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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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As Glendale is gearing up to host the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots on February 1st we want to welcome an estimated 100,000 out of town visitors expected to visit the Valley of the Sun for Super Bowl XLIX. According to AZCentral.com, Phoenix area airports (including Scottsdale Airport, Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, Goodyear Airport, Glendale Municipal Airport, Mesa's Falcon Field Airport, Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, Chandler Municipal Airport, and of course Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport) have been preparing for this increased air traffic for several months, anticipating over 1,000 additional private aircraft along with commercial and charter jets.

The NFL will be hosting the Super Bowl Experience activities at the Phoenix Convention Center the week leading up to the super bowl. According to azsuperbowl.com – along with the many interactive attractions, games, exhibits and other activities, fans will also be able to find many other venues and activities around town including the 2015 Pro Bowl on January 25th at University of Phoenix Stadium, the 2015 Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale (1/26/15-2/1/15), Super Bowl XLIX Media Day (1/27/15), Verizon Super Bowl Central – a free, family-friendly, football themed outdoor fan fest taking over Downtown Phoenix (1/28/15-2/1/15), along with many other events leading up to the big game.

And of course with any event of this scale, law enforcement agencies from around the valley are coordinating efforts to ensure the safety of all residents – both locals and visitors alike. With a week filled with Super Bowl events spread across the valley between Glendale, Phoenix and Scottsdale, police officers from Glendale PD, Phoenix PD and Scottsdale PD will be working off-duty shifts in addition to all regularly scheduled shifts in these departments. Additionally, other agencies – both local and federal, are providing the assistance of their officers, including Gilbert PD, Tempe PD, Mesa PD and Prescott PD, along with regional cooperation of over 50 agencies. The City of Phoenix is hosting the major events – both Super Bowl Central covering several blocks in downtown Phoenix, as well as the Super Bowl Experience at the Phoenix Convention Center. The City of Scottsdale will be hosting many out town visitors in local resorts both for the Super Bowl and the WM Phoenix Open. The Super Bowl itself as well as the Pro Bowl will be played at University of Phoenix Stadium in the City of Glendale.

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If you are facing criminal charges in Phoenix, a Board Certified Criminal Defense Attorney with this Firm offers a free, no obligation evaluation of your case. Mr. Buckallew has focused his practice primarily on criminal and DUI defense, representing countless individuals in Phoenix and throughout the State of Arizona for over the course of his career. The Firm has defended a wide range of criminal cases, from Disorderly Conduct and Domestic Violence cases to DUI cases all the way up to First Degree Murder cases. Mr. Buckallew has handled countless cases in the Phoenix courts – both the Phoenix Municipal Court (misdemeanor criminal/misdemeanor DUI) and the Maricopa County Superior Court (felony criminal/felony DUI). The Firm also represents individuals in the Maricopa County Justice Courts located in Phoenix, including the Arcadia Biltmore Justice Court, Desert Ridge Justice Court, Downtown Justice Court, Encanto Justice Court, Dreamy Draw Justice Court, Maryvale Justice Court, McDowell Mountain Justice Court, Moon Valley Justice Court, South Mountain Justice Court, and the West McDowell Justice Court (misdemeanor criminal/misdemeanor DUI). In addition to criminal and DUI cases, Mr. Buckallew also represents plaintiffs or defendants in Injunction Against Harassment/Order of Protection proceedings as well as Interfering with Judicial Proceedings cases.

If you are charged with a DUI in Phoenix, it is critical to seek competent legal counsel as these cases can result in significant fees/fines, potential for incarceration, increased insurance premiums, college/career repercussions, possible suspended or revoked driver's license, possible probation, and the possibility of ignition interlock requirements and alcohol classes. DUI litigation requires knowledge in both criminal defense as well as a thorough understanding of the scientific evidence (blood, breath, etc.) and Mr. Buckallew has significant experience in both of these areas. With his Law Degree and continuing legal education along with his Master's Degree in Forensic Science, Mr. Buckallew understands both the science behind the evidence as well as the potential legal defenses inherent in DUI cases. He has handled all types of DUI cases including (but not limited to), 1st Time DUI, DUI Involving an Accident, Underage DUI, Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI, Aggravated DUI, DUI with Multiple Priors, DUI Involving Homicide (or Injury), and DUI – Drugs. He has achieved successful outcomes for countless clients over the years, including full case dismissals, not guilty jury trial verdicts, favorable plea agreements, and aggressively defends each and every case he handles.

Mr. Buckallew has also handled a wide range of criminal cases – both misdemeanor and felony, including (but not limited to), Assault, Domestic Violence, Drug Possession, Drug Sales, Drug Crimes, Juvenile Crimes, Shoplifting, Misconduct Involving Weapons, Theft Crimes, White Collar Crimes, Minor in Possession, Minor in Consumption, Burglary, Reckless Driving, Disorderly Conduct, Violation of Restraining Orders, Prostitution, Sex Crimes, Homicide and Murder. He has a track record for zealously defending each and every client and has achieved successful outcomes in countless cases over the course of his career.

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Please celebrate responsibly and enjoy a safe and happy New Year's Eve! If you plan on drinking tonight, make transportation plans ahead of time for the safety of yourself and other drivers on the roadways. There are plenty of options to ensure a safe arrival home at the end of the night, including taxi or limo service, Uber or a designated driver. In addition, AAA Tipsy Tow service is once again offering a free (10-mile) tow and ride home – call 1-800-AAA-HELP between 6PM Dec. 31st and 6AM Jan. 1st https://www.az.aaa.com/news/automotive/tipsytow. Also, check out Valley Metro as they are teaming up with Coors Light to provide free rides on bus, light rail and ADA Dial-a-Ride services beginning at 7PM on New Year's Eve. See more at: http://www.valleymetro.org/landing_page/freerides/.

If you do find yourself being charged with a DUI, it is critical to seek the advice of competent legal counsel as soon as possible. Arizona has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country and if convicted, the penalties include significant fees, fines, mandatory incarceration, alcohol counseling, potential for increased insurance premiums, ignition interlock requirements, probation, possible vehicle impoundment, license suspension, and other unanticipated consequences.

The penalties are typically harsher the higher your blood alcohol content (BAC) and can also be harsher when certain 'aggravating' factors are involved, such as having a minor child (under the age of 15) in the car, having a suspended/revoked driver's license, or having multiple DUI convictions at the time of the DUI stop. At a minimum, the penalties for a First Time DUI with a BAC of .08-.15% can include up to 6 months in jail, a $2,500 fine (with 84% surcharge) plus additional fees, a 90-day to 1 year driver's license suspension, ignition interlock requirement, mandatory alcohol screening and counseling, probation and potential for increased insurance, among other consequences. Extreme DUI (BAC of .15-.20%) and Super Extreme DUI (BAC > .20%) result in even harsher penalties including increased jail time, higher fees/fines, vehicle impoundment, license suspension, and other penalties. If there are 'aggravating' circumstances involved at the time you are stopped, you will likely be charged with a Class 4 or Class 6 Felony DUI. Aggravating circumstances, as previously mentioned, can include having a minor child in the car, having multiple prior DUI convictions or driving without a valid driver's license (i.e. suspended/revoked). As you can imagine, the more serious the circumstances and the higher your BAC, the harsher the penalties will be. The prison term for an Aggravated DUI conviction can be anywhere from 4-months up to several years. The fees and fines are substantially higher for felony DUI's, as are other penalties, including longer license suspension, increased insurance premiums, probation, classes and other unanticipated consequences.

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The 4th of July is a day for celebration involving many festivities, including watching fireworks, family BBQ's, camping, boating, parades, baseball games and other patriotic activities. Given that July 4th falls on a Friday this year, it is also a 3-day weekend for many and we wish all a very safe and happy 4th of July weekend.

As with many other holiday weekends, AZ Law Enforcement will be out in full force around the state with DUI checkpoints and increased patrol in heavy traveled areas of the state. If you plan to enjoy alcoholic beverages this weekend, be sure to plan in advance for a designated driver, a cab ride, or alternate means of transportation to keep yourself and other drivers safe this weekend.

In the event you are cited for a DUI over the 4th of July weekend – whether alcohol or drug related, or you receive an OUI while out boating on any of the many lakes surrounding the valley, or up north – the Firm is available to discuss the DUI/OUI court process, DUI penalties and most importantly – your legal options.

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Cinco de Mayo is one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year, and this year was no exception with the many festivities and celebrations across the Valley over the weekend. And of course, along with this comes an increase in DUI enforcement, and Law Enforcement agencies across the State established DUI checkpoints and increased patrols statewide. While traffic stops increased significantly, the AZ Governor's Office of Highway Safety reported fewer DUI arrests over the 3-day period leading up to the Cinco de Mayo holiday this year. According to Albert Gutier, Director of the Office of Highway Safety, the reduced number of arrests can be attributed to ensuring people get the message about driving under the influence and many driver's out on the roadways may have seen the large LED message signs that read "Drive Hammered Get Nailed" (azcentral.com). While final numbers have not yet been reported from all of the agencies across the state, it appears that the number of arrests has been decreasing and more people are relying on designated drivers or other alternatives to driving under the influence of alcohol.

If you were charged with any type of DUI violation – including 1st Time DUI, Extreme DUI, Super Extreme DUI, Aggravated DUI, Underage DUI, DUI Drugs, or any other type of DUI, it is important to seek the advice of experienced legal counsel before making any decisions in your case. An experienced attorney will discuss your legal options with you and ensure you understand your rights, the criminal court process; the possible penalties associated with your charges, and discuss your legal options with you. The Firm handles both alcohol and drug related DUI charges in the East Valley, Phoenix, West Valley, and throughout the State of Arizona. If you were arrested by the DUI Task Force, or any law enforcement agency in the State of Arizona, contact the Firm at (602) 825-3300 to arrange a free consultation regarding your case.

Mr. Buckallew is a Board Certified Criminal & DUI Specialist, having been certified by the State Bar of Arizona. He understands the serious consequences (which can include jail time, fines/fees, alcohol treatment and classes, interlock ignition requirements, and other penalties) and hardships (including possible loss of driving privileges) resulting from a DUI conviction and will work vigorously in building a strong defense on your behalf. The Firm is experienced in handling all types of DUI cases and has proven results ranging from acquittals at trial, full dismissals and negotiating non-DUI plea agreements. Having confidence in your attorney and in the legal representation that you will receive is a critical factor when looking for the right attorney to represent you.

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The Arizona Supreme Court ruled today that drivers with marijuana metabolites in their system cannot be prosecuted for DUI impairment under that basis alone. According to Arizona Revised Statutes §28-1381(A)(3), it is unlawful for a driver to be in actual physical control of a vehicle "While there is any drug defined in section [A.R.S.] §13-3401 or its metabolite in the person's body." The Court concluded that the phrase "its metabolite" does not include the metabolite of marijuana, Carboxy-Tetrahydrocannibinol ("Carboxy-THC") – a non-impairing metabolite of Cannabis (aka marijuana), a proscribed drug listed in §13-3401.

After Arizona voters passed the medical marijuana initiative in 2010, legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, individuals legally using marijuana were still exposed to criminal prosecution under the State's interpretation of marijuana and its metabolite(s). The Court noted in its opinion that "…because § 28-1381(A)(3) does not require the State to prove that the marijuana was illegally ingested, prosecutors can charge legal users under the (A)(3) provision. Because Carboxy-THC can remain in the body for as many as twenty-eight to thirty days after ingestion, the State's position suggests that a medical-marijuana user could face prosecution for driving any time nearly a month after they had legally ingested marijuana. Such a prohibition would apply even when the driver had no impairing substance in his or her body and notwithstanding the State's ability to test both for THC, the primary substance that causes impairment, and Hydroxy-THC, the metabolite capable of causing impairment."

The Court also concluded that the State's interpretation of "metabolites" would expose individuals to "criminal liability" no matter how long the metabolite remained in a person's system and whether or not it had any impairing effect. According to the Court's Opinion, during oral arguments, the State acknowledged that "if a metabolite could be detected five years after ingesting a proscribed drug, a driver who tested positive for trace elements of a non-impairing substance could be prosecuted."

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Gilbert DUI – Is DUI Breath Evidence Reliable?

A DUI case requires an attorney with knowledge of the forensic science involved in both breath and blood testing. Each method has its own potential error sources and each method has its own unique vulnerabilities. In this post, we will discuss a breath based DUI and the potential weaknesses inherent in this method of measuring blood alcohol levels in a person's system.

Blood alcohol concentration, as measured by a breath analysis machine, is a complicated process where ethanol particles found in the breath of the person being tested absorbs infrared light produced inside the breath analysis machine. The resulting loss of light is measured to determine the amount of ethanol present in a given sample. In this sense, the machine uses an inverse relationship between the loss of light sharing a direct relationship to the amount of alcohol present in a given breath sample. In other words, the lower the light level present in the machine translates to more alcohol being present in the breath sample being analyzed. This amount is then converted to the level of alcohol thought to be present in the blood of the person being tested.

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