Important Court Decision on Involuntary DUI by Consent
In the case of an officer suspected that the person they have pulled over for a traffic stop might be driving under the influence (DUI), that officer must obtain a warrant for a breathalyzer or chemical test. This falls under your rights under 4th amendment of the Constitution.
Under this Arizona DUI law, an officer must have probable cause to administer a blood or urine test, even though Arizona has an Implied Consent law that states that by driving a vehicle in Arizona, you consent to such testing.
One exception to this law is when the driver consents to a breath or chemical test. In these situations, an officer no longer must obtain a warrant before administering the test. However, an officer may not coerce the driver into taking the test to the point where it is now no longer voluntary. Therefore, an involuntary consent does not remove the burden of the officer needing to obtain a warrant.
Recent case concerning Arizona DUI law and consent
Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court evaluated whether or not a test was involuntary in light of the officer informing the driver of the consequences of refusing to take a test. Ultimately, the court decided that informing the driver of the consequences of refusal does not make the test involuntary.
Let’s briefly review the case to better understand how this might affect other situations. Law enforcement arrested the defendant alleging that the driver was under the influence. During the process, the officer informed the driver of Informed Consent and how individuals who choose to operate a vehicle must consent to giving a sample for DUI testing.
The officer went on to explain the consequences of refusal, including license suspension. After hearing this information, the driver agreed to provide a blood sample for the officer. Upon testing, the officer found the driver’s BAC to be above the legal limit and charged the driver with a DUI.
Prior to the start of the trial, the defendant filed a motion to have the blood sample excluded stating that it had been involuntary because the officer had told the defendant that his license would be suspended if he chose to refuse the test.
The court evaluated the circumstances and found that the officer had read directly from the Implied Consent Affidavit. They also reviewed how the officer asked for consent and found no fault or wrongdoing in it.
Find out if in Arizona you can refuse a blood or urine test.
Secondary review upon appeal
The courts found the defendant guilty of aggravated DUI. The defendant in turn appealed the decision, which required the court to dive even deeper into the definition of consent under Arizona’s Implied Consent law.
Even after appeal, the court found that the circumstances were handled appropriately for the driver to provide a voluntary consent to the testing. The main argument that the defendant made was that the officer in question told the defendant of the consequences of not consenting before asking that the defendant provide consent. This made the situation seem more like coercion.
There was a previous court case in which the courts ruled that the officer should have asked for consent before telling the driver of the consequences of not consenting. However, the courts ruled that the case was different because in those circumstances, the officer had told the driver that the driver was “required” to take the DUI test.
The case does prove that you do not have to simply accept your DUI arrest. Instead, there are many ways that an Arizona DUI attorney can help you fight for your rights and work toward avoiding a conviction so that you can keep your license and avoid being charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
If you’re facing an illegal DUI in Arizona find out how to file a complaint.