The Arizona State Supreme Court ruled this Tuesday that police officers could no longer tell drivers who were arrested for driving under the influence that they are required to submit to a chemical test following a DUI arrest. This ruling contradicts early court decisions, as well as information which is currently included on state forms presented to the drivers.
According to the Court, notification by police leads to a situation where the driver could mistakenly have their Fourth Amendment Rights, which includes the protection form unreasonable warrantless searches, violated because the police officer has not obtained a valid warrant from a judge. According to one justice the chance of violation is especially high because, “Our society expects, and unquestionably demands, that people follow directives issued by law enforcement officials.”
What does this mean for Arizona implied consent laws?
Personal rights advocates should be pleased with the changes to the implied consent law. Although the State of Arizona has passed implied consent laws which state that drivers within the State of Arizona who operate a motorized vehicle and who are arrested for DUI have given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test, the law does not require drivers to submit.
Unfortunately, many drivers are unaware of their rights and when a police officer tells them they are legally required to submit to the test under Arizona implied consent laws drivers unknowingly forfeit their rights, a notion the justices agreed with.
Opponents of the ruling, however, are likely to argue that this ruling will limit the number of chemical tests performed and hurt the state’s chances of prosecuting intoxicated drivers. Opponents could also argue that it is the responsibility of drivers to understand the law, and not the police officer’s duty to explain it to them.
What do the Arizona police have to tell the driver?
Now, instead of telling drivers that they are required by law to submit to a chemical test, police officers will instead be legally required to notify the driver that if they refuse the test “they will face non-criminal consequences such as loss of their driver’s license for a year or longer.”
What do I need to know about Arizona’s implied consent laws?
First, it’s never a good idea to drink and drive. If you do decide to drink, however, it’s important that you understand the laws of your state. If you are arrested for DUI and you decide not to submit to a chemical test, you will most likely have your license suspended for at least a year.
There are also high fines for reinstating your license after suspension, and the state may be able to use the fact you refused to submit to the test against you in court. Before deciding whether to submit to the chemical test, however, you need to consider all of the administrative penalties you might face, penalties which are imposed even if you are not convicted of DUI.
Additionally, most drivers who refuse the chemical test are still charged with DUI. There can, however, be benefits of not submitting to the chemical test. For example, you may limit the state’s case against you. And if the state lacks enough evidence to convict you for DUI you will also avoid a DUI conviction which can remain on your record forever.
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