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flag-231x300Every year law enforcement agencies across the State of Arizona participate in special DUI task forces and checkpoints over Memorial Day weekend with their stated goal being to reduce crashes, injuries and fatalities by enforcing DUI and traffic laws. Last year, according to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, more than 550 drivers throughout the state were arrested on suspicion of DUI, including arrests for extreme DUI (blood alcohol content of 0.15% or greater). Other citations and arrests included aggressive driving violations, Underage DUI violations (under the age of 21), and DUI drug violations.

What Should I do if I am stopped at a DUI Checkpoint?

  1. Slow down and safely enter the DUI checkpoint area.
  2. Stay in your car and follow the officer’s instructions.
  3. Do cooperate with the officer and provide your driver’s license, insurance and registration. However, once you have provided your identification, remember, you do have the right to remain silent and should let the officer know that you wish to exercise your right to remain silent. You also have the right to contact your lawyer – do let the officer know that you wish to contact an attorney.
  4. If you are asked to step out of your car to perform field sobriety tests (such as the finger-to-nose test or the walk-and-turn test), you are not required to participate in these field sobriety tests. These tests are subjective and can be used to build evidence which can be used against you.
  5. While you do have the right to refuse the field sobriety tests, that does not mean you should refuse all other tests. Under Arizona’s implied consent laws, a person who operates a motor vehicle gives consent to test(s) of the person’s blood, breath, or urine to determine alcohol concentration or blood content for any allegations of driving or actual physical control of a motor vehicle while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drugs. Failure to consent to a chemical test will result in a 12-month license suspension. Even if you refuse to submit to the test, the officer will likely end up obtaining a search warrant which will require you to allow the blood draw anyways and will still result in a 12-month license suspension.
  6. You have the right to consult with an attorney and it is advisable to do so as soon as possible after you become a target of any criminal investigation.

What happens if I am charged with a DUI?

If you have been arrested for DUI, you will likely be transported to the police station or a DUI Task Force van to have your blood alcohol levels tested either through a blood draw and/or a breathalyzer test (and in some cases a urine test). Usually you will then be released, and someone can come and pick you up. In some cases, if the charges are more serious you may be held and booked into jail where you will see a Judge within 24 hours for an initial appearance and to determine release conditions.

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Every year Florence, AZ is host to Country Thunder, the biggest outdoor country music festival in the state. The festival is sure to draw in thousands of fans young and old. With temperatures this weekend forecasted in the 90’s, you will want to be sure to have plenty of water, hats, and sunscreen! Above all, have a great time and be safe.

According to local news outlets, there will be an increased presence of Sheriff’s Deputies, undercover officers and security to ensure the safety and security of everyone attending the festival. Keep in mind, the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), the AZ Dept. of Liquor License/Control, and the Florence Police Department in years past have issued hundreds of citations over the course of the 4-day weekend, particularly involving underage drinking related violations, including Minor in Consumption and Minor in Possession, as well as using fake ID’s to buy alcohol and furnishing alcohol to a minor. We have also seen numerous DUI/DWI cases occur as attendees leave the festival.

If you were arrested by the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), Florence Police Department, AZ Dept. of Liquor License/Control, or any other agency during Country Thunder weekend, contact the Firm to arrange a free evaluation regarding your case. We have handled countless Country Thunder citations over the years and are familiar with the local courts as well as the typical violations we see coming out of this festival each year. Depending on the agency you were arrested by, your case will likely be cited into either the Florence-Coolidge Justice Court located at 400 South Central Avenue in Florence, AZ or at the Florence Municipal Court located at 775 North Main Street in Florence.

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Mesa Municipal Court Criminal Cases

If you were cited and/or arrested on a misdemeanor criminal violation by the Mesa Police Department, you will likely be appearing in the Mesa Municipal Court. The Mesa Municipal Court has jurisdiction over misdemeanor offenses such as DUI (1st Time DUI, Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI, Underage DUI), Assault, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Damage, Domestic Violence and other criminal misdemeanor charges as well as traffic violations, Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment. Mr. Buckallew has handled countless cases in the Mesa Municipal Court, is very familiar with the Judges and Prosecutors over there and has experience in handling all types of criminal and DUI cases in this Courthouse. The Courthouse is nearby our Mesa office and is located one block south of Main Street and one block west of Mesa Drive at:

Mesa Municipal Court

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Apache Junction Municipal Court Criminal Cases

If you were cited for a misdemeanor criminal violation by the Apache Junction Police Department, within the city limits of Apache Junction, you were likely cited into the Apache Junction Municipal Court. The types of cases which could be cited into this court could include, DUI (1st Time DUI, Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI, Underage DUI), Assault, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Damage, Domestic Violence or any other criminal misdemeanor charges. The courthouse is located at:

300 East Superstition Boulevard, Apache Junction, AZ

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First Time DUI Penalties in Mesa

If this is the first time you have ever been arrested for a DUI, you are probably wondering whether you will have to serve any time in jail, whether your driver's license will be suspended and what types of fines/fees and other costs you might be subject to if you are convicted.

The penalties for a 1st time DUI offense (within 84 months), a Class 1 Misdemeanor, will depend upon your blood alcohol content (BAC):

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Once again, Arizona has proven to be one of the harshest in the country when it comes to DUI punishment, including mandatory jail time, steep fines and other penalties such as loss of driving privileges, possibility of ignition interlock requirements, possibility of increased insurance rates, along with other potential consequences. A recent study by Wallet Hub ranked Arizona number 1 in penalties for drunk driving and number 2 in DUI prevention efforts (https://wallethub.com/edu/dui-penalties-by-state/13549/). Along with some of the harshest penalties in the country, Arizona has implemented significant prevention efforts across the state. Police agencies in Mesa, and all across Arizona, partner together during holiday and other high traffic weekends to set up DUI task force checkpoints as a preventative measure and also to raise awareness amongst drivers. According to a recent article on azcentral.com, (http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2016/08/12/arizona-toughest-nation-dui-study-says/88636358/), DUI's accounted for 33 percent of the 811 total fatalities in Arizona in 2015, according to data from the Arizona Department of Transportation. At any given time, due to DUI checkpoints and overall DUI enforcement in Maricopa County, the Maricopa County Prosecutor's Vehicular Crimes Unit has an average of 715 Aggravated (felony) DUI cases spread amongst its 13 Vehicular Crimes prosecutors at any given time throughout the year. These numbers do not include the thousands of misdemeanor DUI cases prosecuted in AZ every year. While a 1st Time DUI is usually charged as a misdemeanor, there are certain factors that can cause a DUI to get charged as a felony, including:

  • Driver's license is suspended/canceled/revoked at the time of the DUI
  • A minor child under the age of 15 was in the car at the time of driving
  • This is a 3rd DUI within 84 months
  • The DUI occurred while the driver was required to have an ignition interlock device in the vehicle

The penalties for felony DUI cases are considerably harsher than penalties for misdemeanor DUI cases. The maximum penalty for a first time Aggravated DUI can include: 3.75 years in prison, a 3-year license revocation and a maximum fine of $150,000.00 plus 84% surcharge. The minimum penalty in these cases often requires: a mandatory minimum of 4 months in prison, up to 10 years of probation, a 3 year license revocation, $750.00 fine plus surcharge, $250.00 DUI abatement fund, $1,500 prison construction fee, $1,500.00 state general fund, and an ignition interlock device. The prison term can be increased to 8 months minimum if the person has a total of 3 or more prior DUI convictions in an 84 month period. An individual charged with felony DUI involving a child under 15 in the car, while possessing a valid driver's license, can see the jail penalties reduced to levels within the misdemeanor offense category. Also, one can apply for and obtain a restricted license while on probation. The remaining felony terms would still apply. More serious felony DUI cases, such as DUI cases involving serious injury or homicide have considerably harsher penalties of up to 15 years in prison for multiple felony DUI charges and up to 21 years in prison in DUI homicide cases. Every case is different and the penalties in each case will depend upon a variety of factors so it is advisable to consult with an experienced DUI attorney regarding the specific penalties you may be facing in your DUI case.

Mr. Buckallew is a Board Certified DUI and Criminal Law Specialist,having been certified by the Arizona State Bar, Board of Legal Specialization. This means that he has significant experience in the practice of both DUI and Criminal Defense. Mr. Buckallew personally handles each and every case himself which means you are guaranteed the expertise of a highly experienced DUI attorney from start to finish on your case. Mr. Buckallew focuses his practice on criminal and DUI defense and belongs to many professional organizations, including theNational College for DUI Defense, The American Academy of Forensic Science, and Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice. He was also named a Top 100 Trial Attorney by the National Trial Lawyers – 2012 & 2013. He has handled all types of DUI cases, ranging from DUI Homicide cases, Aggravated DUI, Felony DUI with Multiple Priors, 1st Time DUI, Underage DUI, Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI, and many others. Please contact the Firm today to consult with a Mesa Board Certified DUI Attorney regarding your Aggravated DUI case and to discuss your legal options.

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Arizona Revised Statute 28-1321(A) defines Arizona's implied consent law. Just like in many other states, drivers in Arizona as obligated to provide a certain level of cooperation when they are arrested for suspected drunk driving. Statute 28-1321(A) outlines what this cooperation should be in regard to the blood alcohol content (BAC) tests.

If a law enforcement officer has arrested you for reasonable suspicion of drunk driving, then you are legally required to take a blood, urine, or breathalyzer test to determine your BAC. These tests have to be taken within two hours from when you were driving. Breathalyzer tests can usually be taken right on the side of the road, but blood and urine tests need to be administered by a medical professional at a nearby hospital.

If a driver refuses to take a BAC test, they will face penalties:

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With a vibrant night life, college town atmosphere and a variety of bars and restaurants – Tempe is a great town to enjoy an abundance of activities. With ASU at the heart of the city, and the party atmosphere along Mill Avenue, this also means law enforcement has a noticeable presence, particularly on weekends, holidays and during festival weekends and other high traffic times throughout the year. One of Tempe Police Department's annual campaigns is the "Safe and Sober Campaign" which typically begins at the start of the fall semester at ASU and runs for about 8 weeks. The primary focus is the enforcement of liquor laws such as Underage DUI and Felony DUI, but also includes educating folks about bicycle and pedestrian safety and enforcing party ordinances. If you are charged with an alcohol violation in Tempe, it is critical to consult with an experienced DUI attorney as Arizona is one of the toughest states as far as penalties are concerned.

While many DUI charges are classified as misdemeanors in the State of Arizona, there are some circumstances which can result in DUI charges being classified as a felony, or 'Aggravated DUI'. If you are charged with a felony DUI in Tempe, your case will be filed in Maricopa County Superior Court. Misdemeanor DUI cases in Tempe are generally filed in the Tempe Municipal Court (if Tempe Police Department was the arresting agency) or the University Lakes Justice Court (if ASU Police Department was the arresting agency). The primary factors in felony Aggravated DUI charges include:

Class 4 Felony:

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The weather is warming up in Phoenix which means surrounding lakes are filling up with valley residents looking for a place to cool down. Valley lakes are a popular place for residents to recreate and take part in water activities, including boating, jet skiing, fishing, paddle boarding, beach side barbecuing, hiking and just enjoying the scenery. A popular lake for east valley residents is Saguaro Lake which is just northeast of Mesa and easy to access from Scottsdale and Phoenix as well. If you are headed out to Saguaro Lake, situated in the Tonto National Forest, you will need to purchase a daily pass to display in your vehicle ($6) plus a watercraft use fee ($4) for each watercraft you are taking out on the lake. These passes are not sold at the lake so be sure to purchase them beforehand either online or at various retail outlets on your way out to the lake. Additionally, if you plan to fish, be sure to check out fishing license requirements before heading out to the lake as well.

Finally, if you plan to consume alcohol during your outing at the lake, always be sure to designate a sober driver for boats and other motorized watercraft as well as for the drive back home. A fun day at the lake can quickly turn sour if you are arrested for a boating DUI, or more specifically – an OUI (Operating Under the Influence). If you are arrested for OUI on Saguaro Lake, the arresting agency will likely be the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) – Lake Patrol Unit, and you will likely be cited into the North Mesa Justice Court (for misdemeanor OUI charges) or the Maricopa County Superior Court (for felony OUI charges). If you are facing OUI charges, they are treated very similar to a regular DUI, and it is imperative to seek competent legal counsel before making any decisions in your case.

Misdemeanor OUI Charges

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The countdown to Super Bowl XLIX continues as throngs of fans head out to Super Bowl Central which has taken over about 12 blocks in downtown Phoenix. According to azcentral.com, Phoenix along with state liquor officials have approved public consumption of alcohol within an enclosed 9-block area of downtown Phoenix, enabling folks to enjoy the street festivities with a cocktail in hand. This is said to be the largest special event liquor license ever issued in downtown Phoenix and to ensure the safety of everyone, security will be extremely tight. Anyone wanting to consume alcohol in this area will be required to show their ID, wear wristbands, and stay within the 9-block perimeter which will be secured with temporary barricades. Officers from Phoenix Police Department, Maricopa County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) and the AZ Department of Liquor License and Control will be conducting enforcement efforts and ticketing violators for drinking violations such as Minor in Consumption / Minor in Possession and Underage Drinking as well as any other criminal violations ranging from Disorderly Conduct, Assault, Weapon and Firearm Violations, and Drug Violations. There will also be increased DUI enforcement in and around Phoenix so if you do plan to consume alcohol, be sure to designate a sober driver or utilize taxi service, Uber, or the light rail to avoid the harsh consequences of a DUI charge in Arizona.

Some of the most common alcohol violations we see with large events around the valley include, Underage Drinking, Underage DUI, False ID and Minor in Consumption (MIC) / Minor in Possession (MIP) violations. Arizona has a "zero tolerance" law which prohibits anyone under the age of 21 to drive with any trace of alcohol in their system. If you are under the age of 21 and your blood alcohol content (BAC) is at or above .08%, you may also be charged with DUI in addition to Underage Drinking. The penalties for some of the common underage drinking violations are outlined here:

A.R.S. § 4-241L – (Fake ID) "A person who is under the legal drinking age and who misrepresents the person's age to any person by means of a written instrument of identification with the intent to induce a person to sell, serve, give or furnish spirituous liquor contrary to law is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor." The maximum punishment for a class 1 misdemeanor is up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

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