If you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI, your behavior and the actions you take in front of law enforcement officers can have a big impact on whether or not you’ll be charged and convicted of driving under the influence.
Police officers commonly employ field sobriety tests and breathalyzer tests to try to prove that you have violated Arizona’s zero tolerance law. Learn everything you need to know about Arizona breathalyzer laws—including what to do if you get pulled over—from the criminal defense attorneys at Lerner and Rowe Law Group.
How Accurate Is a Breathalyzer Test in Arizona?
Preliminary breathalyzer testing administered using a handheld device in the field or at the location of arrest is often inaccurate and is not generally admissible as evidence. In contrast, more accurate breath tests can be conducted in police stations using a device called an intoxilyzer.
PLEASE NOTE: Intoxilyzer test results are admissible in court.
In spite of this, portable breathalyzers are still crucial to DUI cases and are an often used tool used by police to establish probable cause and lead to an initial arrest for DUI.
What Can Cause a False Positive on a Breathalyzer Test?
There are many factors that can skew the results of a handheld breathalyzer test like those used by Arizona law enforcement. Sometimes they can even produce a false positive. Factors that can contribute to a false positive breath test include:
- Improperly calibrated equipment
- Contaminated equipment
- Residual mouth alcohol
- Health conditions and certain medications
- Fluctuating blood alcohol levels
Can You Refuse a Breathalyzer Test in Arizona?
Technically, you can refuse a breathalyzer test in Arizona. Whether you should refuse one of these tests is another matter. Arizona breathalyzer laws operate under an admin per se or implied consent law. The implied consent law dictates that all drivers give their implied consent to chemical testing to determine their BAC when they are issued an Arizona driver’s license.
The Arizona implied consent law also makes it clear that refusing to take a breathalyzer test after being arrested for DUI will result in the suspension of your driver’s license for one year with limited recourse. This is often the case even if the DUI charges against you are eventually dropped or dismissed. A skilled criminal defense lawyer in Phoenix can help you contest this suspension and protect your driving privileges.
In addition, even if you refuse a breathalyzer test, a warrant can be issued that will force you to submit to a breath, blood, or other chemical testing.
Should You Admit to Drinking If You’re Pulled Over?
Unlike chemical tests, any questioning by a police officer along with field sobriety tests are not covered under Arizona’s implied consent law. You are not required to, and nor should you, answer a police officer’s questions if you are pulled over on suspicion of DUI. You should follow instructions by providing your license and registration, but you are well within your legal rights not to respond to an officer’s line of questioning about what you were doing before driving, if you have consumed or ingested drugs or alcohol, etc.
Do You Have to Submit to Field Sobriety Tests in Arizona?
You do not have to submit to field sobriety tests such as the horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, the walk-and-turn test, or the one-leg stand. Like preliminary breathalyzer tests, field sobriety tests can be affected negatively by a variety of factors that may not be related in any way to alcohol consumption.
What Should You Do if You’re Pulled Over for DUI?
The best course of action if you’re pulled over on suspicion of DUI is to remain polite to the responding officer while letting them know that you are exercising your right to remain silent until your lawyer has arrived. If you are asked to submit to field sobriety tests, you can respectfully decline. If you are arrested for DUI and asked to take a breathalyzer, blood, or other chemical test, you should comply.
Keep in mind that refusing field sobriety tests may result in being arrested. If this happens, call an Arizona DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible. The criminal defense lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Law Group have helped hundreds of people charged with a DUI to have their cases dismissed or their sentences reduced. Call us at 602-667-7777, chat with a live representative now, or submit your case details using our secure contact form.