DUI Impaired to the Slightest Degree in Arizona
Did you know it’s possible to be charged with a DUI even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit of .08? You don’t have to be intoxicated to face a drunk driving charge in Arizona due to the state’s strict DUI laws.
The Arizona DUI law states that you can face DUI charges for impairment “to the slightest degree.” Arizona has been very serious about cracking down on driving under the influence and states that it has a zero-tolerance approach to such charges.
Arizona law 28-1381 states the following:
“It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances: While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.”
The law is not just about alcohol either. It includes impairment for marijuana use and even vaping. And if you’re charged, you’ll face a class 1 misdemeanor charge, which is the most serious misdemeanor possible.
This law’s language makes it possible for a person to face a DUI if the law enforcement officer detects impairment to the slightest degree. The law officer must still have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to make the traffic stop though.
What “slightest impairment” could mean
The slight impairment will vary by person and their individual factors. Your age, gender, weight and metabolism will all impact how your body internalizes and eliminates alcohol from your system. Individuals with a higher tolerance for alcohol might be slower to get intoxicated.
Generally, a person knows when they are experiencing even slight impairment from alcohol. So if you feel slightly tipsy or different after having even one drink, it’s smart to hire a rideshare or call a friend to drive you home.
Defining physical control
Another important aspect of Arizona’s very strict DUI laws is that it outlines physical control of a vehicle. Even if you’re stopped at the side of the road or in a parking lot, you could face a DUI for physical control of a vehicle.
However, for law enforcement to charge you with a DUI, you’ll need to evaluate several factors that would prove physical control. These elements include the following:
- Whether the engine of the vehicle was running
- If the key was in the ignition or even located on your person
- If you were asleep or awake in the vehicle
- Where and how you were positioned in the vehicle
A skilled attorney will use these factors to prove that you had no intent to operate the vehicle or that you showed no signs of operating the vehicle at the time you were charged with the DUI.
Proving that the key to the ignition was not nearby or that you were not in a place to even operate the vehicle can prove that you were not in physical control of a vehicle. You will not necessarily win your case just by telling the courts that you did not intend to drive the vehicle.
Building a legal defense in slightest degree Arizona DUI cases
You do have options when it comes to facing the slightest degree DUI offense in Arizona. You can show that the officer had no legal reason to initiate the traffic stop. Alternatively, you might prove that the officer failed to read you your Miranda rights at the time of arrest or before questioning.
Additionally, your attorney might call into question the validity of your field sobriety tests or the actual level of intoxication at the time of the charge. Each DUI case will be unique as it has unique circumstances leading up to it.
Contact our office for a strong DUI defense no matter the charges against you.