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DUI Arrest: When Game Victory Quickly Turns Into Defeat

Safety Messages; and Overview of Impaired Driving Laws and Penalties in Arizona  

One of America’s most popular days of the year for sports, Super Bowl Sunday, is also one of the most dangerous.  This is due to the incidents of impaired driving, and other crimes that historically increase on game day including under age 21 drinking, assaults, disorderly conduct and domestic violence.

Advertising for liquor specials, great places to eat, have fun, and watch the game are everywhere.  But as a criminal defense attorney, dealing with the aftermath of a DUI and criminal arrests every day, I see the consequences it has on those who have been arrested and their families, as well as victims and their  families.  To make sure you have fun, and your event or celebration ends safely, I urge everyone not to let the excitement and festivities distract you from making wise judgment decisions.   You can do this by planning ahead for a ride home; knowing your limits even if you are not driving; and looking out for others safety as well as your own.

In the spirit of safety, I’m sharing formal messages from National Centers for Disease Control, Arizona Department of Public Safety, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving; as well as providing information on Arizona DUI laws, and penalties.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (ADPS) just announced its plan to increase DUI enforcement for Super Bowl Sunday.   Saturation patrols are scheduled to begin Sunday February 2, 2014 and continue through February and continue through Monday, Feb, 3, 2014.  A large number of officers are expected to participate in the saturation patrols.  A command post will be set up in Phoenix and mobile patrols will be present on freeways and other high traffic areas. Their message was simple but clear, “Drivers have a choice to not drink and drive” and reminded people that there are usually always alternatives.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that most alcohol impaired driving charges are the result of binge drinking, which is the result of having 4 or more drinks within a short time period.  Binge drinking may result in alcohol poisoning and in some cases can be fatal.   The CDC urges everyone this year to “Call a time-out on alcohol”. This includes selecting a designated sober driver; not drinking and driving or allowing others to drive impaired; and for hosts to remind their guests of the same as well as offering alcohol-free beverages as an alternative.

Mothers against Drunk Driving (MADD) organization encourages party goers to arrange for a designated sober driver to take you home as part of your plan preparations, and well before the game and festivities begin.   MADD encourages football fans “to play the most important position in the NFL: the designated driver.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that 43 percent of all auto collision fatalities occurred on Super Bowl Sunday the morning hours that followed on the following Monday last year, as a result of impaired driving.  Their theme in a Consumer Advisory released January 31, 2014, was my This was my personal favoriteFans Don’t Let Fans Drive Drunk. Before choosing to drink, choose your team’s MVP”.  Of course, when they refer to MVP, they are referring to the section of your designated driver.

Last year there were over 525 impaired driving arrests in Southern Arizona alone. Violations of Impaired Driving under Arizona law includes driving impaired to the slightest degree due to alcohol, or driving under the influence of drugs or their metabolites under A.R.S. 28-1381.

A Car Accident alone involving a serious injury is traumatic on everyone involved.  Being arrested for DUI charges is a serious crime.  An impaired driving arrest involving a serious injury or fatal crash is overwhelmingly tragic ordeal.  It can take lives, and forever change the lives of the survivors.

A few days ago a young Tempe woman was reportedly arrested on six counts of endangerment, aggravated assault, leaving the scene of an accident, and DUI charges in violation of Arizona’s Super Extreme DUI Laws which is .20 Blood Alcohol Content (BAC).  In the incident 5 vehicles were damaged, and a pedestrian taken to the hospital, after the driver allegedly damaged two vehicles at a Tempe intersection, left the scene, and ended up slamming into vehicles in a crowded parking lot.

These are very serious criminal charges.  Even a first time conviction for Super Extreme DUI in violation of  A.R.S. 28 – 1382 calls for a 45 day jail term; fines, fees, and assessments of $,750.00; license revocation for one year;  use of Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for two years after driving privileges are restored; substance abuse counseling and treatment;  probation, and community service.

In Arizona, when a serious injury results from a DUI, the charges are elevated to a Felony DUI in violation of A.R.S. 28 – 1383,  Aggravated Assault, and Endangerment A.R.S. 13- 1204.  These felony charges expose a person to harsh punishments including prison terms of at least 1.5 years to 15 years or more in prison depending on mitigating, and aggravated factors that surrounding the incident; large fines, fees, and restitution; and other severe punishments. A Serious Injury caused by an impaired driver, or wrongful death of a victim, will also expose a driver to civil litigation against them by the victim or their surviving families.

Most impaired driving crashes and arrests can be prevented by planning ahead.  But mistakes and error in judgment can easily happen.  If you are arrested for drunk driving, impaired driving or any felony charges, your future and freedom are at stake.  Being arrested does not necessarily mean you will be found guilty.  By law you are entitled to retain an attorney to defend your charges, and protect your constitutional rights.   A person facing drugged or alcohol impaired driving charges, should always consult an experienced criminal defense attorney before pleading guilty to Drunk or Impaired Driving charges.  James Novak provides a free consultation, and a strong defense for those arrested in Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, or Scottsdale Arizona.

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