If you are facing a DUI charge in Arizona, you need to defend yourself by all means available. In many cases, this will involve presenting multiple defenses that work together to prevent prosecutors from meeting their burden of proof. Even so, you may be wondering, “What is the best defense to an Arizona DUI?”
Simply put, the best defense to your DUI charge depends on the facts of your case. No single defense is best, and no one defense will work in all cases.
With that said, there are certain types of defenses that do more than others. There are also a variety of “defenses” that people think will protect them but don’t actually work. When facing a DUI charge in Arizona, you need to ensure that you are making informed decisions, and this means that you need to work with an experienced defense attorney who can help you put forward the strongest defense possible.
Defenses that Can Protect You Against a DUI Conviction in Arizona
An important point to understand when facing a DUI charge in Arizona is that some defenses will only get you part of the way to avoiding a conviction. For example, one of the most common DUI defenses you will hear about is challenging the reliability of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reading. Challenging your BAC reading is a valid defense strategy—and it is an important defense in many cases. But, it is also important to understand that you can face a DUI conviction even if you challenge your BAC reading successfully.
Why? In Arizona, the police can charge you with DUI based on intoxication (having a high BAC) or impairment (being unable to drive safely). Under Section 28-1381.A.1. of the Arizona Revised Statutes, you can be convicted of DUI if you are “impaired to the slightest degree.” This means that even if you succeed in keeping your BAC reading out of court, prosecutors could still have the evidence they need to convict you.
With this in mind, when talking about the “best” defense to a DUI charge in Arizona, one way to approach the issue is to focus on defenses that protect you entirely.
While challenging your BAC reading is just one step in the process of successfully defending against a DUI charge in Arizona, there are other defenses that can be sufficient on their own. For example, if you have any of the following defenses available, asserting any one of these defenses could be enough to protect you from a DUI conviction:
1. The Police Stopped You Without Reasonable Suspicion
Under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the police can only stop you if they have “reasonable suspicion” that you are guilty of a crime or traffic violation. If they stop you for any other reason, the stop may violate your constitutional rights. When the police violate your constitutional rights, any evidence they obtain following the violation is potentially inadmissible in court. If the government’s evidence against you is inadmissible, then prosecutors shouldn’t be able to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
2. The Police Arrested You Without Probable Cause
Making a DUI arrest without “probable cause” can render any evidence obtained subsequent to the arrest inadmissible. Probable cause is a higher standard than reasonable suspicion, and it means that the police must have an informed and good-faith belief that you are guilty of driving under the influence. If the police have reasonable suspicion to stop you but lack probable cause to make an arrest, then only the evidence obtained prior to your arrest (if any) has any chance of being admissible in court.
3. The Police Denied Your Right to Counsel
When you are on the side of the road during a DUI stop, you have the right to counsel. If you unequivocally assert your right to counsel (i.e., by saying “I want to talk to a lawyer,” or “I need to talk to a lawyer”), the police must allow you to consult with an attorney. If they do not allow you to consult with an attorney, this violation of your Sixth Amendment rights can also render the government’s evidence against you inadmissible in court.
4. The Police Committed Other Violations of Your Constitutional Rights
Along with conducting illegal traffic stops, making illegal arrests, and denying suspects’ right to counsel, the police can—and frequently do—violate suspects’ constitutional rights in other ways as well. If the police committed any constitutional violation before, during, or after your arrest, an experienced DUI defense lawyer may be able to use this to protect you.
5. The Prosecutor Violated Your Constitutional Rights
The police aren’t the only ones who can violate your constitutional rights. Prosecutors can violate your constitutional rights, too. If prosecutors withhold key evidence or commit other constitutional violations during your DUI case, this could also entitle you to an acquittal.
6. The Evidence Simply Isn’t There
Even if the government’s evidence is admissible in court, it must still be sufficient to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard, and prosecutors must be able to meet this standard with respect to each individual “element” of the specific DUI charge you are facing. If the evidence simply isn’t there, then it doesn’t matter whether you were drunk behind the wheel.
7. You Didn’t Violate Arizona’s DUI Statute
Finally, in some cases it will be possible to avoid a conviction by showing that you didn’t violate Arizona’s DUI statute. Were you using your vehicle as a “temporary shelter”? Were you in something other than a “vehicle”? These are just two examples of several additional defenses an experienced DUI defense lawyer may be able to assert on your behalf.
How Can You Fight Your Arizona DUI Charge? Find Out in a Free and Confidential Consultation
If you are facing a DUI charge in Arizona, it is extremely important that you discuss your case with an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible. To arrange a free and confidential consultation at The Weingart Firm, call 480-405-7922 or tell us how we can reach you online now.