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Recent Blog Posts

Is My DUI a Felony?

 Posted on July 08, 2024 in DUI

Is my DUI a Felony

One common misconception is that a high alcohol concentration can make your DUI a felony; however, that is not true. Whether your alcohol concentration is a .08 or a .45, your case may still be a misdemeanor.

If you are arrested for DUI and answer yes to any of the following, your DUI could be a felony:

  1. Is your driver license or privilege to drive suspended, canceled, revoked, or refused, or is your driving privilege restricted for a prior DUI offense?
  2. Is this your third DUI in 7 years? 
  3. Did you have someone under the age of 15 years old in your vehicle at the time of the DUI?
  4. At the time of your DUI, were you required to have an ignition interlock on your vehicle?

  5. Were you driving the wrong way on a highway?

An aggravated DUI for having a passenger under the age of 15 in the vehicle is a class 6 felony. An aggravated DUI for any of the other reasons is a class 4 felony.

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Throwback Thursday, DUI Style

 Posted on January 11, 2024 in DUI

Tucson DUI Attorneys            State of Arizona ex rel. Hamilton v. City Court of Mesa, and Real Party in Interest Lopresti, 799 P.2d 855, 165 Ariz. 514 (1990) – How the State Gets it Wrong and What Happens When the Courts Believe Them

Michelle L. Behan

            In 1990, the Supreme Court of Arizona took up a case to determine if it was lawful for the State of Arizona to use field sobriety test results as proof a citizen had an alcohol concentration over the legal limit.  A few years earlier, the Supreme Court had decided a case[1] called Blake, where they held it was not permissible for the State to use Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test results as direct evidence of a driver’s alcohol concentration.  In the Lopresti decision, the Court reaffirmed its prior holding, and then provided direct guidance limiting the testimony of a police officer regarding HGN test results:

            In the absence of a chemical analysis, the use of HGN test results, as with observations from other field sobriety tests, is to be limited to showing a symptom or clue of impairment. … The officer may not testify regarding accuracy in estimating BAC from the test, nor may the officer estimate whether the BAC was above or below [the legal limit]. … HGN test results may be admitted only for the purpose of permitting the officer to testify that, based on his training experience, the results indicated possible neurological dysfunction, one cause of which could be alcohol ingestion.

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Easing License Restrictions for Those Arrested or Convicted of DUI

 Posted on December 29, 2022 in Legal

DL.jpgStarting in January, many new and beneficial changes are coming the license restrictions faced by people arrested or convicted of DUI. Some of those changes include:

1. Time to Request a Hearing

Currently, if you are arrested for DUI the officer will give you an admin per se/ implied consent form (usually your copy will be pink or yellow).  You have 15 days to request a hearing on the license suspension or your license will be automatically suspended.  Starting in January, that will change to 30 days. This gives people twice as long to request a hearing. These hearings can be a huge benefit and we at the Behan Law Group have been successful in defeating licenses suspensions at these hearings.

2. Suspension when Arrested for DUI and Consenting to Chemical Testing

Right now, if you are arrested for DUI and agree to the chemical test (this can be blood, breath, or urine) you face a 90-day suspension.  For those who qualify those 90 days are split into 30 days of absolutely no driving followed by 60 days of restricted driving where you can drive to and from work, school, home, etc.

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Jail Time Reduction Without an Ignition Interlock

 Posted on December 23, 2022 in DUI

Arizona DUI LawyerArizona requires someone convicted of a ”Super Extreme” DUI (driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle while having an alcohol concentration over .20) to serve 45 days in jail. The law also permits the court to suspend[1] all but 14 days if someone installs an ignition interlock device in any vehicle that they drive.

Many plea agreements, both in felony cases as well as misdemeanors, require that someone put an ignition interlock on a vehicle to reduce the time the person spends in jail. Previously, some courts read this to mean if you did not have a car you had to do more jail time than someone who had a car and who could install an ignition interlock device.  This also meant someone would be required to get a car and have an ignition interlock installed if they hoped to have reduced jail time.

Recently, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled that this interpretation was incorrect.  In State v. Kara Anne Stowe, the Court found that jail time could be reduced even without the installation of the ignition interlock device for a defendant who did not own a car and did not drive during the one year following their sentence.  In other words, there is no longer a requirement that someone go out and buy a car and equip it with an interlock device to receive the jail time reduction.  Now, the interlock only needs to be installed if that person is driving during the one-year period.

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Record Sealing: Keeping the Past Private

 Posted on August 09, 2022 in Legal

Shutterstock_101784154-2.jpgBy Amanda Stafford, Esq.

Arizona has recently passed several laws recently aimed at breaking down the barriers created by criminal convictions. To learn more, check out our other posts on Certificate of Second Chance and Limiting the Use of Felony DUIs as Historical Priors. Arizona has passed a new law to help citizens who have been convicted of criminal offenses get their lives back on track. A.R.S. § 13-911, which takes effect on January 1, 2023, will allow many criminal records to be sealed.

What Does it Mean to Seal a Record?

Currently, if someone is arrested, charged, or convicted, it is a matter of public record. This means anyone can look it up online or in person. Record sealing removes the case from public access, limiting who is able to see the arrest, charge, or conviction.

There are still circumstances when someone could see the prior arrest, charge, or conviction. For example, a prosecutor, law enforcement officer, or someone doing certain background checks could still see the records.

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Change is Coming!

 Posted on July 12, 2022 in DUI

shutterstock_16585327.jpgBy Amanda Stafford, Esq.

Arizona has just signed into law House Bill 2673. The changes will take effect on January 1, 2023, and will affect Arizona’s DUI laws in 4 ways. 

1. Aggravated DUI as a Lifetime Prior Felony

Before this new change, if someone had a conviction for aggravated DUI it was considered a lifetime prior felony. The State could use someone’s prior aggravated DUI conviction against them to request a harsher penalty if they were ever found guilty of another felony. Lifetime prior felonies could be used against someone forever

For example, if someone at 21 was convicted of an aggravated DUI and 50 years later had a new felony charge the State could use the prior aggravated DUI against them for a harsher sentence. With the new law change, the aggravated DUI is treated more like other felonies and can only be used against them “forever” if the person is being sentenced for another aggravated DUI. Aggravated DUIs can still be used for harsher sentencing in some circumstances and depending on the age of the conviction.

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DUI Checkpoint Ahead: What You Should Know

 Posted on November 12, 2021 in DUI

Pima County DUI defense lawyerHave you ever found yourself at a DUI checkpoint and wondered why the police are allowed to stop you when you did nothing wrong?  You are not alone.  In fact, many states do not allow DUI checkpoints because they violate their state constitutions.

However, the United States Supreme Court has said DUI checkpoints are constitutional.  In Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz, the Court considered the government’s interest in preventing alcohol related accidents, the checkpoints’ ability to achieve that goal, and the infringement on personal liberties and determined that the government’s interest was so strong that it outweighed the imposition on individuals.  Despite that statement, the Court went on to carefully curtail the scope of what the police can do at a checkpoint.

Amongst those qualifications are:

  • The checkpoints must be well-lit, have proper signage, and any police presence should be obvious;

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Supreme Court Rules Against Warrantless Entry in Pursuit of Misdemeanor Suspect

 Posted on June 29, 2021 in Legal

Pima County DUI defense lawyerIn a case that is sure to have a substantial impact on the way police handle misdemeanor encounters with individuals, in Lange v. California the Supreme Court rejected a categorical rule that enabled officers to enter a home without a warrant in “hot pursuit” of a fleeing misdemeanor suspect. In an opinion by Justice Kagan, the Court preserved the sanctity and privacy afforded to the home by ruling that the flight of a suspected misdemeanant itself does not justify warrantless entry into a home and that, barring exigent circumstances (i.e., imminent harms of violence, destruction of evidence, escape from the home), an officer must get a warrant.

The case started with Arthur Lange catching the attention of a California highway patrol officer by listening to loud music and repeatedly honking his horn as he drove his car. The officer tailed Lange and tried to conduct a traffic stop. Being just a few seconds away from home, Lange continued to his driveway and parked his car in the garage. The officer followed him in and prevented the garage door from closing by sticking his foot under it. Upon talking to Lange, the officer noticed signs of intoxication and put him through field sobriety tests, where he was eventually arrested for DUI.

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Drinking on the Job: How a DUI Can Impact a Commercial Driver

 Posted on June 10, 2021 in DUI

Tucson CDL DUI Defense Law FirmWhen it comes to driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, Arizona law holds truck drivers and other Commercial Driver’s License holders to a higher standard than regular drivers —even when they are off-duty.

When CDL drivers are behind the wheel of their commercial vehicles they can be arrested and charged with a DUI if they have a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .04 percent or higher, which is half the regular legal alcohol limit.

If the CDL driver is behind the wheel of a non-commercial vehicle, such as their personal car, then the regular .08 legal alcohol limit applies. However, a DUI charge can put a commercial driver’s employment at serious risk. Regular drivers facing a DUI can lose their license for 90 days (if they consent to a blood test), while commercial drivers can lose their license for up to a year. Additionally, if your regular driver’s license is suspended, then your commercial driver’s license is also suspended until the agency that revoked it restores it. This can cause CDL holders to lose the ability to work.

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SCOTUS Takes on Fourth Amendment Case via the Police’s “Community Caretaking” Exception

 Posted on March 09, 2021 in Legal

Arizona gun law attorneysThe Fourth Amendment provides protection against unreasonable search and seizure, with subsequent court rulings declaring any warrantless search is unreasonable. Courts have established a handful of exceptions to the warrant requirement. Some of these exceptions allow police to enter private property if there is a compelling and immediate reason why they would need to intervene, and do not have time to obtain a search warrant from a judge. If police observe a murder about to happen inside a private home or business, for example, they would be allowed to respond immediately under this rule.

The “community caretaking” exception to the Fourth Amendment is unique from other exceptions because it does not require an immediate, urgent reason for police intervention. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Cady v. Dombrowski (1973) that police were allowed to seize guns out of an impounded vehicle without a warrant based on a police claim that the guns were being removed to prevent them from being stolen. The court ruled that police should be able to perform duties that take care of the community, provided their actions are “totally divorced” from the investigation of a crime.

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