An officer's investigation into your DUI doesn't end with your arrest. If you are arrested for DUI, the officer will typically ask that you submit to a blood, breath, or urine test. The purpose of these tests is to determine your blood alcohol content (BAC) or whether you have drugs in your system.
This article covers Arizona's implied consent law, when drivers must agree to take an alcohol or drug test, and the consequences of refusing an officer's request for testing.
Arizona's implied consent law requires all drivers who are lawfully arrested for driving under the influence to agree to take a blood, breath, or urine test when asked to do so by an officer. The gist of this law is that you consent to BAC testing when you're issued a driver's license in Arizona.
As a consequence of an unlawful refusal, the implied consent law allows the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to suspend a driver's license.
If you refuse to take an alcohol or drug test, the officer will give you an "order of suspension" that results in the suspension of your license 15 days from the date of your arrest. The officer will also immediately seize your license or permit.
The suspension period for an implied consent violation in Arizona is 12 months for a first refusal and 24 months for a second or subsequent refusal within seven years.
If you refuse a BAC test, the officer can apply for a search warrant from a judge. If granted, the search warrant authorizes the officer to take your blood for testing.
You can challenge an administrative suspension by requesting a hearing in writing within 15 days of the arrest. One of the benefits of requesting a hearing is you can still legally drive until the hearing is held.
At the hearing, the officer must show up (in person or by telephone) and testify before the hearing officer as to what occurred. The officer must prove certain factors, or the hearing officer is supposed to overturn the suspension. You can also beat the suspension if the officer doesn't show up.
Reasonable grounds to believe you were DUI. To uphold the suspension, the DMV hearing officer must find the officer had reasonable grounds to believe that you were driving or were in actual physical control of a car while under the influence. For motorists under the age of 21, there just needs to be reasonable ground that the motorist had any amount of alcohol in his or her body.
Proof of refusal. At the hearing, the officer also needs to prove that you refused the test. Typically, proving refusal just involves the officer explaining the driver would not agree to take the test after being asked to do so and warned of the refusal consequences.
Required warnings. If you refuse to take the test, the officer is required to inform you that your license or permit to drive will be suspended for 12 months (or for two years for a second refusal within seven years) unless you agree to submit to and successfully complete the tests. If you can prove at the hearing that the officer failed to give this warning, the hearing officer is supposed to overturn your suspension.
Required notices. At the time of your arrest, the officer is required to give you an order of suspension that provides you notice of your right to request a hearing. If you can prove at the hearing that the officer failed to give you this order of suspension at the time of your arrest, you may be able to beat the suspension.
If the hearing officer upholds the suspension, you get one more crack at challenging it. You have 30 days from the date the DMV upheld your suspension to file a petition with the superior court to review the DMV's decision.
If the DMV suspends your license for a refusal, you'll have to wait 12 or 24 months before applying for reinstatement. You'll also have to provide proof that you completed an alcohol or drug screening before the DMV can reinstate your license.
The consequences of a DUI conviction are serious. If you've been arrested for driving under the influence, get legal assistance. A qualified DUI attorney can tell you how the law applies in your case, let you know if you have any good defenses, and advise you on how best to handle your situation.