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Arizona Supreme Court issues new ruling

The Arizona Supreme Court issued a new ruling on Tuesday that police officers who have stopped and arrested a drunken driver are not legally allowed to tell the drunken driving suspect that they must submit to a chemical test. The ruling contradicts other rulings by lower courts and information provided on state forms.

What is the implied consent law in Arizona?

Arizona, like other states, has passed implied consent laws which state that drivers operating a motorized vehicle in the State of Arizona have given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test after a DUI arrest.

What is not known to many Arizona drivers, however, is that drivers are not required to submit to the test unless the police have obtained a valid warrant from a judge, and as the Supreme Court Justices acknowledged in their recent ruling, to state otherwise “violates the suspects' Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable warrantless searches.”

Justice Ann A. Scott Timmer further acknowledged that drivers are more likely to submit to the testing, regardless of their legal rights, because “Our society expects, and unquestionably demands, that people follow directives issued by law enforcement officials."

What are Arizona policeman allowed to say after a DUI arrest?

The State Supreme Court’s ruling has provided specific guidance for all future arrests. Instead of telling the driver they must submit to the chemical testing after the arrest, the Court has ruled that police officers are now required to ask the driver to take the test but notify them that “those who refuse the test will face non-criminal consequences such as loss of their driver's license for a year or longer.”

The judge’s ruling, however, did not overturn a case against a man who was arrested in Cochise County, even though the police officer told him he was required to submit to the chemical test. The State Supreme Court ruled that the police officer acted in good faith based on “decades-old court rulings and on a state-provided form used by police.”

In another similar DUI boating while under the influence case, however, the Supreme Court overturned the boater's DUI conviction because, according to the Supreme Court, “the prosecutors early in the case didn't raise the issue of whether the arresting officer was acting in good faith.” The boater's case now returns to a trial court for further consideration.

What do I need to know if I am arrested for DUI?

All states have passed implied consent laws which state that drivers have given their implied consent to submit to a chemical test if arrested for DUI. Whether or not you should submit to a chemical test following a DUI arrest, however, may depend on the penalties established by your state. In most cases, however, drivers who refuse to submit to the chemical test are still arrested and charged with DUI. In some cases, however, the lack of concrete physical evidence can weaken the state’s case against the driver.

Citations from a story from the Arizona Republic (part of the USA Today Network).

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