If you are facing a DUI charge in Arizona, you could have several defenses available depending on the facts of your case. But, you also need to be careful to avoid asserting “defenses” that don’t protect you under Arizona law. In fact, if you say the wrong thing, not only could your “defense” be ineffective, but it could potentially even increase your risk of going to jail.
10 “Defenses” Will NOT Protect You in Your Arizona DUI Case
1. “I was Parked.”
It’s called “driving under the influence,” so you need to be driving in order to be guilty—right? Not in Arizona.
Under Arizona’s DUI law, you can face a conviction any time you are in “actual physical control” of your vehicle. If you have the key and you are in the driver’s seat, this will be enough to establish “actual physical control” in most cases.
But, there is one important exception. This is Arizona’s “temporary shelter” rule. If your Phoenix DUI lawyer can convince the judge that you were using your vehicle as a place to rest with no intention of driving under the influence, this could save you from a DUI conviction.
2. “I was On Private Property.”
Arizona’s DUI law does not distinguish between public and private property. If you are in “actual physical control” of a vehicle while under the influence, you can be arrested and charged with DUI regardless of your physical location. This means that you can be arrested for DUI in a bar or restaurant parking lot, in a parking lot, in your neighborhood, and even in your own driveway.
3. “I was Driving a Golf Cart, Not a Vehicle.”
Golf carts are becoming an increasingly popular mode of transportation in Arizona, and this means that more and more people are driving golf carts while under the influence of alcohol. If you got arrested while driving a golf cart, are you safe since a golf cart isn’t a “motor vehicle”?
In a word, “No”.
A golf cart qualifies as a “motor vehicle” under Arizona’s DUI laws. Specifically, Section 28-101.53 of the Arizona Revised Statutes defines a golf cart as “a self-propelled electrically powered motor vehicle.” So, if you admit to driving a golf cart drunk, you are admitting to DUI.
4. “Even Though My BAC was 0.08%, I Could Still Drive Safely.”
This is one of the most common misconceptions about Arizona’s DUI laws. While many people assume that your driving abilities need to be impaired in order to be considered “under the influence,” this is not the case. Under Arizona law, you can be convicted of DUI if either (i) your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or above; or, (ii) “[w]hile under the influence of intoxicating liquor [you are] impaired to the slightest degree.”
In other words, if you were driving with a BAC of 0.08% or above, it doesn’t matter whether you were still able to drive safely. Your BAC was over the legal limit, and this means you are guilty of DUI.
5. “My BAC Wasn’t Over the Legal Limit.”
On the same token, having a BAC below 0.08% is not a defense if the arresting officer observed you driving dangerously. Remember the language we quoted above—you can be found guilty of DUI regardless of your BAC if your ability to drive is “impaired to the slightest degree.”
Research has shown that alcohol consumption can affect some people’s driving ability at a BAC as low as 0.02%. So, while “passing” the breathalyzer might seem like it would protect you, you can still be at very real risk if you blew below the legal limit.
6. “I Thought I was Okay to Drive.”
Another common mistake we see people make is trying to avoid a conviction by saying, “I thought I was okay to drive.” In Arizona, DUI is a “strict liability” offense. This means that if your BAC is above the legal limit or your driving ability is impaired, it doesn’t matter whether you made a conscious decision to drive drunk. If you accidentally drove drunk, this does not make you innocent. If anything, it confirms that your judgment was impaired.
7. “My Friends Left and I Didn’t Have Another Way to Get Home.”
Let’s say you went out drinking with friends and one of your friends agreed to be the designated driver. But, at the end of the night, your friends left you behind. If driving yourself was your only option for getting home, does this justify your decision to get behind the wheel?
The answer to this question is also a clear “No”. Again, DUI is a strict liability offense under Arizona law. If you were driving drunk, it doesn’t matter why, and the judge isn’t going to go easy on you because your friends left you in a tough spot.
8. “I only had one drink.”
While having one drink might not seem like a problem, one drink could be enough to impair your driving abilities. If you were unable to drive safely, it doesn’t matter how little alcohol you consumed.
9. “The police officer stopped me for running a stop sign.”
It also doesn’t matter why the police pulled you over. If the arresting officer observed signs of intoxication during your traffic stop, the officer was well within his or her authority to take action based on suspicion of drunk driving.
10. “The police officer didn’t read my rights.”
While the police must read your Miranda rights before interrogating you in custody, they do not have to read your rights immediately. If you made any statements to the police on the side of the road before being taken into custody, the prosecution can use these statements against you.
Discuss Your Case with an Experienced Phoenix DUI Lawyer
If you are facing a DUI charge in Arizona, it is extremely important that you speak with a lawyer before making any decisions that could jeopardize the outcome of your case. To discuss your potential defenses with an experienced Phoenix DUI lawyer in confidence, call 480-405-7922 or request a free consultation online now.