Arizona is notoriously tough on DUI drivers, and officers don’t discriminate based on how much you’ve had to drink. With the rise of ride-sharing apps in recent years, there are plenty of ways to avoid a DUI, but there may come a time when you get pulled over even though you thought you were good to go. In that event, I’ve developed a 8-step system that will help you help yourself when it comes to fighting the legal battle of dismissing your DUI:

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James Palestini, J.D., is founder of Palestini Law.
  1. Be Polite. This should go for every police interaction, but it’s especially important in a DUI situation. 
  2. Have Your Documents. Nothing makes even a routine traffic stop worse than not having your license, registration, and insurance information handy. Let an officer know what you’re reaching for if you need to remove any of these from a glovebox or console, and make sure all of your information is current and valid – otherwise, you’re racking up extra charges.
  3. Remain Silent. If the officer asks if you’ve been drinking, don’t answer! The 5th Amendment protects your right to refuse to incriminate yourself. Not speaking doesn’t mean you’re admitting to anything – plead the 5th even if you’re wholly innocent, as you have no need to say anything at all if you don’t want to!
  4. Comply if Asked to Step Out of Your Vehicle. If the officer asks you to step out of the vehicle, do it. 
  5. Refuse Field Tests. You do not need to take part in any field sobriety tests. These tests are subjective, meaning the officer will make a judgment call based on what they see, not on what they know. You never need to participate in these tests and you aren’t admitting guilt – you’re just exercising your rights.
  6. Refuse Portable Breath Testing. Police portable breathalyzers must be actively maintained and calibrated. If they aren’t, they can give false readings – positive or negative. Failing a breathalyzer gives the officer new rights in how they treat you going forward, including making an arrest and having your vehicle towed and/or impounded.
  7. Request an Attorney. Save my number in your phone right now! After you’ve refused all testing, request to speak to your attorney as quickly as possible. Demonstrating that you know your rights and that you already have legal representation on your side goes a long way in affecting how the rest of a DUI stop plays out.
  8. Comply with Blood/Intoxilyzer Testing. More often than not, an officer will recommend that you be blood or breath tested for a DUI if you’ve refused all other tests and the officer still believes you’re under the influence. If you refuse a blood or intoxilyzer test, an officer will just get a warrant and take a sample anyway and you’ll lose your license for a full year! Blood tests require a very strict chain-of-command and control, so they are the easiest to beat in court.

This article is brought to you in collaboration with Scottsdale Professionals Collective.

Author: James Palestini, J.D., is founder of Palestini Law. Palestini has practiced criminal defense for over a decade. He is licensed to practice law in Arizona, the Federal District Court, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of the United States.