Whether you have been drinking alcohol or not, being stopped for a DUI or charged with another crime can be a stressful and confusing experience. Some people, embarrassed and desperate to get criminal charges taken care of, volunteer information to police officers and plead guilty without talking to a lawyer. Arizona has harsh sentencing laws. Remember that you are innocent until proven guilty; the prosecutor bears a tremendous burden to put forth evidence showing you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Many cases can be defended successfully by an experienced Tempe DUI attorney who can get some of the evidence suppressed or find evidence of innocence and cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution's case. There are several questions knowledgeable criminal defense James Novak hears frequently in his practice.

Q. What should I do if the police stop me?

A. If you are alerted that the police are pulling you over, pull over safely and as soon as possible. Stop and turn off your vehicle and open your window. Always keep your hands in plain view of the police officer, such as on the steering wheel. If you have passengers, all of you should be respectful and polite. When asked, show the officer your driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. You should not admit anything or try to talk your way out of an arrest. Any statements you make may be used against you. Therefore, you should exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. Never consent to a search without a warrant or agree to be recorded in any way.

Q. Should I agree to take tests?

A. Tests are used to obtain evidence against you. The police cannot force you to perform field sobriety tests (one leg stand, walk and turn, finger-to-nose) or the HGN eye test. However, the prosecution may present your refusal as evidence to the jury. If you refuse to take the test, you will probably be arrested for DUI and taken to another location for breath, blood, or urine testing. In most situations, we recommend you refuse the test and ask to speak with an attorney as soon as reasonably possible. Generally, if a police officer performs field sobriety tests before the HGN eye test, he probably believes you are drunk and plans to arrest you anyway.

Q. What will happen if I am arrested for DUI and I refuse to take a blood, breath, or urine test?

A. In Arizona you are deemed to give consent to these tests when you get your license. You will be subject to a one-year license suspension if you do not give a sample. The police will often be able to secure a search warrant to take your blood without your consent.

Q. What should I do if the police want to search my home or my car?

A. Never consent to a search. Let the police know they need a warrant. They may search anyway on the basis of probable cause, in which case be polite and wait. Consult a defense attorney immediately.

Q. The police officer did not read me my Miranda rights when he arrested me. Does that impact the case?

A. Contrary to what you see on television, police officers are not required to read Miranda warnings every time they make an arrest. Rather, they must advise you of your Miranda rights before they ask you questions about an alleged crime while you are under arrest. If they fail to read you your rights under these circumstances, it may be possible to exclude incriminating statements you have made. Getting such evidence excluded could lead to charges being dismissed.

Q. Can I choose the type of DUI test the officer administers?

A. No. In Arizona, the three most common tests for DUIs are blood, breath and urine and the officer will not give you a choice as to which DUI test to conduct. Depending on the facts of the case, however, a DUI defense retest may be performed at an independent lab.

Q. Why am I being charged with TWO crimes at one DUI Stop?

A. The most traditional DUI charge is "driving under the influence of alcohol" (DUI). Arizona also charges a second "per se" offense for driving with an excessive blood–alcohol concentration (.08%). You may be charged and convicted of more than these two charges depending on how high the BAC is and factual circumstances surrounding your arrest.

Q. What should I do if I am visiting Arizona from out–of state, and arrested for DUI while in Arizona?

A. Arizona has harsh DUI laws and it is quite common for a resident of another state to be arrested for DUI while traveling through our state. Our firm can try to get permission for you to appear telephonically with both the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles. You should be aware that an Arizona DUI conviction may affect your driving privileges in the state where you live.

Q. Do I really need to hire an attorney for my criminal charges?

A. Yes. Arizona has some of the toughest DUI and criminal laws in the country. It is crucial that you consult an Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible to discuss what happened, the charges against you and the need for a defense. You should hire a Criminal Defense or DUI Defense attorney rather than a "general practice" attorney to defend you. This is because Criminal and DUI laws can change radically in a short period. The attorney you hire should be someone who defends these cases regularly; a regular practitioner of criminal defense law understands the most current law; and is familiar with judges, prosecutors, protocols, and the most pertinent defense strategies. Attorneys must be licensed in a particular state in order practice there. Proceed with caution before retaining an attorney licensed to practice in Arizona, but living in another state where he or she also practices. In many cases, an Arizona attorney will probably have greater credibility during negotiations with an Arizona prosecutor and judge.

Q. The police think I have committed a crime and want to talk to me. Should I talk to them?

A. NO! The police may seem friendly, but they are not asking you questions because they want your side of the story. They won't say so, but they are gathering evidence to build their case against you. Consult a Criminal or DUI Defense Attorney before answering any questions.

Q. What are Miranda Rights and why are they important?

A. Following an arrest, you will be cuffed and read your "Miranda Rights", as follows: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to have an attorney present before any questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to represent you before any questioning. Do you understand these rights?" The officer has already made his decision. Anything you say after that can only hurt you. Say only that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent and to speak to your defense attorney privately. Note: If an officer continues to question you after you have requested to remain silent and consult your attorney, the case may become subject to a Motion to Dismiss for Right to Counsel Violation.

Q. What happens after I am arrested and taken to jail?

A. Within 24 hours after arrest you will appear before a Judge or Judge Magistrate. During that 24 hours, you must contact an Arizona criminal defense attorney. If you retain attorney James Novak, he will handle such aspects of your case as making sure your constitutional rights have not been violated, handling your arraignment, entering a "not–guilty" plea, filing notice of defenses and notice of his representation of you as counsel. The judge will issue a warrant if appropriate and set a bond for appearance in court. If you cannot post bond, you may be incarcerated while you wait for your appearance. If you qualify and are able to post a bond for release, you will be free pending your arraignment, which is a formal hearing before a judge during which you are advised of your rights and possible penalties. You will enter a plea at the arraignment.

Retain a Knowledgeable Arizona Criminal Defense Attorney

Our firm is an independently owned private practice dedicated to criminal defense and DUI defense. If hired, experienced Phoenix criminal defense attorney James Novak guarantees he will handle your case with skill and sensitivity from consultation to conclusion. While some firms charge expensive hourly fees in order to pay for marketing and overhead, we charge flat affordable fees. Contact us (480) 413-1499 or via our online form.