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Why the New Ban on Texting and Driving in Tempe May Lead to More DUI Arrests This Halloween

Plus 3 Safety Tips for Drivers to Begin Your Year-End Holiday Festivities  

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This holiday season we wish to remind Arizona drivers that the new ban on Texting and Driving in Tempe AZ is in effect.

Tempe joined Phoenix, AZ, and several other cities to ban texting and driving with what is being called the toughest law in the State.

Police will be on the lookout for drivers with cell phones in their hands.

Under the new law it is against the law to use a mobile device if their driving poses a risk to themselves or others.

The police may issue a ticket if the officer observes a driver texting; or has other evidence including an accident, pr other reason to believe a person using a mobile device is driving unsafely  and poses an articulable danger on the roadway.

The law will result in hefty civil fines and penalties.  But for incidents that do not involve an injury accident, it can still lead to a DUI or other criminal charge.  This is because it gives the police officer a reasonable suspicion that a violation of the law is in process. Therefore, they can stop a driver for further investigation.

If the driver who was using a mobile device is involved in a serious injury accident, and use of the mobile device was the proximate cause of the incident, then use of the mobile device will result in a Criminal Charge, Class 1 Misdemeanor.  In that case other more serious criminal would likely be brought as well.

Halloween Calls for Increased Vigilance for Child and other Pedestrian Safety         

This year’s Halloween promises to be especially raucous, as it  falls on Saturday. People who may normally miss the festivities on a weekday will be out. Most people celebrating will have no more consequences  than a hangover. However, those who get in their vehicles and drive after drinking may face very severe and life-changing consequences.

In this article we will offer some words of advice from a Tempe DUI defense lawyer for those who are heading out to Halloween festivities in Maricopa County to help avoid a DUI arrest.

Tip #1: Avoid driving if you can; and distracted driving  

children-crossing-7-1444107-1280x9601-300x226 According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly half (48 percent) of accidents on Halloween night involve a drunk driver.

That statistic alone should give anyone pause who is considering driving anywhere on Halloween night. Even people who are not under the influence face a risk of being involved in an accident. According to annual data from the The Obrella Insider reported that Arizona was identified as having the 6th highest pedestrian fatality rate in the USA, with Halloween being consistently on one of the top three deadliest days of the year for pedestrians.

The American College of Emergency Physicians reported that a child’s risk of being hit by an automobile is 4 times higher on Halloween than any other night of the year.

According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), some of reasons for this include but are not limited to the following:

  • Increased pedestrian traffic;
  • Distracted Driving and inattentiveness;
  • Texting and Driving;
  • Speeding in neighborhoods where children are out;
  • Careless entering and exits of driveways and alleys.
  • Impaired driving due to alcohol and/or drugs;
  • Inability to see Trick or Treaters due to dark costumes without illumination;
  • Increased BAC due to the social nature of the holiday.  Of the pedestrians involved in fatal crashes in 2012, one in three had a BAC of (34%), or 4 times the legal limit of 0.08 percent in Arizona

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Police plan to make sure the streets of Arizona are safe and get drunk drivers off the road. Arizona law enforcement has been attempting to combat Extreme DUI (Blood Alcohol Content BAC .15 percent or greater) and Super Extreme DUI (BAC 0.20 percent), are still challenged with reducing them.

Driver’s with Blood Alcohol Content in excess, are at the highest risk of being involved in a fatal accident as reported by NHTSA.

Arizona drivers can count on an increased presence including have saturation patrols and check points this weekend, seeking out impaired and drunk drivers.

There will be many children out in the streets trick or treating, possibly late into the night.

If your vehicle strikes a child or any pedestrian one of them and you are accused of being intoxicated, not only will the child suffer, but you may, as well.

So if you are driving stay alert and focused, and avoid driving distracted.

If a person is accused of causing another person injury while driving under the influence, the charge is elevated to an aggravated DUI. An aggravated DUI is a Class 4 felony, punishable by:

  • 1.5 years to 3 years in prison,
  • Fines up to $150,000,
  • Driver’s license revocation for at least three years,
  • Mandatory drug and/or alcohol screening and counseling,
  • Mandatory traffic school,
  • Up to five years of probation,
  • Mandatory community service,
  • Driving record points, and/or
  • Installation of ignition interlock device on all vehicles.

Walking is not always an option, so take a cab if you can. Avoid getting behind the wheel on Halloween night.

Tip #2: Leave your vehicle overnight.   

parking-lot-1-1192868-639x893-187x300Halloween falling on a Saturday means that many people will be out late on Halloween because they do not have to go to work the next day, freeing them to sleep in late. Not having to go into work the next day, however, also frees many people to make another choice: Leaving the car parked overnight and picking it up the next morning.

Sometimes, people who have been drinking make the mistake of believing they are fine to drive home. They may count the number of drinks they’ve had and think they must have a BAC (blood alcohol content) below .08.

However, people are prone to mistakes when they attempt to do that. They may forget one or more drinks they have had. They may underestimate the amount of alcohol in a drink, or make a mistake on the size of a drink.

Further, a person can be charged with a DUI even if their BAC falls below .08. Under Arizona Statute §28.1381, a person can be convicted of a crime if prosecutors can prove they were driving or in actual physical control of a vehicle and were under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, or a vapor releasing substance that impairs the person to the slightest degree.

If a person has an alcohol concentration above 0.05 but below 0.08, there is no longer a presumption of intoxication under the law, but that fact may be used alongside other evidence to prove a DUI charge.

A person charged with a first time, non-extreme, non-aggravated DUI under these circumstances could face, if it is their first charge:

  • A fine of at least $250,
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device for at least one year,
  • Community restitution,
  • Assessment of $500 to be deposited in the prison construction and operations fund,
  • Assessment of $500 to be deposited in the public safety equipment fund,
  • Alcohol or drug screening,
  • Alcohol or drug education or treatment program,
  • Court costs,
  • A driver’s license suspension for 90 days, and/or
  • A criminal record.

Waiting for alcohol to dissipate or counting your drinks is not a good strategy. Even if your BAC is below .08, you could face charges and conviction for DUI.

You won’t have to wake up early tomorrow to catch a cab or a ride with your spouse or friend to go pick up your car, so take advantage of that fact and leave it overnight.

The slight inconvenience is heavily outweighed by the fact that you will avoid much more serious consequences if arrested for DUI.

Tip #3: If You Have Your Kids with You, Do Not Partake in Alcohol at All

hail-the-great-pumpkin-1-final-1481659-639x852-195x300Not every Halloween event is reserved for just kids or just adults. For instance, some families may go to Trick or Treat Main Street in Mesa and then head to one of the nearby restaurants for dinner afterward.

If any of the adults have a few drinks with dinner and get behind the wheel, though, they could suffer grave consequences.

Arizona law is harsh for those convicted of driving under the influence with a minor, defined as someone younger than 15, in the car.

It is a class 6 felony to drive or have actual physical control of a vehicle with a minor inside. Penalties include:

 

  • A mandatory one day in jail;
  • Up to two years in prison;
  • A minimum fine of $4,600;
  • Driver’s license revocation for one year;
  • Alcohol counseling; and
  • An ignition interlock device for two years.

These are the penalties for any level of intoxication. A person could also face charges of child endangerment or child abuse.

If you are taking your kids out to a Halloween celebration, your best bet is to remain completely sober.

DUI and Criminal Defense Attorney in Tempe, AZ

No one that drinks and drives go out wanting or expecting to be arrested for impaired driving.  But people make mistakes and misjudgments that can easily lead to making a poor decision to drive impaired, and finds themselves arrested.

If this happens to you or anyone you know it is important that you consult a DUI defense attorney to protect your rights and defend your charges.  James Novak, of the Law Office of James E. Novak, PLLC is a former prosecutor and experienced DUI and criminal defense attorney.  He provides a free initial consultation for active DUI and criminal charges in his service area.  This includes Phoenix- Metro and surrounding East Valley Cities including Tempe, Chandler, Scottsdale, and Gilbert.  Call today (480) 413-1499, to speak directly with Attorney James Novak.

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