In cases involving driving under the influence (DUI), obtaining an attorney is even more critical than in other cases of arrest. Because alcohol dissipates in the body over time, and because blood alcohol content is crucial evidence in a DUI case, it is critical to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. Police may inform the person that their blood alcohol content is over the legal limit when it may not be, and when right to counsel is denied, determining whether a person was truly intoxicated becomes all but impossible. While the police are preventing you from speaking with an attorney, your body continues to burn off alcohol. If you were potentially below the legal limit of .08 BAC, your attorney would advise you to immediately submit to the police requested chemical test and request to be released in order to obtain an independent test at a hospital. Denial of Right to Counsel can result in suppression of the chemical test and/or dismissal of the entire case!
David Cantor explains the Arizona DUI Defense: Denial of Right to Counsel:
Key cases on the issue exist of denial of right to counsel and how it can affect the outcome of a DUI charge:
Holland v. State of Arizona
In Holland v. State of Arizona, after the defendant’s arrest for DUI, he requested to speak to his attorney prior to submitting to a blood alcohol content test. His lawyer requested a private consultation, but the arresting officer remained in the room, which meant the lawyer was unable to ask specific questions such as “What did you drink?” “When did you start drinking?” “When was the last time you ate?” Because the lawyer was unable to ask those questions, he could not advise whether the defendant should or should not take the breathalyzer test. The Supreme Court ruled in the defendant’s favor, stating that the accused had a right to a private consultation, and that because his rights were violated, the test results were inadmissible, causing the case to be dismissed. (http://www.leagle.com/decision/1985600147Ariz453_1515)
Juarez v. State of Arizona
In Juarez v. State of Arizona, the defendant was arrested just before 7 PM and transported to the closest police station with a blood alcohol content test device. The officer and the defendant arrived at the station around 8:40 PM, and the officer read the defendant his rights regarding taking the test. However, the officer also included a statement that “You will not be allowed to call an attorney before deciding if you will take this test.” The appeals court ruled that this statement was incorrect, and vacated the guilty verdict against the defendant, remanding the case for a new trial. (http://www.leagle.com/decision/198923716Ariz76_1221)
Edwards v. State of Arizona
Although Edwards v. State of Arizona is not related to a DUI charge, the United States Supreme Court determined that the defendant’s statement of “I think I should talk to a lawyer” was equivocal, or ambiguous, and that the law required unequivocal language when a defendant requested an attorney. In other words, someone charged with a crime, even DUI, should state “I want to talk to a lawyer” or “I need to talk to a lawyer.” Once the defendant makes either of those statements, all questioning must cease and the police must provide a phone and a private area for a phone call to an attorney.
Penney v. State of Arizona
The latest case, Penney v. State of Arizona, involved a defendant arrested for DUI who demanded to speak to an attorney, The police placed him in a room with a telephone and phone book, but rejected his requests for assistance when the defendant stated that the pages with attorney’s names and phone numbers had been torn out of the book. According to an appeals court, the defendant’s rights were violated because he had not been provided access to phone numbers of attorneys who could represent him, and ordered the case dismissed.
These cases all indicate how critical obtaining an attorney is when facing a DUI charge in Arizona. Lawyers advise whether to submit to blood alcohol content testing, what questions to answer, and other advice that is critical to a successful DUI defense. If you were stopped for a DUI and were denied your right to counsel, contact us online or by phone (602-560-4004) today for a free case review. Please take time to review our Case Victories section for DUI cases that we’ve won in Arizona.
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