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Scottsdale Criminal Law Blog

First conviction of DUI in Arizona? You're likely going to jail

Arizona is among several other states whose drunk driving laws include potentially severe penalties for conviction, even if it's the first time you've ever been charged with a crime. This state orders mandatory jail time for first offenders, all the more reason to try to avoid legal problems related to intoxicated driving at the start. Even if you make responsible choices where libations are concerned, it doesn't necessarily mean a police officer will never pull you over in a traffic stop and accuse you of drunk driving.

Let's say you're traveling a winding road with which you're completely unfamiliar. As you do your best to maintain control and safely navigate the area, your tires veer a little too close to the yellow line around some of the bends. The next thing you know, you're looking at flashing police squad car lights behind you, and you realize the officer is conducting a traffic stop — and you're the subject. You may wind up facing drunk driving charges.

Study: Hiring a DUI lawyer could save you more than $4,000

Being arrested for DUI in Arizona is no joke. Being convicted for a first offense means 24 hours to 10 days behind bars, a base fine of $250, a license suspension for up to a year and a mandatory ignition interlock device, which you must have installed and maintain at your own cost. The penalties go up with each subsequent offense.

Yes, the penalties for DUI in Arizona are serious, and they're not the only thing you'll be facing if you're convicted. According to the online insurance rate comparison site QuoteWizard, you'll also see about a $4,000 increase in your insurance rates over the next five years.

Arizona's methods for fighting drug-impaired driving

It's no secret how police determine if they will charge you with driving under the influence of alcohol. Such an arrest typically begins with an officer noticing something -- your eyes, your behavior or the odor of alcohol on your breath. What follows is a series of subjective tests the officer may initiate to confirm the suspicion that you have been drinking.

However, what does an officer do to confirm the suspicion that you are driving under the influence of drugs? Currently, there are no reliable field tests for drug impairment, but Arizona police are making more arrests than ever.

Is it fair to suspend licenses for nonpayment of court debts?

Is the practice of suspending defendants' driver's licenses for nonpayment of criminal justice debt unfair to those who can't afford to pay? Does it actually make it harder for courts to collect that debt?

A recent report by the nonprofit Legal Aid Justice Center says yes to both questions. Forty-three states, including Arizona, allow courts to suspend people's driver's licenses when they don't pay fines, regardless of whether they can afford to. That's unfair and unconstitutional, the report concludes. Moreover, it makes it much less likely the courts will get their money.

Supreme Court to hear case involving automobile search exception

Search warrants are generally required when police officers search your property -- unless a specific exception applies. In 1925, the U.S. Supreme Court carved out a major exception to the search warrant requirement in a case called Carroll v. United States. It created the "automobile exception" or "motor vehicle exception," which essentially allows any motor vehicle to be searched without a warrant as long as the officer has probable cause to believe that evidence or contraband will be found in that vehicle.

When a police officer went onto a suspect's driveway and lifted a tarp covering what appeared to be a motorcycle, did he search the motorcycle? Or would it be more proper to say he searched the driveway, or under the tarp? Does the motor vehicle exception apply in such a situation?

Should the USCIS be able to search your devices without a warrant?

Criminal defense attorneys and civil rights activists have raised the alarm at the increasing number of electronic devices being searched at our borders and at international airports. In April, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported that it searched 19,000 devices in fiscal year 2016 -- a shocking increase over the 8,500 it searched in 2015. In the first half of 2017 the agency had already searched nearly 15,000.

Two citizens and a green card holder recently filed suit against the USCIS' parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security. They were apparently charged with no crime but had their devices seized for prolonged periods.

How to steer clear of drunk driving charges after a party

You may be one of many Arizona residents eagerly anticipating many of the activities and special occasions that typically accompany autumn. For instance, NFL fans throughout the nation are already enjoying the first games of the season. If you like to get together with friends for a tailgate party or enjoy a few burgers and beers at a friend's house on game days, you may look forward to yummy half-time snacks, festive team spirit decorations and various types of beverages to accompany your culinary football delights.

In fact, an entire culture has been built up around NFL game days and parties throughout the nation. Whether you're a Cardinals fan or pledge your allegiance to some other team in the league, eagerly anticipating game time with your friends and loved ones may be just the ticket to help you through a long and tiring work week. If you plan on imbibing alcohol during the next game, you may want to think ahead to your post-game transportation plans to avoid DUI problems on your way home.

Can police require you to open your phone with Apple Face ID?

Apple Face ID is the newest thing; just look directly at your phone and it unlocks and opens so you can use it. As always with new technology, however, there are questions.

The Atlantic Monthly recently published an article considering some of the issues. We won't try to reproduce it here, but here are some highlights:

AG Sessions tells gathering that violent crime rate is surging

Speaking before a law enforcement conference in Alabama recently, Attorney General Jeff Sessions reported that "violent crime is back with a vengeance." He reported that the nationwide murder rate increased in 2015 by nearly 11 percent, which would represent the fastest increase since 1968. "Per capita homicide rates are up in 27 of our 35 largest cities," he said.

Sessions was likely citing data from the FBI. The latest data available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the official source of U.S. crime data, goes through 2015. At that time, the BJS noted that the U.S. was experiencing a historic decline in violent crime.

Did a personal rights violation occur during your arrest?

Let's say you were driving home after an evening at your favorite restaurant with friends. You immediately notice a glare when red and blue lights begin flashing in your rear view mirror. The pit in your stomach announces your state of nervousness as you realize a police officer is pulling you over. Whether it's your first experience in a traffic stop or you've been through the process before, it's typically a highly stressful situation for any motorist.

The events that unfold from that moment on will likely vary greatly according to various details, such as what the officer's initial reason might be for making the stop. If he or she suspects you of drunk driving (perhaps because your tires touched the yellow center line a few times while you were driving on a windy road) things may get a lot more stressful before they get better.

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