Arizona DUI Laws
A law enforcement officer may pull over or stop a vehicle if they have any reasonable suspicion that a driver of a motor vehicle is in violation of a traffic statute or is otherwise committing a crime. The reasonable suspicion of the officer must be supported by the facts of the circumstances and the officer must be able to explain his reasons for warranting such a stop. Officers generally stop vehicles on suspicion of DUI by observational evidence. Signs like a vehicle going too slow or too fast, suddenly stopping in the middle of a road, having no lights or having the high-beams, driving in the middle of the road, suddenly crossing lanes or other erratic driving tends to alert law enforcement officers to pull over a car for further investigation.
A person convicted of a DUI in Arizona must have been in actual physical control of a motor vehicle and must have been impaired due to the presence of alcohol and/or a drug in their body.
A person need not have been actually driving the car at the time of arrest or vehicle in order to be arrested for a DUI. However, a person must have been driving within two hours of the DUI arrest. If the person was never driving the motor vehicle, then there must be evidence that the person had been in actual physical control of the vehicle while intoxicated. The term “actual physical control” of a vehicle is not defined by the law but it is generally left to a jury to interpret by weighing the “totality of the circumstances” of an individual case.
One must also be impaired due to alcohol or drugs at the time of the offense. The “per se” Blood Alcohol Concentration, or BAC level in Arizona is .08. That means that any person who registers a BAC level reading of .08 or greater is considered impaired. There are some exceptions to the .08 BAC level however. For instance, DUIs involving underage drunk drivers only need to produce a BAC reading of .02 to warrant an arrest. In addition, any person who is driving a commercial motor vehicle needs only a BAC of .04 or greater to be in violation of driving under the influence. Furthermore, in DUI arrest involving people under the influence of drugs or metabolites, a BAC reading is not required at all as the law states that only a showing of “impairment to the slightest degree” is required for an arrest.
It is important to keep in mind that a DUI is a criminal charge and the prosecution has the burden of proving all the elements of a DUI beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecution fails at proving even one element beyond a reasonable doubt, then a person cannot be convicted for a DUI.
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