1) or (A)(2) faces a mandatory minimum punishment of four months in the Arizona Department of Corrections if placed on probation, and can face a potential prison sentence of up to 3.75 years. A driver's license revocation of three years is a mandatory consequence of a conviction for Aggravated DUI, as are fines and financial assessments that can exceed $4,000.
Jeff helped me through the toughest time of my life. After receiving my third DUI within the 7 year period, I spoke to a lot of attorneys. I thought my life was over as they were telling me I was looking at doing 4-5 years! After speaking to Jeff, he researched my case, and was able to reduce my sentence down to months only! - DUI Client, Phoenix
If a person who is driving a vehicle is involved in an accident where alcohol and/or drugs were involved, or the person was driving in a reckless manner which results in another person being injured, a felony charge of Aggravated Assault could be filed. If that same accident results in the death of another person, felony charges of Manslaughter or even Second Degree Murder are possible. If convicted of these more serious charges, the Arizona sentencing statutes require the court to impose a mandatory prison term where no probation would be available.
Seek Experienced Legal Counsel
Budoff & Ross, P.C. has successfully represented clients in DUI and vehicular crimes cases for more than three decades. To learn more about how we can help, contact us for a free consultation.