DUI Myths in the State of Arizona
Myth # 1. I will only get stopped for a DUI if I am driving all over the road. FALSE. Officers aren’t just out looking for erratic driving. I would say about half of all people stopped, who ultimately get arrested for DUI, are driving just fine, but their license plate light is out, they forgot to turn on their headlights, they made a wide turn, didn’t use a turn signal, didn’t stop properly for a red traffic signal or stop sign, etc. The truth is, if you are out driving at a certain time of the night, or the early hours of the morning, law enforcement knows that it is likely you are drunk. They will find any reason to stop you, just to see if you truly are driving under the influence. If an officer wants to pull you over, they will find a reason. There is a flaw in Arizona law that says that if an officer “suspects” that you committed a traffic offense, then it is a legitimate stop. That means there doesn’t need to be any actual proof, only the officer’s claim that there was a traffic offense committed. It is no wonder that officers don’t have video cameras operating in their vehicles. Wouldn’t want actual proof to confirm or rebut what an officer says. There was one officer who, interestingly enough, seemed to pull over numerous people for having a license plate light out. Legitimate reason to stop a person, as it is a violation of the Traffic Code, but it is simply amazing that nearly everyone stopped had their license plate out while driving… yet magically it was working after the car stop. Judge would say it was fine, because the officer said the license plate was out while driving, even if it came back on afterwards.
Myth # 2. I can’t get a DUI charge or conviction, I don’t drink alcohol. FALSE. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more common to be charged with non-alcohol DUIs. We are seeing more and more Drug DUI cases, which not only include the typical illegal drugs: cocaine, marijuana, meth, etc.; but also Prescription Medications. That’s right, people are getting charged with driving while being ‘impaired’ by the prescription medications that they were prescribed by their doctors. It is not uncommon to see a person being charged with DUI, and they say that they have been taking the same medication for years, yet the officer says they were swerving on the road, and since a blood test didn’t reveal any alcohol or illegal drugs, but did reveal prescription medications, the prosecution will argue that that was the culprit that caused the swerving, and that they should be convicted of DUI. It is quite amazing, and completely unfair, but that will likely have to be a matter for the jury. The fact that one was taking Prescription Medications is not a defense to DUI-Impaired to the Slightest Degree. Also, remember how Marijuana is legal for medicinal uses. And a doctor has to evaluate someone before they can get a Medical Marijuana card. And that Medical Marijuana card allows a person to use and possess a certain amount of Marijuana due to their medical issues. And did you know that Marijuana Metabolites (the byproduct of Marijuana) can stay in your system for weeks. And do you know what that adds up to… DUI! Medical Marijuana is not “prescribed,” it is “recommended.” That means it is illegal to drive with Marijuana or its Metabolites in one’s system. DUI conviction for driving with Marijuana metabolites from smoking weeks earlier??? Yes! Furthermore, if the Medical Marijuana impaired your ability to drive to the slightest degree, that can be a DUI as well. These types of cases are becoming more and more common. The prosecutor will bring charges, and will argue for conviction. The judges will let the prosecutors bring charges and argue for conviction. That means that the jury is often the last line of defense for possibly getting a Not Guilty verdict. If you don’t drink, don’t do drugs, and don’t take prescription medications, then you are probably safe from a DUI… probably.
Myth # 3. If I cooperate with the officer, they will give me the benefit of the doubt. FALSE. The police officer is not out to be your friend. While I can’t say it never happens that a pretty girl gets away with what would otherwise be a DUI arrest, it is exceedingly rare. Being polite with the officer is a good idea. Doesn’t hurt. But being open and honest is a recipe for a DUI conviction. That is not to say that you should lie. The fact of the matter is, the officer always has discretion to cite and release you, or arrest you under suspicion for DUI. Being polite may help you in this regard. However, you must look at the big picture. If, in trying to cooperate with the officer, you are honest with them, and explain to them that you were drinking, you did feel impaired, you know you shouldn’t have been driving after drinking so much, etc., you are setting yourself up for a DUI conviction.